NOTE: This post has been revised since publication due to marketing/social media/website changes.
Marketing is all a game of chance. There are no right answers. All you can do is try and see what works for you.
Below are 100 marketing options. 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 brand.
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.
5. Create a newsletter. Lure people to opt-in for your email list/newsletter with an incentive, such as a free book or gift. Then create good, interesting content 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, too. So why not set one up? You can give them a special badge (image) to put on their blog/website, and you can also create a Facebook group for everyone to go to and chat.
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.
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 for 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 on your books’ Amazon page.
12. Give Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) to anyone interested in reviewing your book before release day.
13. Also look for snippets of reviews to put on a testimonial page on your website. This is good because it shows you have cred. You can have testimonials for specific books, your overall writing, your services, or even your blog.
14. Mail galley copies to pre-publication reviewers and major magazines. Most need these copies 3–5 months in advance of the release date.
15. Approach local book clubs/reading groups to see if they’d be interested in reading your book. Most members buy the books they want to read. This will result in quite a few reviews and sales.
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 Amazon book page.
20. Join Goodreads Groups. There are many groups for many different genres. Follow the rules set out for authors in each group before you post promo. While you are there, connect to readers and other authors.
21. Use Goodreads groups to get reviews. Many groups have discussions to help authors get reviewers. You will need to provide the necessary info as a comment or separate post 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. “Friend” other authors by clicking the down arrow next to “Follow Author” and selecting “Add as a Friend.”
24. Add all of your books to your website/blog. You can do this on the sidebar and/or create a page. And make the images clickable with a URL to your books’ Amazon pages, so visitors can buy your books.
25. Use your website/blog to make announcements, and then send people there using social media to see that announcement.
26. Create a “Special Features” page on your website for deleted scenes, facts, soundtracks, book/character tidbits, etc.
27. Update your bio as necessary.
28. Find unique ways to promote your website daily or weekly.
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 books.
30. Create quote images with your tagline, logline, dialogue, and lines from your blurb and 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.
32. Join Twitter Chats such as #1LineWed. You can’t share buy links, but you can still generate 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.
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 list your books. Everyone you send an email to will see it.
36. Do Live videos on Facebook to connect with your readers.
37. Create videos related to your books and upload them to YouTube. Then upload them to your Goodreads author page and your Amazon author profile.
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 accepting author interviews. To save time, have a list of questions already prepared.
40. Do a cover reveal. Use a Google Form so people who want to help can sign up 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.
41. Guest blog and have guests on your blog. It’s as simple as asking authors/bloggers. Don’t be afraid. At the worst, 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.
TIP: Don’t just share excerpts from your book, though. 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 previously published books in them. You can create a list of books in the beginning or share an excerpt for a book or two at the end.
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 (unless you really want those 5 free days). Select wants you to publish exclusively with them for 3 months.
47. Turn your books into audiobooks with ACX.com.
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. Ask your supporters to share a release day announcement on their blog, Facebook page, and/or Twitter feed.
51. Do a Facebook Release Party. Make sure it’s set as “public.”
52. Add your books to book websites such as Manic Readers, BookLikes, Book Goodies, Book Buzzr, and Awesome Gang.
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, ask if they’d like to be part of a big promo opportunity. Every author can share promos for everyone on their blogs. You can do the same locally with a group of authors for a signing/event. Or you can contact other authors signed with your publisher to cross promote.
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 and respect.
57. Contact a few famous authors and ask if they’d like to read your book and give an endorsement. The worst they could say is “no” or not respond at all. You won’t know what’ll come out of it until you try.
58. Get on your local radio and TV shows, such as Public-Access Television.
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. Always offer a Free Entry.
61. Offer your readers sample chapters or short stories for free.
62. Create unique SWAG for giveaways.
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 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. Carry a couple of copies of your book wherever you go. If you happen to strike a conversation with someone and they become interested in your book, you can give them a copy for free or sell it to them with a discount.
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 an eBook as free, if you’ve self-published. If you do this, Barnes & Noble and Kobo will also follow suit. Then you can notify Amazon and they will price match your eBook.
68. Use Kindle Direct Publishing’s (KDP’s) 5 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, even digital ones like InD’tale.
73. Buy a $10 Goodreads ad and target all readers.
74. Make fliers and pass them around or ask your local libraries if you can pin your flier to a bulletin board.
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.
78. Record a video of yourself reading an excerpt of your book and post it everywhere, even add it to your Goodreads and Amazon profiles. This is perfect for people afraid of doing a live reading.
79. Do a book reading at a local library, book store, independent 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 table 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 book’s 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. When you get home, send them an opt-in email so they can confirm subscription. Or have a tablet on your table and have them sign up at the event.
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 them!
Go to Your Local Community:
88. Look for speaking opportunities at schools, conventions, libraries, etc.
89. Teach a class or workshop.
90. Go to local schools for career day, do classroom or media center readings/presentations, have a table at the school’s spring fling or other fests, and donate a copy of your children’s book to their media center.
91. Email the directors of your local libraries and pitch them your book to be added to their collection. Providing a copy is the easiest way to get your book in their system.
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 about it, and they may do an article about you.
96. Create a book trailer. Put it on your website, blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, Amazon profile, everywhere.
97. Ask fans to make a book trailer.
98. Get on podcasts created by established authors.
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.
There are many more things that authors can do to promote their books, but these will get you started.
Now that you’ve gone through this information, make a plan to start doing one of these. Then after you do that, try another. And then another. And... well, you get it.