“The best things in life are free.”
How many times have we heard that phrase? Many times because it’s true. Love, kindness, compassion, understanding — they’re all free. Hugs, smiles, laughter, sleep — all free.
Belief in yourself — free.
And the truth is, many of the things you can do as an author to market and publicize your book are also free.
And yet, I hear over and over again how some authors don’t want to do the very things that will really help them promote their books, and — wait for it — they’re free!
The reason I hear most often is that it takes too much time.
I get it. I really do, but if you want your book and your brand to be successful, and I know you do, then there are a number of things you can do to make that happen…and they’re free.
Free is a really good price.
Before we get into the free options you can use to get the word out about your book, let’s address the one thing you must have in place:
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you know you have to have a website. This is non-negotiable, and to be able to use the free tools I’m about to remind you of, you have to have your own “piece of property” in the online world. This is so you can drive traffic and increase your visibility.
You likely already have a website, but if not, the good news is that you can put together a nice, simple one fairly inexpensively. It wasn’t all that long ago that you had to hire a talented programmer and 5K was the minimum it was going to cost you. To be fair, there were cheaper options, but they never looked very good and they could never represent your best self. I’m glad we’ve moved beyond them.
But what if…?
I am often asked if a website should be in the author’s name or the name of the book and my advice has been consistent: Put it in your name rather than the title of your book because you are the brand.
Who knows what you’ll be doing throughout the rest of your life. You may write additional books, you might create other products, you might offer consulting and coaching. Most likely your name will stay the same and will follow you wherever you go, whatever you do, so it will always be appropriate for you to use.
If you have a website using a book’s title, you will need additional sites for your other books and projects, and managing that can be a pain. Who needs that? There are plenty of other things to worry about so let’s cross that one off the list.
If someone has already claimed your name, consider adding your middle name, initial, or using a nickname for your website URL. Make it yours because that is your brand.
And now, let’s get onto the free stuff.
You’re an author so consider having a blog if you don’t already have one. If you find yourself saying, “I just finished writing my book. The last thing I want to do is write more.” Well, then give yourself a little break after writing your book, and then set up the blog.
A blog is a way to share your ideas, suggestions, tips, methods, and ways of whatever it is that your book is about. You are able to show that you’re staying current and you have helpful information to share with others.
If you have a newsletter you can take what you write to your opt-in community and then post it to your blog. I like to do that after sending out my Savvy Sunday News. Savvy Sunday readers get the information first because they have taken the time to sign up for it, they trust me and therefore deserve to be first to get the content. I put it up on the blog at a later time. This is just one strategy. There are many.
Keep in mind:
Once you’ve started a blog or a newsletter, then you need to commit to updating it at the bare minimum of once a month. Once a week is better, IMHO.
Sharing on social media is free too. At this point, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and other channels don’t charge you to have an account. They may at some point, but for now, this opportunity doesn’t cost you any cash. It’s a great way to continue to talk about your book, stay engaged with your community, and share what is important to you. Free.
Time and energy
Of course, time and energy are not free, that’s true. And there isn’t always that immediate payoff when we post or share that most of us would love to have, yet consistency and being there on a regular basis can become a huge benefit down the road. Much of my business comes from people regularly reading Savvy Sunday News and my blog, and when the time comes, people reach out to me. It is a wonderful honor and it reminds me of how powerful all of this can be.
Someone might not buy your book the moment you post about it, but they very well may later. Most of us need to hear about something a few times until we are moved to buy it — unless, of course, what you’re writing about is exactly what the person is looking for. Then you may get that sale immediately!
The tools are free! Creating a plan is free.
I am a HUGE believer in having a plan. In this case, I suggest creating an editorial calendar for yourself. I found this definition of an editorial calendar that works well:
Editorial calendars are used to define and control the process of creating content, from idea through writing and publication. An author or writer or small business might have this publishing process: Brainstorm content ideas to publish, where to publish, and when to publish.
Spell. It. Out.
For example: “I am going to write three blog posts per week. On Mondays, it’s going to be a tips piece. On Wednesday, a guest blog post from someone else, and on Friday, I will interview someone and do a Q&A. Then follow your own plan.
Whatever it is, having it spelled out as detailed as this saves you from having to think about what you’re going to do each day. You just do it. Then you post to social media or whatever your strategy is for promoting your book.
Once you have that editorial calendar filled out, enter it into your calendar just as you would an appointment with someone else, and then keep it!
It’s a very common strategy because it works. Writing content, sharing via your newsletter, posting to your blog, and amplifying through social media will bring traffic to your website.
I can’t tell you how many well-meaning authors have started a blog only to abandon it weeks or months later. If your last post was written 6+ months ago, readers will assume you don’t update your site, that your information is dated, and will wonder why should they stick around if you don’t?
Here is where I differ from other publicists and marketers. Many will tell you to make sure your blog is NOT dated. Blogs will allow you to hide the date, you see. Their thinking is that this is to make your posts look evergreen and that the content is current.
It has the opposite effect on me and I’m sure others. Showing the date is important because it forces you to stick with your editorial calendar and keep updating, and that makes you stay current. It means the reader isn’t sitting there wondering, “When was this written? What if it was current two years ago but not now? Do I want to give my precious time to reading it?”
We live in a world where information is coming at us 24/7, and information becomes dated quickly. Even if your topic is evergreen, the fact that you’re updating your posts means you’re there, you care, and you understand how the online world works.
No one is forcing you to write a blog, newsletter, or share on social media (although I do highly encourage you to use these tools), but if you choose to do so, then keep it up and make it a habit.
The great thing about these tips and suggestions is that they’re free. While they do take time, energy, and some planning on your part, you don’t have to spend your valuable marketing dollars on them. You can use that for tools and strategies that you can’t do yourself because you don’t know the industry or you don’t have the contacts.
The bottom line
The best things in life are free. Love, kindness, compassion, joy, and fun. In addition, we can promote our books via certain tools that are also free. You can do it! And by all means, do let me know from time-to-time how things are going.
To your success!
P.S.: Have we connected on social media yet? It’s another great way for all of us to stay current. Click on the Follow Me icons below and let’s expand our reach to one another.