However you choose to publish, you’ll need to do some DIY book marketing. If you’re an introverted writer who only wants to write, this puts you far outside your comfort zone. Where should you even begin?
Like it or not, your book’s success may depend on your answer to that question — and your ability to start somewhere, even if you start small. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by the idea of putting yourself out there for book publicity, here are a few steps you can take today, from the comfort of your home office.
1. Update your bio on key platform sites
This includes Goodreads, Amazon Author Central, Twitter, your own website, and anything else you consider essential to your author platform. Your profile should be fairly consistent across platforms, and reflect who you are as a person and a professional. Include a link for people to buy your book. If you don’t have a good photo to go with your bio, add that to your to-do list.
2. Order book postcards
Have you ever met someone at a conference and had them give you a postcard about their book? This is a great way to cement those fleeting connections. Conferences are overwhelming, and it’s easy to forget about the book you promised to look up on Goodreads. Postcards give a perfect reminder of all the important details.
If you have the resources to go back to your cover designer and ask them to put together a postcard for you, go for it. Otherwise, the Canva webapp works great for designing promotional materials. You can use your cover art to get started. Make sure the postcard also includes your book’s title, purchase URL, and any relevant promotional blurbs, along with your name and website.
3. Email your local bookstore
Ask if they’d have you for a live event. Most independent bookstores host evening readings and signings with local authors. While you’re at it, join their email list so you know about upcoming events with other writers you’d like to meet.
4. Email a popular blogger in your circle
Do you know anyone with a popular blog in your genre? Contact them and propose a guest post. Remember: you aren’t asking for charity. Emphasize the value your post will bring to readers.
For example: If I want to promote my book Order from Chaos on a popular blog for women with ADHD, I’ll offer to write an article on a topic those readers would enjoy — that just happens to be addressed in greater detail in the book. I’ll include a link to buy the book somewhere in the post, as part of a call to action if readers want more.
In other words, think of guest posts like a sneak preview of your book’s content, not as an advertisement. Fiction authors can write an advice column like this one, a post about the writing retreat where they wrote the first draft, or an inside look at the research they did for the book.
Remember to treat bloggers like the professionals they are. Propose your article idea like you would for any nonfiction publication, and highlight the unique value you’ll bring to the table.
5. Put a link to purchase your book in all your social media profiles
Even after a Kickstarter campaign, several email updates, links on my websites, and multiple mentions in blog posts, my friends and family still ask me: How can I get a copy of your book?
Put a link to purchase your book in every social media profile you have. Add a call to action below your email signature. Create a page on your website for your book. Don’t give anyone an excuse for not knowing how to get a copy.
6. Send (or follow up on) reviewer copies
Have you given reviewer copies of your book to any friends, family, fans, or followers? If your Goodreads and Amazon reviews look sparse, take five minutes to craft a follow-up email reminding these folks to leave a review. Include direct links to your book on all sites where you’d like a review. Make it easy.
If you haven’t distributed any reviewer copies, or if you feel like you could do more, go for it! If you have the ebook (.epub or .mobi) file, sending it to a few key people won’t cost you anything. As a bonus, you can use your book to promote your email list: enter anyone who joins during your promotion into a drawing to win free copies.
Remember: every little bit helps
Don’t let your limited time and resources discourage you. Book publicity is an ongoing process. Something is usually better than nothing. So what if you can’t pay $400 to list reviewer copies on NetGalley? Incentivize mailing list signups with a book raffle instead. Some aspects of your book’s sales momentum may be out of your control, but you have plenty of options for DIY publicity. All you have to do is put yourself out there.