If you’re like most authors, the painstaking process of writing and publishing your book feels as though you’ve reached the peak of Mount Everest.
Enjoy the view while you’re up there because reality will set in quickly, and you’ll realize there’s much more work to be done when it comes to marketing. It will soon be time to publicize and market the book you’ve worked hard to produce.
Most authors are so exhausted by the time they’ve finished their books – and often so strapped for cash – that they don’t know where to start a publicity and marketing campaign, especially with little or no budget.
You don’t need a $20,000 publicist. Or a $5,000 assistant. If you have more time than money, you can do most of the publicity and marketing work yourself like a professional if you know what to do.
Help is on the way.
After two decades as a newspaper editor, I now work with fiction and nonfiction authors, among others, to sniff out the best places online where they can promote their expertise and their books.
You’ll recognize some of these book promotion websites. Others will be new to you. Explore them all. Choose the ones that will work best for you, depending on what goals you’re trying to accomplish beyond selling books.
13 Book Promotion Websites
This social networking portal makes it easy to find offline groups in millions of communities around the world that might want to know about you and your book. Meetup allows members to find and join groups unified by a common interest, such as politics, games, movies, health, pets, careers, hobbies and books.
Many of these groups don’t plan formal programs but they often welcome speakers. When I travel to an out-of-town speaking engagement, I try to contact a nearby Meetup group and ask if they’d like a free presentation. This is a great way to share my message and get attendeed to sign up for my email list. Many Meetup groups will be honored that you’ve approached them.
If you’ve written a book about home brewing, for example, look for beer clubs, home brewers and tasters guilds. They might welcome a presentation and even a book signing.
If you live in a big city, speaking at Meetup events could provide a huge source of new fans and readers for your work.
This is my all-time favorite online media database because it’s free and thorough, and because it lets the media edit their own listings. It’s the largest and best online resource for finding TV stations, radio stations, daily and weekly newspapers and college media throughout the U.S.
It also includes links to the Twitter feeds of major news organizations. Some of the individual listings for media outlets link to pitching guidelines at their websites.
If you’re launching a publicity campaign, go after the low-hanging fruit first by targeting media in your own community, like weekly newspapers, that view local authors as stars. Here’s a short video I created that explains how to use ULSNP.
This giant free directory is the perfect place to search for freelancers who write about your topic or review books. Search by state, specialty, or for “international” freelancers who live outside the United States. If you’re a freelance writer, you can add your listing.
What’s the value of forming relationships with freelancers?
Most write for a variety of publications. Let’s say you’ve written a book about U.S. parks. If a writer uses you as a valuable source for a story in Outdoors magazine, she might call on you again for a story she’s writing for the U.S. Parks Service.
Also, many of these freelancers review books.
The nonprofit Reader’s Circle connects readers to local book clubs, reading groups and literary salons. It has a strong presence in the U.S. and UK and has more than 1,000 book club listings.
Just click on “search” at the top or bottom of any page and enter your zip code. Assuming there are groups in your area, they will appear with the closest first. The database is amazingly sensitive to distance, so in urban settings listings often break down by single miles.
All listings remain indefinitely as long as they’re updated from time to time.
If your book promotes a cause or issue close to the hearts of nonprofits, this site can be a goldmine. Search the database of more than 1.8 million IRS-recognized charities and nonprofits and use the information to get reviews, speaking engagements and book sales. If you’re hired for a speaking engagement, try to sell your books in bulk by suggesting that the event organizer give one to every audience member.
- Arts, Culture and Humanities
- Education and Research
- Environment and Animals
- Human Services
- Public, Societal Benefit
This list includes more than a quarter million podcasts in more than 100 languages.
Podcasters, especially those whose shows are devoted to narrow topics, have loyal audiences because people often can’t find this type in-depth information anywhere else, and they love the convenience of audio. Lucky for you, many podcasters interview authors.
Before you pitch a podcaster to be on his show, listen to a few shows to determine if you’d be a good fit. Pay attention to the podcaster’s interview style. Read the show notes to determine if the podcaster already has covered your topic.
This service, known as HARO (Help a Reporter Out), provides free email leads to media opportunities several times a day. Because searching through this list is like drinking from a fire hose, reviewing these lists is the perfect job for an assistant.
If you have Gmail, you can also set up email filters for all emails from HARO so that you only see media queries that include your keywords.
If you see a query that’s a good match with your area of expertise, and you can offer exactly what the reporter needs, respond quickly and keep it brief. Here’s a video from Peter Shankman, founder of HelpaReporter.com, explaining how to answer a HARO journalist query.
If sorting through the voluminous list of media leads on HelpaReporter.com is too much for you, and you have more money than time, subscribe to Dan Janal’s service.
For $99 a month, he sends you highly targeted leads in your specialty area so you don’t waste time sorting through irrelevant leads.
Thousands of authors around the world use the free and paid versions of Bublish to write, promote and sell their books and their brand.
You can write your book on Bublish or copy and paste existing chapters. Create “rough cut” book bubbles as you write – complete with your photo, your book’s cover and a book excerpt – and share them across social networks to reach new readers, track engagement and build an author brand that drives sales.
Add “buy” links to your book bubbles so readers can purchase your book directly from major online retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore and Kobo.
This giant question-and-answer site is perfect for flaunting your expertise and answering questions related to the topics in your books. Questions run the gamut from world events, life decisions, how people think, and how things work.
When you answer a question, others can vote your answer “up” or “down.”
If you’re writing a book, the vast majority of Quora content is available for you to republish freely as long as you directly link to the original content and give proper credit to Quora and the original author.
11. Niche Media Databases
Many journalists and broadcasters belong to trade associations. In most cases, you have to join their group to have full access to all the content at the group’s website.
But if you’re willing to do a little digging, you can find juicy tidbits of information that will help you track down reporters who might be interested in knowing about you or your book.
Here are three examples:
- The Society of American Travel Writers includes 1,100 writers, photographers, editors, broadcast/video/film producers, bloggers, website owners, PR experts and hospitality industry representatives from the United States and Canada. I found a long list of blogs and columns written by SATW members, with links. Read the journalists’ blogs before you pitch because they’re chock full of topics and issues they think are important.
- The Association of Health Care Journalists includes a valuable list of independent journalists, complete with their bios, resumes, websites and clips. The clips will tip you off to other media that have bought their articles.
- The Religion News Association has a members search box that will help you find journalists, bloggers, students and educators. You’ll get their names and states where they live but you’ll have to find contact info on your own. Use Google, a researcher’s best friend.
Chase’s Calendar of Events is the most comprehensive reference available on special events, worldwide holidays and festivals, civic observances, historic anniversaries and famous birthdays. Use this directory three ways.
First, you can create your own day, week or month of the year and use it as a springboard to get publicity for a topic that ties into your book.
Examples: Home Office Safety Week, Hug Your Grandkids Month, Check Your Blood Pressure Day.
I recommend creating a month, so you have at least 30 days to generate publicity. The best way to convince the editors to accept your listing is to supply proof that it already exists. That means it must be listed at your website.
Second, you can piggyback onto someone else’s day, week or month of the year and pitch a related story idea.
Third, if you sponsor an event, you can submit it to the directory. Deadline for entries for the 2018 directory is April 15, 2017. Use this entry form.
Goodreads is the largest site for readers and book recommendations in the world. Its more than 55 million members have added more than 1.5 billion books to their digital bookshelves and reviewed more than 50 million books.
The two most valuable features for authors:
- The thousands of special interest groups, many on super-narrow topics, where you can find readers who are talking about their favorite topics, books and characters. Jump in!
- The Goodreads Author Program that encourages you to promote yourself and your books. Sync your blog to your Goodreads profile. Help readers discover your book with giveaways, advertising and excerpts. Meet readers in panel discussions and groups. You can even measure your success by tracking how many people have added your book to their digital bookshelves and marked it “to read.”
Check out our in-depth free guide to marketing your books on Goodreads.
Getting More Publicity for Your Book
This baker’s dozen of websites will keep you busy for months.
I recommend you start with just 15 minutes a day to publicize and market your books. If you keep that habit up, every day, for a year, you’ll be amazed how much free publicity and exposure you can get for your work.
If you’ve used any of these book websites to promote or publicize your books, or if you have other great book marketing websites to share, please post your comments below.
About the Author
Joan Stewart, aka The Publicity Hound, is the author of the forthcoming book BOOK HOOKS: 37 Fun, Creative & Timely Angles to Publicize, Promote & Sell Your Books. She shares snack-size publicity tips for authors, speakers, experts and business owners twice a week.