If you’re an author or publisher, you know that promoting your books can be a challenge, especially without a big advertising budget. Fortunately, there are plenty of effective strategies you can use to sell books without paid advertising.
In this post, we’ll explore some of the best ways to promote your books without paid ads, from organic book sales to low-cost marketing and some great websites to target as an author.
What You'll Learn
Increasing Organic Book Sales Without Paid Advertising
Organic book sales refer to sales that come naturally, without any paid promotion. To boost organic sales, you should optimize your book’s metadata (title, description, keywords, etc.) on online bookstores like Amazon, Google Books, and Barnes & Noble.
Make sure your book’s metadata is clear, concise, and relevant to your target audience. Optimizing these fields can help your book appear in the search results of your target audience.
To optimize your book’s metadata:
- Choose a clear and catchy title that summarizes your book’s main theme or message.
- Write a compelling description that hooks readers and highlights the key benefits of your book.
- Use relevant keywords that describe the topic, genre, or themes of your book.
- Choose categories that accurately represent your book’s genre and sub-genre.
If you aren’t sure about the metadata, ask readers in your genre or other authors. Make one change at a time, such as a new book title, and wait to see if your organic sales improve. If not, try changing the title again or try updating your book description to see if that helps.
Utilizing the search functions embedded in book sellers helps readers find your books just when they are looking to buy. That’s why this is top of our list. So make sure your book’s title, description, keywords, and such align with your genre and what readers are searching for.
For some tricks on improving your key words, check out Episode 32 of the Am Writing Fantasy podcast where we interview Dave Chesson from Kindlepreneur in a conversation that covers everything from how to rank on Amazon to insights on Amazon’s keywords.
How to Leverage your Author Website to Increase Your Book Sales
An author’s book website and blog can be powerful tools for selling books without paid advertising. By providing valuable content, building relationships with readers, and offering easy access to purchase options, authors can drive book sales directly from their website.
Here are some ways your author’s book website and blog can be used to sell books:
- Your book website should showcase your books in a way that is visually appealing and easy to navigate. Include high-quality cover images, book descriptions, and purchase links to make it easy for readers to buy your book directly from your website.
- Your blog is an opportunity to create valuable content that will attract and engage readers. Share insights on your writing process, behind-the-scenes stories, and tips and tricks for aspiring writers. By creating content that resonates with your target audience, you can build relationships and establish yourself as an authority in your genre. Plus, it will help attract new readers searching for the topics you write about (which should relate to your book genre).
- Your website should include a prominent call-to-action to encourage readers to sign up for your email list. Email marketing is a powerful tool for authors to promote their books, share exclusive content, and keep readers engaged.
- Offer incentives for readers to buy your book directly from your website. This could include exclusive bonuses, signed copies, or limited-time discounts. By offering something unique and valuable, you can encourage readers to buy from your website instead of a third-party retailer, which should translate into more profit for you (and a stronger connection to readers!).
- Your blog and website should be a platform for interacting with your readers. Respond to comments, answer questions, and engage with your audience. By building relationships with your readers, you can create loyal fans who will be more likely to recommend your books to others.
An author’s book website and blog can be used to sell books without paid advertising by showcasing your books, creating valuable content, encouraging email sign-ups, offering incentives, and interacting with readers. By using your website and blog to build relationships with your audience and make it easy for them to buy your books, you can drive book sales directly from your online platform, increasing your royalty rate.
If you need some tips and ideas for your author website, check out episode 95: A New Way of Thinking About Your Author Website of the Am Writing Fantasy Podcast (https://www.amwritingfantasy.com/a-new-way-of-thinking-about-your-author-website/).
How to Leverage Social Media to Increase Book Sales Without Paid Advertising
Social media is a powerful tool for book promotion, and it’s free! You can use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to connect with readers, promote your books, and engage with your audience. Be sure to share valuable content, not just promotional material.
To leverage social media for book promotion:
- Choose the platforms that your target audience uses the most.
- Create a professional author profile that includes a bio, photo, and links to your books and website.
- Share valuable content that is relevant to your genre or target audience, such as book reviews, author interviews, or industry news.
- Use hashtags to make your posts discoverable by readers who are interested in your genre or topic.
- Engage with your audience by responding to comments and messages.
- Don’t spam people with lots of posts to “buy my book.” Instead, find a variety of posts and topics that provide value to potential readers and offer new insight into your book, such as on characters, worldbuilding, plot, subplots, favorite quotes, reviews, and more.
Books are big on social media, if you look for them. The important part is finding where readers who would be interesting in reading your book would be active and then creating posts that interest them.
If you need tips on finding readers on social media, check out this blog post on How to Find Readers on Social Media or Episode 124 of the Am Writing Fantasy Podcast: Will Social Media Actually Help to Sell Books.
How Building an Email List Will Increase Your Book Sales
Email marketing is another effective way to promote your books without advertising. You can build an email list of readers and fans who are interested in your work and send them updates, exclusive content, and special offers. Plus, you can utilize them for feedback on covers, titles, descriptions, helping you to hone your book metadata before your book is live. You can even recruit from your mailing list for beta readers or to build a launch team.
Here are some tips to help you build an email list:
- Create a sign-up form on your website or social media platforms.
- Offer readers an incentive to sign up, such as a free ebook, a sample chapter, or a discount code.
- Send regular emails to your list, but make sure they are valuable and relevant to your audience.
- Personalize your emails by using the reader’s name and tailoring the content to their interests.
Use a professional email service provider, such as MailerLite, to manage your list and track your results. We recommend MailerLite because we use and love it. To us, it is the best email service provider out there. If you want to check it out, you can use our affiliate link to get all the premium features for free for a month.
It can be slow to start a new email list, so don’t be disappointed if it takes you time to get some traction. In the long run, an engaged email list will be what helps boost your book sales without using any paid ads. The sooner you start, the quicker you’ll get there.
You can get more tips on email marketing in our Self Publishing Success course. Access starts at only $10/month!
Why Writing Guest Posts Will Help Sell Books
Writing guest posts for other blogs and websites is a great way to reach new readers and promote your books. Look for blogs and websites that are relevant to your genre or target audience and offer to write a guest post. Be sure to include a link to your book or author website in your bio.
Some tips to write effective guest posts are:
- Research the blog or website and tailor your content to their audience and style.
- Choose a topic that is relevant and interesting to their readers.
- Include a call to action at the end of your post, such as a link to your book or website.
- Respond to comments and engage with the readers.
Most blogs will give you at a minimum bio space and link to your author website, if not your books. So use that space as a way of directing people back to your website where they can discover more about you, your books, and sign up to your email list.
Don’t forget to thank the website host in the comments and answer any reader comments as well—it’s just good form.
How Utilizing Book Bloggers Will Help Sell Books Without Paid Advertising
Book bloggers can be powerful allies in book promotion. Reach out to book bloggers who review books in your genre and offer them a copy of your book in exchange for an honest review. Be sure to follow their review policies and guidelines, which are often posted in their social media accounts or website.
These bloggers have established audiences of book lovers who trust their opinions and recommendations, making them ideal partners for book promotion. By leveraging their established audiences and networks, authors and publishers can increase their visibility, generate buzz, and ultimately increase book sales.
Here are some ways that utilizing book bloggers can help sell books without using paid advertising:
- Book bloggers often review books and post their thoughts and opinions on their websites and social media platforms. Positive reviews can generate buzz and encourage readers to check out your book, leading to increased sales.
- Many book bloggers organize book tours, which involve a group of bloggers posting about your book on their blogs and social media accounts over a set period of time. This can create a lot of buzz and generate interest in your book.
- Book bloggers often interview authors and share their interviews on their platforms. This can be a great way to introduce yourself and your book to a new audience and generate interest in your work.
- Book bloggers sometimes host giveaways of books, often in exchange for a review or social media promotion. This can be a great way to get your book in front of new readers and generate buzz.
Building relationships with book bloggers can lead to future opportunities for promotion and collaboration. By engaging with them and providing value to their audience, you can establish yourself as an authority in your genre and increase your visibility in the book community.
Remember to be polite and if they aren’t interested, don’t pester them. Just make sure to do your research so that you find book bloggers who are most likely going to enjoy your book. Check out the books they’ve read and how they write reviews to be sure you are comfortable with their content too.
How Hosting a Giveaway Can Increase Your Book Sales
Hosting a book giveaway on social media or your author website can generate buzz and excitement around your book, attract new readers, and encourage word-of-mouth recommendations. Encourage readers, such as those on your email list, to share the giveaway with their friends and followers for a chance to win a free copy of your book. This will help to spread word of your book to new readers.
At first glance, you might not think that giving away a free book will help you sell books, but there is a method to this tactic that just might net you some new readers.
Here are some ways that hosting a giveaway can help sell books:
- Hosting a giveaway can help increase your book’s visibility by generating interest and attracting new readers. By promoting your giveaway on social media and other channels, you can reach a wider audience and potentially gain new fans.
- Giveaways can also encourage readers to leave reviews of your book. Reviews are important for social proof and can help increase sales, as many readers rely on reviews before making a purchase.
- Giveaways can create buzz and excitement around your book, generating interest and potentially leading to increased sales. By offering a limited-time opportunity to win a free book, you can incentivize readers to engage with your content and share it with others.
- Giveaways can help grow your audience by attracting new readers who may not have discovered your book otherwise. By capturing email addresses or social media follows as part of the giveaway entry process, you can also grow your own audience and create a valuable marketing asset.
- Giveaways can encourage readers to share your book with others, leading to valuable word-of-mouth recommendations. By offering extra entries for sharing the giveaway on social media or with friends, you can incentivize readers to spread the word and potentially reach new audiences.
- If you give everyone who entered a “prize” such as a free short or your reader magnet, you can introduce them to your writing even if they didn’t win the book!
The trick with giveaways is you need to keep anything you are giving away within your genre, so your book or a book that someone who would like your book would enjoy reading. Don’t give away Kindles or gift cards—they won’t necessarily win you readers. But if you stick to your books or a book bundle of your books and some best selling novels in the same genre that will quickly attract attention and entrants, you’ll do well with this method.
Why You Should Participate in Book Fairs, Festivals, and Conferences
Book fairs and festivals are great opportunities to connect with readers and promote your books. They might not be free to get into, but at the same time you can often sell books and makeup for the cost of attending. And it isn’t really advertising such as on Amazon.
Look for local and regional book fairs and festivals and get a book a table or booth to showcase your books. These events attract book lovers and provide an opportunity for authors and publishers to connect with potential readers, showcase their books, and build relationships with industry professionals.
Here are some ways that participating in book fairs and festivals can help sell books without using paid advertising:
- Book fairs and festivals provide exposure to a large audience of book lovers who are actively seeking new books and authors to discover. This can help increase your book’s visibility and generate interest in your work.
- These events provide an opportunity to sell books directly to readers without the need for paid advertising. By showcasing your books and engaging with potential readers, you can increase sales and generate revenue.
- Book fairs and festivals are also a great place to network with industry professionals such as agents, publishers, and other authors. By making connections and building relationships, you may gain access to future opportunities for promotion and collaboration.
- Talking to readers and receiving feedback on your books can help you improve your craft and better understand your audience. This can ultimately lead to increased book sales and a more loyal reader base.
- Many book fairs and festivals offer speaking opportunities for authors, providing a platform to share your expertise and promote your work. This can lead to increased visibility and generate interest in your books.
Participating in book fairs and festivals can be an effective way to sell books without using paid advertising. By leveraging these events to gain exposure, increase sales, network with industry professionals, receive feedback, and secure speaking opportunities, authors and publishers can build their brand and grow their reader base.
Network with Other Authors to Increase Your Book Sales Without Paid Advertising
Networking with other authors in your genre can help you gain exposure and reach new readers, all without paid advertising. Join author groups and forums online or in person and participate in discussions and events. By building relationships with other authors, you can leverage their audience and expertise to increase your own visibility and ultimately sell more books.
Here are some ways that networking with other authors can help sell books without using paid advertising:
- Partnering with other authors to cross-promote each other’s work can be a powerful way to reach new audiences. This can include sharing each other’s social media posts, featuring each other’s books on your website or blog, or collaborating on joint promotions or giveaways.
- Collaborating with other authors on joint projects such as anthologies, box sets, or co-authoring can help increase your visibility and generate interest in your work. This can be especially effective if the other authors have established audiences in your genre.
- Networking with other authors can also lead to referrals from readers and other industry professionals. If an author enjoys your work, they may recommend it to their own audience, leading to increased visibility and potential book sales.
- Networking with other authors can also provide access to valuable industry knowledge and insights. By sharing information about marketing strategies, book launches, and other industry trends, authors can learn from each other and improve their own book-selling tactics.
- Writing can be a solitary endeavor, and networking with other authors can provide a valuable support system. By building relationships with other authors, you can share experiences and learn from one another, which can help to boost your confidence and motivation to continue writing and promoting your work.
Networking with other authors can be a powerful strategy for selling books without using paid advertising. By cross-promoting, collaborating, receiving referrals, gaining industry knowledge, and providing support, authors can increase their visibility and ultimately sell more books.
If you are wondering where to find other authors, check social media sites by searching under hashtags relevant to your genre. Plus, check out sites such as Bookfunnel and Story Origin, which offer authors places to connect and swap spots on newsletters. If you write fantasy, check out the Am Writing Fantasy Facebook group. We’d love to have you join us over there. Once you start looking, you’ll find a lot of places to meet other authors!
Be a Guest on a Book Podcast to Improve Your Book Sales Without Paying for Advertising
Podcasts have become increasingly popular in recent years, with millions of listeners tuning in each day. Why not use them to sell your books without using paid advertising? It’s possible!
Here are some ways that being a guest on a podcast can help sell books:
- Being a guest on a podcast allows you to reach a new audience that may not have heard of your book before. Listeners of the podcast may be interested in your book and may be more likely to buy it after hearing you talk about it on the podcast. Be sure the host puts links to you and your book in the show notes.
- As a guest on a podcast, you have the opportunity to share your expertise on a particular topic or talk about your writing journey. This can help build credibility with the podcast’s audience, which can lead to increased book sales.
- Podcast appearances can create buzz and excitement around your book. By sharing news about your upcoming appearance on social media and other channels, you can generate interest and potentially attract new readers.
- After being a guest on a podcast, listeners may recommend your book to others. This can lead to valuable word-of-mouth recommendations, which can result in increased book sales.
- Being a guest on a podcast can drive traffic to your author website, where readers can learn more about your book and purchase it directly. Make sure to include a link to your website in the podcast episode description or in the show notes.
Being a guest on a podcast can be a powerful way to sell books without paid advertising. By reaching a new audience, building credibility, creating buzz, encouraging word-of-mouth recommendations, and driving traffic to your website, podcast appearances can lead to increased book sales and help you reach a wider audience. Just remember to focus on podcasts that attract people who will read books in your genre and will be interested in learning about your book. And don’t forget to post about it on your author website to help spread the interview and show off your expertise!
Utilize Goodreads to Increase Your Book Sales
Goodreads has a huge member base of readers, making it a powerful tool for authors to sell their book without paid advertising, which is why we are giving it a standalone spot outside of social media. There are a lot of ways to be active on Goodreads, and most of them are free!
Here are some ways that authors can use Goodreads to promote their book without paying for any advertising:
- Goodreads allows authors to create a profile where they can add information about themselves, their books, and their writing journey. This can help readers get to know the author and their work, and can potentially lead to increased book sales.
- Authors can list their book on Goodreads in the Listopia lists, including information such as the book’s description, cover, and publication details. This can help readers discover the book and learn more about it.
- Goodreads is a popular platform for book reviews, and having positive reviews can help sell more copies of the book. Authors can encourage readers to leave reviews on Goodreads by including a call-to-action in the book or on social media. Plus, readers who can’t post reviews on Amazon or other platforms can often review on Goodreads, making it a great place to host your reviews.
- Goodreads has a number of groups for different genres, topics, and reading interests. Authors can join these groups and engage with readers to promote their book and build relationships with potential readers. Just remember to follow the group rules and don’t just spam it for sales.
- Goodreads allows authors to host giveaways for their book, which can help generate buzz and increase visibility. Giveaways can be a great way to get readers excited about the book and potentially attract new readers. Of course, this is a paid option and not free. But it can be worth it when launching, say, the last book in a series. Anyone who enters the giveaway will have your book placed on their shelf. When the book is released, they’ll get an update the book is now available, hopefully prompting some sales… of all the books in the series!
- Goodreads has an Author Program that allows authors to promote their book and connect with readers. This includes the ability to host Q&A sessions, add in posts and updates on your book, and more. This is a great place to connect with readers.
Goodreads is a place where authors can build relationships with potential readers and increase visibility for their book. If you want to avoid paying for advertising, its a great place to have a presence because you know the audience on it loves books!
Utilize Wattpad to Improve Your Book Visibility
Wattpad is a platform that can help authors sell books without using paid advertising. With 90 million monthly users, there are a LOT of readers looking for new stories on Wattpad. And they are active! Happily commenting, liking, and reading lots of stories.
Of course, Wattpad lets you read for free, but it can still help to increase your book sales. Here are some ways that authors can use Wattpad to promote their book:
- Authors can share excerpts or sample chapters of their book on Wattpad to generate interest and give readers a taste of what the book is about. This can help to pique readers’ curiosity and potentially lead to increased book sales. If you don’t want to publish sample chapters, write something related to your book and is exclusively only available on Wattpad. At the end of the story and in your Wattpad bio, link to your author website and/or books.
- Wattpad allows authors to engage with readers through comments, messages, and even live events. By building relationships with readers, authors can potentially increase their fan base and generate more interest in their book.
- Authors can offer exclusive content on Wattpad, such as deleted scenes, bonus chapters, or exclusive short stories, to entice readers and keep them engaged with your writing.
- Wattpad also has a large community of writers, and authors can collaborate with other writers to cross-promote their books and reach new readers.
- Wattpad provides analytics tools that can help authors track engagement and readership, as well as identify trends and opportunities for growth.
- Wattpad regularly hosts writing contests, which can help authors gain exposure and potentially win cash prizes or publishing deals.
Wattpad can be a powerful platform for authors to promote their book and sell more copies without paid advertising. By sharing excerpts, engaging with readers, offering exclusive content, collaborating with other writers, using analytics, and participating in writing contests, authors can build relationships with potential readers and increase visibility for their book. It has a more modern vibe than Goodreads and might just be the place where you can build your audience!
Improve Your Author Profile on E-book Platforms to Help Book Sales
Amazon’s Author Central is a free service that allows you to create an personalized author profile, add a bio and photo, and track your book sales on Amazon. You can also add editorial reviews and author interviews to your profile.
Other ebook retailers offer similar setups for you to create an author profile that highlights you and your books. A professional and welcoming profile that fits your genre will help resonate with readers and might be what convinces them to buy your book.
Here are some ways that utilizing an author profile can help sell books:
- By creating a personalized author page such as on Amazon, authors can improve their book’s discoverability. This is because Amazon’s algorithms prioritize products with complete and optimized profiles. By providing relevant information about yourself and your books, including high-quality cover images, author bios, and book descriptions, you can increase your book’s chances of being discovered by potential readers.
- Amazon’s Author Central and other book retailers allows authors to engage directly with readers by responding to book reviews, posting updates, and sharing additional content such as videos and photos. This can help build relationships with readers, encourage reviews, and generate word-of-mouth recommendations.
- Amazon’s Author Central and other book retailers provide authors with valuable data on book sales, including real-time sales figures and insights into customer demographics. This information can help authors make more informed decisions about their marketing strategies and tailor their approach to reach their target audience.
- Amazon’s Author Central offers a range of marketing tools that can help promote your books, including Amazon’s “Follow” feature, which allows readers to receive notifications about new book releases and author updates. This one is FREE! So ask your readers to follow you there or on other platforms such as your profile on BookBub, etc.
- By creating a professional and polished author page, authors can gain credibility and establish themselves as experts in their field. Remember, a reader might very well judge a book by its cover, so making sure your author profile is error free and up to date shows you care about your books. This can help increase reader trust and lead to more book sales.
Promoting your books without advertising is possible and can be highly effective. By using these strategies, you can increase your book sales, gain exposure, and connect with your audience on a shoestring budget. Remember to be creative, persistent, and strategic in your book promotion efforts.
As you build an author platform through these techniques, you’ll create content that will last longer than a paid ad that disappears as soon as you stop paying for it. So you’ll have lots of crumbs spread across the web that lead back to you and your books, helping to build your sales over time.
Building a following and growing your book sales through these strategies without using paid advertising can take longer but it can also build a very devoted following for your books and writing. And impassioned readers can be essential in spreading the word about your books to more readers. That should make it worth the time and effort, beyond a way to save you some money.