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3 Creative Book Marketing & Promotion Ideas for Indie Authors and Self-published Books

Headshot of Debbie Young

Debbie Young, author of ALLi's latest marketing guidebook (photo by Angela Fitch Photography)

While there are tried-and-trusted means of marketing and promoting self-published books, it's always fun to hear about more offbeat tactics that indie authors have used successfully.

In this month's round-up of the more unusual ways to reach out to new readers, we hear from American author and bookstore owner Patti Brassard Jefferson, British novelist Katharine E Smith, who also runs a small publishing company, and Sally Jenkins, who self-publishes fiction and books about writing.


Headshot of Patti Brassard Jefferson

Patti Brassard Jefferson, indie author and bookseller

Patti Brassard Jefferson: I once googled my own name and reached out to some of the folks with the same name. One was a librarian so I sent her a book for her library.

Usually having a common name is a potential handicap for an author, because there may be confusion between different authors with the same name, but in this case it would be an advantage, as you'd be likely to find many more doubles!


Headshot of Katharine E Smith

Indie author Katharine E Smith of Heddon Publishing

Katherine E Smith: When I picked up my car from its latest service, the lady on reception said she'd been told I was an author so she looked me up online and wanted to buy one of my books. Next day I dropped a copy in for her and signed it for her. She's promised to spread the word and leave a review on Amazon. I guess this is a benefit of living in a small town.

Receptionists in any business, and also hairdressers and beauty therapists, are great people to cultivate because they come into contact with so many different people every day, and often have to make small talk.

Headshot of Sally Jenkins

Sally Jenkins, English author of fiction and non-fiction

Sally Jenkins: If I see someone on a train reading a book in a similar genre to mine, I politely gift them a promotional bookmark. I’ve also put the bookmarks in books returned to the library. But I’ve no way of knowing if these actions trigger sales!

So there's another good reason to travel on public transport, besides being environmentally friendly. If you commute to your day job by bus, train or tram, Sally's idea could help you use your journey to promote your indie author career.


And finally… have you read ALLi's latest guidebook to help indie authors market their books to physical (as opposed to online) stores? The ebook is now universally available – free to ALLi members to download, but non-members are welcome to buy copies.

Graphic of book saying free to ALLi members

New ebook free for members and available for non-members to buy

For those who prefer their writing reference books in print, a paperback will follow in September.

OVER TO YOU If you've found success with similar inventive book promotion tactics, we'd love to hear about them – don't be shy, tell us about it in a comment!

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This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. Two tactics that have worked for me.

    1. When I stopped by a window replacement company to get an estimate, the receptionist was delighted to learn that I’m an author. When she asked the title of my book I gave her my card with the book cover on one side and contact information on the other. As she admired the card she promised to buy a copy. Months later, she flagged me down in Costco to tell me how much she enjoyed my book.

    2. Another time I stopped by to visit a friend who owns a gift basket shop. I had copies of my newly published coloring book and as always, copies of my book on happiness in the car. When she asked what I had been up to lately, I told her about my books and she said she’d love to create some gift baskets using my books as the centerpiece. “Do you have any with you? I’d like to buy six of each.” Bingo! I asked her to be sure and send an image of the finished design, and she did. Now this is one of the ideas I suggest to authors in my marketing tips.

    Like the other authors, I follow the ABCs of book marketing–ALWAYS have BOOKS in CAR.

  2. Here’s one of my favorites. Submit a press release and high-resolution cover of your book to the editor of a print or online magazine and suggest it for the “New Products” section. Editors tell me they love to feature books but they’re disappointed that many authors don’t bother sending a photo of the cover.

    Make sure your book is a perfect fit for that audience. Chick lit is perfect for a woman’s magazine. A book about investing might fit in perfectly in a money magazine. A cookbook can find its home in a food magazine.

    You don’t need to send the book, however, because they probably won’t read it. But check to see if the magazine has a book reviewer. If they won’t use your book in the New Products section, pitch it to the reviewer. Never send anything unsolicited unless you know for sure they want to read it.

    Before you do anything, read the magazine!

  3. I’ll never forget when my banker found out I was a writer. He asked me for my card rather than the other way around. I also got someone interested in my book at BevMo when I was tasting wine. I’ve learned to carry my cards with me everywhere (except the pool), because I never know when someone will want to know more about my work. 🙂

    With my luck, I’ll meet my best potential contact at the pool….(rueful grin)

  4. A lovely surprise to see my name and advice included in an ALLi post! Mums (OK, I know they’re biased but does that matter if it sells books?) are also great sales people to have on board, especially if they chat in hairdressers, church etc. – mine has sold several copies for me and tells me she now has people asking her when my next novel will be available!

  5. I always carry copies of my books in our cars along with bookmarks. During a stop for gas in Wyoming, my wife spotted Western-set novels for sale in the convenience store and talked to the manager about my contemporary murder mystery, Rope Burn, set in Wyoming. The manager bought all 7 copies I had in my trunk. Another time, during a happy hour at a restaurant near our house, we struck up a conversation with a couple. When they learned I wrote mysteries, I sold them copies of two books I had in our car. Every sale counts.

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