13 ways to promote and market your book on a budget

online marketingIn today’s publishing environment, author involvement in the promotion and marketing of a book is critical to the success of a title. This June, John Bond, Riverwinds Consulting; Kathleen Reid, VP and Commerical Lender for Medical Learning, Elsevier; and Diane Harnish, Head of Primal Pictures, Global Director of Academic and Government Markets, Informa Group shared their combined marketing experience with authors who are both budget-conscious and market-minded.  

These experienced marketing professionals from academic publishers focused on low to no cost ideas for how authors can become a partner in the marketing efforts of the publisher. After all, who knows the book better than the author? Below are some highlights from the 2019 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference session, “Promoting and Marketing Your Book on a Budget”.

Metadata elements  

Kathleen Reid suggests thinking about marketing while you are planning the manuscript. She said, “Want to be successful in your book marketing? Think about metadata (chapter titles, etc.) that will make your book discoverable by those who need it. Good metadata sells books!”  

Kathleen Reid

Social media  

Love it or hate it, in the modern market, you need to get connected and post on social media. Again, Reid suggests that the best marketing starts before the book is released. “Use social media to talk about the fact that you’re writing a book, find reviewers, and build demand along the journey of developing the manuscript.”, she said.  

Academic sharing sites  

Get involved on academic sharing sites, like Academia, Google Scholar, and ResearchGate, as a contributor and don’t be modest in your profiles. By listing your expertise and experience as part of an active profile, you serve to develop your personal brand, and in turn, your book brand. Reid also suggests getting a ORCID to further connect you to your work. Bond added, “Everyone should have profiles at all of these pages…because the more Google can connect you through these sites, the greater advantage you can get through search engine results.”

Author website  

With the idea that a personal author brand helps promote a brand for your books, when creating an author website, consider creating a simple website that is about you, not your books. For an example, consider the information shared on BooksByJohnBond.com. Reid says, “List and discuss all your work and interests.” This lets readers understand your full experience and qualifications for the books you write. From there you can, and should, link to publisher pages to promote your books directly.  

Discussions and listservs  

Participate in discussions on listservs in your discipline as a contributor. When participating, focus on the topics on the listserv or discussion and what you have to offer to the conversation, not how you can pitch your book. The goal is to develop a reputation that is respected and, once established, makes it more appropriate and acceptable to offer your book as a solution when related to an expressed need or concern by other members.  

Personal branding  

Reid reminded us that in academic publishing environments, who wrote the book is often a more significant factor than the quality of the book itself. “Your expertise is what gives you the credibility to write the book.” When working on your personal brand, talk about what you have done (research and work) to earn that credibility.  

Your existing network  

Leverage your existing network of colleagues and friends to review and promote your work. This is easier said than done for many people, so if you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to your network for help, Reid said, “Give those names to your publisher and let them reach out on your behalf.” Be proactive though. You can’t assume your publisher knows the people you know and is contacting them already.  

Diane Harnish

Marketing plan  

Remember that these tips are intended to help you as the author become an active partner with your publisher to market your book. Diane M. Harnish advises that you “build a marketing plan with your publisher.” One way to do that, she adds, “is to complete the publisher’s marketing profile. Keep them updated on your activities.”  

Testimonials and endorsements  

Another way to support the marketing plan and message is with the support of others. Harnish encourages authors to share the testimonials and endorsements. “Post them to your website and provide them to the publisher. Your publisher can then amplify the message through their marketing channels.”, she said.  

Ask for favors  

But what if you don’t have those testimonials and endorsement readily available? What if you need reviewers or other help to enhance your marketing efforts? Chances are, you are one of those people who would do other people a favor, if asked. Therefore, Harnish said, “Get over the asking part when you need a favor. Don’t be modest or shy. Ask!” You can’t get what you don’t ask for, so ask.  

Create ancillary materials  

There’s a hard truth in today’s academic publishing environment, “the book is not enough.” Nearly every textbook is packaged with supplemental or ancillary materials. As the author, to improve the marketability of the book, you should be willing to create ancillary materials that build a package for the book to bring it to market.  

Prepare videos  

In an environment that is growing increasingly digital, Harnish advises that you prepare short 2-minute videos to help support your marketing efforts. These videos can be used to share why you wrote the book, what it’s about, how to use it in class or practice, and more. She said, “Today’s students will get to know you through video more than any other marketing material your publisher uses.”  

Create live event opportunities  

Create live event opportunities (symposiums, author days on campus, etc.) about the topic of your book – not book signings. Harnish also advised asking your publishers about their sales conferences. She said that these events allow you to “impart your wisdom to the sales team directly.” As a result, “they’ll never forget who you are!”  

See the full presentation recording and the other 2019 TAA Conference session recordings in our presentations on demand library.


Eric Schmieder

Eric Schmieder is the Membership Marketing Manager for TAA. He has taught computer technology concepts to curriculum, continuing education, and corporate training students since 2001. A lifelong learner, teacher, and textbook author, Eric seeks to use technology in ways that improve results in his daily processes and in the lives of those he serves. His latest textbook, Web, Database, and Programming: A foundational approach to data-driven application development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, MySQL, and PHP, First Edition, is available now through Sentia Publishing.