AWP Conference Notes: Marketing on a Shoestring

Filed under Writing.


This particular panel I arrived at late and in the middle of the presentation. In my defense I was celebrating my birthday with friends. A forgivable offense? I hope so. At least I wasn’t disruptive, as many of these panels had people coming and going throughout.

Debra Di Blasi was the first presenter I saw. It looks like she has some experience with multimedia publishing. She had a plethora of ideas and was talking very fast. Some of her ideas were jumping around, and it was a challenge to follow. I wish she had a panel all to herself because I could tell she knew what she was talking about, and she was excited to share it with us.


Adds on Goodreads: you can pick how much you want to spend, so many cents per click up to the limit amount you choose. She recommends about $60 spend, but it’s up to you.


Facebook Adds are similar – $60 to boost a page. She has always used the business account, but if you are able to do this from a personal account, either should work. Facebook provides opportunity to target your audience. From her experience targeting hasn’t worked well, and recommends keeping it open. For her money, the presenter saw 220,000 views in one day – keep in mind this does not equate directly to sells, but it does help with brand building and getting your title out there with eyeballs on it. Twitter has same program, but she hasn’t personally tested it out yet.


However, I read an article from another author where she used Facebook to get a feel for her book cover…she had two versions…and tracked which one had the most responses. This led her to a conclusion on which book cover to use.  A good marketing tool for feedback on design. She also used targeting, and it worked well as long as she didn’t narrow it down too specifically. At some point it’s just too narrow of an audience to get results. is a place where you can post a digital copy of a PDF for publicity stuff upfront. Make sure you state it is a “uncorrected, proof not for distribution”, and can do the first six pages of your book, or more depending on what seems right for your situation. This is nice because you can make it private if you are sending out galley and provide the digital copy that can be downloaded for review. Maybe say something in your email about being “green” and not wanting to send out physical copies, unless necessary, but happy to provide one if needed…etc. This also has the double benefit of saving you money. Scribd tells you how many people read that book, and if the person only reads part way Scribd knows this and will send a reminder email “Would you like to finish reading this book?” etc. (not sure exact message, but play with it and test it out)


When sending out your galley make sure you are letting people know if it is a debut novel. This is important, people want to know – sometimes they will provide more support or interest in a debut novel.


Thaddeus Rutkowski, author of Haywire, also got up to speak and share his experiences. Recommends MailChimp a service used by email. Do the usual Website, Facebook & Twitter if you can. Use, it has 2 million followers and they receive emails everyday – so see if you can be part of their daily deals (similar to Kindle daily deals) – for example his book went from $9.99 down to .99 cents for three days and in the first day sold $4,000 copies and it made it on the top 10 on Amazon and other places. It kept selling after and is now at a 3.99 price. He also had a YouTube video for viral marketing (it was fun to watch!).


Both presenters talked about thinking outside the box for events and readings. Some examples: have more than one author (draws larger audience) – have a spoken word performer or musician to join you.


There are so many more Marketing ideas out there – if you’ve heard of something that works well, please share in comments. I’d love to hear it.

Leave a Reply