10 Mostly Free Things Authors Can Do to Promote Their Own Books

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1. Fix Your Amazon AUTHOR Page

Amazon Author Central allows you to register as an author and claim your books. You can then add a bio, photos, a blog, and other content. Detailed instructions can be found in an article I wrote for Independent Publisher at https://tinyurl.com/amazon-makeover. You don’t have to build a website for your book if you trick out your Amazon Author Page and use it as your website.  If you do it right, you can promote yourself as a talk show guest, speaker, expert, consultant, etc., right from your Amazon page.

2. Fix Your Amazon BOOK page

Once you have registered with Amazon Author Central, you can control a great deal of the content on the Book Page for each of your books. Amazon provides six bins you can fill with content, including Editorial Reviews, Inside Flap Copy, Back Cover Copy, and About the Author. You can put anything you want into those bins, within reason, such as excerpts, reviews, special offers, rights information, tour schedule, etc. For detailed instructions, see the article referenced above in Independent Publisher. Be careful! Amazon will lock you out if you are too aggressive or annoying. Don’t link to anything outside of Amazon.

3. Put a MEDIA KIT On Your Website

A good Press Kit or Media Kit is the key to promoting your book to a variety of audiences and is foundation content for a book website. Your kit should contain a single-page printable summary with Contact Info, Book Summary, Author Summary, Book Cover, Author Photo, 

and META data such as dimensions, pages, ISBN, etc. I recommend an index to Best Lines, Power Paragraphs, and Best Excerpts, along with Keynames, Keyplaces, and Keywords. You should maintain Author Endorsements and Book Endorsements. Yes, you can squeeze all of that onto your Amazon Book and Author pages.

4. REVIEW Books

You should actively review books in your field, books you like, books Amazon associates with your books, books by authors Amazon associates with you, and ALWAYS link your name to your Amazon Author Page and your book title to your Amazon Book Page. Amazon will only allow links to other Amazon pages. Your reviews don’t have to be long or particularly insightful. Sometimes a good one-sentence review gets more traction. You should post your reviews on Goodreads and other review sites, as well as your own website, blog, Facebook, etc. You can self-syndicate all your reviews through all your outlets. (TIP: Publishers’ publicity departments will send you free review copies of books if you’re reviewing like this.)

5. LINK to Your Reviews

Link to your reviews from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, etc. Your book reviews on Amazon (and other review sites) have a unique URL which you can post on social media or include in an email newsletter. When your review gets traffic, Amazon notices and elevates the visibility of your review. This creates a positive feedback loop between your reviews and your social media that brings you to the attention of the media, talkshow producers, literary agents, publishers, and rights buyers.

6. BLOG Somewhere, Anywhere

Amazon will let you attach one blog to your Amazon Author Page. It’s worth getting a free blog (from WordPress or Blogger) just to have a way to push content to your Amazon Author Page through your blog. For example, Amazon will not let you use links that go outside Amazon on your Book Page or Author Page, or in your reviews or comments. However, you can get links to outside sites by putting them on your blog and attaching your blog to Amazon. Even if you only make a few posts, it’s worth setting up a blog. You can also get videos onto your Amazon Author Page using this blog backdoor. You don’t have to keep blogging if you don’t want to. However, it’s a great place to post all the book reviews you write and receive.

7. COMMENT on Book Reviews

On Amazon, your comments on book reviews can contain a link to your Amazon Author Page and links to your books or the books of others. If you’re reviewing, as recommended repeatedly here, you’re going to see other reviews that are worth commenting on because of the traffic they get or the topic. A few words of encouragement plus a link to your Amazon Author Page is all you need. (TIP: Comments on reviews are excellent vehicles for introducing yourself to other authors, editors and agents!)

8. COMMENT on News Stories

As an author, you’re an authority on the subjects you write about. Your opinions on relevant news stories are sought and welcome. You should be commenting daily using a prepared signature including the title of your book and a link to your media kit. One caveat is that most sites require you to have an account, verified by email, before you can comment. I have a campaign that turns this drudgework into a more entertaining and productive process — sort of a treasure hunt. Let me know if you want help with a commenting campaign!

9. CONNECT with 1 Reporter Each Week

Reach out to relevant journalists with a short email offering a free review copy of your book. This is the only activity on this list that costs money. There’s the cost of the book, the press kit, packing and postage. Keep your email under 100 words, NO links, NO attachments. If you need help pitching, see Chapter 7 of my book, Set the Page on Fire: Secrets of Successful Writers, which contains detailed instructions for creating effective short pitches for books and authors. You can hire me to pitch for you; I do it for a few authors every week. Pro Tip: Try HARO (Help A Reporter Out) for “reporters” looking for experts: https://www.helpareporter.com/

10. CAPTURE Connections Every FridayEvery day, authors make valuable connections they fail to capture. You should build and groom your own database of contacts. Every week, you should transfer the names of any new contacts from Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Email, etc. to your own database. Then you can look them up, fill out their profiles, send a thank you note, invite them to subscribe, share a special offer, etc. Keeping your own list protects you from being cut off from your contacts or charged to communicate with your own fans by these services. A well-maintained mailing list can be a valuable asset  worth up to $25 per contact when a business is sold! Pro Tip: Zoho CRM https://crm.zoho.com/

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