When I began selling my first book in January of 2011, A Walk In The Snark (currently free and #1 on Emotions and Feelings on Amazon), I knew nothing about Google AdWords, had no idea I could advertise on Goodreads or Facebook, and really didn’t understand how promotions worked (i.e., a blog tour). In fact, I remember asking a colleague what a blog tour was– ‘how can you not know!’ she laughed (for the record, she’s no longer a colleague :) .

I’ve now learned much, much more about the benefits of advertising and how effective it is and can be – and also what not to do. I spend about $3/day on AdWords, as Google is still the largest search engine worldwide. Given that I make $2.70 per book and I sell on average 500/month, this isn’t a bad investment. I also use Facebook promoted page or posts option during a free or sale period (you can do that for just a few days if you want).

However, I’ve also learned free or extremely stupid cheap ways to get the word out about your book (besides spamming constantly on social media). Remember, word of mouth is still the best way to sell your books. It’s how you get the word out that has changed. (This article assumes you’re already blogging, guest blogging, inviting guest bloggers, and finding interviews. If not, you’ve got homework.)

Let’s deconstruct:

  • Email signature line: I learned about this from a girlfriend after I noticed her email had some cool, jazzy icons and even her pic! How did she do it? WiseStamp. A free tool (though you can go pro if you want but it’s not necessary), which allows you to connect all of your sell links – Amazon, Twitter, website, Facebook, G+, Pinterest, whatever – along with your pic and whatever other info you choose to provide. Very cool.
  • Book Tour Sites: I’ve worked closely with Pandora from Orangeberry Book Tours for both of my books and those of my clients. She has a huge number of packages to meet every budget. She also has ad options, and since her sites gets an extraordinary amount of hits, I feel it’s well worth it. There are lots of book blogger sites out there – find one that fits your genre and price range. How? Google it, ask your Twitter or Facebook followers – social media is great about sharing data.
  • Promotional Sites: One thing missing for indie authors, I found, was affordable ways to advertise our books without a huge investment. $90/month to spend on Google AdWords isn’t that much, but it’s still $90! So I started the Book Promo sites with Barb Drozdowich, Loren Kleinman, and Babs Hightower. Our mission is simple: free features or interviews (author’s choice), and ads ranging from $10 to $50 per month. Each site is fully optimized, has a high Alexa ranking, and the IndieBookPromo.com site is booked through the end of the year! And we promote all authors across not only my two Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ streams, but also the four created for the various promo sites (see below).
  • Genre Specific: I also felt it important to recognize all authors, not just indies. Many of my clients are traditionally published authors who find themselves at a loss as to how to promote their work when they realize the pub house does virtually nothing for them anymore. So, in addition to the IndieBookPromo.com site, I created BookPromoCentral.com for small press and traditionally pub’d. I also wanted sites that were specific to certain genres, ergo RomancePromoCentral.com (romance and erotica) and YAPromoCentral.com (young adult and middle school). Same cost plan across all sites. If you’d prefer to find other sites, there are many: just be sure to check their Alexa.com ranking.
  • Your Own Blog and Website: I see this time and time again: a blog or site without any sell links. Grrrr. No Twitter, no Facebook, no links to the author’s books. Or if they do have it, I have to click around and search for it. If I know what I’m looking for and still can’t find it, what do you think happens to a reader who wants to buy your work? Gone.

If you’re confused about how to add the icons with links to your site, find someone who knows, Google it, and or go the Help section of your blog or site. WordPress.org offers many easy to install plug-ins, which does the work for you. I love it. *Tip: always add the sell link to your book pic, wherever it’s placed on your site. We love to click on covers.

  • Social Media Profiles: @RachelintheOC and @BadRedheadMedia), though I’m still present everywhere else (How? Hootsuite, Buffer and Pluggio). I tell people time and time again – shorten a link to your book and site using bit.ly. Why? You can not only shorten it, but you can also customize it (see my Amazon Mancode: Exposed Twitter/bit.ly link here), and track clicks from Twitter to Amazon. A click doesn’t mean a buy, but at least you know a bit more about how social media is affecting your chances of a sale.

(Do the same for any site, not just Twitter. That seems obvious, but people don’t realize they can do that.)

  • Mailchimp: Believe it not, email is still one of the most effective ways to advertise (behind word of mouth). Mailchimp is a free newsletter service and easy to set up. People opt-in to your newsletters, which allows you to create a sell list. It’s important that they opt-in (meaning they want to hear about your stuff) as opposed to you capturing their email in some other way and spamming them, which can get your account closed permanently.

I like it because I can give people advance notice of promos, sales, or other news (a Forbes mention, for example). You can also hook it up to your professional Facebook fan page, which is very cool. They also give you lots of analytics (open and bounce rates), if you are a nerd like me and want to check that stuff. AND Hootsuite now connects to it, so you can have all that info on your desktop at once.

  • One final (eighth) tip: Triberr: An amazing and free way to get tons of others to tweet, message, link, google, and StumbleUpon your blog efforts (and you do the same for them) — again, free advertising. I love it because I’m not tweeting or sharing my own stuff constantly and it’s a great option to support others and garner support in return. It’s also terrific networking.

These are the primary ways to get your book out there without having to constantly spam people. I’d love to hear about your experiences!

What have I missed?