Book Marketing for Self-Published Authors

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Book-marketing for self-published authors

For many self-published writers, it is a challenge to switch from the inward focus of writing to the outward focus necessary for book marketing. The reasons vary. Some writers are shy introverts, while others simply feel overwhelmed by the task and don’t know where to start or what advice they should follow.

Where to start your book marketing campaign

Generally a writer should focus their book marketing strategies on their strong areas first (e.g. if you are good at public speaking, find opportunities to speak to local groups). Next, assess and identify your trouble spots when it comes to promotion. Fix the easy problems first. For example, replace a bad author photo or a poorly designed book cover. Create make a timeline to tackle more difficult obstacles (e.g. fear of public speaking, the need for a new website). It can also be helpful to go to writing workshops and events and talk to other writers about their book marketing experiences.

You will also need a method to organize and track marketing tasks, ideas, and deadlines. Some people prefer paper lists and wall charts, while others prefer online tools. Workflowy is a useful online tool (see review of it and other similar tools here).

Below are more resources full of tips and tactics for the book marketing stage of self-publishing.

Book Marketing Advice for self-published authors

Reedsy – 50 best book promotion ideas
ALLi – Book promotion
Creative Penn – Promotion tips
Paul Jarvis – Book launch check-list
PW – Using email lists to market your book
Greenleaf – Amazon Author Central
David Gaughran – Digital book selling basics
Judy Cullins – Book promotion 101
10 authors – Book promotion mistakes
BookBub – Examples of promotion
Anne R. Allen – Use of “Look Inside” feature
Jane Friedman – Strategic use of free ebooks

“You don’t need a huge budget to have a successful digital marketing campaign. McCarthy urged, ‘Make small bets. Run $10-a-day targeted ads, A/B test, move quick. You don’t need a big budget to get a fire going.'” (Advice from The Hot Sheet , Digital Book World, 2017)

Author Photos and Bios

Check these links for examples and tips to improve your author branding.

Anne R. Allen – How to write an author bio
StandOutBooks – Good author photos
Jane Friedman – Why authors need a professional photo

Tips on how to avoid common author photo problems:

  • First, make sure your photo looks professional. Try to get a professional photo shoot with lots of photos to choose from. If you can’t afford professional photos, then ask some supportive friends and family members to help you choose your most suitable author photo.
  • Second, avoid distracting elements in your photo. Make sure your clothing won’t look dated in a few years. Don’t wear distracting patterns or have a distracting pose or background. Wear solid colours and keep your look simple.
  • Third, have you fallen into the ‘writing prop’ trap? Avoid using cliché writing props in your photo (e.g. laptops, bookshelves and typewriters).
  • Fourth, check if the style of your photo matches the style of your genre. For example, if you write noir crime fiction, it might look odd if your author photo has a soft pastel or romantic style.
  • Lastly, do some research and look at examples of good and bad author photos. See the links above for ideas.
Public Speaking Tips

Presentation Skills A series of simple steps you can take to be prepared.
Toastmasters Clubs Get practice public speaking (clubs in most cities).

Pro Book Marketing Companies

Cameron Publicity (UK)
IamSelfPublishing (UK)
Smith Publicity (US)
StandOutBooks (UK)
Self-publishing companies also offer book marketing services

Book Marketing – author experiences

Melissa Leong – Why self-publishers can’t afford humility
Mark Dawson – Build a fanbase with Facebook
David Penny – Facebook ad experiment
 – Experience with a publicity company
Beverly Ackerman – Publicity is a time investment
Steal My Book! – Peter Montford – When piracy is publicity
Diana Stevan – Library author fairs 

Social Media for writers

40 hashtags for writers
Twitter etiquette for writers
How authors use Instagram
Goodreads Author Promotion
Tips for writers who hate promotion
Find book bloggers

Share your writing

Building an Audience on Wattpad
Wattpad – Revenue for Writers
Canelo – Online publisher
Big list of simple online writing platforms

BC Books

BC BookLook is the website for BC Book World News. They invite BC writers to submit their information. Click here for guidelines.


Finally, here is a helpful talk by experienced author coach Matthew Ashdown. He describes how authors can often get in their own way when it comes to marketing their book.

Did you find any of the resources listed especially helpful? Do you have an idea for a resource that should be listed? Feel free to send an email.

Note: Links and information are for research purposes and do not replace professional advice. Accuracy of third-party websites cannot be verified. Links do not indicate endorsement.

Updated May 2018

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