Low-Cost Alternatives to Paid Advertising

I focus a lot on paid advertising because that is where the real money is to be made. Paid advertising is highly scalable, so you can grow your income with it, especially on Facebook. But for those starting out, the question is often, “What can I do for free?”

It’s a good question to ask.

The answer is that you can do a lot without spending more than a handful of dollars a month. Let’s break it down into two categories: newsletter swaps and group promotions.

Newsletter Swaps

Obviously, you need to set up your own newsletter before you can do this, but assuming you have that in order, finding authors in your genre is easy. Their audience will be attracted to your books, and you can run a promotion using a Kindle Countdown Deal or whatever method you wish to entice them to click “Buy.”

I reach out to authors I have never met simply because they are in my “Also Bought” section on Amazon. It is rare for anyone to refuse to do some kind of cross-promotion because we all want to sell books.

Now, you might be thinking that you only have 157 subscribers, and surely no one will want to bother with you. You are right, but we all start somewhere, and I have featured people on my newsletter years ago knowing they were getting the best part of the deal, only to see them overtake me the following year.

There are groups on Facebook dedicated to specific genres, and most of them will have a weekly or monthly swap thread where you can connect with other authors.


20Books Cozy & Mystery Authors was a Facebook Group I frequented for newsletter swap opportunities when I started to write Cozy Mystery.

If you’re looking to go a step further, join a few author support services. BookFunnel and StoryOrigin are two that I use. You should not expect to make a ton of sales through newsletter swaps, but every time you find a new reader, you have the chance to keep them for life.


If using BookFunnel, refine your search for newsletter swaps by genre to find authors whose audiences will align with your own.

Group Promotions

You probably picked up that author support sites such as BookFunnel and StoryOrigin are not free, but they are cheap. Expect to pay less than $20 a month for each. I believe sites such as these are worth having as you grow your readership, and group promotions are a big reason why.


StoryOrigin’s group promotion page also allows you to filter search results by genre.

So what are they?

Let’s say twenty authors sign up to join the promotion, and each has an average of two thousand subscribers. Your book will be exposed to a potential audience of forty thousand readers who are all interested in your genre. That’s quite a few, right?

There are different types of promotions. Some aim at building your newsletter subscriptions by offering the readers a free book in exchange for their email address. Others focus on sales or target readers in Kindle Unlimited. You can even promote your audiobooks for a handful of dollars a month.


If part of a group promotion, you’ll need to copy and send out any graphics included with the campaign. If running your own group promotion, be sure to include images like this one so authors can advertise the event and so your books will appear at the top of the page for potential readers.

I use both author swaps and group promotions as part of my overall marketing strategy, and you should too.

Steve Higgs

Steve Higgs

Now retired from the military, he is having a ball writing mystery stories and crime thrillers and claims to have more than a hundred books forming an unruly queue in his head as they clamour to get out. He lives in the south-east corner of England with a duo of lazy sausage dogs. Surrounded by rolling hills, brooding castles, and vineyards, he doubts he will ever leave.

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