12 Forms Of Cheap or Free Book Advertising

A self-published authors greatest enemy is budget! When you’re funding everything yourself, it can get really expensive, really quickly! These cheap and free book advertising tips will help you to keep your budget in check.

Whilst there are some corners you just shouldn’t cut (cover design and editing for example) there are lots of free and cheap ways to market your book. Your only limitation is your imagination, and luckily, that’s a skill in any writer’s toolkit!

Before we look at some great inexpensive book marketing tips, here are a few things to avoid doing if you hope to be successful.

Don’t spam your potential readers on social media. Just dropping a link isn’t going to get any engagement and chances are, they have seen similar posts 30 times that day. Some of the ideas below will show you how to use social media to actually engage with your audience. Free book advertising does not mean spamming potential readers!

Don’t link to your book on someone else’s advert unless they’ve invited other authors to do so. Not only is it rude to the poster, it doesn’t make a very good impression on others scrolling past who may be interested in purchasing your book.

Don’t pay for 5 star reviews. You may be keen to increase your reviews, but Amazon is very careful about screening for paid reviews, and it could result in you being removed from the site. Honest reader reviews are the way forward.

Don’t burn your bridges. A lot of these ideas involve you putting yourself out there and so expect rejection, and deal with it maturely. You’re far more likely to make a connection with someone who has said “no” if you are polite and gracious about it. You never know, they may think of you again in the future.

Part One – Social Media

1 – Writers’ lifts

This is especially effective on Twitter where the hashtag #writerslift is used a lot, but the concept of helping out your fellow writers applies to any platform. For example, here is a post I made on Instragram. The connections I’ve made have been so helpful during the release of my own book, and all it takes is being friendly, not pushing your own agenda in a rude way and helping other people out. In return, other writers have shared my posts, promoted my book and offered me opportunities. Click the photo if you’d like to join this post:

2 – Bookstagram Reviews

Book reviewers on Instagram hold more power than you might think. Once you’ve connected with the community in a productive and friendly way, you can start approaching book reviewers. You’ll be expected to give a free copy of your book, either in ebook or paperback form, and although the hope is that you want them to read and review the book, they may not! Those that do will offer a huge boost to your brand and hopefully book sales. Remember to be polite, don’t pressure reviewers and try to choose reviewers that may actually want to read your book so that you have a higher chance of them actually reading and reviewing it! If they accept, make sure to send a blurb, any promotional photos if they’d like to use them and thank them. Engage with the comments on their posts about your book and share their stories.

3 – Instagram Live and IGTV

If you feel confident and eloquent enough to put yourself in front of a camera, live videos and IGTV are two great tools on Instagram to get a little contact with your fans and potential readers. The collaboration possibilites are endless – once you’ve made connections on your accounts, ask other writers if they’d like to be interviewed or host a livestream with you. That way, both of your audiences will engage and watch the video, bringing you and the other writer new followers.

4 – Follow/engagement loops

This one can be a little tricky. Follow loops are great IF you are prepared to engage with everyone you follow and who follows you. The rate of unfollowing on Instagram and Twitter is very high because it’s hard to keep up with everything on your feed. If you’re going to take part in a follow or engagement loop, make sure you’re only following people in the loop that you intend to engage with. You should enjoy their posts enough to want to follow them, and if you don’t, it’s unfair to get involved.
To take full advantage of this form of free book advertising, you need to make lasting bonds with other users, rather than just spamming them.

Here’s a great author engagement loop on Instagram (click on the image to join in):

5 – Run a giveaway

There are lots of ways to boost your sales with a giveaway but they are also something authors can easily do incorrectly.
Firstly, think about what the aim of your giveaway is. Is it new followers, more sales, or more engagement? New followers can bring new readers, but make sure your giveaway is specific enough to your book that the people who follow you are actually going to stick around. If they are a giveaway account or are only interested in the material goods, rather than your book, they’re not going to stick around. Equally, if the winner isn’t in it for the book, they probably won’t review or even read the book.
If you’re aiming for more sales, consider running a discount at the same time. Offer 5 copies in the giveaway and after the giveaway is over, run a discount for a few days. All those people who entered and got excited about the chance to win might give a thought to buying a copy instead.
If you’re aiming for more engagement, ask your followers a question, ask them to draw fan art or do a Q&A about your book as part of the giveaway. Make your giveaway as interesting as possible so that your existing fans stop by to join in.

6 – Find a street team for your launch

As Roxanna C Revell talked about in her post about boosting your launch sales, once you’ve gotten involved in the community on social media you can offer to be on someone’s street team for their launch and ask for them to do the same for you. Choose someone you get on with and have created a personal bond with, don’t message people randomly. Think about genre and audience before making the offer i.e if you write different genres, that’s no use to you or them, and equally if you only have 100 followers and they have 2000 that’s not a fair deal. Choose someone who writes the same genre as you and has a similar number of followers. That way, you advertise to each other’s followers and give eachother a leg up on launch day.

Part Two – Physical Promotion

7 – Bookmarks

Bookmarks are relatively cheap to design and print on sites like Canva and they can be a great form of physical promotion – after all, most readers need them when they’re reading a paperback. One way to utilise bookmarks is to give them out at physical events (COVID-permitting, of course) but you can also insert them into copies of your book. Obviously, the person buying your book doesn’t need advertising to, but they may use your bookmark on social media or gift it to a friend if it’s aesthetically pleasing.
Bookmarks are also a great way to advertise upcoming or previous books. For example, if you’re selling your second book, include a bookmark advertising your first book, and if you have a book coming out, include a teaser bookmark in your other books.
Make sure your bookmarks are not just giant ads – yes, include the cover art and title but don’t make it look like promotional matieral. The most successful bookmarks will be aesthetic as people are more like to take photos of them and post them to social media.

8 – Discount flyers

Again, websites like Canva make designing and printing flyers relatively inexpensive. The flyers I created when I was advertising The Weight of Rain only cost me £10 to print 50. If you sell your book via your own website, flyers for discounted prices can be really effective. Make sure you have permission from landowners/businesses to hand out flyers or leave them in offices, shops and cafes.

Part Three – Creative Promotion

9 – Guest Blogging

Lots of website (including this one! Email tcemerys.writer@gmail.com to apply) allow authors to write guest blog posts. As part of the post you can link to your book, website and even social media to promote yourself. Writing a blog post may only take you a few hours and could bring you in a lot clicks and potential sales.
Be selective about where you decide to guest blog – your time is precious! Have a look at previous blog posts: Are they well written? Do they appeal to your readers in your genre? Are they engaging?

10 – Author Interviews

Bloggers, influencers and even other authors often interview authors on their websites to help launch their books. Try getting in touch with bloggers to see if they have any spots open. You could also try contacting your local newspaper or magazine to see if they would be interested in interviewing you.

11 – Guest Speaker on a Podcast

One great free book advertising strategy is to get involved with a writing or reading podcast. Podcasts (like mine – The Midnight Quill Podcast) often feature guest authors. Some podcasts might even interview you or promote your book for you. Look for writing and reading podcasts and see who is open for interviews. You may have to offer a free copy of your paperback or ebook or they may invite you on without reading the book first.

12 – Character Art

Current fans and potential readers alike will respond to artwork of your characters – it helps them get to know the protogonist and side characters.
There are two ways to do this Firstly, if you have a skill for drawing, make your own. Tease the drawing by only including half and have your social media followers guess which character it is. Secondly, ask your followers to draw the characters and submit them to you. Combine this with a giveaway for your favourite to maximise submissions.

Did you enjoy our cheap and free book advertising tips? Looking for more content? Read my series of writing articles for beginners and experienced writers alikeClick on each photo to read the article.

Find more tips for free book advertising here.


The Weight of Rain – A Collection of Short Fiction

Click here to purchase:

The Weight of Rain, T. C Emerys’ debut collection of short stories, are set across Britain and Ireland. They are emotional, suspenseful and hopeful.

“Living with pain, every day is different. Unfortunately, the world’s expectations of me are the same.”

Eira is a young woman learning how to cope with chronic pain and the loss of her father.
Ginger is struggling through Christmas day with a family she feels disconnected from.
Claudia’s husband took a train and didn’t come back.
Cathryn’s wife is hiding something.

Each of these people has loved and lost, and the rain falls on them just the same. These stories show that there is always hope, even under the gloomiest of skies.

Fans of Matt Haig will love these delicate, sad and hopeful stories.

“Powerful, emotional, deep… This will not be the last I read from this talented and gifted author.”

“Beautiful… I read this book in one sitting. Thank you T. C. Emerys for changing my view of short stories.”

“These grab you as soon as you start reading. I can’t wait to read this author’s next book.” 

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