5 Free Book Publicity Strategies

5 Free Book Publicity Strategies You Can Use Right Now

I’m going to level with you: I’m technically broke right now. I’ve started out on this website rather recently, and blogs tend to feel like they’re going nowhere for about a year before you get a return on investment. At the same time, the company I work for is going through some kind of financial slump and they’re paying dick. I don’t even know who Dick is. But I have this dream to be an author, and I will not have something insignificant like a lack of finances stand in my way. Until I’m back on firmer ground and don’t have to funnel all my money into daily survival, I am not using paid advertising. That is why the idea of free book publicity strategies really appeal to me and, if you’re here, I’m guessing it appeals to you as well.

Please note: If you’re reading this article, I’m going to assume that you are self-published or want to self-publish, and that you want to do your own digital marketing. I’m also going to assume that you have your website already set up and ready to roll. Also, I’m not going to talk about the most obvious ones like Facebook and Twitter. I will handle those separately in other articles.

A NaNoWriMo friend of mine recently asked that I delve into this subject, so here are 5 strategies to help us all along the way to become successful authors! 


This is the one that my NaNo friend mentioned to me from a talk she’s had with another writer. Let’s call this third writer “Writer C” because now there’s three people in this story.

Writer C said that she’s achieved success by utilising someone’s email list to sell South African romances to expats in Canada. This is an excellent strategy, since she’s being talked about favourably by someone else. This builds social proof. “Hey, if X says it’s great, then it probably is!” The email list also contains the exact target market she needed – expats from South Africa craving some romance stories from their motherland.

Sadly, though, this tactic is down to who you know. I personally don’t know a Canadian with an email list to be featured in his newsletters, so I can’t use this one myself. This is why it’s important to start networking so that you can meet other amazing authors and help each other out. But that being said, you will need to start building your own email list from Day 1. Don’t even think of selling an ebook without including a newsletter-signup link at the end. You definitely want a way to keep in touch and make a repeat sale.

Small Snippets

We live in a world where people expect more and more entertainment for free, and these people might see a tight-fisted author as an ancient relic. I won’t say to give entire books away for free in order to get more readers, but I will say to give small snippets away to entice readers. We’ve all been there. We pick up a book by a writer we’ve not tried yet, and it all falls apart when their book joins our Did Not Finish pile. You can never be everything to everyone, so a snippet of your story hosted on your website will tell a new reader whether or not your book is to their taste. This is pretty much what Amazon’s already doing with their Look Inside The Book program. What this does, is it creates a level of trust with a new reader and trust is fast becoming the currency of the digital age. 

Host A Contest

As previously stated, people expect more and more free entertainment. Nevermind the hours, days, weeks, months, or years that you’ve sunk into your book, people still want free stuff from you. It’s why digital piracy is still a thing and will continue to be a thing for as long as people exist. I’ll always remember a story a fellow writer told me about how one author successfully had her books removed off a book piracy website, only to have one of the users of said website email her to demand more free books. I think it’s important to adapt to the age of free information and entertainment by meeting your readers halfway. You can do this by hosting a contest where a reader wins a copy of your newest book. Free stuff, yay, but if the terms of the contest was for people to promote your brand, chances are excellent that you’ll have gained a few more readers in the process.

Join A Writer Group

Writers are also excellent readers. Joining a writer group will give you a fantastic group of wonderful people that will want to hear about your books. I must add, though: This kind of marketing is only allowed if the group consents, and remember the golden rule… no spamming! Become an active member of your group, help those in your writing community, make genuine connections, and you’ll soon have lifelong friends who will want to support you on your writing journey.


The idea of being in front of a camera doesn’t completely appeal to me, and it fills me with some amount of dread. But if you’re comfortable in front of the camera and want to vlog about your writing journey, then YouTube is the place for you. The marketers I know all agree that video is the future of digital marketing.

Best of all? A Google account is completely free, so you can get started with little to no additional expenses. I would even recommend not buying expensive equipment from the first day. Rather see if you can continue with regular videos. That’s the important part. The YouTube algorithm is ravenous and it wants you to upload consistently. It will eventually reward you by recommending you to people who look for Authortube content. (Authortube is the name of the community you’ll be joining if you go for this option.)

A YouTube Case Study

One particular successful case I can highlight, is a channel named Kate Cavanaugh. Either by design or happy chance, she found a ton of new subscribers (myself included) during 2019. By “ton” here I mean that she had a sudden influx of subscribers. The growth most notably started between 4 April 2019 (3 260 subscribers) and 29 April (8 379 subscribers). Her channel continues to grow as well. She’s at 30 700 subscribers at the time of this writing. (29 February 2020)

So then… How did she do this? My theory is that it was by uploading one particular video. On the 23rd of March 2019, she released a video in which she writes like Stephen King for a day. Since YouTube knew that I searched for Stephen King interviews before, it recommended her channel to me. I’m deeply curious about the writing schedules of successful authors, so I couldn’t help but click. Her “I tried writing like” series is still my favourite series on YouTube. This particular YouTube channel is very interesting to me because of two things:

  1. She’s not yet published a novel, but I know that once she’s published, and I had the money, I would buy her books in a heartbeat. I know that I’m not the only one of her 30k subs who feel like this.
  2. She’s already making an income by using YouTube’s ad revenue. Her estimated monthly earnings is between $38 – $607. Her Patron count is at 229, and considering that her only tier is $1, I am assuming that Patreon gains her an additional $229. Keep in mind that this is without her even selling books yet. 

However, remember that YouTube is not a quick-fix, and your mileage may vary. She didn’t start her channel last year. She recently celebrated 3 years of Authortube.

Kate’s lovely, though, check her channel out. And by the way, I use stats from Socialblade.com and Patreon.com for all of the above info on her channel.

Anything Else?

I’m sure there are other great ways out there for us to promote our books for free, so I’ll most likely do a follow-up if I gain more knowledge on the matter. Please keep in mind that the internet evolves all the time. These strategies may end up becoming obsolete as time goes by. I aim to update my blog articles every year, so stay tuned! 

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