How to Market a Self-Published Book (Under a Budget!)

How to market a self-published book under a budget? Perhaps this is a humble passion project for which you don’t want to break your wallet. Or you aspire to be a full-time author but can only start with a small budget. Whatever the case, check out these 14 cost-effective tactics for marketing a self-published book.

Main takeaway: Book marketing for self-published authors doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You can successfully promote self-published books by starting with a thought-out plan that encompasses low-cost tactics, especially with many online resources and channels available today.

But First, Plan Your Self-Published Book Marketing Strategy

Before choosing your tactics, plan your overarching book marketing plan. This will help you make smart decisions for your book promotions that fit your financial constraints. Take the time needed to create your game plan for how to market your self-published book.

  1. Think of this work in just three main steps:Develop your main book marketing strategy.
  2. Choose the tactics that best align with your strategy.
  3. Put everything in a timeline that matches your overall publishing process and schedule.

Here’s an example of a promotion timeline:

The awesome thing about marketing your self-published book is that you can do it without spending a dime. Many indies have found success through social media platforms alone while using free resources to help with their marketing collaterals. Let’s look at how to promote your self-published book with such cost-effective tactics –

14 Tactics on How to Market a Self-Published Book Under a Budget

Do treat the first four tactics as pre-requisites to marketing self-published books. They’re best practices you don’t want to miss.

1. Craft your author brand

Author branding is your communication style, website design, social media presence, and beyond. It defines your identity and influences how readers connect with you. Your branding should tie into essentially everything when promoting your self-published book.

When thinking about your author brand, ask yourself questions like:

  • What aspects of my persona do I want to share?
  • What tone of voice do I want to use with my audience?
  • What kind of design elements best represent my vibe? (E.g., colors, fonts, graphics)
  • How personal do I want to get?

It’s important to figure out your branding from the get-go. In this way, you can be consistent and, therefore, memorable. See this guide on building an author brand.

2. Set up your online hub

When it comes to how to market a self-published book, know that most self-published books are sold online. And to sell your book online, you have to promote online. To engage with people online, you need a digital hub where people can easily find and learn more about you. This hub can be your website, author pages on other platforms, or social media accounts.

You can build an author website with affordable options such as WordPress and Wix (both cost around $20 monthly.) If you don’t want to pay for anything, create a free page on blog platforms like Medium or Tumblr. Utilize the free author pages on stores like Amazon and Google Play Books.

Set up at least one dedicated social media account as well. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok are the most popular social platforms. (More on social media below.)

3. Ensure your best metadata

Book metadata holds information about your book: title, subtitle, pen name, series name, blurb, categories, keywords, pricing, and more. It determines where and how your book gets displayed in store algorithms. That’s why it’s crucial to have accurate and optimized metadata.

For example, accurate categories and keywords will push your book to the right audience. You wouldn’t want your novel about werewolves to fall under the vampires section. You also want your pricing to fit what your primary target audience is used to.

If your budget permits, invest in your cover design by hiring a professional designer. You can find designers on Upwork or Fiverr for around $300 to $500 a cover. Your cover is important because it’s the first thing people see when browsing for books. Your design should be enticing while fitting industry standards.

If you have to take care of the cover yourself, use Canva to create a design for free. It’s a fantastic tool for people with no design skills. Here’s one I put together in under 10 minutes (read this guide on how to design a book cover):

Along with the cover, your book description or blurb is another element people first see. Add the strongest and most emotional hooks in the first few sentences. If you got any awards or reviews from reputable sources, add those, too. See this guide on book description hacks.

It takes market research to craft your best metadata. To get the most current insights, check out PublishDrive’s AI book metadata generator:

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4. Collect book reviews

Here’s another pre-requisite. Land at least a handful of positive reviews before executing your biggest marketing moves. That’s because people won’t buy when there are zero reviews. You don’t want to invest in paid ads when you can lose out on converting people without convincing reviews.

Definitely ask your family and friends for reviews. Reach out to influential bloggers in your genre. Or get on online writer forums to swap reviews. Check out this list of book reviewers to reach out to.

5. Get active on social media

I mentioned setting up at least one social media account. But don’t just set up your social accounts; get active in these spaces. If handling more than one social channel sounds daunting, pinpoint one. Make sure to choose the one your target audience hangs out in the most. Here’s a helpful write-up on social media for self-published authors.

The key to how to market self-published books is focusing on building a fanbase of readers who will advocate for you and your content for your entire publishing career. To do this, you’ve got to use social media.

6. Start an email list

Other than social media, there’s also email marketing, which is a direct way to promote to your readers. Whether updating your people about a new release or sending a holiday greeting, you can use email to nurture your contacts for life. Trending marketing tactics and platforms may come and go, but a mailing list will always, more or less, remain.

Mailchimp is a popular email tool that’s free for smaller lists and then starts as low as $13 a month. Place the link to sign up to your email list on your website, author pages, and social media bios. Conduct regular quality checks, using double opt-in to prevent fake or mistyped email addresses, and cleaning up your email list. Read more on how to build an email list for authors

7. Run a pre-order period

Major bookstores like Amazon count book sales on the first day of release. That means you can collect sales during a pre-order period to increase your chances of landing in bestseller lists come launch day. You can use an online self-publishing platform like PublishDrive to set up your pre-order campaign across stores like Amazon, Apple, and more.

8. Organize a book launch event

How to promote a self-published book with a ton of buzz and fun? Throw a book launch party and celebrate your achievement. This is a perfect way to engage with readers as well. Invite your entire network via your email list, social media, and other channels. During the event, promote your pre-order or ask for direct reviews.

In the age of the internet, you don’t have to reserve a physical venue to throw this type of event. You can stream your event on social media without costing you any money. See how to launch a book on social media.

Use QR codes to make it easier for people to check out your book. All they need to do is scan your code to pull your book page. You can generate dynamic QR codes that provide analytics tracking with Uniqode's QR Code generator.

9. Run price promotions

A price promotion strategy entails promoting your book for a free or discounted price. This is one of the most effective ways to gain attention for your book. Everyone loves a good bargain! Most bookstores like Amazon have the option to set up your special pricing. On PublishDrive, you can schedule price promos across multiple stores from a single dashboard.

10. Test out paid ads

With your discounted or free book, buy paid spots on newsletters and promotional sites. Both Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy have hundreds of thousands of subscribers who are browsing for discounted titles. It costs less than $100 to get a spot for either. Check out PublishDrive’s promotion success stories with these channels.

You can experiment with online ads for even less than $100. For as low as $5 a month, you can start on popular advertising platforms like Amazon ads and Facebook ads. Amazon is the mecca of digital books. Buying ads on Amazon can help get your book in front of a wider audience. See this guide on how to advertise a self-published book.

11. Look for free featuring opportunities

Beyond paid options, there are a ton of free opportunities where you can feature in editorial programs or newsletters. Google around and collect a list of sites you can check for upcoming events. Or you can check PublishDrive’s regularly updated list of free featuring and sales events with its store partners like Apple Books, Bibliotheca, and more. See how to market a self-published book with PublishDrive’s book promotion services.

12. Consider a rapid release strategy

Here’s an ambitious tactic to consider. A rapid release strategy involves releasing books quickly, one after another, sometimes just months in between. This helps with building continuous buzz and momentum while feeding into store algorithms for relevancy. This is not for everyone, but it’s a powerful strategy. Learn more about rapid release strategy for books.

13. Network

How to promote self-published books as a professional? Join reading and writing groups in your genre. Share your own tips, chat with others, and get plugged in. Check out Reddit groups. Take part in book festivals to meet readers, industry pros, and potential business collaborators. Cross-promote by reaching out to blogs for a guest post.

14. Distribute wide everywhere

Last but not least, maximize your revenue streams by maximizing your reach. Publish your book in more than one format, like ebook, audiobook, and print – that’s called reaching every kind of book audience. Publish in more than one store as well. Don’t just stop at Amazon. Sell in spaces like Apple, Google, Kobo, and beyond.

How to Market a Self-Published Book Easily

Get a suite of book marketing tools on PublishDrive:

✅ How to advertise self-published books on PublishDrive? Simply choose from free or paid options in one easy view.
✅ How to sell a self-published book on PublishDrive? Simply upload your book and reach thousands of channels with your ebook, audiobook, or print content.

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