9 Ways to Market Your Book With No Money

by | Jun 17, 2011

Recently the good folks at BookBuzzr.com, a company with innovative book marketing programs, asked me to do an interview for them, and of course I agreed. This article is adapted and expanded from part of that interview.

If you are an author with a minuscule marketing budget, how can you ensure that your book is noticed at the time of the book launch?

This is a terrific question, and one that applies to many authors. With the tools so readily available, it’s tempting to simply push books out there, upload them to Kindle and wait for the orders to come in.

But it rarely works out that way. Inevitably authors come to understand that nobody is going to market their book for them. It takes a kind of dedication to continue to find ways to let people know about your book. You can get off to a good start with a book launch.

Book Launches for Fun and Profit

Book launch is an exciting, terrifying and exhausting time for self-publishers. As an author you might have thought your work was done when the manuscript was finished, but the publisher knows the hard work is only starting.

Self-publishers are in a good position to market their books, regardless of the budget involved. You know your book better than anyone. You also know the people who are likely buyers of the book, and what other books deal with the same subject.

As you consider your book launch, think about two things:

  • Who are the people who will benefit most from your book?
  • How can you communicate those benefits most effectively to those people?

9 Ways to Market Your Book For No Money

If you know who the people are, you just need to figure out how to communicate. Hey, you’re an author, a content creator. This won’t be that hard.

Not only that, many of the best communication methods we have cost nothing but your time. Here are some examples:

  1. Writing articles for publication on article sites or in offline media
  2. Participating in discussions in online forums about your book’s subject
  3. Communicating with the media by issuing regular media releases
  4. Curating content from other sources for people in your niche
  5. Creating content for publication by bloggers in your field
  6. Going on a blog tour and visiting blogs in your niche
  7. Sponsoring contests and giveaways, using your book as a prize
  8. Querying book bloggers and reviewers to see if they will review your book
  9. Setting up a mailing list for people interested in your work, and using it to communicate ideas that expand on your other communications

This list could go on. Although there’s no financial cost to these activities, each one will support your image as an expert in your field and put you in contact with networks of people interested in your subject. And each place you make a contribution is somewhere else people can find out about your book.

That’s where book marketing meets the real world. There’s nothing more valuable than the contact you have with readers of your content. And there’s no more efficient way to spread your message than through the networks of other people interested in your work.

In a sense, your book launch may never end. We will probably never run out of communities to communicate with about our work. And when you publish your next book, think how much ground will already be prepared for your book marketing efforts.

Photo by Dan Moyle

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Aliya McReynolds

    Excellent article! I’m only 17 and I don’t have a job so these tips are useful for someone who loves to write but can’t afford to market. I thought spending $500 to professionally edit and publish was enough.

  2. Sherri McLain


    This cover discussion is funny, though not really the subject of the blog, which I enjoyed.

    I’m working right now with a designer, and as mentioned above, I’m almost happy with the cover, but can’t seem to get him to make two final (small) tweaks to it for me to be happy. Don’t want to annoy him or make him think I’m questioning his abilities. Was thinking of offering him more money, in case he felt he had already spent too much time on it.


    • Joel Friedlander

      Sherri, in my experience designing lots of books for clients, clear communication is much more important than an extra 1/2 hour or hour of chargeable time. I’m sure the designer wants you to be very happy with the end result, and by telling him about your final tweaks, you are giving him the means to achieve his goal.

      • Sherri McLain

        Hi Joel

        I think you’re right – that’s how I would feel as well. I’m just about to send the finished book to him to paginate (he read it BE (before editing) to do the cover), so I’ll try again. I really like your blog, BTW.=)


  3. Chris O'Byrne

    I love these marketing discussions. One piece of advice I’ve offered to authors that want to know what to blog about is to create backstory for characters from their book. Write short stories about each of the characters that tells stories from their past and fills in the information we’d love to hear more about. For example, The Lord of the Rings left so many openings and I would love to read more about the Ents, Tom Bombadil, and many more. This one idea can provide an endless number of blog posts that will turn casual readers into fans and keep your fans raving.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Chris, that’s a fantastic idea, and immediately made me think of many characters and story lines from novels I’ve read over the years that I would love to revisit for backstory and more. Thanks.

    • Norm Bass

      Chris, great idea! I typically develop my characters through the course of the entire book and frequently cut things that I would like to reveal about my characters because I can’t figure out how to work some details into the story. Creating a snap shot of each major character is genius.

  4. Roger C. Parker

    Dear Joel:
    I was wondering: How you would classify free publishing services like http://www.issuu.com where you can “publish” formatted PDFs in an online format that can be read at actual size online, immediately printed (without registration), downloaded, and shared.

    I’m fascinated by them not only because the publication covers can be easily embedded in blog posts and websites, but also because new readers may discover them when they’re reading similar publications.

    More and more, it seems that the challenge today is not in discovering free publishing and follower-building options, but in deciding which options to choose and where to start.

    Another challenge is that, ultimately, the success of any of the free publishing options is so closely related to the somewhat “mechanical” craft of SEO…often not a subject area experts primary area of expertise.

    Thanks for a provacative post.

  5. Byron Bales

    Hey Joel:

    My submission got kicked back to me because I provided two email addresses. I guess. Anyhow, good site. Very informative, and I picked up some good tips. My problem is that I’m in Thailand and can’t get good book covers. I had two created which are almost there, but not quite. Thai artists can be very good, but loose interest too easily when I wanted something tweaked. I don’t know all of these creative artistic programs and don’t care to learn. Too busy writing and investigating, which is what I do across Asia.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Byron, not sure what you submitted, did you send me an email that was returned? I’d like to know.

      As far as finding designers for your book covers, I don’t see any reason to restrict yourself to people in Thailand, there are great cover designers everywhere who can help with your project. That’s what’s great about the internet, after all.

      • Michael N. Marcus

        My cover artist lives about 10 miles from me, here in Connecticut. I met her once, socially, about nine years ago. We’ve been working together on books for three years — but only by email. She may as well be in Thailand. I worked with my editor by email for several years before we met in the physical world.



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