9 Cheap Ways to Promote Your First Novel

promoting your first novelSo, you just finished your first novel? Didn't it feel great to type THE END? There’s no other feeling exactly like it. Congratulations! Now, all you need to do is convince a publisher, and perhaps an agent and a reviewer or two, of the urgency of your book’s message. Oh, and while you’re out there schmoozing, don’t forget to sell forty to fifty thousand copies. Fifty thousand is such a nice, round, substantial number, wouldn't you agree?

What’s that? You thought you were finished? Actually, you may have some catching up to do, pronto. A new author’s promotional campaign should begin about two months before the book is scheduled for release. Now that you've completed your novel, you may find you have more time to spend, but somehow cash remains tight. How can a new author promote a first book on a shoestring budget?

With a little—okay, a lot—of ingenuity, (and we know you have it to burn), you can meet and conquer this challenge. Consider the following list of suggestions. If you can find even four or five that sound plausible, your book will be marketable, and you will feel more spontaneous and carefree. Sound good? Let’s get started.

1. Readers love contests and prizes. Hold a trivia contest on your website, (you do have one, don’t you?), and award a free book to the winner each week for a month. 2. Post free excerpts from your book, especially those with a lot of dialogue and/or action. 3. Write a column, blog, interview, etc. from one of your main characters’ viewpoints. Update on a regular schedule, once a week or every other week. 4. Plan and post your signings on your website and on social media. 5. Communicate and build relationships with local media sources, such as newspapers, television and radio contacts. 6. Make a book trailer, and upload it to your YouTube channel. 7. When the last book in a series is released, give the first book away. 8. Research local writers’ groups to find the ones that are compatible with your interests and goals. Offer to appear as a guest speaker. 9. Utilize social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. Don’t forget to update regularly (at least once a week is optimal).

Note that most of these steps do not require a large promotional budget. They do, however, involve two virtues that produced your first completed manuscript: patience and perseverance. Add promotion to the mix, and you've got a formula that works as hard as you do!