Updated: Sep 18
As children's book authors, we all know how important marketing is. But if you're just starting out and you don't have a large budget, it can feel difficult to get traction. In this post, we're going to cover 9 book marketing ideas that you can implement right now with no money upfront! Let's jump right in.
1 - Free ebook promotions
If you have an ebook version of your children's book through KDP, you can run promotions where anyone can "buy" it for $0.00. To do this, your e-book must be enrolled in KDP Select (named "Kindle Unlimited" on the customer side). In doing so, you are able to run free promotions for 5 days every 3 months but while you're enrolled, you cannot sell your e-book on any other platform.
Note: This does not apply to paperback and hardcover versions of your book and you can unenroll from KDP Select at your own discretion.
Children's books in particular are meant to be read again and again so offering the digital version of your book for free will only hurt you if your book is poor quality. People who download your free e-book and love it are likely to purchase or leave a review. Just remember that you'll get the best results if you pair this with other marketing strategies to drive traffic and you focus on getting in front of your target audience.
💰 PAID UPGRADE: Use e-book promotion sites like Fussy Librarian, Freebooksy, Bookbub, or MyBookCave and they'll advertise your free e-book to their email list.
2 - Social media strategy
Social media is a great book marketing idea that most authors don't take full advantage of. You can use it to build a community around your book, connect with other authors and readers, and connect with influencers who might be interested in promoting your work.
Here are some ideas for how to do this:
This is one of the few social media sites that actually operates more like a search engine. With the right strategy and eye-catching graphics, you can use Pinterest to drive traffic to your book's Amazon page, your website, lead magnets, blog posts, or other content. All for free!
Create a business page for you as an author and share updates about what’s happening with you and your writing process as well as links to buy the book. Consider including some behind-the-scenes photos or videos that readers might not have seen yet.
This is a great platform because it links with Facebook but allows you to tap into a whole new audience. You can use reels, stories, and static posts to drive traffic to your book and build brand awareness.
One of the most important things you can do is start building a following for yourself. Think about your branding and what type of content your audience will care about and start there. Consistency is key! Need some ideas for what to post? Check out this blog post.
💰 PAID UPGRADE: Run social media ads on these platforms to increase your traffic fast!
3 - YouTube Readalouds
Parents and teachers alike often look for YouTube readalouds of a book before they purchase a children's book so this is a great opportunity to get in front of more people. Try creating a video of yourself reading the book in its entirety and then upload it to YouTube. Then use keywords in the title--these are key for getting views!
While you can do keyword research yourself, a tool like Tubebuddy makes it super easy with actual data about how competitive a keyword is and how highly it's searched.
You can also send your PDF to influencers who do YouTube readalouds but make sure they have an audience that makes sense for your book. If it's mostly authors that follow them, you won't see as many results as you would if you got in front of your target audience.
💰 PAID UPGRADE: Create an animated videobook like this.
4 - Email marketing
Having an email list is one of the most overlooked book marketing ideas but it's incredibly powerful. This is your most direct way of reaching your target audience without worrying about changing algorithms.
Email marketing also allows you to build a relationship with your audience over time. If done correctly, email marketing can be one of the most effective ways to build a loyal following.
To build your email list, start by creating a lead magnet. This is a freebie on your website that people get in exchange for joining your list.
An email address
An email provider (MailerLite is free if you have less than 1,000 subscribers!)
Content for your audience
It really is that simple! You can use email marketing to promote the launch of your book, or even just for general updates on what's going on with you and your writing. If you want to learn more about email marketing strategy, check out this post.
5 - Newsletter swaps
A newsletter swap is a great way to grow your author platform and get more eyes on your book. It's also free, so why not?
In a nutshell, authors exchange email lists with each other so that they can send out each other's newsletters to their subscribers. This helps both parties because it allows them to reach new audiences without having to spend any money or much time
Find authors who have a similar book or a similar target audience as you and reach out to them. You'll promote their book to your email list and they'll promote your book to theirs!
You can even set up a newsletter swap with multiple authors at once. That way you'll reach more people and get more exposure for your book.
5 - Press Release
Press releases are a great way to get your book in front of local media outlets, which can help you reach new readers and increase sales.
A press release is a short, timely piece of content that contains information about your book or upcoming event. You can write your own press release or hire a professional writer to do it for you.
Once you've written your press release, send it to local media outlets and ask them to cover it. If they say no, don't take it personally—just send it out again. Keep doing this until someone says yes (or at least gets back to you).
💰 PAID UPGRADE: Hire a publicist to write and send out press releases for you. (My own publicist got me more media coverage in 2 weeks than I got in a whole year of sending out press releases myself!)
Influencers are people who have a lot of followers on their social media platforms, blog, or other outlets. They can be celebrities or just regular people with an engaged following.
To get featured, you need to pitch your book directly to them with information about why they should feature it. Why will their audience care? Why should they?
Whenever possible, look for smaller influencers with engaged audiences. These are called micro-influencers and often, they can be more powerful than a feature from a large influencer. You want to search for accounts that have a target audience similar to yours to give your book the best chance of gaining relevant traction. You can read more about how to find influencers here.
💰 PAID UPGRADE: Partner with an influencer to offer a raffle or giveaway for their audience. Offer the winner a free book, an Amazon gift card, and other goodies to make it enticing. Or hire a publicist to do outreach for you!
7 - Blogging
Starting a blog on your website is a great way to get the word out about your book and connect with readers. It's also free but it does take time to write the posts and learn about blogging SEO.
Here are the biggest benefits of starting an author blog:
👉 A blog drives traffic to your author website
By writing posts related to topics covered in the book, you'll be able to attract people who might not otherwise visit the site--and potential leads for future books!
👉 A blog builds authority
As more people read what you write, they will begin to see you as an expert on those topics. This increases demand for whatever else it is that makes up their lives--including buying things from businesses like yours!
👉 A blog boosts your SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) helps sites like Google understand your website and its purpose so it can drive relevant organic traffic. You'll get more traffic and better rankings if you blog on your own domain than if you just post on other sites or social media platforms.
Overall, blogging can help build an audience for future books and establish credibility in your niche. Plus, people will get to know you a little better!
💰 PAID UPGRADE: Hire someone to write your blog posts for you.
8 - Author Visits
Author visits are one of the most versatile (and lucrative) book marketing ideas because there are lots of different types of author visits. You can do presentations at elementary schools - many schools will pay for your appearance! You can easily offer Zoom visits to classrooms to reach more schools throughout your region and you can provide order forms for the school to send home with the kids.
You can also reach out to your local library and offer specialized programming or your local bookstore for an author signing.
9 - Host a webinar relevant to your niche
This is a great and creative book marketing idea that will get you more leads and active engagement with your audience.
If your children's book teaches social-emotional skills to young readers, you could host an online event for kids that will teach them emotional regulation through stories and games. If you'd rather do something for parents and teachers, you could host a webinar on strategies they can use to help kids process their emotions.
Or you could do a seasonal event around a holiday. The only limit here is your creativity!
Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this post. I hope it gave you some great book marketing ideas you can try, even if you're strapped for cash! Don't forget to check out our other blog posts all about marketing for more helpful tips and tricks.
Let me know in the comments what strategy (or strategies) you're excited to try next!
Need more help? Take a look at our coaching program - made just for authors like you!