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How to promote a book without using social media

Tired of trying to figure out how to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest effectively to promote your book?

Do you wish there were other options that are a better fit for your style, skills, personality, or preferences?

Do you want to know how to promote a book without using social media?

You are not alone. Keep reading.

Marketing beyond social media

When I asked authors in the Build Book Buzz Facebook group what they’d like to learn about through this blog, several wrote a variation of “marketing beyond social media.”


Two of my traditionally published books sold out a combined four press runs without a single tweet, post, update, or share.

With that in mind, here are nine things you can do to promote your book without logging in to a single social media account. They’re in no particular order.

1. Guest blogging

This involves finding blogs that reach your book’s target audience, studying the type of content they use, and contacting the owners to propose that you write an article for the blog that will interest its readers.

In fact, here’s a guest blog post I wrote about guest blogging: “Guest Blogging for Authors is Alive and Well.” Here’s more advice on “How to be a great guest blogger.”

2. Book fairs

Exhibiting at these local and regional events lets you meet and converse with readers, network with other authors in your genre, and learn more about industry developments. If exhibiting doesn’t appeal to you or isn’t in your budget, attend anyway — you can still talk to other attendees, connect with other authors, and so on.

3. Publicity

People often confuse publicity with advertising. Publicity is the free exposure you get when you’re interviewed by or mentioned in the news media. I’m a national award-winnig former publicist, so you’ll find lots of information about how to get publicity on this site.

Typing “publicity” into the search box on the right generates a list of articles, as does searching for “media.”

The “Book Marketing 101” courses (one each for both fiction and nonfiction) on the training page also teach you how to generate book publicity. You can get the tools you need — templates for pitch letters, creating and practicing memorable sound bites, the messages you share, radio email pitches, and so on — in Build Book Buzz Publicity Forms & Templates.

4. Create a holiday

It’s easy enough to create a holiday and select the annual date for it. But it’s not enough to just pick a date and call it your own. For it to have book marketing value, it has to have a direct link to your book or something in your book (for example, the author of a novel or children’s book telling Raggedy Ann’s “real” story could create Raggedy Ann Day),  and you have to spread the word about the special day you’ve created (publicity is a good option).

Once you’ve got your concept and date, get it listed in Chase’s Calendar of Events. The deadline for the next book is April 15.

If your holiday is quirky, contact the folks at Holiday Insights to get listed on their site.

5. Speaking

Speaking, which is particularly effective for promoting memoirs, has evolved to include more than standing in front of a group and sharing information they’re interested in hearing. Now it includes presenting at virtual (online) conferences and being interviewed on podcasts.

Authors and public speaking: 5 reasons to be an author who speaks” will talk you into speaking to groups about your favorite topic.

6. Email marketing

Social media serves a purpose, but if the social networks you use disappeared tomorrow, what would you be left with?


But you own your email list. Even Mark Zuckerberg can’t take that away from you.

Build a fan base and get to know many of them better by creating an email newsletter that encourages recipients to share information with you. Get an overview of the process in “Building your author e-mail list,” then read, “What should I send to my author e-mail list?

7. Book signings

This is a great tactic for extroverts, especially those who enjoy public speaking, because today’s book signings are about entertainment, not books.

Jane Sutter Brandt explains how she had a blockbuster event in “How to sell out at a book signing without being a celebrity.” Learn what popular young adult author Megan McCafferty does at her book signings to keep people engaged and entertained in “Best selling YA author Megan McCafferty adds unique signature feature to book signings.” Get how-to tips from “Your book signing event tool kit.”

Consider doing yours at a venue that’s related to your book’s topic instead of a bookstore, too.

8. Create an event with other authors

Do this locally at a library or at a function room at a book lover’s conference such as the Dayton Book Expo. Collectively, you can attract a large audience of people who enjoy reading the types of books you write.

9. Meet with a book club

You don’t need social media to find and connect with book clubs. You do need to write the type of book that clubs read, though, and you need to do a few other things, as well (including finding book clubs). Learn how it works in “Authors and book clubs.”

Pick the one option of all of these that appeals to you the most and learn how to do it well. You will see that you enjoy book promotion more — so you’ll probably do more of it. That, in turn, will lead to more success.

Take that, Twitter.

What do you do to promote your book that doesn’t involve social media? 

Like what you’re reading? Get it delivered to your inbox every week by subscribing to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter. You’ll also get my free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” cheat sheet immediately!


    1. Belo, the process can be incredibly frustrating, I know. I recommend picking one tactic that seems to make the most sense for you and your book, then learning how to use it well. I say that because sometimes (but not always), the execution is the issue, not the tactic.


        1. I agree, Edith! Anyone who wants to learn more about how to get on a radio program can use the search box on the right to find helpful info by using the word “radio.”


  1. My church (Unitarian) encourages member-authors to shelve a copy of their book(s) in the church library for lending. I’ve included a hand-written plea for reviews in those books, which has been surprisingly successful. So two tactics: church libraries and hand-written notes!

  2. I love these ideas, Sandra. Social media eats up way too much of my time and my writing time disappears. I’m a Bible study author so my target audience is very specific but I’m learning to find ways to publicize.

    Two things I do:
    1. Contact area churches and offer a copy for consideration by their women’s ministry. For some authors, especially nonfiction ones, interacting with groups that focus on their topic might be of help.
    2. Comment on blog posts, especially those who write in the same genre as I do. I’ve made some contacts that way and we promote each other’s books.

    1. Sherry, you are such a gem for sharing your wisdom here. Thank you! I really like that you go to your audience instead of expecting them to come to you. Do you speak to groups? It sounds like your topic is perfect for that.


  3. Sandy – thanks so much for the emphasis on other methods which worked for people prior to social media. I’m one of those who isn’t active in that realm and don’t want to be. When ready, I will ‘promote’ on LinkedIn via a tagline on submitted articles and a general update to my small (60), selective, but growing connection list.

  4. I really love this list. Social Media has its place but it’s not the only show in town and this list is so much more grounded. Appreciate it!

  5. 1. have a wagon I turned into a “Bookmobile” with the help of some VistaPrint banners and a seamstress. In the spring and summer, I fill it with books and push cards and take it to the beach. I talk to A LOT of people this way–kind of kitschy; and,
    2. I had printed up some one-sheets that I tuck into every book copy I sell. It explains why it is hard for authors to get reviews–even from family and friends, & why we need them, plus a template that helps readers write a brief review for the book, step-by-step instructions and the URLs they can use to post. It’s not a barn-burner tactic, but I have seen an uptick in my Amazon and GoodReads reviews–all 5 stars.

    1. How fun, Anne! I especially love those step-by-step instructions — that is SO smart! Thanks for sharing.


  6. Thanks for this great info, Sandra. I’ve been in this business for almost 17 years and have written 28 books. They were selling well long before social media! While I admit that social media is a good component of book marketing, it is NOT the only game in town as you pointed out. I would also like to remind other authors that the “old-fashioned” methods of book reviews, media interviews, and good distribution sell books.

  7. Great ideas. I’m working on a ghosting project with a high profile guy who is not likely to be too involved with marketing the book. These tips will be really helpful as we go forward.


  8. Sandra, I’m glad to read there are authors still taking advantage of alternative means of book promotion. I think authors should also create a website.

    One might think this is obvious, and it wasn’t mentioned in the article, but increasingly authors are using a Facebook page as their primary web presence and I think this is a mistake.

    Now that you have a website there are tons of things you can do to use it to attract readers. Of course attracting readers to your website is more difficult today, than it has been in the past, but there is still far more value in a website than a Facebook page for an author.

    1. Thanks, Troy. There are many recommended tactics not listed in the article, including creating a website. Because using a Facebook Page as an author’s online “home” isn’t recommended, it isn’t included in this post. I continually work to discourage authors from doing this so I’m glad to see you do, too.


      1. I’m afraid the practice of authors using Facebook as their primary web presence is becoming more common. GoDaddy is promoting a service where they will associate your domain name with a Facebook page, so I see this trend growing over the short term.

        Given search’s bias toward social media sites, I can understand why some authors would take this tactic even though it is a poor long term strategy. Have you make the case for using a website over a social media page (FB, Linked, Twit, etc) as a primary platform in another article?

  9. Thanks for listing the Dayton Book Expo as an example for author promotion. We give our all to ensure authors have a great experience. This year, we’ve added two pre-expo events: an author boot camp to share promotional strategies and an author meet-n-greet.

    1. I love that pre-expo promotion bootcamp idea, Valerie! I’m sure it will be a great event. What a huge amount of work for you and your group, but I’m sure people appreciate it.


  10. Thanks for making this easier by putting this blog in list form.
    I’ve been working the book club and community group angle and find often one event leads to more leads. I’m lucky that I really enjoy presentations and meeting people so this kind of marketing is fun for me.

    1. It really shows when you enjoy doing something, Carol, which makes your time spent even more effective. So glad it’s fun for you!


  11. Hi Sandra, thank you for the information, I know it will be helpful, I’ll let you know how I make out.
    Thank you, Bob E.

  12. Hi, Sandra,

    Finding a professional and active writers’ group is a good brick-and-mortar way to promote too. Through my group in Gainesville, Florida, authors are invited to speak on panels for community events, share writing in critique groups, publish in the group’s literary journal, and collaborate with schools and civic groups in the area. For a three-dollar-a-month membership fee, it’s a fun and organic-feeling way to get the word out about you and your writing.

    Take care,
    Sarah Wolfgang

  13. hello; I didn’t see my favorite on here. I am blind and have difficulty arranging participation in events outside my home. there isn’t much in the way of mass transit this far outside of houston. but I do podcast and radio show interviews. I do at least one a week. I’ve even recorded an online course showing people how i do it. its similar to speaking but with less work. 🙂 thanks for sharing, max

    1. Hey Maxwell, I’m glad you’ve found something that works for you. I mentioned podcast interviews under “speaking” and radio interviews fall under “publicity.” I appreciate the reinforcement!


  14. These are some great tips Sandra. I shared them with my promotion group.

    I have to agree to not sleep on your local libraries. I had my first book signing last year at my local library. They hosted an event for indie authors. I got my first speaking gig at a breakfast with the authors event.

    Most libraries have some type of event they host for writers and readers sometimes they are free and great way to meet new readers.

    1. Great advice, LaShaunda! Thanks for sharing that here, and thanks for sharing the post with your group. I appreciate it!


    1. Lisa, I’m so glad it’s helpful. Thanks for the feedback — and have fun with some of these ideas!


  15. As a children’s author, I called churches that have daycares and volunteered to come read my book there, I made sure I took every child a bookmark that had links to buy the book, that they could take home.

    Also as a VA for another author, for her last book launch, we gathered a group of friends will to post a prepared post about the new book on their blogs and websites. This was very successful, in sales, we had about 10-15 authors join in, and that really increased the reach.

    1. Thanks, Cindy! You did a virtual book tour for your client, which can be really effective when the blogs you’re writing the guest posts for reach the book’s target audience. As you’ve pointed out, many times, that’s authors who write in the same genre — fans of their books can become fans of another writer in that genre, too.

      Is your book a Christian book, and is that why you targeted church daycare centers? I love that volunteer reading idea — so smart!


  16. The organisation for which I work is hosting a poetry reading by myself and another poet on 10 February. My fellow poet and I wrote an article for our employer’s internal website promoting the reading and included examples of our poetry. This generated quite a bit of interest and will, I hope mean the event is well attended. Kevin

    1. How wonderful to get that kind of support from your employer, Kevin! That’s great! Congratulations. I hope your event goes well and that you even see a few co-workers there.


  17. I am thinking about sending a newsletter, but isn’t it as much time consuming as social media? And what kind of newsletter provider is the best to choose? I found Mailerlite (https://www.mailerlite.com/) attractive for many personalization functions and nice design, but don’t know if there is a big difference in quality between all of them, which are so many?

    1. Great questions, Alicea. Newsletters and social networking serve different purposes, so you might want to do both. Generally speaking, a newsletter done right can be one of your most effective marketing tactics, so it’s an option you’ll want to look at seriously. It does take time to set up and get going, but once you’ve got the email address form on your website and a newsletter template, etc., in place etc., it’s not necessarily time consuming.

      And yes, there are SO many choices for email service providers! The one I use for my newsletter and website is expensive because it incorporates e-commerce, so I’ll skip over that one. I use Constant Contact for a client and find it pretty easy to use and intuitive. A lot of people use Mailchimp because it’s free until you reach a certain number of subscribers, but note that you have to send from a domain name email address rather than a gmail, Comcast, whatever address — myname@mywebsite.com vs. myname@gmail.com.

      I’ve got links to a few of the options in this blog post: http://buildbookbuzz.com/author-e-mail-list/


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