Self Publishing 104: Promotional Materials

I’m reaching into my bag of goodies to give you some super cheap (or free!) ways to help promote your self published book. I’ve used all of the following tools so much, I could probably give lessons. Just so you know, no one is paying me to promote them.



3D book cover generator

You can create a little mockup of your e-book using Adazing. The clarity isn’t great but I like that you have choices on what you want your 3D book to look like. Just make sure you have a cover ready to upload. All you do is give your email address and voila. They send it to you right away and you can use it for promotional materials.

Downside? You’re setting yourself up for some junk email.




Free author website/ Stock photos/ Blog

You’re going to need a promotional website or landing page for your book. You can get super cheap websites and domains but not many people realize that WIX has hundreds of free or cheap stock photos. The most expensive I’ve seen are $2. Load up and add to your website.

If tech is intimidating to you, WIX offers one page templates which is really all you need for an author site. Just change the copy and replace the photos with your own. You can publish anytime for FREE. You can also purchase a domain through WIX and attach it to your site. If you are feeling brave, you can also add a blog.



Cheap promotional bookmarks

I’ve often told authors that the best way to engage booksellers in conversation when visiting a bookstore is to bring in some free bookmarks that promote your book. Working at BN, we loved having bookmarks to hand out to customers and the added bonus is people get to see your name and book while using it. I used to go to Vistaprint but they must have been raising prices because now Overnightprints gives you more bang for your buck.


Image result for gif anchorman



Create your book cover/ Edit photos

This site knocks my socks off and is now my secret weapon. If you need to create a cover for your e-book, this is the place. It also gives you the tools to create your own ads! I’ve spent hours having fun with this. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be addicted.

The site a playground of free stuff. There are certain icons and templates that cost money.



Stock videos for your author website

If you know what you’re doing on the tech front and you’ve gone to WordPress for your author site needs, this is where it’s at. Some of my favorite websites are using stock video. It’s just gorgeous and looks really modern. Everyone goes to iStock or the other big leagues but not me. I prefer Pond5 over other well known competition because you can purchase videos à la carte. On other sites, you have to pay a $70 flat fee for four videos but I can just upload the one I need for $15 on Pond5. Do you see what a cheapskate I am?



Get illustrations for your book/ Hire cover designer

I’m wild for Fiverr because I’ve had such a great experience getting anything I need and quickly. Not everything is $5 but generally, the upgrades are inexpensive. Especially artists who do illustrations. You can have someone design a cover for your book or do multiple illustrations for you. Look through the profiles of artists and check their portfolios and how they are rated before settling on one.



Transparent background/ Photoshop alternative

This is a free option if you need to get rid of the background on your logo so it fits on your author/book site. You can usually pay someone on Fiverr to do this for cheap but if you’d rather go alone…



Collaboration tool

Bitrix24 is a perfect tool for two people co-authoring a book. It reminds me a little of E-Planner, the navigational task tool at Barnes & Noble.

It keeps you both organized. You can schedule meetings, text one another, send files and updates…. You can even keep track of literary agent or publisher information and whether either of you have contacted them or not. It’s really a cool tool and you can’t do better than free. There are upgrades you can pay for but if two people are using it to collaborate on a book, they aren’t necessary.

Image result for bitrix24 screenshot



Collaboration tool 

At my full time job, we’ve been using Slack and I have to tell you, if you have multiple people working on a book together, I can’t think of anything easier. While Bitrix24 is where I would go if I had a co-author (or a bookstore), Slack is the cheap way to bring in multiple people together on a multi-faceted project. Illustrators, editors, and other artists. You can privately text chat and send uploads to each team member and have a general “wall” for everyone’s input. It allows you to get desktop notifications. It has kept us organized for some time now.

Price: FREE  although “Organizations that need upgraded features, such as searchable archives with unlimited messages and unlimited external integrations, can sign up for a Standard plan at $6.67 per user, per month.”



Professional author photo

Some authors pay an arm and a leg to bring in a professional photographer but if your budget is on the slim side, JCPenney does the trick. I see some writers on LinkedIn using selfies or bad cell photos and I wonder why. If you take one at JCPenney, no one will know you didn’t spend a lot of money. Make sure they get a headshot only. I recommend using a plain white background because your photo will look good on any site with any array of colors. You only need one photo (politely ignore their upselling) which is $50. I’m giving you a coupon, here.



Banners for your author signing

Here is where Vistaprint is still a good deal.  You can get a 1.7′ x 3′ banner for only $16.00. And you can design it and make it look like a big wig publisher did that for you. Put it on your table during a signing or supersize one and have it on a large stand. Even the larger ones are reasonably priced. I’ve always gotten my orders from Vistaprint, quickly.

Bonus: Sometimes they have great sales on posters. Create a poster and have a raffle as a giveaway during your author event!



Book reviews

Not necessarily good reviews but reviews all the same.

Face it. When you self publish, it’s hard to get people to read your book much less force them to write a review for you and Moms don’t count. Testimonials are so essential for selling more books. There are thousands of users on Inkitt who are reading and rating books, probably because there are so many interesting contests going on at all times. All I know is that I’ve already garnered seven reviews for my book on this free site and I couldn’t be happier that I have something to post on my author pages.



Front and back cover creator for paper book

You don’t have to order from Lulu to see what your front and back book cover can look like. They offer templates so you can design it yourself. I’m not promoting their other services because I have not used them and I’m skittish towards paper self-publishing as most literary agents will not represent a book that has an ISBN. So just have fun with this one.



*Comic by Tom Gauld


Nicolina Torres
Nicolina Torres

Nikki worked for Barnes & Noble for 15 years, in seven stores. She is the author of This Red Fire, Young Nation, and Girls Who Wear Glasses. She prefers to live in the country and is a new aunt to a potential bookworm.

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