More Free and Inexpensive Ways to Promote Your Romance

Copyright Judy Bagshaw - All Rights Reserved

Last month I outlined some of the essentials for promoting your work, things such as an author website, blogs, forums and chats, and creating your own promotional materials.

CD samplers are a great way of "teasing" your readers, and introducing potential new readers to your writing style. You could create simple ones for giveaways, introducing your next "to be published" work. Or you could create a taste of all your available work and either choose to give it away, or charge a small fee to recoup your cost of creating the CD. But remember, people love to get something they perceive to have value for free. CD’s are great if you are at a convention or conference and want something tangible to hand out. You could offer the same sampler as a PDF download from your website. Again, fans love to get things for free.

I’ve written about Chapbooks before. See Chapbooks: Nifty Little Promotional Tools, my Nov.06 column. This is my personal favourite promotional tool, perhaps because of the artistry that can be involved in creating them. Again, they can be made as giveaways. I have a short story I’ve put in chapbook form that I use as a bonus giveaway for contests or as a gift for readers from time to time. It’s a nice way to say thank you to new readers who join your fan listing. I have created chapbooks for sale as well. Most retail for under $5. It depends on how many pages, whether it’s printed in colour, the quality of paper used etc.

Contests can be run from your website, or on a monthly basis in your newsletter. You can have special ones to coincide with a release of a new book, or you can run them on an on-going basis to drive traffic to your site. You could have something like, "visit my website and sign my guestbook to have your name entered into a draw for…" Avoid things like scavenger hunts that require the reader to spend a long time. Most people will just move on. The key is to keep them simple. And find a way to tie them into your books.

If your story involves food in some way, you might offer a little cookbook as a prize (you could even create your own recipe collection in chapbook form…using character’s names or book titles in the recipe names) Fans love to get free copies of books, so you might offer an ebook download of one of your books, perhaps one that’s been out a while and you’d like to renew interest. If your main character drank tea, you could have a little box of specialty teas as the prize. I’ve even had the prize be winning a chance for a fan’s name to be used in my next book. Some other prizes I’ve used are candles, coffee mugs, keychains and handmade jewellery (which I make).

And tied into this idea, you might consider setting up your own free storefront at Café Press This is a company that allows you to set up a storefront for free. They have a large inventory of merchandise onto which you can put your own artwork (like book covers). You put this merchandise on the "shelves" of your e-store, add a link to your store on your website, and people can order. Café Press makes their money from the base price of the merchandise, and you can add your profit on top, if you wish to make money at the endeavour. There are items like mugs, canvas tote-bags, t-shirts, hats, posters, coasters…and on and on. It is a U.S. company based in California so for non-U.S. storefront owners (like me) it can be pricey. But they are fast to ship, and the quality of their merchandise is excellent in my experience. I have bought from my own store (to test the quality and the shipping) and have used some items as special prizes in contests, or in gift baskets for big events, or just because I love having my morning coffee from a mug with my book cover on it!

A writer friend of mine has had great success with free e-serials. She’s been running e-serials on her site for the past couple of years, posting a chapter a month. ( She has a forum where readers can come and discuss the serial. She gives teasers, the odd spoiler, and will even do things like polls on favorite characters, or on plot twists. She ran a contest on writing a short story based on a minor character’s POV. The fans got to vote on which character’s POV would be used, and then she wrote the story for them. Even her fans got into creating fan-fic and art. She’s finished one story, and has started book one of the next trilogy of stories. She now plans to take the first serial to print using Lulu And this was all going on before her first book was published. By having the e-serial in place, she had a loyal following of readers who eagerly waited to buy her book.

Another way this author friend engages her loyal readers is having a "street team". Inspired by indie band fan groups, this is essentially a special group for those fans who go the extra distance by posting reviews, linking to her website, recommending her book to other readers, and other good stuff.  As special thanks to these fans, she holds exclusive contests and previews new works to members of the street team.

A very popular trend at the moment is creating book trailers. Like the movie trailers you sit through at the theatre, these are a fast-paced thirty second teaser to rouse the reader’s interest in buying your book. You can post them at places like Youtube or have them on your website for visitors to sample when they drop by. Naturally, you’d have to have more computer savvy than I to create one, but if you do, it’s a fun way to promote your upcoming work. And with a little searching around online, you can easily find someone willing to make one for you.

A Google search on free banner making software will bring you lots of options. Banner ads are a quick easy promotion tool. The key is to find places to display them that will benefit you the most. A lot of authors will post banners for fellow authors and trade links to each other’s sites, thus driving new traffic to their respective websites.

Learning the art of promoting and marketing your book is almost as important as learning the craft of writing itself, for without promotion your precious work will languish and not receive the attention it so richly deserves.


About the Author: Judy Bagshaw has been published since 2000. Writing romance featuring full-figured heroines, her publishing credits include 4 novels, 1 collection of short stories, and short stories in three anthologies. She was also part of the writing team for the Ginn Reading Series, and Reaching Readers Series, used in many elementary schools. Retired from teaching, she writes full-time from her home in Ontario, Canada. Visit Judy's website:



Easy Way to Write Romance - by Rob Parnell