If there’s one thing that most authors hate with a passion, it’s marketing their books. Writers are creatives, not born salespeople. In addition, many authors are introverts who don’t like putting themselves out there, and most of them also juggle a day job, writing, and family obligations, so finding time to promote their work is hard.
And time is what you’ll need to successfully promote your books. It takes time to build your newsletter, your blog, and your social media presence. Unless… What if you could “borrow” someone else’s audience instead of painstakingly building your own—without paying a lot of (or any) money for it?
Well, you actually can. The secret is to cross-promote with other authors in your genre to expand your reach!
Other authors in your genre are not “the competition.” Books aren’t like cars; readers don’t just buy one book and are done buying books for the next five to twenty years. Most readers read more and faster than each of us can write, so teaming up with fellow writers makes sense.
In this blog post, I’ll give you some ideas for cross-promotions, tell you where to find authors to collaborate with, and explain the do’s and don’ts of author cross-promotions.
Forms of cross-promotions with other authors
There are many different forms of collaboration. Here are some ideas:
- Multi-author giveaways and contests: Several authors join together to run a giveaway or contest, with each author promoting the event and donating an ebook, paperback, or audiobook code as a prize for readers to win. For example, last year, I ran an Easter Egg Hunt in which readers had to visit the website of the 33 participating authors to look for pictures of Easter eggs. In the process, they found new authors and could win one of 33 books.
- List-building giveaways: Services such as BookFunnel, Prolific Works, and Story Origin allow you to enter group promotions. In exchange for receiving a free ebook, readers sign up for your newsletter. Each participating author is required to promote the giveaway via their newsletter and social media, which means their readers get a chance to find your books.
- Newsletter swap: First, let me point out what a newsletter swap is not: It doesn’t mean handing over email addresses. That would violate data protection laws, not to mention your readers’ trust. Never, ever give their email addresses to anyone else. A newsletter swap means that another author mentions one of your books in their newsletter, while you mention one of theirs to your mailing list. It could be your newest release, a reader magnet, or a giveaway. Ideally, only promote books that you have read and enjoyed and that belong to the same genre as yours. Your readers trust your opinion, so don’t disappoint them by recommending a book that is badly written or a genre that they won’t enjoy.
- Social media shout-outs: If you are like me, you are probably an avid reader in your genre. If you read a book you enjoy, give it a shout-out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or the social media platform of your choice and tag the author. Maybe they’ll read one of your books in return or share some of your content as a thank-you.
- Share each other’s social media posts: Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter give posts a visibility boost if they get a lot of engagement (shares, comments, and likes). So if you share a post, not only will your followers see it, but it will also reach more of the other author’s followers.
- Recommend a book on Bookbub: If you claimed your Bookbub profile (and you should!) and have followers on Bookbub, you could recommend a book in your genre. Its author will get an alert from Bookbub.
- Facebook group events: Find a fellow author who runs a Facebook group and might be willing to invite you for a Q&A or a giveaway in their group.
- Shared events: Set up a panel, a reading, or a book signing event with other authors in your genre—either in-person or virtual.
- Reading challenges: At the end of the year, do a search for any reading challenges being organized in your genre for the upcoming year. In many genres with avid readers such as romance, there will be year-long reading challenges that promote multiple authors. For example, I’m running the Sapphic Reading Challenge for readers in my genre this year, promoting 15 books by fellow authors every week. See if you can somehow get involved in a reading challenge, e.g., get your book on one of the recommended reading lists in exchange for helping to promote. If there is no reading challenge for your genre, think about starting your own. Caveat: It’s a lot of work!
- Interviews or guest posts: If you have a blog, you could invite fellow authors over to interview them or have them write a guest post, and you could do the same on their blog.
- Backmatter: If you are an indie author and have control over the contents of your books, you could promote each other’s books by putting a blurb and a link into the backmatter of your books.
- Goodreads lists: Since authors can’t add their own books to Goodreads lists, add each other’s books to Goodreads lists that are a good fit.
- Anthologies: Write a story for an anthology. Each author who has a story in the anthology will promote it to their readers, and if they enjoy your story, they might check out your other books.
- Box sets: The same principle works for boxed sets—a bundle of full-length books from several authors whose readers then discover new-to-them authors.
- Co-authoring a book: If you think you’ll enjoy co-authoring a book with another writer and you have someone in mind whose style and personality will match or compliment yours, you could write a book together and market it to both of your audiences.
- Writing in the same literary universe: Similar to co-authoring a book, but instead of writing a book together, you each write your own that is part of a series or set in the same literary world, then promote each book in the series to all of your readers.
How to find authors to cross-promote with
- Ideally, you are already friends with other authors in your genre. Maybe you have a critique group or meet other writers at writing conferences, or you hang out in the same Facebook groups.
- If you don’t have writer friends yet, start joining some Facebook groups for your genre, follow the hashtags for your genre on Instagram and Twitter, and start commenting on fellow writers’ posts.
- If you are traditionally published, reach out to other authors who are with the same publisher. If you are self-publishing, maybe there’s a cooperation of indie authors in your genre.
- If you are doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), it’s often a good place to meet other writers too.
- Join cross-promotion platforms such as BookFunnel, Prolific Works, and Story Origin that offer group promos you could join. Instead of you looking for authors to collaborate with, the service will do it for you. This option is not free, but it might be worth checking out.
No matter where you look for authors to collaborate with, make sure you choose writers in the same genre (and, if possible, same subgenre) as yours. Collaborating with an author of edge-of-your-seat thrillers won’t do you any good if you write heart-warming romance novels.
Most of the time, look for authors who are at a similar career stage and have an audience of a similar size as you. Of course, if a big-name author in your genre offers to promote your books, that’s great, but since they’ll give you a much bigger boost than you can offer them, they might not be interested in collaborating with you—or they might simply be too busy.
The do’s and don’ts of successful author cross-promotions
I’ve run a lot of cross-promotions over the years and have helped promote a lot of fellow authors, so I’ve gathered a plenty of helpful tips about how to approach collaborating with fellow authors.
- Make it easy to contact you. When I approach authors for collaborations, my first step is to look for their email on their website. If you don’t have a website or you don’t have your email or a contact form on your website, fellow authors can’t contact you if they are looking for someone to collaborate with (especially if you also disable DMs on Twitter, etc.).
- Build a relationship first. Don’t ask people who don’t know you to recommend your book to their readers.
- Offer them something first. Don’t make it all about them helping you. Share some of their content before even approaching them, comment on their posts, and get to know them a bit.
- Return the favor. Build a two-way relationship where you help each other promote your books instead of one person doing all the asking and the other doing all the giving. If a fellow author helps you promote your book, ask what you can do to help them promote theirs. If they retweet one of your tweets, go and retweet one of theirs, etc.
- Caring is sharing—it’s not just a saying; it’s really true. If you just like a post by a fellow author, that doesn’t help their visibility much. Why not share or retweet their content instead?
- Be professional and reliable. If someone invites you to an event, be on time. Stick to deadlines. Don’t force them to hunt down the information they need from you.
- Read instructions carefully. If you are participating in a promo opportunity someone else is organizing, send them exactly the material they asked for. For example, if they ask for a 3-sentence description of your book, don’t send them a half-page blurb.
- Be polite. If you approach an author you don’t know—especially someone who is already more well-known than you—they don’t owe you anything. You can ask for a small favor, but don’t make any demands.
- Help promote. If you are being interviewed, invited to a Facebook event, or participate in any other cross-promotion, make sure you share and promote the event to your mailing list and social media. Don’t let the host or your fellow authors do all the work. Joined promotions only work if everyone promotes them! It’s unfair to let everyone else promote while you barely do a thing and reap the benefits of everyone else’s work.
- Say thank you. If someone shares your content, recommends your book, or invites you to participate in an event, the least you could do is to say thank-you.
I hope this post gives you a lot of ideas about how to cross-promote with your fellow authors, where to find them, and how to approach the collaboration.
Please leave a comment
Thanks for reading and please leave a comment if you have any questions about cross-promotions.