So, I’m reading this absurd article on all the things you need to spend money on to market your own book. Oh noz, you have to pay a zillion dollars for a website, for a mailing list, for copy and editing for your website, wtf? I’m not even going to link to article because, seriously, WTF?
Here’s the deal. If you’re willing to put the time in yourself, you can do almost all of your book marketing for free. It may be worth it to you to pay for someone else to do everything- and if you’re in a position to do that, awesome! Go for it! But if you’re not, or if you’d prefer to have strict control over everything, here’s a brief guide to doing it yourself.
Blog/Website: More and more people are using Blog software to host their entire websites. WordPress is fantastically flexible, free and your URL can be an easily memorable yourname.wordpress.com. WordPress has about a zillion free themes so you can customize like whoa, and because it’s an integrated service, it shares your links on other blogs like yours to drive traffic. FOR FREE.
Graphics: Graphics for your website, your bookmarks, your postcards whatnot- you can create them yourself for free, from the bottom up. Download a copy of GIMP image manipulation software, and play with it.
It’s not hard, and if you’re not design-oriented, download templates from a print shop, look at examples of other people’s bookmarks, and figure out the elements that you like from there.
Printing: If you have a really great printer at home, you can do your own business cards. You probably should pay a printer to make your bookmarks and postcards though. They’re not terribly expensive, especially if you buy in bulk.
Copywriting and Editing: This was possibly the stupidest point in the article. We’re WRITERS. Write your own copy for free- after all, you know your own bio and book better than anybody- and edit it yourself. Have a friend look it over for typos. Post.
Email Marketing: 1) If by e-mail marketing, they mean spamming a bunch of people, don’t do that. It’s annoying. 2) If by e-mail marketing, they mean create a mailing list for your readers– Google Groups and Yahoo! Groups are both functional, easy to use, and free to set up, use and moderate.
Review Copies: An unavoidable expense- even if you get a buttload of author copies, you still have to pay postage.
Publicity: You can post a press release for free on Free Press Release or PRLog, but don’t spend money on pay sites. Why? Because online press releases are an excellent way to beef your Google ranking and that’s about it. You know what else will beef your Google rating? Updating your blog frequently.
Learning: Oh hey look! This is where- if I were trying to make money off of you- I would ask you to send me money so I can send you all of my SPECIAL marketing tips that aren’t available anywhere else. Me, though, I’m going to give you links to my free marketing advice that you can use anytime you want at absolutely no charge to you.
- How to Build a Mailing List: A Simple Guide to Data Mining
- How to Build Your Own Press Kit
- The Art & Craft of Self-Promotion
- Your Bossy Self-Marketing Timeline (I)
- Your Bossy Self-Marketing Timeline (II)
- The “I Have a Life” Marketing Plan
Administrative: If you’re popular enough to need an assistant, you probably don’t need any marketing advice.
I know I sound a bit cranky, but it makes me crazy, crazy, crazy to see people imply that authors can’t possibly do any of this themselves, that authors should spend their entire advance and pawn their cars and firstborn children to promote their books.
It’s ridiculous, and it’s wrong. Yes, as authors, we do have to pay for our own promotion, but we do NOT have to pay for all of it. As you see listed here, you don’t even have to pay for most of it, if you’re willing to invest the time.
Or, more simply- please don’t let somebody selling marketing materials convince you that you need to buy marketing materials.