How to promote your book for free (without annoying your friends)

Today in my free book marketing group someone asked:

I was wondering if there was any easy ways to somewhat promote a book for free other than trying to convince your friends on Facebook to tell their friends and anyone they know about your book. Since in my case that’s never seemed to work for me anyways.

Unfortunately asking your friends and family to help you promote your book is what most authors try to do, and it’s doomed to fail. Book marketing is mostly about packaging and positioning: picture a scale – you can only get people to pay for your book when you’ve already front-loaded enough desirable content that outweighs what you’re asking for it. You can’t convince them to want to read your book (you’ll never have that chance). Your book needs to sell itself by communicating its own worth.

Here’s my answer in full:

I wouldn’t tell my friends I wrote a book or ask them to tell their friends. Those aren’t my readers and I don’t want to ask for favors.

1. make the benefits obvious to the right readers – so when the see the cover/blurb they think “damn I want to read that” and then when they read all the nice reviews they think “OK this is worth buying.”

2. so you need cover, blurb, reviews – obvious benefits. Clear genre. Give them exactly what they want (this book is just like the books you love) but also different/better/unique (what’s most interesting about YOUR book or story).

3. that’s not really “for free” because it’s hard to get those basics right and they’re the most important.

4. but once the book is out there, you can either:

– pay to access someone else’s platform, or beg them for access (by providing VALUE, like a guest post).

– put out your own valuable interesting content that matches what your ideal readers are searching for (content marketing).

5. You can also put the FREE book up on instafreebie, bookfunnel, story origin etc, though those aren’t really free anymore, to try to get readers/reviews. You can also give your book away free but with adstacking on promo sites to try to get people to read it.

In other words: no free promotion will sell your book if nobody wants to buy it; fix your offer, not your visibility.

AND free or paid promotion won’t sell a book without reviews.
AND giving your book away for free is a LOT easier than trying to use free promotion tactics to sell your book to readers. It’s not what you asked exactly, you want to make money without spending money, and there are lots of ways to get a ton of visibility and views, but they’re meaningless if your product doesn’t already convert the right audience and if you’re not already overcoming objections/making them want it enough to pay what you’re asking for it.

About Derek Murphy

Derek Murphy is a book editor turned book designer with a Ph.D. in Literature. He's been featured on CNN and spoken at dozens of writing conferences around the world. These days he mostly writes young adult fantasy and science fiction, while helping authors write and publish bestselling books. FREE GUIDE: Sell your work without selling out.