Columns > Published on April 7th, 2021

How To Help Indie Authors Without Spending A Penny

There used to be a time when readers would join a local book club and get together to discuss their latest read, but since social media emerged and organizations like Amazon began dominating the online retail space, things have drastically changed. We live in a world where anyone can publish a book, which is amazing. There are so many talented writers out there that will never have their stories accepted by a massive publishing house, but they can get their book into readers' hands by utilizing tools such as online marketplaces and social media.

Now, It's not enough to just read a book, we need to do more as consumers to help authors so they can keep producing the literary goods we love so, so much. You have a lot of power at your fingertips, more than you'd ever know and I'm here to show you just how to help an author's story be seen amongst the vastness of the internet. There are things you can start doing right now that will have a huge impact on an indie author and it won't even cost you a penny.

Get Social

This might be the most obvious thing, but when we as readers write a review, we preach on social media. This is a powerful marketing tool for authors and publishers. Goodreads, BookTube, Bookstagram, and well, Facebook are platforms that have the capability to reach a vast audience of readers. So when you read something, talk about it everywhere. Treat social media like a book club and engage with others about everything you liked and/or disliked about the characters, the writing style, setting, prose, etc. I suggest you leave out spoilers because that pretty much goes against what we want to achieve—don't deter potential readers.

The platforms mentioned are communities of readers that will buy books. I quite literally cannot get my spending under control. I'm constantly looking at book recommendations and can't help myself. It's said that people spend on average two and a half hours a day on social media. That means some people on those platforms spend that time discussing books. These are meaningful discussions that help authors sell their work.

There's another space you might not have discovered yet that I highly recommend, which is Goodreads groups. I'm in a couple ranging from fifty members to SIXTEEN THOUSAND. Again, these groups are engaging, friendly, and discuss books. So get social. LIKE, SHARE and COMMENT to get the social algorithms working on all the posts that promote authors and their work. This helps a review gain traction and increases engagement. Join the community and have fun doing it.

Add to TBR

Read voraciously, write reviews, and share your experiences with all those who will listen.

Goodreads is the world’s largest community of book lovers. They have over ninety million users that show off their shelves. The site boasts that more than twenty-thousand book clubs are hosted on its platform. Some of those book clubs have tens of thousands of people in them. That is an impressive number and poses a big opportunity for authors and publishers. Here we have a massive online community whose sole purpose is to promote reading and encourage book talk. There are a tremendous amount of authors who contribute part of their success to the promotional work done at Goodreads. So, what can you do to help an author? Adding their book to your TBR shelf gives it the potential to go viral very quickly, takes little effort and costs nothing. Remember, this is a social platform, so when you add a book to your shelf, all of your friends see that and then they add it to their TBR and their friends see it and so on and so on. These books are not just shelved and forgotten about, no. Getting your book placed on a Goodreads TBR has become a marketing benchmark that has proven to lead to sales. So go ahead and flood those shelves and introduce people to some great books they might not have otherwise seen.

You've Got Mail

Author newsletters are one of my absolute favorite things. The reason I love newsletters so much is that I get to know my favorite authors on a more intimate level. I feel as though I've developed a rapport without ever meeting them. A newsletter generally tells me a little about what is going on in their life, fills me in on news, and will often offer me something for subscribing. There are so many great perks for recipients. I've been given early access to limited edition books, writing 101s, short stories, and news I would normally miss in the endless scroll of social media. There is one author newsletter in particular that I cannot talk about enough. Tim Waggoner has a letter titled Writing in the Dark. Yes, he has a book with the same title, but the newsletter contains info you will not get in the book. He shares tips on writing and publishing that are an incredible asset, and proof of just how amazing author newsletters can be. Signing up is a great way of supporting an author you admire because it shows that you're interested in their writing. Indulge your inbox with author newsletters.

Get "em While They're Free!

Authors give away their books for free. They do it often and there's a reason. When an indie author self-publishes their work on the Amazon platform, they have the ability to make it free or discounted for a period of time. When you download the book on Amazon it juices the Amazon algorithm, which gives that book more visibility in the largest retail store on the planet. The book will also move up the Amazon charts, and when the free offer ends, the author can reap the benefits from sales. That and the increase in readership. Ebooks are great because they offer a lot of flexibility for readers to consume a book from anywhere. They also contain links to purchase the author's other works. Another great thing that usually happens is a boost in reviews which further promotes the author's work on Amazon. I need to emphasize the importance of this. There are hundreds of thousands of books published every year. This marketplace is so saturated, and without our help, your favorite author might not get seen. If you have an opportunity to buy the book for free on Amazon, please take it, tell your friends and leave a review, because it goes a long way to helping indie authors.


I bet you didn't know you can promote an indie author's book on BookBub and it is so, so easy. BookBub is HUGE! BookBub is an online book discovery service that was created with the intent to help readers find new books and authors. They feature free and discounted ebooks and recommendations through their MASSIVE email marketing campaigns. When I say massive, I mean they have some of the largest email lists with targeted audiences for specific genres, and those people love reading ebooks. I will say this is one of the best and most underutilized tools by both authors and reviewers. Something I hear often is that their services for authors are expensive, which is true, but posting your books to BookBub costs nothing and is extra exposure. One of my favorite authors, Steve Stred, is an advocate for the site and educated me on their service.

When a book is reviewed, a few things happen. That recommendation is sent in an email to all of my followers as well as in a weekly email, and it also gets sent to the author. As an author, all new releases get sent to your followers, and then if you get nominated for a BookBub deal it goes out to the BookBub database.

So, something I obviously recommend is that authors get their books on BookBub and that readers leave a review. This has the potential to reach a large audience of dedicated readers and costs zero dollars.


I'm here to tell all of you that your words are powerful. It is extremely important for you to talk about your experiences as a reader and that you NEED to write a review, good or bad. A review is a major factor in the Amazon algorithm and determines a book's success, regardless of whether or not you even liked the book. Just be honest, fair, and uphold integrity with your words (a review is no place to slander an author or their book). I believe it's our duty as readers to do whatever we can for the writing community, and leaving a review is so easy, it costs nothing, and has the biggest impact on an indie author. A couple of sentences and a star rating are all it takes to help that book get more eyes on it. We owe it to all the wonderful creators that put the time and effort into writing. They do it because they are passionate about the craft, and I'm forever grateful for that. The time and effort we set aside to write a review is a small price to pay for the endless hours of entertainment an author provides. Read voraciously, write reviews, and share your experiences with all those who will listen. Make it your duty to assist the writing community, because I for one don't want to imagine a world without the literary escape an indie author provides.

About the author

Andrew Robert, "The Book Dad", is a voracious reader and reviewer of horror fiction. He is the curator of a promotional platform called Horror Oasis and the owner of DarkLit Press.

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