Self-publishing is growing, and with it come new resources. One of the biggest hurdles of being an indie author is finding readers and getting reviews (which helps find more readers). Some people may still consider self-publishing a stigma, and some writers may think that promotion takes away too much time from writing. But many sites, including Outramp, Your Writer Platform, and Indies Unlimited have written posts giving advice for marketing.
On Digital Book World, founder of McCarthy Digital Peter McCarthy said, “Whoever is the best at connecting authors’ works with the end consumers — they win.” It’s about being agile and seeing what works.
With that in mind, here are 7 strategies and a list of 94 tools indie authors can use to help promote their books and find new readers and reviewers (although the first and most important thing is to write a good book, and then write another, and then keep writing).
UPDATE: After posting I realized I missed a few, so I’ve added them to the list, bringing the total count to 119 resources. You should also take a look at Your Writer Platform’s “How to Get Review For Your Book (Without Begging, Bribing or Resorting to Subterfuge)” for more advice and sites to use.
UPDATE 2: Honorable mention goes to Book Swag, a new website that is similar to BookBub, except free, and is aimed at helping authors promote their books for free and helping readers find great books.
Marketing Christian Books reported that in a study last year, “over one-third of the respondents report that they were enticed to try a new author because of a free book giveaway.” Many authors have found success doing giveaways, as discussed in 30 Day Books and Gyrovague.
BookLikes is similar to Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing. Host a giveaway, either for print or ebooks.
Authors who are members of Goodreads can choose to host giveaways. They can give away up to 10 copies of their book, but the book must be a physical copy.
Sign up for LibraryThing and then set up an ebook giveaway. You can choose to give away up to 100 copies, as well as when and for how long the giveaway lasts. After the giveaway ends, LibraryThing sends you a list of the emails of everyone who won, and you can give them a copy of your ebook.
4. Noise Trade
Although Noise Trade started as a music marketing company, it has since expanded into ebooks and audiobooks. Authors sign up for free, and can choose to either offer certain chapters or a whole book for free.
In exchange for the book, readers provide their email address and zip code, helping to build the author’s email list. Readers can also choose to tip the author, so in many cases even though the book is free, the author earns money. Byliner, Cory Doctorow, and others are already using the site, which according to GalleyCat “also sends out a weekly email highlighting eBooks and audiobooks” to 1.2 million people.
**Noise Trade, BookBaby and Goodreads recently announced a partnership, where authors can promote their books on all three sites via a package called BookPromo.
Run a giveaway on your own blog or website. There is a free version to use, where you can embed the giveaway in a post. You can also pay more for additional features, such as conducting surveys/polls and adding a photo prize slideshow.
6. Story Cartel
Offer your ebook free for a limited time on Story Cartel to attract new readers. This site is all about creating relationships with authors and readers and building lists.
During a book’s promotion, readers are able to download the book for free and are then encouraged to write a review. In exchange, the author gets a list of readers who download the book and can directly engage with them. Afterwards, readers can choose to be added to the author’s newsletter.
According to the site, “Since October 2012, 20,300 people have downloaded 49,100 books, helping over 700 authors get reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and blogs.”
Crowdsourcing is not new, but this one is run by HarperCollins. It’s a whole community full of free works of all genres.
Authors can submit information about their books and get exposure to over 700 book clubs.
BookRix is a large international site where you can upload your work and get feedback. It’s helpful to join groups.
A site to make friends and get feedback on romance and other genre writing.
Submit to request a book to be featured in a book club, 1-2 months in advance.
Wattpad is one of the largest sites where you can upload your work for free and get feedback. They have partnered with Sourcebooks and Random House. ALLi, Lindsay Buroker, and Book Promotion have covered the strategies and benefits of using Wattpad.
WEbook relaunched its site in 2013 to promote and reward social networking. According to Publisher’s Weekly, WEbook has more than 140,000 users and 66,000 plus projects (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and screenplays) available to read for free.
Writers upload their work and can receive feedback from readers. Readers also rate projects, and the stories with the most positive votes are published by WEbook. So far, readers have cast 830,000 votes, and WEbook has published 7 books, with plans to release 10 more soon. Authors receive an 85% royalty and they get to choose the price of their books.
Another social site that connects writers with readers from all over the world. This site lets writers easily collaborate.
There are many ways to advertise books–social media, banner ads, and blasting emails. Interviews with Indie Authors, Galley Cat, Indie Review Tracker, and Training Authors all provide extensive lists with links to places authors can submit information about their freebie days in a KDP Select promotion. However, these links are a few months old, and Amazon recently changed their affiliate terms so that advertising free ebooks is no longer as profitable. As a result, some of these sites may be shut down.
Advertising can be very effective, but it has to be done right. The eBook Author’s Corner has a great post about advertising case studies, and CreativIndie goes into depth on how to create a great ad. Lindsay Buroker also talks about the benefits of combining price pulsing with advertising on her blog. Press releases are another great way to advertise. Here is a PDF with a list of 50+ places to submit press releases.
As a side note, certain Facebook pages and groups encourage authors to write on their walls on days their ebooks are available for free. Some examples are UK Kindle Book Lovers and Free Ebooks for All. There is also at least one LinkedIn group that encourages sharing about books. Bublish is another free option that uses social media.
Another site that may be helpful is Indicated, a company in Australia that helps authors get reviews and promotional support. Authors can also sign up for membership. And, Kate Tilton keeps a list of free sites to help spread the word about a book.
To submit a link, sign up for an account. Books must be priced at under $5.99 and have at least 5 reviews on Amazon. There is also a separate section for books that are available for free, and the option to pay for ads on the site.
16. Book Deal Hunter
If you have a book in KDP Select and have a free promotion planned, you can submit your information (for free) to Book Deal Hunter. Try to submit at least 2 days in advance.
17. Book Zone
Authors can request an introduction, interview, or book review.
Book deals must be submitted three days before the promotion. Books have better chances of being posted if it has many reviews and high ratings.
Authors are welcome to create their own ads for the site, including links and videos.
20. Mobile Read
Users can shamelessly self-promote their books in this thread.
21. NPR Press
National Public Radio is a great way to get exposure for a book, if the subject matter fits in with a show. Make sure to do your research.
22. Open PR
Use this site to submit a free press release. Only available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CET.
23. Pixel of Ink
There are two forms, one for if a book is offered for free, and one for books that are 99 cents or less on Amazon.
24. Press Exposure
Submit a free press release about a book.
Choose the number of days to promote a book. If you have a permafree book that you’d like to stay on the site indefinitely, pay $5.
26. Workaday Reads
Authors can request features, interviews, and giveaways.
This marketing service has the potential to reach readers, bloggers, booksellers, and librarians. The service works with five different sites: Shelf-Awareness.com, DearReader.com, BookMovement.com, PublishersMarketplace.com, and KindleNationDaily.com.
28. Bargain Booksy
This site works with FreeBooksy, except it features paid books. For $50 you get an email blast to 50,000 subscribers, a feature on FreeBooksy and a feature on Bargain Booksy.
For €10 authors can promote their Kindle books on the site and mailing list. Ebooks must have at least 5 4-star reviews, a professional cover, and be free.
Bibliocrunch is a platform that connects book publishing professionals with authors. But the site also has promotional opportunities. Premium members get featured on the Facebook page with 13,000 members, tweeted out to 2500 followers, and pinned on Pinterest. Bibliocrunch also offers to get authors featured on Wattpad, which has over 13 million active readers. Premium membership starts at $25/month.
31. Book Blast
Book Blast is another daily email service, but with cheaper prices. The site says it has over 50,000 subscribers, with promotion prices ranging from $10 to $125, depending on the books genre and price.
In order for a book to be accepted for promotion, it must look professional (especially the cover), have at least 5 4/5-star reviews, and be full-length books (if priced above free).
BookBub is one of the more well-known advertisers for indie authors. The site sends out promotional emails for books daily to hundreds of thousands of subscribers (see the pricing page). They offer 25 different lists, categorized by book genre, that range in price from $20 to $1450, depending on the price of the book. Their biggest lists, mysteries and contemporary romance, average 2,000 sold books per promotion.
However, BookBub does not guarantee it will promote every author willing to pay. The site has a list of submission guidelines, which include having a professional book (edited and formatted with a good cover), deeply discounting the book for a limited time only, and being widely available. Not officially included in the list but equally important to the site is for the book to have many 4/5-star reviews (at least 10). BookBub also gives some tips for how to get selected on ALLi.
Not everyone is a fan of BookBub. R.S. Guthrie wrote a warning in his post, “BookBub: Indie Savior Or Donald Trump In Sheep’s Clothing?” He said although he had one good experience with the site, he no longer trusts the judgment of their editorial team.
33. Book Daily
Book Daily’s Emerging Authors program offers authors the chance for their books to be featured on BookDaily.com, ArcaMax.com, and in an email blast to 50,000 subscribers for $49.
34. Book Hub
Authors can choose from a number of promotional packages, ranging in price from $100 to $500.
35. The Cheap Ebook
The site runs seven Facebook pages.
Choose between display ads, interviews, guest posts, and promotions to an email list of 7,400+. Certain options are free.
37. Ebook Booster
For $40, authors can get their ebook submitted to 50 sites, announcing a promotional period.
Free for a LIMITED TIME (site just launched). Authors can submit their ebooks that are priced at $4.99 or less. Accepted books are announced in a daily email blast.
Authors can choose to either buy a banner ad on the site for $30, or buy a feature. For $50, the feature includes a featured post on the site, and a post to 90,000 Facebook fans and 7,000 Twitter followers. For an additional $50, authors are also featured in a promoted Facebook post and in the daily email that goes to over 150,000 readers. The only stipulation is the book must be priced free during promotion.
Authors can choose to pay either $50-$100 for a Frugal Find of the Day that stays on the site indefinitely or $25-75 for a Frugal Find Feature blog post.
41. Fussy Librarian
For $1-3, you can get your book featured in an email blast to 10,000 subscribers. However, books must have at least 10 reviews with 4/5-stars, be priced at $5.99 or less, and have a professional cover. Lindsay Buroker covers the site more extensively on her blog.
42. Good Kindles
Packages range in price from $8-20 and include being featured in a daily newsletter and promoted in social networks.
43. Hot Zippy
For $15, books will be promoted online, in a newsletter, and be included in multiple listings. There is also a free option, but no guarantees the book will run.
You’ll have to sign up to find out all the details, but the site promises that they can do book features, interviews, book releases, and indie book of the day.
The KBoards forum offers a few advertising options, such as a banner or featured book ad in the forum, or Facebook and blog ads for discounted books, series, and box sets. Prices start at $35.
46. KD Promo App
This site has not yet launched, but promises to allow authors to submit their book information to hundreds of promo sites within minutes.
This site also sends out emails to subscribers and posts on the blog about book deals. According to the about section, “The Kindle Books and Tips blog has been ranked the #1 blog in terms of paid subscriptions in the Amazon Kindle store since 2010, and is consistently ranked in the Top 100 for all Kindle titles – books, newspapers, and blogs combined – every day of the week, week in and week out.”
To learn about how to have a book featured, fill out the form here.
Prices range from $99 to $530. To be included, books must have at least 4 4-star review and be priced between $0.49 and $1.99.
Listings vary from $6 to $30.
50. PR Web
Press releases are great marketing/advertising tools. With PR Web, you can craft a strong PR and add videos (think book trailers) and images to help it get ranked on page 1 of Google. Make sure you write strong content and have good SEO. Pricing starts at $99, but you can often find discount codes online.
For $50 a day, you can post up to 128 characters about a book to pages that average 10,000 views per day.
For $15, you can get your book featured on the site’s sidebar for one month, along with daily tweets. There are also opportunities for guest posts.
For small businesses/authors with many books. SocialCentiv finds influencers on social media and gives them promotional offers for your business, reporting outcomes afterwards.
54. Story Finds
For prices ranging from $30 to $100, authors can choose different ways to have their books featured on Story Finds. In addition to posting on social media and the website, Story Finds has a bi-weekly newsletter with 2,000 subscribers.
For $59, you get one year of promotion on Whizzbuzz, and the book remains on the site indefinitely. The book will be featured in the “More Good Reads” section, as well as posted to their Facebook page, Google+, StumbleUpon, and 250,000 Twitter followers.
For $8, authors get promotional tweets, Facebook page posts, and a book spotlight.
This paid service guarantees thousands of downloads during free book promotions, and promises sales afterwards. For $189 you are guaranteed 5,000 downloads, and for $299 you get at least 10,000 downloads (for free books).
Jane Friedman wrote on Writer Unboxed the power of soft marketing–basically talking to people via personal messages to build a foundation of trust. The Writing Desk also provides a list of helpful links. Bibliocrunch has a helpful write-up of creative interview ideas, Indies Unlimited gives pointers on how to do radio interviews, and Writer Cube has a database of media and book blogs.
Here is a Google doc with a list of bloggers who are willing to feature authors on their site. All contact information and the types of books the bloggers cover are included.
Experience Project is a site for people to post very personal stories. Indies Unlimited writes an in-depth post on how to use the site effectively for promotional purposes (mainly, get to know people first and don’t spam). One of the most important points is to answer other people’s questions.
A free, pretty social site. It’s similar to Experience Project in that you sign up for topics to follow and choose questions to answer. You’re allowed to include links in your bio.
61. Reddit AMA
Reddit is a place for web-based communities, and consists of many subforums. One of them is /R/books, where users can talk about all things related to books: reading, publishing, writing, etc.
And there is also the Ask Me Anything forum (AMA). There are actually two AMA forums: /r/AMA and /r/IAmA. Anyone can post to either forum, but /r/IAmA has many more subscribers and it verifies your identy and posts your session to a Google calendar.
Reddit has an FAQ section that covers all the basics of how to use AMA, and Publisher’s Weekly has reported that the sessions have helped indie authors: “Travis Bughi sold over 3,000 copies of his self-published title, Beyond the Plains, during his AMA in August, despite the fact that he was also offering the book for free.”
62. The Writers Room
Readers can comment on books, and ask questions authors can directly answer.
There are two ways to get book reviews: asking kindly for free ones and paying for a service. Penny Sansevieri on Huffington Post and The Future of Ink wrote about ways to find free reviewers on Amazon. She recommends checking out Amazon’s Top Reviewers.
63. Awesome Indies
All ebooks must meet the site’s guidelines for quality. However, reviews are free. Read more about the process on ALLi.
Accepts some self-published books, and prefers the young adult, new adult, paranormal, fantasy, and mystery genres.
65. Blog Nation
A directory of book review blogs.
66. Blog Rank
Another site where you can find links to book bloggers.
A site that lists and categorizes book bloggers, and whether or not they review indie books.
A site that provides a listing of bloggers who do book reviews for free.
A site where bloggers choose which books to review.
Submit sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery books for review.
71. Indie Book Blog
Fill out the form but no guarantees of a review.
Books are only accepted between the 1st and 10th of the month.
73. The Indie View
Register for free, and then get access to a list of reviewers. According to GalleyCat, are active, review ebooks, provide reviews for free, and have submission guidelines.
74. Ink Spand
A new site that crowdsources reviews. Authors can sign up for free, giving their books a “free” slot, which includes a 250 word review, a rating, suggested pricing for the book, and tools to publicize the book. Authors who want multiple reviews can pay for packages starting at $25. This gives the book a “paid” slot, and incentivizes readers to contribute reviews because then they are paid $10. Additionally, authors can choose to pay $3 to limit readers to access the book within 45 days and only read the book online.
75. Kindle Obsessed
Reviews ebooks and print, but takes anywhere from 1-3 months.
Reviews dystopian, sci-fi, thrillers, paranormal, fantasy, horror, chick lit, graphic novels, manga, contemporary fiction, romance, nonfiction (photography/art/travel/architecture/technology/craft books and magazines), and illustrated children’s books.
This site caters to indie authors. Print books are free, but it costs $50 to get an ebook reviewed.
78. Novel Girl
A book review blog that accepts contemporary, erotica, literary, paranormal, romance, new adult, suspense, thriller, and young adult.
Self-published books are accepted, but only historical fiction.
A book review blog specifically for indie authors.
81. Readers Favorite
Readers Favorite reviews new and well-known authors, traditionally and self-published, for free. They only post 4/5-star reviews, and if they deem a book below 4-star, they provide the author with constructive feedback instead. Authors can also choose to pay a fee to expedite the review process to 2 weeks.
A site that connects readers and writers. You can request reviews and also get books to review.
83. The Review Hart
Indie book reviews for all genres but children’s and comedy. However, there is currently a long wait.
This site only accepts print books, and only one new book to review every 6-8 weeks.
85. Top Mommy Blogs
For books that fit in well with Mommy blog topics, look for bloggers here.
An Amazon Vine type review program.
According to DBW, the service launched last year. All books are given a thorough review, which is posted as a video on YouTube.
88. Authors Reading
For $59, authors can get a review of their print book within 3-7 weeks. There are also options to pay more for a quicker review (up to $129 for a review within 1-2 weeks). Authors can also submit a book for review for free, but there is no guarantee the book will be reviewed. Authors are free to quote or use all reviews on any of their sites.
89. Blue Ink Review
Choose between a Standard Review for $395 (7-9 weeks to complete) or Fast Track Review for $495 (4-5 weeks to complete). Reviews are 250-300 words.
90. Book Rooster
For $67, authors can get honest, unbiased reviews. Not all reviews are guaranteed, and the reviewers are not professional reviewers.
91. Book Works
Book Works is a resource site for members of the self-publishing community. Join for free, and get access to a resource page with links to places for book reviews.
ForeWord is for indie authors and small publishers. Advertising options include the print magazine, website, and online newsletter. Ads in the magazine cost between $290 and $2257, depending on the size. Button Ads (125×125) on the website cost at least $105 ($15/1,000 impressions, minimum 7,000 impressions). And a button ad in the online newsletter costs $200 to run for 4 weeks. The newsletter is sent out every Thursday to over 3,600 subscribers. (Additionally, ForeWord offers paid reviews for $335.)
Kirkus Media reviews books, and they have a special section for indie books. They accept both print and ebooks. Reviews within 7-9 weeks cost $425, within 4-6 weeks is $575.
94. PW Select
Publisher’s Weekly offers an option for self-published titles, called PW Select. For $149, you can have your ebook reviewed. Just keep in mind PW Select has a one month submission period and it takes 6 weeks to get a review.
Choose between packages ranging from $109 to $249, which will send reviews out to 7,000+ email subscribers. SPR also offers other services, such as proofreading and editorial notes.
The US Review of Books has over 13,000 subscribers, and offers to review galleys, published ebooks, and audiobooks. Prices range from $69 to $245, depending on which package you choose. The cheapest package consists of a basic review, while the most expensive package includes a cover, link, two different displays, and an extended article.
Blog tours often mean more reviews, but it also promotes books via interviews, Q&As, excerpts, giveaways, and more. While it’s possible to reach out to bloggers and schedule your own tour, it takes months of planning. If you do want to try it out, Ashley Perez provides a helpful checklist and schedule of what you need to do and when.
Sometimes it’s easier to book a tour through a service. Joel Friedlander has an excellent guest post by Greg Strandberg called “7 Top ebook Blog Tour Sites” that I highly recommend. And Greg Delaurentis wrote an informative post on ALLi about how to have a successful blog tour. He discusses making time to respond to comments and also help promote each post.
Below are more sites.
Tours are scheduled Monday through Friday only. Packages range in price, starting at $40 for a one day promotion all the way up to $175 for a one month tour that includes everything in a regular tour (media kit, buttons and banners, reviews, and daily promotion) as well as a press release, radio interviews, and space in the magazine.
Additionally, you can choose to add a one hour Twitter chat for $50 and a cover reveal for $35. Bewitching Book Tours also offers the option of continuous monthly PR to authors.
Every July, a whole mess of bloggers come together to promote and share their work. This includes many authors and book giveaways.
99. Discover Authors
Join a group of authors to help promote each other’s books collectively.
100. Pump Up Your Book!
Packages range in price from $199 to $799, and include multiple stops over the course of one month.
For $75-100, authors can book a blog tour 2-8 weeks in advance. The tour may include reviews and giveaways, and reach over 300,000 readers.
102. Write Now Literary
Packages range from $150 to $550, and includes one week to one month tours. Other options include radio shows, Facebook chats, and live interviews.
Use this platform as a cool way to show off your resume. You can also add a link to buy a book.
This one may seem obvious, but it’s important to fill out the bio, upload a profile picture, and add links so readers can find out more about your work.
105. Ask David
Pay $15 to submit information about any number of books, over a 12 month period. Books are tweeted, shared on Facebook, and given their own promotion pages on the site.
106. Authors Database
Get listed and put up images and links to your book along with over 4,300 other authors.
Also known as Freado, this site provides a range of options for authors to market their books. The free version offers widgets, while the paid versions have Amazon alerts, the ability to read a book on Facebook, quizzes, giveaways, and cover exposure. Here is a sample of the widgets in use.
108. Book Club India
Send in a short description of the book and a cover image to get featured.
109. Book Depository
Authors can sell their books on the Book Depository. According to Aishah Macgill, the only criteria is to have the book available via Ingram or Neilson Book Data.
Sign up and take part in the forums, upload images, and attend events.
111. January Magazine
January Magazine offers an author link section, where for a one-time $35 fee authors can get a listing with a link to their website. The site also recently started a “This Just In…” section, where for $25 authors get a brief write-up and link in the magazine.
Sign up for a free account and then reward your readers with giveaways. You also get analytics about how your readers interact with your books (though apparently they are not currently taking on new books).
Libiro is a retail site that launched last year, dedicated to selling indie ebooks. According to an article in Forbes, authors receive an 80% royalty. In the near future, the site will provide analytics and other helpful data to users.
114. Nothing Binding
For emerging writers and authors.
115. Red Room
Red Room is a retail platform that shares its profits with authors. Authors can choose to either sign up for free or pay $250/year for a premium membership, which allows them to display and sell their books. Every reader who purchases a book gets in direct contact with the author.
Scribd has been around for a while, and until recently it was best used as a marketing tool Authors could always upload free chapters and get exposure, but now they also have the chance to have their books made available in Scribd’s new subscription service, which costs readers $8.99/month for access to 100,000 ebooks.
Authors can create profiles for free and then upload slideshows to share to get views and followers. Examples of useful slideshows can be a chapter or simplified version of a chapter in a nonfiction book, or even a preview of a fiction book.
According to The Digital Reader, “Billed by its creator, Raimonds Plavenieks, as the StumbleUpon for books, Stumblary is a minimalist website that serves up book teasers.” Basically, it shows teasers from books, and nothing else. On the website, it says if you tweet “Add @stumblary [Teaser] [Link to book]” it will add your book.