15 Book Promotion Ideas that Help Drive Sales & Engagement

by | May 28, 2024 | Author Branding

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Reading Time: 8 minutes Anytime I run across an article that offers simple book promotion ideas that authors can easily implement to drive book sales, I always bookmark it to read. And when there are new, creative tips, I’m 100% game for sharing them with our followers. I also love sharing new book promotion ideas because we’re all creating unique author brands, and all have different strengths and are drawn to different marketing and self-promotion efforts (or those we want to avoid at all costs). Let’s face it, we all resonate with different things. So let’s dig into these book promotion ideas, and I challenge you to commit to trying two new things you’ve never done before!

Host Readings on Social Media

This is a really cool idea, and what’s great is that it works on different platforms. So no matter where you choose to be “social” you can always benefit from more video content. But remember what we always say, each marketing effort should make waves, and lead to at least one or two other marketing efforts, it’s how you get the biggest bang for your buck. So don’t just post a video of you reading your book and leave it at that. Post your favorite lines, and explain why. Give a little backstory or insider info. Combine each reading post with a special promotion, ask people to post their favorite lines or excerpts, and tag you for a prize. Prizes can be signed copies of future titles, Amazon gift cards, swag that fits the vibe of your book – get creative.

Host Events in the Park

I am always on the lookout for authors who are willing to share unique book promotion ideas and this one is certainly new to me! And it’s an especially fun idea if you’ve written something that lends itself to an outside venue, like a kid’s book, which would work well for a park reading. Promote your event using NextDoor and other local event calendar options. Or if you’re simply lucky enough to have a lovely rec space in your area head there with signed copies and introduce yourself to people who are enjoying being outside and might also love a new book to read. This works best if you’re set up with digital payment options like Venmo or Square, and give people a deal for buying from you in person! I know this is an extroverted option, but local promotion and word of mouth is an incredibly untapped resource for most authors.

Make a Movie Trailer

I love this one and it’s often popular with fiction authors. But for non-fiction this gets harder, so you have to get creative, make it about your journey as a professional and how you gained all the knowledge you’re trying to share with the world. Movie trailers don’t have to be super complex – there’s so much software out there now to help you. You can try using Canva’s new AI tool to help spur on some ideas, and it’s worth seeing what the platform can create for you, I’m confident you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how sophisticated it’s gotten.

Set Up a Story Walk

This is such a fun addition to your list of book promotion ideas, and actually pretty easy to implement. So how does a story walk work? Well, each segment of your book would be featured at different, walkable locations. And when you promote it be sure you let people know how far they’ll be going, if they have to visit all the locations to enjoy the event, will there be a prize if they do? Make it fun and engaging! Just be sure this is a good match for your reader market. So again, children’s books would be great for this, and you could work with your local schools to promote it. Nature books, wellness or mindfulness books, and fitness books, all great options. And don’t think you’re out of the running if you write genre fiction. Again, think about your reader market. Pop into a few retail locations and tell them you’d like to send traffic their way as part of a special book promotion you’re doing and I’m sure most will love the idea. Wine bars, home stores, breweries, food trucks…the list goes on. You can set up “markers” that need to get photographed and logged, and if participants get all of them, they win a prize – or maybe are entered to win a grand prize! And remember when I talked about NextDoor, you can use that site to promote it there, and it’s worth announcing it to your local social media influencers as well. The other thing about your ‘story walk’ is that while it’s a fun idea to do it on a single day, you don’t have to. So you could push this “Easter egg” idea to your local community – finding the pieces to the story puzzle, or just finding the markers. Maybe create some clues related to the various chapters. You can have some fun with this one.

Run Local Ads

There’s a lot of “local” on here for a reason, and I’ll say it again, it’s a wildly untapped opportunity for sales and priceless word-of-mouth. But still, be strategic about where these ads run. Think lifestyle magazines, or publications that specifically promote local businesses. Or perhaps a local business publication is more in line with your buyer market, be intentional because ads only work when they get in front of the right people. And consider your timing. Most publications do special issues for national holidays, seasons, or regional special events – these tend to get more eyes.

Sell Merchandise

I’m a big fan of this tip – I’ve incorporated it into my own book promotion ideas list as well, especially for new releases. Because readers love fun, cool, branded swag. Sites like Etsy and Zazzle offer a lot of options, and Etsy artists are usually really open to custom orders as well, which is a bonus.  And I use these special items as incentives to buy more books at speaking events (buy two books and get a free tote bag), and as promo items when I’m launching a new book. Just be mindful of shipping. We had an author who printed up mugs which is a fun idea in theory, but shipping mugs is hard and not all arrived in one piece.

Offer a Free Excerpt

This is a cool way to get more newsletter sign-ups, too. Offering a freebie like one chapter, or five chapters, is a fun way to let potential new readers sample your book. And your sample doesn’t have to be a one-dimensional Word doc that you hand out, you could create a fun cover for it, or maybe use the existing book cover and add something like “Free sample” to the image.

Launch a Website

Some of you will find this odd, and some of you will groan. And that’s why I’ve included it. A lot of authors still publish without a website, so I don’t classify it as an industry standard that can go unmentioned. An author website doesn’t have to be fancy, elaborate, or expensive. It just has to have the basics, and it needs to be clean, accurate and kept up to date. Honestly, I think less is more, especially if you’re new at this because it’s less to keep up with. But I can tell you it says a lot about your professionalism, and your commitment to your readers, especially if you plan on writing more than one book.

Run Giveaways

Giveaways of any kind are a fan favorite with readers and need to be added to your book promotion ideas list. And you know the cool merchandise and swag mentioned earlier? That works well for giveaways, too, but so do books. Signed copies, copies of an older backlist title, or even a BOGO. I often do BOGOs when I release my print editions, buy a print copy and I’ll send a Kindle edition to one of your friends or colleagues. The goal is to get books in hands, so if you’re stressing about cost or missed sales, you’re missing the point. When you run a giveaway make sure you have a way to collect email addresses so you can contact people afterward and add them to your newsletter. In fact, why not send folks to your website to sign up?  Signing up for your newsletter automatically gives them a chance to enter. And you should promote giveaways on social media to rack up social engagement AND website traffic.

Create Eye-Catching Graphics

There’s so much going on in everyone’s lives, we all get burned out on content – and that’s when visuals start to carry your marketing and promotion. Sites like Canva make this super easy and graphics should be a big component to everything you’re doing to build your brand. Whether it’s a giveaway that was mentioned earlier, or adding graphics to your social media posts, blog, or newsletter, or having one-sheets ready to give media or influencers you want to pitch – remember that the mind is an image processor and not a word processor, so well-designed graphics can help to convey your message faster than words alone.

Network with Other Authors

Whether it’s contributing to each other’s newsletters, sharing promotions, or combining efforts to promote limited-time deals, there’s power in numbers and collaborating on book promotion ideas. And unless you’re selling thousands of books a month, most authors will say they’d love access to another author’s fans and followers to promote their work. Set the stage by following other authors on social, including Goodreads, comment on their posts, or even their blog. Sign up for their newsletter so you can see what kind of content they put out. Check out their Amazon retail pages and their Author Central page. Putting in this extra effort benefits you two-fold. One, you’re showing your potential collaborators that you’re all in. Two, you’re going to learn something, you’ll pick up tips and ideas, and you’ll even learn more about your reader market. And if you can attend any in-person writer conferences or events, I recommend that as well. It’s easy to start up a conversation with another author once you’ve both wrapped up a session.

Offer Signed Copies

Regardless of the occasion, readers love signed copies. I talk with a lot authors who want to sell more books from their website, and autographed copies are another great way to do that. Personalized books also make great gifts, whether it’s for an upcoming birthday or a holiday, so just be sure to make that angle clear when listing an autographed or personalized book for sale. You can promote this option in your newsletter and on social media as well, and definitely ramp it up leading up to major holidays like Christmas, Father’s Day, Galentine’s Day…you get it.

Send Newsletters

I’ve done a podcast episode on this with my awesome co-host because newsletters are just that important. Ideally, you want to try and send out some news monthly, or at minimum seasonally. If you’re doing well on social media and connecting with readers that way, you can get away with doing newsletters seasonally if needed. But if you’ve opted out of social media for your branding, you need a monthly newsletter to make up for that lack of access.

Run Limited-Time Discounts

Limited-time discounts can be a fantastic way to ramp up sales quickly. But the key is the limited-time aspect. Discount your book by $1 or more and keep it to 2-3 days tops because it pushes people to act immediately. If you run a discount for a week or more you’ll inevitably get people who won’t buy because they’ll tell themselves they’ll do it tomorrow. Spoiler alert, they’ll forget. And if you can tie your limited-time discount into another known holiday or seasonal event, all the better since people are already paying attention. And don’t forget to promote! Discounting your book doesn’t generate traffic, you have to do that too. List the discount on a Kindle-centric newsletter like GoodKindles. Promote the discount on social media. Ask your author network to do a promotional swap where they promote your discount to their followers. If you’re organized you can plan your newsletter and discount at the same time. And you might be thinking, why would my followers want to know about a discount? And good, that means you’re paying attention – what you want to do is ask them to share it. This is where you’re reminding them how much positive word-of-mouth means. So if they enjoyed your book and planned to recommend it to friends, now is the time, while it’s on sale!

Leverage TikTok

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of hopping on the next big thing just because it’s new but for those who know how to work this platform, it can be a really effective way to get your book out there. The thing is, the demographics have to make sense. So this is your reminder to do your research on TikTik, get the app (it’s free) and check out what’s showing up for BookTok specifically. If you’re seeing books that align with yours, then perhaps it’s time to get an account and reach out to BookTokkers to see if they’re interested in a complimentary copy of your book.

Wrapping Things Up

The goal with all of these book promotion ideas is to inspire you, not overwhelm you. If you only wind up doing the two things you wrote down, I call that a win. It’s up to you to figure out what makes the most sense for your book, your reader, and your goals – and if that’s a lot of strategies on this list then think of it as a high-quality problem to have.

Resources and Free Downloads

Here’s a link to our author podcast episode on newsletters. Memoir or Self-Help, how to choose the right genre.  Learn how a publisher can kill your success. How to create obtainable goals as an author. Wait! Are you ready to start promoting on Amazon? 5 book marketing strategies that are always worth hiring out. How to improve your book marketing in less than 10 minutes. 5 free book marketing strategies you should revisit quarterly. 3 shockingly simple ways to improve your author platform.


  1. ana

    Thanks for some. great ideas. Poetry in the park? Yeah!

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Ana love the enthusiasm, thanks for commenting!


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