How to Market Your Book: Organic Marketing

This cat has at least eight different beds in this room, but no. She has to get on my work laptop, which hasn’t been the same since.

Let’s continue on the marketing path and focus on organic marketing. I think of organic marketing as a way to use the tools you have at your disposal without shelling out cash. Your website, social media presence (which I’ll get more into in my next post in this series), newsletters, blogs, personal touches, author appearances all add up to some great resources for getting yourself out there on a budget, and it doesn’t have to be that painful.


If you choose to have a website, decide if you want it to be a source of information and/or e-commerce based, and make sure that it’s a place users can visit to get everything they need. If you have good design skills or access to a designer, then by all means, make it eye-catching and appealing. If you don’t, then just make sure that it’s easy to navigate with well written content and that it utilizes responsive design (the capability to adjust to your device, whether it’s a computer screen, tablet, or smartphone).

You can get fairly affordable hosting too. Look at options from sites like WordPress, Squarespace, Bluehost, and Dreamhost. I went with WordPress because I know it pretty well, and the plugins make my life easier when it comes to site design, e-commerce, and mail hosting.

Also don’t be afraid to check out other authors’ websites for ideas on layout and included information too. For instance, when I visit an author’s site, I’m looking for ways to buy their books (preferably from them or an independent bookstore), upcoming appearances, social media links, and book teasers or blurbs.

Social Media

Social media can be daunting, but it’s a good way to get word out there about your products and books, and build a fan base. You can offer platform specific special offers, post your appearances, and tease with cover releases. You can also get creative. It doesn’t always have to be about your books either. If you have cute animals, shamelessly exploit them. Post about your interests and hobbies, share pictures from a trip or outing. You can use social media to show your human side and make you more relatable to your audience.

My next post will go a little more in depth about social media, the platforms out there, and how you can use it to your advantage.


I have to admit that I fall very short here. As someone who has a lot of email fatigue and is more likely to unsubscribe or delete without opening an email, I struggle to understand the point of having a newsletter. But it has undeniable advantages, probably the greatest of which is the ability to keep your readers hooked and coming back for more– which is important when you have a new release coming up. You can create a reader magnet which can be newsletter specific chapters or short stories or something specific relating to your content. For my website newsletters, I include a character introduction each month, and for my Patreon subscribers I have character intros, bestiary entries, and a chapter each month from an unreleased stand alone novel that will be available to the public in 2025.

One thing I strongly advise against is sending emails just to send them. Email fatigue is a real thing. If you can’t produce high quality, relevant content, then don’t send any content at all. You also need to watch your metrics! If you notice that your unopened and unsubscribe rates start to go up, then you need to reevaluate your campaigns. Is your content engaging and unique? Are you sending something your readers will enjoy? All email subscription services have some kind of reporting capability, and you should acquaint yourself with your platform.


Another way you can engage your readers is through blog posts. I’m using mine to help chronicle my self-publishing journey, but some authors use theirs to engage their readers. A blog can be a fun way to talk about your writing process, the world you created, your characters and their significance to you, and any struggles you face (writers’s block and burn out are very, very real). It can also be another way to offer promotions, coupon codes, and let readers know about new releases and upcoming appearances, as well as your experiences doing markets, cons, and readings.

Personal Touches and Appearances

Never underestimate the importance of making yourself seen. People love talking about your writing process, your works, characters they relate to, and their own writing path. You can offer special discounts or giveaways at author events too, especially if you operate your own e-commerce site. I like making unique coupon codes for each event and then tracking online sales to see which event generates sales. That helps me be able to plan my approach for other markets and readings.

Something to keep in mind is that author appearances (or at least for me) are as much about lead generation as they are immediate sales. It’s not uncommon for me to have people chat for a while and take a book mark or business card and then buy one of my books at the next market I attend or from my website. If your readers have a substantial TBR pile or limited time, they may not be ready to buy right at that moment. It’s your job to make sure that they remember you when they are ready.

Now go sell your books!

Marketing doesn’t have to cost a lot, and you can get creative and have fun with it. If you have any creative tips or tricks to get your works out there, let me know in the comments!

Author Appearance: Public Speaking

And we’re back with the sadly overdue follow up to my last post! As an apology, I give you Lucy’s tummy.

I hate public speaking. I have mild aphasia, and when someone asks me a question I’m not prepared for, I fall apart. There are a million tips out there for getting rid of stage fright, but here are some of the things I’ve learned since I started this whole writing thing:

Know Your Subject Matter

After a particularly disastrous speech, I created a Google Doc that includes talking points and excerpts that I can access from my tablet or phone. I have it broken down into segments: world building, character development, and business. I practice my speeches, and I relearned some of the vocalization and enunciation exercises I had to do in college. I also record myself before each event now. That really helped me get rid of a lot of extraneous content. And trust me– there was a lot of extraneous content.

Learn for Next Time

I incorporate questions into my master talk and Q&A list and use them to tweak my presentations. I don’t just do this when I do public appearances– anytime someone starts to ask me questions about writing, I pull up my trusty Google Doc and add their question to my list if it’s something new or enlightening that might help others down the line. Plus, while I’m really bad at being able to come up with cohesive and informative answers off the top of my head, this tactic ensures that I’ll be able to get it right the next time.

Try to be Prepared

The number one way I will be derailed is by questions I do not expect. Wrack your brain and come up with every possible question your audience might ask you, and feel free to enlist your friends here too. Think about who your audience is– what are their collective interests? What common theme ties them together? Then think about how they might tie their interests into your writing. Also I want to note that I’m absolutely not saying that you should only think about questions in this vein. Your audience will have many more that interest them on a personal note too.

Set Boundaries

From the beginning say that you’re only willing to answer questions on specific topics. For instance, if your subject is world building, then make it clear that you’re only willing to discuss questions relating specifically to world building and that you’ll be happy to answer any other questions either after the event or by email. This will also keep the Q&A session from going over. If you’re not comfortable putting your foot down, you can ask the event coordinator to run interference. And you don’t have to be ugly about it. Realistically a Q&A session should be around 15 minutes, 30 at the most if the audience is really engaged. Any longer and you’ll start to lose your listeners. Off topic questions make it hard for everyone else to have a turn.

If you have any tips or tricks that help you with public speaking or author appearances, add them to the comments! Happy writing, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram at elirainwater_author for updates on my markets, cats, and all that good stuff.

Author Appearances: Markets

My best friend whisked me away for a glorious three days to her in-laws’ cabin in Sopchoppy, Fl, where I was inspired and wrote and felt incredibly relaxed and motivated afterward. Two things came out of that trip: I met CJ, who does not accept that writers should write and not pet him, and Brenda’s in-laws are now part of my chosen family. So CJ gets a place of honor in a blog post.

As we continue down the path of, “being an author is a lot more than just hiding out in the middle of the woods furiously tapping away at a keyboard (or writing by hand– whatever works for you)”, one of the things I struggle with the most is making public appearances.

I have mild aphasia, and I struggle with public speaking. A lot. I really need to be able to come prepared and make sure the questions do not deviate too far from the topic or I shut down and lose my nerve. So this is the list of everything I do before I make any kind of appearance, be it vending at a market or doing a reading or talk. I’ll cover markets first because they’re the most straightforward and easy:

What you want to buy/have beforehand:

Certificate of insurance

This is starting to crop up more and more. You absolutely should already have business insurance, and it’s not that expensive. I pay $20 a month for it through State Farm. The certificate of insurance is basically just proof of business liability insurance, much like what you have for a car. Most markets really only request them if you sell food or alcohol, but it never hurts to be prepared.

Vendor Fees

Most markets, cons, and shows charge vendor fees. What you have to do is figure out whether they’re worth it or not, especially once they get to be over $100. What are your end goals besides sales? Are you trying to build up your mailing list or social media followers? Make a sign that explains what they’ll get out of the mailing list– or tell them. Do you just want exposure? Make up postcards and bookmarks with links to your site. I put my books’ blurbs on the back of mine along with a coupon code that never expires. No matter what you do, you need to make sure that the return on investment for the vendor fees is worth it and that you know that you have a good chance to make it up.

An Event Buddy

Markets tend to be anywhere from 4-6 hours long. An event buddy could be someone who comes with you or a fellow vendor who can keep an eye on your booth when you need to run to the bathroom.

As an author, you have more of a chance to chat with your audience about your books, inspiration, writing process, and anything else they want to know about, but that means that you can’t make quick sales. If you can find someone willing to go to the markets or events with you, they can help you manage your time by handling transactions and restocking inventory as needed. Plus they can man the booth while you walk around and check out other vendors.

A Spiel

You need to be able to talk about your books and process and do it without getting bogged down in details, losing your audience, or missing out on a sale because you’ve talked so much to one person that you miss the opportunity to talk to another. Know your book blurbs and be able to expand on them rather than regurgitate them, be able to talk to the parts of the book that meant the most to you, and be prepared to give a Cliff Notes version of how you wrote, built your world, and published.

Set Up

Something that served me well is going on Amazon, finding everything I could possibly need for my own table or booth, saving it for later, and then waiting for notifications that something was on sale or another cheaper version was available. I highly recommend it. You also need to think about how easy it will be to load and unload if you have to park far away and don’t have an event buddy to watch your stuff.

Here’s what I got for my set up, and you can see the picture to the right to get a better idea:

  • A 2×4 folding table– trust me, you want to splurge on one that has a handle. My next one will definitely have one.
  • A three tiered display stand for smaller items like candles, prints, and stickers
  • An 8×8 tent with a sun wall and weights that can be filled with water for the legs
  • Display stands for the books
  • A really nice journal and pens for my mailing list
  • A separate book to log inventory and sales done through Venmo or cash
  • Coasters
  • Double sided tape
  • Duct tape
  • Two fully charged battery packs and a power strip with USB ports
  • A wheeled crate that holds everything I need for my set up and that doubles as a seat
  • A comfortable, folding chair (preferably with cup holders)
  • Snacks– high protein like jerky is smart– and bottled water along with Liquid IV, powdered Gatorade, or Emergen-C. You want the electrolytes in the summer, and the powder packs take up less space.
  • Table decor

It was actually pretty easy for me to get in and out of the last market I did, but I want to invest in a second crate or large box that I can use to transport all of my stock at once. Books are heavy.

Set up your table before your first event

Granted, you may not be able to invest in everything you need for your first event, but after you are fully prepared to sell your books, go ahead and set up your table in your living room (or wherever you have space) as soon as you can. It really helps a lot to get a feel for how everything looks, if you need to tape anything down or get additional displays, props, or aids.

I’ll cover speaking appearances in my next post, but if you want to take a look at my table firsthand, come find me at one of my upcoming events and say hi!