As authors’ responsibility for marketing their own books has arisen, so has an industry to help them out. Where book marketing services used to be limited to agents, publishers, and publicists, you now can hire coaches, editors, book designers, marketing consultants, web design experts, social media consultants, and on and on.
Some authors need to hire someone to do every step of their book marketing, from ghostwriting to cashing the checks. There are good reasons to do that. For those people, it’s just not worth their time, money or energy to learn the skills or to take time away from other important pursuits (including writing).
On the other hand, there are some very good reasons to make use of free book marketing strategies:
Managing Your Budget
Budget is the obvious reason. Some people are getting started on low income, high debt, or both. Amanda Hocking, who made nearly a million dollars in the first year after beginning to publish her own books, was working a job that paid about minimum wage. She didn’t do all her marketing using free book marketing strategies, but she did well on a shoestring budget.
Even if you’re going to hire someone to create your website or design your cover for you, you need to know what a good website looks like or how to recognize a good cover. You need to be informed about the competence of the people you hire and the appropriateness of their approach for your audience. That goes for every step of the process, from book design to coaching to publicity.
Enjoying the Process
Maybe writing isn’t the only thing you like to do. Some people like to play with web coding or to create powerful images. Maybe you like book design or event planning. If you’re good at it and you like it, you might as well do it.
Even if you’re not so good at it, doing it yourself might be give you a good first draft or conceptual plan, saving you time and money down the road. Your book cover, for example, is a powerful piece of marketing for your book, and it’s important to budget to get it done right. Even so, seeing your book in a final form can help you finish the book or maintain the mood you’ve got in mind — even if you know it’s not going to be the final version. And if you discover elements you want to keep in the final design, you can discuss them with your book designer.
Employing Your Unique Voice
Some parts of the book marketing process really can’t be done by anyone else — not if you want to maintain your authentic author’s voice. A big corporation can hire some social media staffers to write their Twitter and Facebook posts, and that’s fine. But for most authors selling their words, that personal voice is too important to hand off to someone else.
You can have a free blog on Blogger or WordPress.com. You’ll want a professional writer’s website down the road, but if you’re just getting started in the medium of blogging, this can be a great way to learn the ropes without getting bogged down in technology.
Guest blogging and blog book tours are powerful ways to expand your audience and cost only the time to produce quality content that will appeal to the audience of the bloggers who host your blog posts or other content.
You can create videos with your smart phone and host small-scale webinars with Google+ hangouts. The web abounds with free book marketing resources for people who have the patience to learn them.
You’ll want to be deliberate and selective about your social media and blogging. Locate your target audience online and off and find ways to meet them. And then don’t waste your efforts blanketing all the channels when you only need one or two. For example, if you write business books, you may want to skip Facebook and focus on LinkedIn. If you write fiction, you might want to invest your time in Goodreads. If you’re into design or cooking, Pinterest might be the best avenue.
Incorporating Free Book Marketing Strategies into Your Book Marketing Plan
Unlike the days when the only available author services were agents, publishers, and publicists, you now have a whole range of services to choose from, provided by capable, competent experts in various aspects of book marketing. They love books and love helping authors.
Even if budget isn’t your issue, taking the time to at least experiment with free book marketing strategies can give you real insight into what you’re asking for, make it easier to work with the experts you choose, and give you true ownership over your book marketing plan.