You’ve written a book--congratulations! However, as any seasoned author will tell you, writing is only the beginning of the journey.
Next comes the vital job of letting people know your book exists--and this can be no small task. In a world where anyone and everyone can publish a book at any time, new authors have more noise to cut through now than ever before.
But you're in luck-- the digital world that creates so much noise also makes it easier than ever for authors to share their stories and connect with potential readers. Social media, email lists, blogs, podcasts, newsletters, and more open direct lines of communication that could only be dreamed of less than two decades ago.
When authors hear the word “marketing”, they often think “money”. Advertising and promotion certainly can come with high price tags, but this doesn’t need to be the case. Though a spot on the Times Square marquee will probably always cost a pretty penny, there are plenty of wonderful, high quality resources that can help first-time (or experienced!) authors create beautiful marketing materials for absolutely free.
Today we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite FREE tools that will help you take on marketing with ease.
Canva is a one stop shop for your design needs. Not only does it offer simple social media optimized templates, free photos, illustrations, and custom-sized templates, users can upload their own photos, artwork, and logos for completely personalized designs. A paid subscription will open additional fonts and features, but is in no way necessary to use the platform successfully.
If you are part of a team, Canva has a feature which allows others to join a project to edit, share, or comment. Since everything is saved online, you’ll never have to worry about leaving your computer at home. All designs can be accessed anywhere an internet connection is available.
Designs can be downloaded as pdfs, jpgs, or pngs. Whether you need to design brochures, promotional bookmarks, blog feature photos, or even book covers, Canva is a tool that can help you get the job done.
While Canva is a fantastic tool, it can’t always do the heavy lifting when it comes to graphic design. Unless you spring for a paid subscription, Canva does not allow background removal and no version allows layering, color changing, or general photo editing.
Professionals use programs such as Photoshop for these tasks, but as a new author with no aspirations in graphic design, paying $100+/year for a professional photo editing program may not be practical. Enter: Pixlr. Pixlr is an online photo editor that offers many Photoshop-like features for free. As with Canva, you can pay a small fee to receive extra features, but it is not necessary to create a beautiful product.
You might have thought photoshop/photoshop-like products were only for photographers, but today these programs are now used to bend text, create new fonts, paint images, merge graphics, and more to create everything from social media banners to commercial-quality advertisements.
Two free programs are currently available on Pixlr: Pixlr X and Pixlr E. The key difference is ease of use. Pixlr X was designed specifically with beginners in mind. It has fewer tools and they are easy for new users. Pixlr E is for more advanced users. This option offers more features, but has a stronger learning curve. Fear not: Pixlr offers text and video tutorials for both programs, and you won’t find it difficult to track down user-uploaded tutorials, as well.
With Pixlr, upload your own photos, pull from Pixlr’s collection of stock photos, or design something completely new. The finished product can be downloaded in a variety of formats including jpg, png, and pxd.
Sometimes you don’t have the time--or the budget-- to take or make all the great photos you need. While they can be overused and abused, a good stock photo used properly can take a piece to the next level without breaking the bank. If you’ve been grabbing your stock photos off of Google images, this section is for you.
The name and links of the photographers are usually given if you want to give them credit or reach out to them for paid images or work in the future, but all photos are free to use and edit. All 3 sites are relatively equal in quality, but vary in selection, so if you can’t find what you need on one site, another just might have it.
Social Media Management Tool
When you are managing multiple social media sites and posting multiple times each week, a social media management tool is the superhero you never knew you needed. Instead of spending hours each day posting, you can spend one day putting together a week’s worth of posts that will go up automatically throughout the week. Not only does this free you up to work on other things, it helps to ensure you never forget to post. This is especially helpful on important occasions such as book launches and publicity dates.
Many of these schedulers also allow you to see and respond to comments, likes, and other notifications from the platform. Rather than bouncing from site to site, everything can be easily accessed from one location.
One scheduling website we love is Hootsuite. Hootsuite’s free option allows you to manage 3 social profiles and schedule 30 messages per month. Upgraded plans have additional features such as unlimited scheduling, additional users, analytics, multiple users, exportable reports, and more. While these tools are helpful, they are not needed for the person just starting out.
Another benefit to Hootsuite is that it plays well with multiple social platforms, including:
It will also work with a few lesser known 3rd party apps.
A final small, but welcome, benefit is the ability to shorten urls within the publishing tool. This adds a nice, clean look to your posts. A downside to be aware of: Facebook does not allow you to tag people through the Hootsuite publisher. If you want to create a tagged post, you will have to do so through Facebook’s scheduling tool.
Other tools with free options: ContentCal, Buffer, SocialOopmph, Zoho
This blog does a good job comparing some of the most popular tools.
We hope you find these tools helpful! If we missed one of your favorites, please feel free to share it in the comments! Embarking on your first marketing journey can be daunting, but rest assured that, with a little help and the right tools, you can take the next step in your writing journey and connect with readers eager to hear your story.
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored and all opinions are our own. We were not paid or reimbursed in any way for writing about these companies. These are simply organizations and tools we found helpful over the years.
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About Laughing Leopard Press
Hello! We are Laughing Leopard Press, an independent book publisher from Akron, Ohio. At Laughing Leopard Press, we’re interested in publishing works that contribute to our understanding of this wonderful world. Through this blog, we hope to add to that understanding with commentary on life, literature, and a few things in between. We hope you enjoy the blog and take some time to talk with us in the comments or on our social media sites. Happy reading!
This is A. Blob by L. A Kefalos. $14.95
$1.00 is donated to charity for each book sold on this site--half to St. Jude's and the other half to PetFix Northeast Ohio.