How to easily market your book, for free! (Just kidding – that doesn’t work.)

For the last couple of years I’ve been helping authors market books. But I haven’t really offered book marketing services.

That’s because the best marketing is done by you.

There are some things you can outsource, and you could pay for advertising or promotions, but real, long-term, successful, author platform building strategies – that sell tons of books easily – take time, effort and/or money to build.

Let me repeat that:

Successful book marketing takes time, effort and/or money.

I try to help authors learn what to do.

I’ve written several books about it.

I even give those books away for free.

I’ve built platforms to help authors design better covers.
Now I’m starting to talk about designing author websites that actually work.

And I notice a whole lot of other people talking about book marketing too.

And we’re all saying the same thing.

Because there are no simple, easy, free short cuts to book marketing success.

But nobody wants to work hard, or spend money.

And this is the problem facing the self-publishing community.

All you need for a successful book is a beautiful/well written story in a popular genre and a professional book cover design.

That’s IT.

But apparently, that’s too much.

85% of indie authors can’t be bothered to get a professional book cover design because it costs too much.

85% of indie authors are probably also writing books without identifying a target readership (so they don’t know who will want to read their book, how many of them there are, or how to get their book in front of them).

Of the remaining 15%, only about 1% of them are writing great books in popular genres and putting amazing book covers on them.

Competition? What competition?

A lot of people say the market is saturated, and it’s so hard to get noticed and sell books, because so many other people are publishing too.

But I don’t see any competition. Because the majority of indie authors don’t want to spend any time, any effort, or any money publishing and marketing their books. They aren’t competition. They aren’t even trying.

They are waiting to be discovered. They are looking for help and free advice. They are hoping 5 minutes of someone else’s time or energy will be enough to make them a bestseller. It’s not going to happen.

Meanwhile, I can look at almost any genre or category, and notice how easy it would be dominate.

That’s because the mainstream, traditionally published books, even by big authors, are getting worse. They look nice but are often disappointing. There’s rarely anything exceptional. Which is why a lot of self-published stuff ends up in the top 20 bestsellers of nearly any category. But of those, a lot of them are either A) not great books or B) have a mediocre cover.

I’m one of the lucky authors who was willing to spend the time to build a platform. It took about 2 years, which is about as long as it takes, though you could do it much faster. And I’m also lucky because I’m very willing to spend the time and money and effort to publish quality books and market them hard. In fact, publishing and marketing for me is so easy, all I really need is more books – which is why I’m not only spending more time writing, but actively partnering with writers to write books in bestselling genres that have a high chance of making money (and not crap books; I’m hiring literary geniuses and we’re going to write amazing books).

What I see is a gold rush, with millions and millions of readers flush with money just waiting for more good books to read – and a bunch of authors who are standing by the river saying, “Oh, I didn’t bring a bucket, I don’t have a shovel, I don’t want to get my shoes wet, this area has probably already been panned dry…” So they sit and draw pictures in the sand, dreaming of success that will never come, because all the gold is down in the river.

There’s no cheap or easy way: it either takes some money or some work.

You have to give up something if you want results. You don’t get nothing for nothing.

If you’re still looking for FREE solutions, do this:

1. Find a 5 bestselling books in your genre.

2. Google the title name + “review” and find all the blogs and websites that have reviewed them.

3. Ignore the mega huge blogs and bloggers, focus on the medium sized ones. Find out who runs them.

4. Follow them on social media. Share their content and make sure they see it.

5. Write a blog post called, “My favorite 10 blogs in the whole world and why,” and link to them and say nice things about them.

6. After a month or two, send them an email and an ebook version of your manuscript asking if they’re review it (remind them they reviewed that other book in your genre.)

7. Search Twitter for keywords related to your book’s topic or genre. Follow everybody you can.

8. Find other authors in you genre. Follow them. Review their books. Promote their books.

9. Join Facebook groups related to your topic or genre. If there isn’t one, start one of your own.

10. Write a whole bunch of articles on your blog that appeal to your target audience. Write one a day (around 500 words, it takes 30 minutes).

11. Ask if you can post articles on other blogs with bigger followings or more traffic. They need good content. Give it to them.

12. Do a book launch with a free giveaway or .99 discount, and notify all the “free kindle/cheap kindle book sites.” There are a lot of them.


ALL that stuff is free, and it’s not very hard.

If all that sounds like too much work, then you’re going to have to pay someone to do it for you.

Or you’re going to have to give up, and just hope you get lucky and somebody else loves your book SO MUCH that they do all your marketing for you. It happens, like, never. But who knows. You might be the exception.

If you’re ready for PAID solutions, do this:’

1. Get a better cover. A better cover will make everything else easy.

2. Pay someone else to promote your free book/cheap book for you, like BookBub.

3. Advertise on Facebook – target your book to readers who liked other books in the same genre.

If you don’t have any money, do it this way:

1. Do a free campaign and notify as many sites as you can, for free.

2. Switch into the .99 pricing and hopefully sales will continue. If they don’t, your cover isn’t good enough. You may be forced to spend $20 to get a better one on Fiverr.

3. If people downloaded your book and liked it and left reviews, great! Now do another free/cheap campaign and spend $25 on the smaller promotion sites, and $25 on Facebook ads. Those should work and earn you money. Now you can afford BookBub.

If $20 is too much money for you to spend on your publishing dream, I have no sympathy for you.

If you finished writing a book, it means you’ve got hundreds of hours of time and your disposal, that you didn’t need to be working. Now you’re done. So go get a job. You need money to promote your books? Earn it!

I know it’s hard and frustrating, so I’ve been building a team of people who can do this stuff for authors who’d rather pay for it.
We’ll be offering website design, book launches, content creation, and social media management.
I used to feel bad about charging for anything, so I didn’t want to do any marketing, but I don’t feel bad anymore:
I tried giving away the knowledge, so people could do their own marketing.
That’s what you should do. I’ll keep teaching you how to do it.
It’s worth learning.
It gets easier and easier.
Start now, and keep working on it, and in 2 years things will be pretty easy.
I can tell you how to do it. I can critique your book cover or website and tell you they aren’t good enough.
But I’m not going to do the marketing for you.
I will, however, train a team of employees to manage everything for you.
But I have to pay them, so it won’t be free.
If you’re looking for anything else from me, like “Free and easy marketing tips!” you may find my material disappointing. I’m going to stop trying so hard to help you in that regard, because I feel like I’ve been repeating myself and you’re still looking for that one secret magic recipe I’m hoarding.
I’ve got nothing else to offer.
So I’d rather be writing my own novels and getting famous and making lots of money.






About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me
  • Lol. Your last section in bold and big type made me pump my fist. I wish more people would say stuff like that. I tell new authors these kinds of things all the time and they look at me like I’m crazy. They want the magic bullet. They want their book to soar without having to work for it. I have no words for these people, honestly. And you said it all, so I’ll just point them here in the future 🙂

    • It’s a new thing too – I’ve heard a bunch of colleagues who work with indie authors grumbling about the same kinds of things recently: people who can’t follow directions, who don’t read anything on the site and just email with questions. Not sure what’s going on, I just think the movement is attracting more and more people into it.

  • Leslie Miller

    One of my biggest frustrations as an editor is that I want my clients’ books to be masterpieces after I finish with them, and I know they won’t be. For all the same reasons they don’t market. They don’t want to spend either the time or the money to really master their craft, and I am only an editor. Not a magician. I recommend blogs, online courses, even one-on-one coaching all the time, but most do nothing. What gives?

    But you are right, Derek. Instead of being frustrated with them, I am channeling all my energy into making my own novels as magical as possible and learning to build my platform. And guess what? It’s a lot of fun. I’m really enjoying it!

    • Writing takes time, and you have to realize you aren’t so good before you can get better. It can be a painful process. I had the same troubles editing, I don’t do it anymore.

  • Your cover looks great – looks like it’s not out until November though, so it’s too early to see what’s working. Do a big launch, be everywhere, get a ton of free downloads and lots of reviews and it should be OK.

    • Ted

      I’m glad you thinks it’s decent, because as much as I like it, I am not a pro so I know my taste doesn’t really count. I’m trying to do what you suggested. It’s amazing, though, just how many bloggers and reviewers who truly seem to love sci-fi still won’t bother even with a free copy. From what I’ve seen while doing this, I think writers are simply overwhelming potential reviewers.

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