Sunday, 1 February 2009

Free and cheap self-promotion

Unless you are one of the world's most recognised writers or artists, promotion is always an issue.

Here are some methods I have come across for self-promoting which are either free or relatively cheap, should they be of any use to you:


  • Word-of-mouth (WOM): the biggest-selling self-published authors I know simply know lots of people and never stop talking. You can even sell 10,000 books this way

  • Set up a blog. Google gives you this blog for free, or you can even be paid if you ad Google Adsense ads

  • Set up a free Squidoo page

  • Advertise for free on Expatica – I got between 150 and 175 hits for each of my books in 45 days, e.g. "Blood & Marriage". I paid €39 for an enhanced business ad and got 85 hits within a week

  • develop YouTube promos – Windows Movie Maker is free and is relatively intuitive. Each video takes me about 4-5 hours – e.g.: “The Dance of the Pheasodile” and "Fishing, for Christians"

  • Set up free Facebook / MySpace etc. profile pages and set about systematically collecting friends

  • Surreptitiously promote yourself in Facebook groups which can often number 10,000+ members

  • Do signings in bookstores – most will allow you to pull up a chair for free

  • Contact local readers’ clubs

  • Record a PodCast - free software is available for the distribution of PodCasts, e.g. Poderator


  • Advertise on Facebook – it will cost about $US0.35 a hit, generating 10-50 hits a day

  • Advertising on Google – it costs more – approx. $US1.30 per hit – but you can get more hits

  • Do a PR release for around $US75, via or e.g. for "Fishing, for Christians"

  • Set up your own full website for approx. $US150 a year

  • Get coverage in local media for an event, e.g.:

  • Place bookmarks in other writers’ books. Some bookshops allowed me to do this, so in one shop I posted about 200 bookmarks in bestsellers by people like Nick Hornby, Ian McEwan etc.

  • Do door-to-door leafleting – cost of printing leaflets (even off your own desktop printer) + shoe leather

  • Print up some t-shirts and walk around advertising yourself and/or persuade friends to do it for you

If you are really going out to make money, there is one obvious lesson: “Don’t write the book you want to write; write the book which an easily accessible audience wants to read”. For instance, a book promoting the merits of alternative medicine is a likely winner – there are 44,000 alternative healers in the UK, all trying to justify what they do. Plug into them via associations, etc. and you have a huge market potential if you can persuade them to talk about it to their clients.

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