WORDS FOR WRITERS: Marketing for Writers with No Marketing Budget


Guest Post by Hayley Zelda

Book sales have previously been heavily associated with traditional publishers putting books in bookstores and various distribution platforms with the hopes of landing on a bestseller list.

In this new age of self-publishing and social media, there are so many new ways to promote books and drive sales. There are self-published books with 0 marketing dollars spent that have outperformed books with huge publishers behind them.

Here are five free ways to effectively market a book for authors who have no money.

  • Give your book to book reviewers for free.

A quick Google search of your genre and “book blog” or “book tube” or “book review” will pull up a big list of potential targets.

The power of book reviewers is that they already have an audience that trusts their tastes and thoughts. Popular reviewers can have regular audiences in the hundreds of thousands, meaning many potential sales.

If a credible reviewer talks positively about your work, you can be sure that it has a lot of weight. Many reviewers also look at other reviewers to see what books to read so if you get a positive rating you could potentially get reviewed on more than one blog.

Now, the idea of handing out free books when you are not making money from it can be physically painful. However, considering the alternative of stacking it at home, giving out your books for free can change the course of your career. It is especially true if you can get in the right hands.

Larger book reviewers tend to have tons of authors fighting for their attention already. Start with smaller ones and work your way up the chain as your reputation builds. To find smaller reviewers, search for lesser known books on Google and see what pops up. Usually smaller review sites are more likely to be reviewing smaller name books. For example, Wired For Youth would be a good target for a non-fiction author as the site is clearly still actively posting and has some audience, but also doesn’t have a huge following yet.

  • Post in Niche Groups.

Facebook is also a fantastic place where you can push your digital marketing skills. The easiest way to promote on Facebook is to join groups that are relevant to your book.

If you’re an expert in the topic, consider hosting an AMA (as me anything) or giving free advice. People love free advice and it gives you a great chance to plug your book.

You can also consider sharing a snippet of your book for people to read. People in Facebook groups hate being marketed to, so be clever about adding value before you start promoting.

If you’re targeting a younger audience, Discord is a fantastic tool as well. Discord is a site for group chats around specific interests with huge numbers of users.

To find Discord groups, use and find groups that have a relevant audience for you. Some servers have hundreds of thousands of members that might be perfect for your book. Utilize the search function to find what you’re looking for. For example, by searching “Harry Potter”, I found the “Hogwarts School”, which is a group of 1.5k passionate Harry Potter fans. 

  • Do events and free readings with relevant organizations.

Notwithstanding the fact that the majority of the human populace is glued to their screens, there are people who appreciate events, especially when it comes to books. Some excellent literary organizations that work with budding authors are also very much in business.

Make plans to team up with them and organize a free reading. Many libraries and bookstores love teaming up with local bookstores. It’s a great way to get your name out there and you never know who might be in the audience! 

If you decide to organize a reading event, get the word out on social media a couple of weeks in advance. 

Here is a link you can visit for more information on literary organizations. 

  • Share samples on storytelling platforms.

Readers from all over the world find their next favorite read online. While some love to hold a tangible book in their hands while reading, some prefer books in the digital format. 

Sharing a sample of your book on storytelling platforms is a great way to extend your reach and gain some readers. Storytelling platforms are great because you can be confident that the people there are interested in reading and finding new stories already.

Share a snippet that hooks people in (plot twists or withholding a key idea is great for this). At the end, include a link to purchase the full book.

A few great storytelling platforms include Medium and Storify for nonfiction and Wattpad and Commaful for fiction.

You’ll need to study the distribution mechanisms on each site as they are all a little different. Studying how to best leverage the platform to grow their audiences is the best way to unlock new sales!

  • Reach out to influencers and people with newsletters.

The power of social influencers in this day and age is staggering. There are tons of people on social media who have built massive followings that you can talk into. 

Reaching to one of these influencers will get you more readers than you can do while spending a fortune on advertising.

The truth is, many influencers these days want money. So many brands are willing to pay them, so they often expect it; however, you can still certainly do influencer marketing without paying.

To find influencers that may be willing to work with you in exchange for a free book, look for influencers with modest followings between 1,000 and 10,000 followers on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and other platforms. When evaluating influencers to reach out to, pay close attention to likes and views. There is no use in reaching out to somebody who is getting no engagement or viewers.

Focus on ones that are as relevant to you as possible. Find hundreds of potential candidates. Because many will require payment, it’s important to reach out to a large volume of potential candidates to look for ones who may accept a free book.

Search for specific topics on Instagram and Twitter and look for trending/top posts in specific hashtags that have good engagement. Then open up the accounts to see how many followers they have and evaluate if they might be a good influencer to promote your book. For example, you might search #HarryPotter if your audience lines up with the YA Harry Potter audience. You can reach out to potential influencers via the direct messaging systems or emails if they share their email.

  • Create A Bundle.

Find other authors and make a special deal to sell your books as a “bundle”. The bundle should be cheaper than buying the books individually and because everybody is promoting it, will allow for extra promotion across the board. People love a good deal! For example, if you’re bundling 5 books that are usually $10 each, you can make the bundle $30, which is a whole $20 savings! All 5 of the authors will be promoting.

You want to find potential collaborators that are also promoting their books. If the person’s book is too popular already, they’ll have little reason to work with you. If the person’s book is getting no readership and they aren’t aggressively promoting, then you won’t get any benefit by collaborating with them. You can find many potential collaborators in book marketing Facebook groups and Goodreads giveaway groups. From there, look at their Amazon rankings, ratings, and more to get a sense for if a collaboration will be useful. The key is to align incentives. You all win together.

  • Find Fiction Podcasts.

Many podcasts are made just to interview authors. They are made to promote and have interesting conversations with interesting authors. There are a lot of podcasts, many of them still starting out and just growing. These are great opportunities to get your book promoted. You can get interviewed, have your stories read aloud, or even just buy a podcast ad to promote your book

To find podcasts, you can use the search in your podcast app of choice or use a podcast search engine like From there, reach out to the ones that are relevant to you. Most have websites and a contact form or email address.

Volume is incredibly important here. Don’t just reach out to 5 or 10 and call it a day. If you’re going to use this strategy, go for hundreds.

In general, get creative! When you can’t throw money at the problem, you have to be clever and think creatively. You have to have the mentality that there are people out there who want to love your book. You just need to be clever enough to get it in front of them.


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