NOTE: Since this post is the longest one I've ever done and packed with the most information I've ever shared, I made a downloadable PDF. All you have to do is download it by clicking the link. Then save it to your computer for later use.
I am not a marketing guru or pro. I’ve done a lot of research on what I can do to promote my books, and I give them a try. Although I give a lot of advice on my blog about how to market books, I struggle with this part of publishing. There are no right answers. All you can do is try and see what works for you.
Below are 100 marketing options you can try. I’ve tried many of them and know they are useful. The things I’ve tried that didn’t work for me have worked wonders for other authors. You just never know until you give it a shot.
1. Build Your Platform
2. Write a great book.
3. Have a standout cover image that reflects your story and the genre.
4. Write a prequel to get more readers interested in the first book.
Lure people to sign up for your email list/newsletter with an incentive, such as a free book or gift. Then create good, interesting content that they will find useful. When the time is right, promote one of your books. Put a note in your books/eBooks (beginning and end if possible) asking your readers to sign up for your newsletter.
6. Start a Street Team.
A street team helps you get the word out about your books. And they want to do it! So why not set one up? You can give them a special badge (image) to put on their blog/website, and create a Facebook group for everyone to go to and chat. Also, give it a cool name!
7. Make business cards and give them to everyone you talk to about your books. You can even leave them places.
8. Look for award opportunities. Do some research on yearly book awards and check the guidelines to see if your book(s) qualify. If you don’t win an award, no harm, no foul. (Most do ask for a fee, though.)
9. Approach reviewers.
There are many book bloggers out there, use the Internet to find them.
Link: Getting Reviews
10. Encourage fans to post reviews
You can put a polite note at the end of your book/eBook asking your readers to post an honest review of the story they just read on Amazon.
11. When you get reviews on your books, pick the best ones by authors and professional book reviewers. Search those reviews for a sentence or two that you can add to the Editorial Reviews section of your book’s Amazon page.
12. Give Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) to anyone interested in reviewing your story before its release day.
13. Also look for snippets of reviews to put on a “Testimonial” page on your website. This is good because it shows that you have cred. You can have testimonials for specific books, for your overall writing, or even your blog. I have one on my website.
14. Mail galley copies to major magazines for review. Most need these copies 3 - 4 months in advance of the release date.
15. Approach local book clubs/reading groups and see if they’d be interested in reading your book. Most do buy the books they want to read. This will result in quite a few reviews.
16. When you post a review start it (or sign off) with “[Your name] Author of XYZ.”
17. Narrow down your book’s categories on Amazon.
Instead of paranormal, think paranormal detective mystery. Use Amazon’s search bar to find popular searches for your book’s genre. Click on it and check out the number of books under that category. You can find this in the top left-hand corner. The smaller this number is the better. Think 1,000 or less. Under 500 is awesome because it’s less competition. Use these categories when you pick the categories for your books.
18. You can also put a list of categories in the “Product Description” under the blurb, and pick one to include in the title. Example: Ghost of Death – A Paranormal Detective Mystery. Try to get that on the cover, too, if possible.
19. Add author interview questions to the From the Author section on your book’s page on Amazon.
20. Join Goodreads Groups. There are many groups for many different genres. Follow the rules set out for authors in each genre before you post about your books.
21. Use Goodreads groups to get reviews. Many groups have discussions to help authors get reviewers. You will need to provide the necessary info and interested people will email you asking for a copy. Make sure to specify a timeframe.
22. Do a Goodreads Event whenever a new book comes out and invite EVERYONE.
23. Connect with other authors on Goodreads.
24. Add all of your books to your website/blog. You can do this on the sidebar and/or create a page. And make them clickable, so visitors can buy that book!
25. Use your website/blog to make announcements, and then send people there using social media to get that announcement.
26. Create a “Special Features” page on your website for deleted scenes, facts, soundtracks, book/character tidbits, etc.
Link: How to Create a Website
27. Update your bio as necessary.
28. Find unique ways to promote your website daily or weekly. On my website, I offer a weekly tip. Put something new on your website and advertise it on social media.
29. Post fun things about your books to social media instead of pestering fans to buy, buy, buy. These fun things could be one sentence teasers, dialogue, short excerpts (Facebook), facts, and odd tidbits your readers won’t know by reading your book.
30. Create quote images with your tagline, logline, dialogue, lines from your blurb, and your story.
31. Take advantage of Instagram. Share cover teasers before a big reveal and even images of your computer as you work on your current WIP.
Link: Instagram for Writers
32. Join Twitter Chats such as #1LineWed. You can’t share buy links, but you can still get interest in your writing if you share awesome lines from your books.
33. Host your own Twitter chat with a unique hashtag. Pick a date, a time, and tell everyone about it. You can talk about your books, writing, share snippets, anything.
Link: Twitter for Writers
34. Update your profiles on all social media websites at least once a year.
35. Utilize your email signature.
Add links to your social media platforms and even lists of your books. Everyone you send an email to will see it.
36. You can use Google+ in nearly the same way as any other social media platform. Join writing groups, follow the rules, link to your blog posts, website, etc.
37. Make announcements on Google+ and share it with EVERYONE by selecting “Extensive Groups,” which is everyone in your groups and everyone in their groups.
38. Do a blog tour.
39. Interview authors on your blog. This is as easy as asking them or putting an announcement out there that you are now accepting author interviews. Have a list of questions already prepared to eliminate the time you spend doing this.
40. Do a cover reveal.
Use Google Docs to set up a form so people who want to help can choose to post your new cover on their blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Send them everything they need a few days before and stress the date so no one posts too soon.
Link: How to do a Cover Reveal
41. Guest blog and have guests on your blog. It’s as simple as asking authors/bloggers. Don’t be afraid. The worst it gets is they won’t respond or will say they don’t have a spot available. That’s it!
42. Join the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Don’t just share excerpts, but dig into topics related to your book that starts with each letter. I once did a disaster theme for my Disaster Crimes Series.
43. Get Interviewed
Many bloggers interview authors. When you’re setting up your blog tour, see if the blogger offers author interviews and tell them you’re interested in one.
44. Do a blogfest instead of a blog tour. A blogfest is more engaging for the people who want to participate, each post will be unique, and you’ll be blasted on many blogs on a single day. Make sure to ask a fun question or offer a unique prompt for the blogfest.
45. Publish more books and advertise your previous published books in them. You can create a list such as “Other books published by Chrys Fey:” and even share an excerpt for one.
46. Use more than one book distributor (self-published authors) to reach more readers. Smashwords links to Barnes & Noble, KOBO, Apple iBooks, and more. Then upload to Amazon Direct Publishing. Not Select! Select wants you to publish exclusively with them for 3 months.
47. Turn your books into audiobooks.
48. Have a series? Put them together in a box set.
49. Look for anthology opportunities and submit a short story for consideration. Anthologies are a great way to find new readers.
50. Set up a Thunderclap Campaign to get 100 supporters to post or tweet about your book on release day.
51. Do a Facebook Release Party. Make sure it’s set as Public.
Link: Book Release Party
52. Add your books to book websites such as Manic Reads, Book Goodies, Book Pinning, Book Buzzr, The Book Breeze, Awesome Gang, Story Finds, and Addicted to eBooks.
53. Look for major book newsletters and email them to see if they would like to promote your book. Make sure to include all of your book’s info and the blurb in the email when you ask.
54. Join Yahoo Groups, websites, organizations, writing groups, etc. When your book comes out, you can spread the news to all of these places!
55. Cross promote with other authors. If you know authors who have books in your genre or who are coming out with books around the same time as you, ask them if they’d like to be part of a big promo opportunity. Every author can share promos for everyone on their blog.
56. Ask an author to write an introduction, forward, or testimonial for your book. This doesn’t have to be a best-selling author but an author you know.
57. Contact a few famous authors and ask them if they’d like to read your book and give an endorsement. The worse they can say is “no” or not respond at all. You won’t know what’ll come out of it if you don’t try.
58. Get on your local radio and TV shows.
Contests and Giveaways:
59. Do a contest.
This can be big or small. I’ve often asked fans to help me name characters.
60. Hold a giveaway. Rafflecopter lets you use “like my FB page” and “follow me on Twitter” as things for people to do to get points in the giveaway.
61. Offer your readers sample chapters or short stories for free.
62. Create unique SWAG for giveaways. I’ve seen people make pendants and charms with their cover images on it. You can do anything related to your stories.
63. Put together a baggie with promo stuff and deliver it to houses in nearby neighborhoods. I did this once with Ziploc bags, a postcard, and a business card. I even alternated by including a white tea candle (Hurricane Crimes) and a green gemstone for weight and a little extra something.
64. Leave promo items (postcards, business cards, etc.) and/or a copy of your book in doctor’s offices and airports. People get bored and may become curious.
65. Donate copies of your book to women's shelter, hospitals, etc.
Sales and Free Books:
66. Put the first book in a series on sale whenever a new book comes out.
67. Make a book free for a short time or forever. You can use Smashwords to set a book as free so Amazon will (most likely) price match it and set it as free also. You can even notify them of a price change through the book’s page and insert retailer links as proof.
68. Use Kindle Direct Publishing’s (KDP’s) 5 free days.
Link: How to Promote Free Days
69. Add your books to discount/free sites if your book is on sale or free. A simple Google search will help you find them.
70. Pay to advertise on Facebook. Out of all the social media ads, this one has been the most effective for me. I don’t recommend Twitter ads.
71. Pay to advertise on book blogs/websites/newsletters. But do your research first to see if your ad will get lost in a slew of ads and stay in budget.
72. Advertise in newspapers and magazines.
73. Buy a $10 Goodreads ad. Create several ads under one campaign and DON’T target specific readers, target them all. It's more useful that way, and encourage readers to click to read the full blurb either in the ad's title or description. If they click, they may add your book, and clicks mean your ad is working.
74. Advertise in Publisher’s Weekly and other major publications.
75. Put an ad on a bus bench. Yes, really.
Book Signings, Readings, and Events:
76. Go to book fairs/festivals and set up a table.
77. Do a book signing at a local spot. Big or small. I once did a book signing at a park with just family.
78. Record a video of yourself reading an excerpt of your book and post it everywhere. This is perfect for people afraid of doing a live reading.
79. Do a book reading at a local library, book store, coffee shop, community college/school, etc.
80. Wear a badge with the cover art for your book or with your name and “Author of XYZ.”
81. Put a review packet on your desk so interested readers can check out the best reviews for your book.
82. Create an atmosphere with your space. Bring a colored tablecloth, table decorations, and even props to go up behind your table.
83. Invest in a tabletop easel with your books cover on it to catch people’s attention or a bigger banner to stand behind your table.
84. Put a newsletter signup sheet on your table and ask everyone who stops to sign up.
85. Sell your book at an event for a cause and donate part of the proceeds to that cause.
Books in Stores:
86. If your books are stocked in local bookstores, purchase “Local Author” stickers and ask the manager if you can put them on your books.
87. Also ask if you can sign them. Then you can put “Signed Copy” stickers on it!
Go to Your Local Community:
88. Look for speaking opportunities at schools, conventions, etc.
89. Teach a class or workshop.
90. Go on a physical book tour to local libraries, coffee shops, and bookstores.
91. Email the directors of your local libraries and pitch them your book to be added to their collection.
92. Pass out flyers at book stores, book events, libraries, community events, flea markets, etc.
93. Tack a flyer on bulletin boards in libraries, book stores, coffee shops, etc.
94. Create a press kit. Make it available on your blog and website.
95. Hosting an event? Going to an event? Let your local newspaper(s) know, and they may do an article about you!
96. Create a book trailer. Put it on your website, blog, FB page, Goodreads, everywhere.
97. Ask fans to make a book trailer.
98. Get on webcasts and/or podcasts created by established authors/promoters.
99. If you are knowledgeable about a certain subject that relates to your book, write an article on it and submit it to niche magazines.
100. Submit excerpts to literary magazines.
FINAL MESSAGE: There may be more things that authors can do to promote their books, but these are all the ones I have come up with so far.
Now that you’ve gone through this document, make a plan to start doing one of these. Then after you do that, try another. And then another. And...well, you get it.