Inspiring authors: 6 ingenious ways indie authors have promoted their books online

By   Hannah Bickerton 5 min read

whitefox: helping brands, thought leaders and writers create beautiful bespoke books

A successful book campaign can be measured in a variety of ways, and the beauty of self-publishing is that you get to decide the role that a book plays. That might be about sharing your story with the world, for others building a wider brand or creating a special product for a particular group. The following lists the inspired and creative approaches independent authors have taken to marketing their books.

Craig Mod: Build a platform for your writing

As an independent travel writer, publisher and photographer, Craig Mod spends a lot of time in motion. In recent years, he has been exploring Japan on long walking trips as part of his creative process. Based on these walks, he has published multiple books, including his most popular, Kissa by Kissa (2020). The unique aspect of Craig’s projects is the way he invites the public into his world before he has even finished writing his books, securing their buy-in before he has spent a single penny on its production. 

The front door to his unique practice is his website. Filled with articles and essays, but also high-quality pictures and videos that draw the readers in, Craig’s website serves as a dynamic tool to promote himself, his brand and, most importantly, his writing. Besides being a central hub for him to market his books, his website opens a beneficial communication channel between him and his readership (one that is made even more direct through his monthly newsletters), while also keeping his name in the public eye.

Rupi Kaur: Make social media work for you

As one of a burgeoning group of young ‘Instapoets’, Rupi Kaur made her illustrated poetry collection Milk & Honey a viral hit and a major seller. Listed as the No.1 New York Times bestseller, Rupi’s debut collection was self-published before being picked up by Andrews McMeel Publishing. Rupi first published her poems into concise, shareable posts on Instagram, where she felt she could make her work more accessible to the public, and has since advertised the publication of four books. Progressively, she has also built a community of readers there, with 4.5 million followers. Since her debut in 2015, Rupi’s collections have sold over 10 million copies, and have been translated into more than 40 languages. Now, Rupi is building up anticipation on social media for her new anthology. 

Rupi’s success as an indie author is singular, but it is also indicative of the times we live in. Social media is the lifeline to your readers. Therefore, being active online definitely adds to an author’s brand and reach. A dynamic online presence, such as an Instagram author account or a personalized Facebook page, combined with hard work on your part to interact and connect with users and promote your book, will pay off. 

Olivia Blake: Make the most of content creation platforms

Olivia Blake, the pen name for Los Angeles-based author Alexene Farol Follmuth, is an excellent example that successful marketing is about people, not products. Her dark fantasy novel The Atlas Six was self-published in late January 2020, and swiftly went viral after it was picked up by TikTok users in 2021, rocketing to bestseller status. The sensation on TikTok consisted of readers responding to the book by making videos that praised it, sharing its illustrations and discussing its plot using the #theatlassix hashtag among the #BookTok community. Currently, the hashtag has more than 20 million views on the social media platform. 

With over 1 billion monthly users, TikTok is one of the most popular social media platforms. More interestingly, it has a thriving, highly engaged community of readers and reviewers, dubbed ‘BookTok’. Its video content has proved to be a powerful tool for authors as it enables them to interact with their fans while also leading to more exposure and sales boosts indefinitely post-publication.

Cameron Lund: Host a book promotion event

While the pandemic derailed many authors’ book launches, it inspired many indie authors to find creative ways to launch their books and reach their readers despite the distance. Among them, debut author Cameron Lund, who decided to host a ‘virtual launch pizza party’ on her Instagram Live, where she was in conversation with fellow rom-com authors Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberley. Her online themed party proved to be a highly effective and memorable personal experience, in which attendees were not only encouraged to wear comfy clothes and munch on pizza, but also invited to chime in and leave comments and reactions. 

This casual approach to an author event lets you extend your reach far beyond what an in-person event allows and establish a sense of community and intimacy despite the physical boundary. By involving everyone in the conversation, you will be able to create an experience people can enjoy long after the book is launched.

Nigel Lithman: Make the most of book sites

Nigel Lithman self-published his memoir with whitefox in November 2021. Since then, the book has been hailed as fascinating, entertaining and eye-opening by reader reviews, but also named as one of the best law books of 2021 in The Times and hit #1 on Amazon’s Bestseller list. Marketing your book doesn’t have to be about spending money to make money, but instead investing wisely. There are many platforms eager to promote your books, but for some, reader-centric sites such as BookBub or Goodreads are the best places to market their book. Which is what Nigel did with a targeted ad campaign which resulted in his book becoming a BookBub’s Featured Deal. 

If you’re having trouble securing a BookBub Featured Deal, there are plenty of other options such as book club sites like Reading Groups for Everyone or Reader’s Circle which allow authors to list their books for consideration by book clubs searching for their next read.

Heidi Hauer: Create more speaking opportunities

The podcast might be the modern indie author’s secret weapon. By consistently uploading podcast content, authors can get more exposure and are discoverable across more platforms online. And with a global surge in the number of podcast listeners, there’s no better time to tune in. Heidi Hauer, a whitefox author who independently published her debut book, The Queendom Within in 2021, launched her own podcast series as an opportunity to connect with her readers. 

By using her podcast to continually release fresh content and attract new audiences, Heidi not only opens the door to potential readers, but also starts an ongoing conversation around her book that keeps it relevant and interesting. For readers, it is a chance to hear her voice, hear her authenticity, and learn more about the author and her work.

Hannah Bickerton
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah has worked in marketing for nine years, specialising in strategy development for start-ups and EdTech companies. Having recently jumped across industries to join the Whitefox team, Hannah isn’t a complete stranger to the publishing world with previous employment at Macmillan and TES Global. She is now dedicated to ensuring that anyone who has something interesting to say knows all about whitefox.