This is the second part of a three-part series on how indie authors can market their books whatever their budget. Here we offer tips for those working with a mid-sized budget (about $300–$1,000). Be sure to take a look at our piece on marketing an indie book with a low budget.
Even with a miniscule budget, an author should invest her time and (limited) resources in an author website, social media promotion, contributing articles and interviews, and other outreach to relevant audiences. But with a little more to spend, authors can take a look at a few additional areas and invest a bit more in the basics.
Promotions and Advertising
Authors with a few hundred dollars can afford to give away a few copies of their books—as long as they give them away in ways that garner the greatest impact. That means offering the freebies through a Goodreads Giveaway, or e-books through sites like BookBub, Freebooksy, and Bargain Booksy.
With a little money, authors will also want to consider allocating some funds to a targeted online ad campaign or two. Goodreads, BookBub, and other book sites allows authors to promote their books to readers interested in similar titles, and Amazon’s KDP Select offers pay-per-click campaigns for authors in its Kindle store.
Joanna Penn, author of How to Market a Book and numerous other titles, who covers self-publishing on TheCreativePenn.com, believes paid advertising is worthwhile, particularly if it’s for the first book in a series, and if done strategically. “Try to book a number of adverts on consecutive days in order to keep boosting your rankings,” she suggests.
Beyond book-specific sites, authors may want to consider Google Ads, as long as they carefully select which keywords to use. These ads don’t have to exclusively urge readers to buy the book. They can also be used for other calls to action, such as advertising an upcoming event, a special giveaway, or an especially interesting blog post related to the book.
“Facebook ads—on your author page, not personal ‘friends’ account—can be useful if you carefully select your demographic or boost a specific promotional post, or a particular book blog with high traffic in your genre,” says Rachel Thompson, indie author of several books, both fiction and nonfiction, including The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide, and who also owns the social media marketing consultancy BadRedhead Media. She adds that authors new to book promotions may also want to “pay someone in the know or study how best to utilize” these platforms.
Book club sites like Readers Circle and Reading Group Guides allow authors to list their books to be considered for reading in hundreds of book clubs at a cost ranging from $70 to several hundred dollars.
Upgrade Existing Marketing
With a few hundred dollars, an author can also shift her author platform from “basic” to “premium.” This includes paying for an email-marketing plan through a company like MailChimp or Constant Contact. These companies offer service levels that range from free (in the case of MailChimp’s “New Business” package), to $125 per month (in the case of Constant Contact’s Email Plus package, for lists of more than 5,000 email addresses). One of the inexpensive, entry-level options is a good place for authors to start, then they can scale up as their email marketing efforts get more sophisticated.
“Those services are better at making sure your emails reach their intended recipients and don’t get listed as spam by ISPs,” says Rob Eagar, owner of Wildfire Marketing and author of Sell Your Book Like Wildfire. “They carry credibility with ISPs to help make sure your email campaigns reach your entire list.”
An author can also upgrade her website, moving from a free template option to paying a web designer to customize a site. Or an author can consider premium packages through services such as Squarespace or Wordpress.
With a little extra marketing money, an author might also consider redesigning her book cover. As Penn puts it, the book cover is “probably one of the most important things for marketing your book,” and if there is one thing that makes the difference between generating interest in readers or being ignored, it’s a compelling cover. She says that an author should be willing to pay $500 or more for a professional designer—and if that means saving up for a new cover after the book has been published, so be it. “Never be afraid to redo a cover if the book isn’t selling,” Penn says.