Promoting Your Writing without Breaking Your Budget

My name is not, unfortunately, Mary Higgins Clark, Danielle Steel or Barbara Delinsky, three of a select group of writers of women’s novels. My books have not yet caught the eye of an editor at Random or Simon & Schuster or attracted a big-name literary agent.

In fact, my two published novels were accepted and released by a small publishing company. And while available in paperback format, they are produced as they are ordered – thus falling under the dreaded umbrella of a relatively new method of getting books to readers, “POD” or “print on demand.” Not only is this a concept I hadn’t even known existed much more than a year ago, I have since learned it is one that comes with a certain stigma.

Baggage that may not even be justified, as many confuse POD with vanity and I did not pay to have my books published. Despite this fact, it wasn’t long before I knew I had my work cut out for me.

For one thing, my books are priced higher than many competing offerings, a challenge that I struggle to justify, or avoid if possible, to inquisitive potential buyers. I’ve recognized this is not something I can change so I move on, trying to drum up a level of interest in my books despite this very real roadblock.

Naive at first, I sent out review copies to newspapers, magazines and review sites, confident that glowing words about my work would result in equally inspiring sales figures. Not exactly.

I managed to accumulate eight reviews for my first novel, Accidental Rewards, all positive, but none of the newspapers bothered to look at my book and I am unable to determine any increase in sales after the postings of reviews on various sites on the Internet. Still, obtaining reviews was something I felt I must try, as my publisher does not send out advance copies of books.

Marketing, I learned very quickly, was completely up to me. For an introverted writer who spends much of her time at the computer or engrossed in a good book, this was not going to be easy.

I spent some money on trying to get my first book “out there.” And then I spent some more money. During the first year of my “career” as a writer, I sent out 22 copies of my book, at a cost of approximately $16.00 each (resulting in the eight reviews).

I paid for an author page on a website for readers and writers at a cost of $75.00. I had cards printed, another $20.00. I signed up for a press release service for $89.00 and posted news of my books on another site for $10.00.

Of course, I utilized every free outlet I could unearth as well. I paid $20.00 to Amazon to list keywords that would bring my book up in a search. I registered a domain name for $35.00 to have a website developed, cost yet to be finalized.