top of page
  • Writer's pictureMatt Johnston

Promoting your book when you have no money

Updated: Nov 3, 2018

When I started writing my first novel the process seemed so clear. I’d write it, edit it, get a few knock back, and then publish it. I was naive, not so naive to think I’d get an agent or a publishing deal, but a more basic assumption that having done the book, this would have been the labour intensive bit – WRONG!

I read a lot of comments about the angst of writing, the torment, writer’s block, self-doubt and sacrifice. But my personal experience was somewhat different. I can honestly say that, while a time difficult, I find the whole process most enjoyable and has remained a benefit to my emotional well-being (not necessarily my physical well-being as it is time I could have spent exercising).

Promoting the thing, however, has been as constant source of frustration and disappointment. I am not naturally a social media person (I’m barely even social in most instances). But this does give a platform, abet one in which I clamour amongst countless other hopefuls – many of which seem to have better book covers and/or marketing strategies. Therefore I have come up with a few alternative book marketing strategies. I have not tried them all (as will soon be obvious), but would welcome feedback on possible effectiveness.

Make your book award winning – easiest way to do this is to simply create your own award. A little disingenuous I grant you, but when you consider that most prestigious awards have significant entrance fees which excludes all those authors with either deep pockets or the backing of proper publishing contracts, it does help level the playing field.

Declare your work as a religious text – Well it worked for Ron L Hubbard (and he was a really shit writer). And having established your new religion you can find

people to promote your books (like agents but you don’t have to pay them). I understand that there are some very interesting tax exemptions for religions as well.

Drop a massive picture of your book into the middle of a sentence - If you make the picture really big there is a good chance whomever is reading your blog will have to scroll up to remember what the first part of the sentence was about, doubling the exposure.

Writing the name of my book on bank notes – they key here is to realising that money changes hands regularly, and people look to make sure it is legal tender. I have therefore begun writing short statements like: Dislocate – a great read! In small letters along the fringes.

Quiz nights - most local pubs have a quiz night. Try agreeing to write the questions for the overworked landlords, and make every question about your novel, and how great it is.

Cold calling to answerphones – Not great on the cost benefit front when considering the cost of the phone bill, but does give an opportunity to narrate parts of the book. Also, I now welcome cold callers who want to know about whether I have had PPI or been in an accident, my record for keeping them on the phone discussing my book is over three minutes.

Writing to Members of Parliament asking for comment on the implications of the book, and/or the social/ political ramifications – Chances are the response, if you get one at all will be short, but with a bit of creative bending of the truth you might be able to imply that your MP has endorsed your work. Who knows, some stupid MP may even ask a parliamentary question about it.

Report a crime to say that your book has been stolen – OK, let me stress that this is illegal (unless it has actually happened), but think of the publicity you can possibly generate over being a victim of ‘book crime’?

Murder a celebrity – again, need to stress that this is illegal. But in the absence of your own celebrity status, or a celebrity endorsement, this is the next best thing. Kill the celebrity, hand yourself into the police, and then base your entire defence on your novel, reading sections to the press gallery. If nothing else, even if it does not improve sales, you’ll get lots of time to write.

17 views0 comments


bottom of page