Book Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide

A high level overview of basic actions authors can take to promote their books.

T L Murchison
T L Murchison
Person about to start running

Many authors would rather pay a marketing service or a publisher to handle book publicity, rather than learn how to run their own marketing campaign. However, the reality of today is that every author needs to know how to market and promote their books. Even New York Times bestselling authors with numerous books on bookstore shelves have to wade into the book marketing waters and act as their own publicist. Authors can choose to lament this reality, or approach the challenge with a growth mindset, and learn the skills needed to sell more copies of your book, and boost fan engagement. 

Fortunately, there are many ways to market your book in the vast landscape of social media, traditional media, and beyond to spread the word about your book and help increase sales. Many of these don’t require a paid service, nor do they require you to move outside of your comfort zone and show your face, or reveal things about your private life you don’t want splashed across the internet. In this article, we’ll look into different book marketing strategies authors can use to promote their books.

Author website

This one is an essential component of digital marketing. Many customers will research an author they’re unfamiliar with before buying from them for the first time. Whether it's reading after reading a blurb of one of your books, or reading reviews, or after reading one of your books, someone will at some point look you up on the internet. You need to have a clear online presence. Don’t make readers have to work to find you. An Amazon Author page is not enough. Ensure that there is a space on the Internet where you control how your books are presented to potential readers.

An author’s website is like a one-stop-shop to get all the goods on you and your books. Think of it like a business card—but on a much grander scale. Your website can be as complex or as straightforward as you want it to be. The goal is for the site to be a representation of you, the author. It must clearly identify what genre you write in and what your value proposition is. Essential elements include:

  • A landing page
  • An author bio or tag line
  • A list of your books. You may want to include book descriptions and show off their cover designs for added visual appeal.
  • A link to where to buy your books
  • A way to contact you
  • Other ways to find your on social media

How to Build an Author Website provides an in-depth look at each of these elements and offers advice on setting up your website.

A free option

There are alternative options to complex sites, and some offer basic versions for free. To dip your toe into the author website world, consider a site linking application like Linktree or Beacons. These paired-down sites are essentially a pretty version of a list of links on one simple landing page. The technology offers some limited customization such as pictures, colors, and fonts, and has the ability to be updated quickly and easily.  

While these sites can never replace the value of a true author website to legitimize you as an author, they do offer a presence on the internet for potential readers to discover you. 


One stop for readers to discover more about you and your books

Easy to add direct links for readers to find your books

You can control your brand

Pro-Tip: A consistent author brand is an important aspect of book marketing. How to Brand Yourself as an Author is a great starting point for establishing your author platform.


Once upon a time, before YouTube and TikTok made video content easily accessible online, bloggers were big influencers on the internet. While it’s not as popular as it used to be, maintaining a blog remains a viable marketing tool for an indie author to keep fans up-to-date on your books. Writing a short (or long) article on a regular basis and adding it to your author website is an easy and proven way to stay connected with existing readers in your target audience. By staying active online with these conversational articles, authors get the chance to showcase their world beyond simply selling books.

Book Blog Topic Ideas:

  • Tell the story of how you got the idea for your plot, character, etc
  • Explain why you write
  • Offer insights into your writing process
  • Write a book review of what you’re currently reading
  • Start a debate on a book related topic like audio books vs hardcovers
  • Discuss book tropes and recommend books in each category


Subscribers are notified of new content

Keeps you top of mind with readers

Great for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)


No, they are not dead. In fact, they are still a very powerful way to communicate directly with your fanbase on a regular basis. The fact is, with the explosion of self-publishing, it’s harder and harder to stay top of mind with readers in between book launches. But with a newsletter, someone took the time and effort to go through your sign-up process to get on your email list. This is an engaged person who has put up their hand to say they’re interested in keeping in touch with you. You now have permission to market directly to these readers.

Newsletter tips

  • Be consistent. Send a newsletter out at least once a month. Keep to a constant schedule like the second Wed of the month or the 15th of every month. Note: Many authors offer more than once–a-month newsletters.
  • Have a clear message. While a newsletter is a chance to offer insights into your writer’s life, don’t go overboard. Likewise, nobody wants to feel like you’re only reaching out to sell stuff. Find a balance between personal and book promotion. Subscribers have signed up because they want book related news.
  • Have a call to action. Include links to where to buy your books. Instead of a general call to action like “read my book”, be specific and highlight one book that is significant to that time. If it is the anniversary of your book, promote it.
  • Offer insight. Give readers behind-the-scenes info like the blog. Or even better, give a snippet of your blog and push readers to your website to read more.) 
  • Promote other authors. By suggesting other books for subscribers to read that are similar to your brand or in the same genre, you give readers a reason to open your newsletter for recommendations.


Talk directly to an engaged audience

Keeps you top of mind with readers

Ability to directly link to a sales page or website

Pro-Tip: Add a reader magnet as a way to encourage newsletter sign ups. Often a short story or bonus chapter of a book, offer this free download to users who join your newsletter audience. 

Social Media


It may be tempting to assume that only an older generation of readers are still rummaging around this site, but the truth of the matter is that Facebook is still wildly popular around the world, with 728 million users logging on for an average of 38 minutes a day. Plus, Facebook’s core user base is young with 65% under 35 years old.

On this social hub, it’s easy for readers to find and connect with like-minded people and drill down to very specific reading genres and target audiences. As a marketer, Facebook ads are extremely powerful. While it might take some time to understand the algorithm and the process, advertising on Facebook can be quite cheap and doesn’t require a massive commitment.


Multiple content format options

Ability to directly link to a sales page or website

Offers Groups where readers can discuss books in private

Advertising options


Bookstagram is a niche community of book lovers specific to Instagram. They tend to focus on aesthetics, reviews, and recommendations to potential readers. The group started in 2015 and exploded into an industry. Some Bookstagrammers make a living off of this alone. During Covid, there was a 31% increase in book-related content on Instagram. 

With a focus on photos, Instagram gives authors the opportunity to bring their words to life with images. Like your blog, this visual representation of your characters or world can be an easy book marketing technique. There is no need to show your face or even write a word. 


Skews to a younger audience

Easy to engage with users

Engaged community

Advertising options

Pro-Tip: Beware of Bookstagrammers who contact you offering exposure for money. While some may be legit, there are many scammers.


Just like Bookstagram, here we have BookTok. This community of book obsessed readers create videos including book hauls (readers showing stacks of books recently purchased) book mail (opening books readers received from authors or in giveaways) and book reviews (readers recommending and gushing over books). 

This social platform is the new kid on the block and has made sensations out of unknown authors. Book marketing here can be short bursts of aesthetics, a chance to showcase your writing with short passages on screen, or live streams where you can interact with your audience. 


Ever-growing audience

Easy trends to follow for content ideas

For a more in-depth look into how TikTok can help with book marketing, read An Author’s Guide to BookTok.


Though perhaps best known for videos of movies and music, the book community has found a place here. Just like movie trailers, YouTube can be a place to showcase your book in a book trailer. With the introduction of Shorts, the platform is trying to capitalize on the success of Instagram and TikTok by pushing shorter, vertical videos. 

A YouTube channel may be a new frontier for you to find new readers, or use for book marketing in general. The new Shorts platform allows you to repurpose your TikTok videos and present them to a new audience. 


Long and wide-screen format

Visual and audio friendly

Subscribers can be notified of new content

Ability to directly link to a sales page or website

Pro-Tip: Some self-published authors use YouTube as a way for fans to listen to their audiobooks. If your channel is big enough to be monetized, you can even make money from people listening to books this way.


Today, this platform comes with some controversy, but it has its place in any book marketing discussion. With #booktwt #amreading and many more niche hashtags, Twitter is a place to grow a specific following. 

A prime place for connecting with other authors, this word-based social media platform evens the playing field by limiting users to 240 characters. This is an opportunity to showcase yourself as a writer, or provide short snippets of your writing. 


Word-based, no graphic abilities needed

Trending hashtags are easy to identify

Ability to directly link to a sales page or website


A site dedicated to books is the exact place you want to be. Powered by Amazon, this book tracking, reviewing, and marketing site is used by 90 million readers. Here, it’s all about the books.

Goodreads offers multiple promo opportunities, including giveaways, advertising, blogs and status updates. One of the best aspects about Goodreads is the email marketing they do for you. When you post a blog, write a review etc. all your followers are notified. When they write a review, like or comment on your content, all of their followers are notified. Thus, the word of mouth marketing compounds.


Free marketing

Ability to directly link to a sales page or website

Which platform to use?

Social Media for Writers - What's Best For You? can help you determine which social media platform to put your marketing efforts toward.

Book Marketing Basics

Regardless of whether you’re marketing yourself and your books on your own site, or social media, there are a few best practices to keep in mind for any context.

Check the facts

You’d be surprised how many authors fall prey to simple spelling errors or incorrect links in their book marketing. Check and then double check your book title, book cover, author name, blurb or description, keywords and links across all mediums.

Know where to buy

The point of marketing your book is to get potential readers to click on the buy button. Make this as easy as possible by limiting the number of clicks they have to go through to get to your book. 

Because you don’t know where in the world your potential reader is located or what their favorite book reading experience is, if you have your book in multiple markets, like Amazon and Laterpress, a universal book link might be a good option. These one link services like BookLinker or StoryOrigin are easy and convenient ways to get readers to your books quickly with little fuss. 

Ask for reviews

Reviews are essentially free marketing, but to the power of a hundred. Reviews on books provide insight and important information to potential readers about your book. In addition, they tell some of the sites your book is being sold on, especially Amazon, how popular your book is. This can often push your book up the ranks, thus providing exposure.

Strategic use of giveaways and free books

Ever see a book on Amazon for free and wonder why an author would give away their book for no cost? See the point above: Reviews. Don’t expect a review for every free book you give away, but if you get even ten percent, that’s 10 reviews for 100 books. Plus, there’s the halo effect. Some of those readers might sign up for your newsletter and now you have a pipeline to market to them on a consistent basis. Some authors give away the first book of a series for free in perpetuity, in an effort to get readers hooked and primed to buy the rest of the series.

The above ideas may work best if you have multiple books available, but there are still reasons to strategically give away copies of your book as part of your book marketing plan, even if it’s the only one you have. Consider giving independent book retailers a copy as a sample if you’re hoping to convince them to stock your book. Do you know of any local book clubs interested in books like yours? Offering them copies could be an opening for positive word-of-mouth advertising from its members. If a podcast is considering having you on as a guest, you may wish to give the host(s) copies of the book in advance so they’re as prepared as possible for your conversation. Don’t be afraid to strategically uses copies of your book as a way to open doors to audiences you’d like to attract.

Interact with readers

Engagement is essential to standing out in a sea of social media and book options. If a potential reader makes the effort to comment on one of your platforms, be sure to respond. By starting a conversation with a reader, you not only influence them but the people around them who might tell their friends and family about the author they’ve personally chatted with.


“A rising tide lifts all boats.” One of the best aspects of book marketing as opposed to other marketing endeavors is that readers are not limited to reading only one book. Selling a book is not like selling a car or smartphone, where someone only needs one, and won’t seek a replacement for years. Readers often buy multiple books from multiple genres. By connecting your audience with other authors and books, they find a new audience. In return, those authors recommend your book to their audience and you can gain new readers. Book recommendations from a trusted source are far more likely to be received positively than cold marketing efforts.

Pro-Tip: Don’t leave marketing your book to the last moment. How to Plan a Book Launch offers an overview of pre, day of, and post-launch activities to make your book release a success. 

Press Release

Don’t discount the local angle from your list of marketing ideas. Consider writing a press release about you and your book, to send to local newspapers and TV stations. Think about a unique angle that makes your new book newsworthy. Is it a nonfiction book of regional interest? Are the characters from the area? Do you have some quirky or unusual personal backstory that would make for a good human interest piece? There’s no guarantee you’ll land local media coverage for your story, but being a “big fish in a small pond” can be a boon for name recognition and subsequent word-of-mouth advertising.

Using a Professional

Of course, book marketing can take a huge amount of time and plenty of effort. If you’d rather focus on writing your next book, there are options out there to take the burden off your hands with book promotion services. 

First and foremost, before signing up for and paying money to any book marketing company, program, or service, do your research. Unfortunately, there is no standard in the field for this. Just about anyone can call themselves a book marketing expert, and there are a lot of scams in the paid promotion space. You want your hard-earned money to go to a reputable source that will not only follow through on the initiatives paid for, but also knows what they are doing. For example, it may be compelling to pay a bookstagrammer to promote your book, but who are they promoting to? A one-shot post might get lost in the Instagram world and if their followers are bots, then how many readers are actually seeing your book? That route might be a waste of money. Bookbub is often cited as a reliable service, but the can be expensive, and don’t feature everyone who applies.

A good place to start your search for any professional help is with established and proven companies that have a track record of providing results. Reedsy is book exclusive and is a hub of information, all vetted by the site. Another option is a Writers Association or group where established relationships have been formed. They may even offer discount codes.  

The Best Way to Market Your Book

The answer to this question is unique to each author. The solution depends on not only the amount of time and energy you have to spend on the endeavor, but also what your strengths and weaknesses are. If the thought of book marketing gives you hives, hiring a professional may be for you. If you are willing to give social media a try, this powerful platform can introduce you to new readers. If the least you can do is create a website, at least potential readers have a place on the web to learn more about you. No matter your level of interest, the truth is that book marketing is essential if you want book sales.

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