Once upon a time, I invested $250,000 to promote my book.
Said no one, EVER.
Let’s face it. It would be a total cakewalk to grow your book’s audience if you had a ton of money. With a six-figure budget, you could buy Facebook ads, Twitter ads, and Google ads. You could invest in a high-end publicist who would get you on all sorts of talk shows. You could finance your own tour around the country.
And you could hire an entire team of bloggers to make sure your book is EVERYWHERE.
But sadly, this doesn’t describe you. You might have had some money set aside for your project, but you either shelled it out to a “publisher” who overpromised how they would distribute it or hired a low-end publicist who didn’t actually do anything that enabled you to financially justify the investment.
So what on earth are you supposed to do about it now?
While there are always ways to promote your material if you have some money to invest, and though many solutions I suggest to my clients will involve at least a minimal financial commitment, there is one solution I can offer that doesn’t require money.
In a traditional prison environment, an inmate’s capacity to influence their own reality was defined by cigarettes. Cigarettes became a form of currency. The solution I will present to you now likewise doesn’t require money, because there is one thing that defines one’s success in the Information Age that makes it a form of currency as well.
Look at this article you’re reading right now. It is (hopefully) helping you to solve a problem related to the life of your book. It has information that you want.
So if we really are in the Information Age, then the people with the best information will rule the world. So if you really do want to promote your book—if you truly believe that it will be of value to others, then one thing you can do to get it in front of others without spending money is to provide content to organizations that somehow solve a problem that either you solve in the world around you (as a non-fiction author) or that your character solves in your story (as a fiction author).
Let’s say that you have a novel about someone who re-discovers their faith through some sort of crisis. While this might be a work of fiction, if it has merit as a story then the main character will have learned something by the end. In this case, it would be something about how to renew one’s love of the divine. This isn’t just a flight of fancy for the page. It’s an earnest exploration of the human condition—as the best fiction ultimately aims to be. This exploration could very easily be extended into helpful, supportive content associated with matters of faith.
If you would like to promote your book without any sort of budget, then you have an opportunity to approach non-profit organizations and volunteer to create content for them for their blog, newsletter, or other vehicles for their serving their audience. If they are willing to agree to have you post as yourself, and your content truly helps others to solve a problem that is important to them, then they will be more likely to notice other aspects of your presence—like the fact that you’ve written a book.
Your capacity to promote your book lies in your ability to convince others that your book solves a critical problem in your life. Content trains them to believe this to be so.
This is, in essence, content marketing. It’s not a new thing. And when done poorly, it’s not very effective, either.
But if you truly have valuable information—if you truly want to help people solve their problem—then it is an opportunity rich with possibilities.
Curious about whether to pursue a traditional deal or self-publish? Check out my cheat sheet here.