Many authors cross-promote each other’s books to gain visibility with a relevant new audience of readers. It’s a mutually beneficial way to inexpensively boost book sales and word-of-mouth buzz — and to make new friends and build relationships in the publishing community!
Because we’ve seen so much hype about authors teaming up to promote their books, we wanted to put together a list of some of the top ways we’ve seen authors working together. Hopefully these examples help you brainstorm creative new ways to collaborate and reach new audiences.
1. Include each other’s book in a swag pack
If two genre authors send swag packs to fans — either as a prize or as a subscription service — each author could include the other’s book or branded swag in the pack. This means the readers get another freebie they’ll likely enjoy, and each author gets to boost their exposure to a new audience of readers, including both the recipients and other fans who saw the swag pack promotions on social media.
Brenda Novak creates book boxes as a monthly subscription service to readers, and in each month’s box she includes a book from another author that her readers might enjoy.
Although I usually feature the works of big name authors for my monthly book pick, I almost always include an emerging or lesser-known author as a ‘Brenda Novak Recommends’ title.
2. Exchange ARCs to give away to readers
Running giveaways for ARCs during a book’s preorder period is a great way to garner early reviews. But consider trading ARCs with comparable authors and asking them to run giveaways for your books on their social media channels. You can also offer to do the same for them! This would not only give the book exposure to other authors’ audiences, but it could also help you get reviews from entirely new people who haven’t already reviewed your books — and their friends may see those reviews, widening your reach even further.
When receiving early copies of your book, it’s tempting to use them as giveaways to your followers. While it’s great to earmark one or two for this, I’d suggest asking author pals to give away the rest to their followers. You can do the same for them so that you both reach NEW readers!
3. Ask for placement in other authors’ email newsletters
Trading some newsletter space with another author is an easy and free way to get exposure to potential new fans. After Andrew Watts secured a BookBub Featured Deal, he set a goal to hit the USA Today bestseller list. To supplement his BookBub promotions, he reached out to other comparable authors in his genre to ask for email placement.
I reached out to other authors in my genre and offered to cross-promote with them if they would email their readers and let them know about my deal. These emails went out the day prior to the BookBub Featured Deal. I think they were pretty effective — thanks to knowing the email lists sizes, my sales data from that day, and click data from a participating author, I estimated that these emails accounted for at least 1,000 of the 8,000 sales for the week.
Similarly, when Vanessa Vale was trying to spread the word about her ebook price promotion, she asked author friends to share a promotion graphic and links in their newsletter. As a result of the discount, promo stacking, and asking for her friends’ help, Vanessa hit the USA Today bestseller list.
This extended the reach of my sale to readers who may not know me (and lured them with the sale!). This is not a one-time thing; we cross-promote new releases and sales consistently. It is a free and easy way to get the word out!
4. Run a joint giveaway to get BookBub followers
Getting more BookBub followers can help boost an author’s book sales because those followers receive dedicated emails from BookBub about the author’s new releases and Featured Deals. Plus, getting 1K followers unlocks the ability to send BookBub Preorder Alerts. To get more followers, some authors are running joint giveaways to cross-promote their BookBub profiles to each other’s audiences. It’s a great way to widen their reach!
Ten science fiction and fantasy authors joined forces to run a Rafflecopter giveaway offering a $50 gift card as the prize. Each follow was worth one entry, and each author promoted the giveaway on their blogs and via social media. You can see example blog posts from Andrew Q. Gordon here and J. Scott Coatsworth here. The contest yielded more than 4,200 entries! Following every author unlocked a bonus entry where you could tweet about the contest to enter again:
This strategy generated many tweets, widening these authors’ exposure even more!
5. Be interviewed by another author on video
Video is a great way to grab readers’ attention and engage with them in a personal way online. And if a video includes two authors, both can publish the video to their social channels, getting cross-promotional exposure to two audiences. Interviews are a great (and simple!) format for getting two authors on-screen.
In order to promote her new book After You, Jojo Moyes published a video in which she’s interviewed by fellow author Sophie Kinsella. This was a great cross-promotional opportunity, since each author got exposure to the others’ fan base.
6. Run multi-author book bundle giveaways
When multiple authors run a group book giveaway, the prize tends to be more interesting (six free books is better than one!). If each author promotes the giveaway to their own fans, all the participating authors will reach new readers. Tess Gerritsen ran a thriller-themed book giveaway close to Halloween with five other thriller authors, and each promoted it on their social channels.
Giveaways can be even more enticing when a signed paperback is the prize! J. Daniels ran one such giveaway with four other romance authors on Instagram.
7. Target fans of comparable authors via paid advertising
While this strategy doesn’t require outreach or collaboration with other authors, targeting their readers via paid ads is a great way to reach a relevant audience. For example, by using BookBub Ads you can easily target readers who’ve expressed interest in specific authors. To do so, simply enter as many comparable author names as you’d like in the “Refine By Author” section.
You can get ideas for authors to include by looking at the “Also Bought” sections of a book or author’s retailer pages. Scroll through the pages to compile a list of authors who’ve written similar books.
You can also navigate to an author’s Amazon page and look for the “Customers Also Bought Items By” section in the sidebar:
8. Speak on an author panel
Speaking on panels at book conferences, festivals, and book stores is a great way to gain exposure, whether to readers at consumer conferences or fellow authors and publishing professionals at industry conferences. Panels offer authors cross-promotion opportunities aplenty — they’ll get visibility to fans who originally came to hear a different author speak. They also let authors connect with and learn from their co-panelists.
During a panel, authors are usually seated onstage with 2–4 other authors and a moderator who will ask questions. Some questions will be for the whole group, and some will be just for a particular author. Usually, the questions are predetermined and discussed beforehand — a reassuring fact for authors who might be intimidated by public speaking!
9. Publish a multi-author series
Coordinating publishing a book series with other authors is a massive undertaking, but could be well worth the effort. After all, having several authors promoting the same series across a wide audience can be a great way to generate buzz and sales.
Seven romance authors joined forces to publish the seven-book series Return to Christmas Falls. Since the books are being released simultaneously, the reader doesn’t have to wait to find out what happens next.
One of the participating authors, Susan Hatler, explained how they coordinated this effort:
My good friend Melinda Curtis, a USA Today bestselling author, was part of a first-ever effort by a group of Harlequin series authors to write twelve connected novellas set in a small fictional town. From Melinda’s experience, we learned that readers enjoy falling in love with a supporting character in one book only to find that character has her own story in another book in the series. With the Return to Christmas Falls series, we are implementing shared setting and cast of characters, as well as overarching plots.
To promote the preorder, I plan to use a BookBub Preorder Alert to let my fans know that my book is available! We launched our preorders on iBooks and have been featured in their iBooks Exclusive Preorders. The series will later be available for preorder on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble as well. During the preorder period, we’ve started Sweet Romance Speak, a romance reader community where all seven authors reveal exclusive information about the characters in the series, share locations in the town of Christmas Falls, post giveaways, and talk about writing sweet romance.
Ciara Knight drafted a fantastic marketing plan for our series, which includes paid advertising, blog blasts, social media campaigns, author website series landing pages, an exclusive preorder period, mailing lists, newsletter blasts, the exclusive romance reader community (Sweet Romance Speak), and submission to review teams.
Here’s another post from Jennifer Peel, another one of the participating authors. With all seven authors actively cross-promoting this series, they’ll each reach a ton of new fans!
10. Publish a multi-author box set
Multi-author box sets can be a great way to reach new readers. Several genre authors — or authors published by the same imprint — can band together to create a themed box set of first-in-series books from each of them. By including a promotional page after each book linking to its sequel, readers can easily continue reading each author’s series. If three authors with similar audience sizes package their books in a box set, they can triple each book’s audience (since each book will gain exposure across the other two authors’ platforms).
Megg Jensen took this approach when she was preparing to launch the final book in her Reckoning series. She and several other authors each contributed the first book from one of their series in a multi-author epic fantasy box set, which served as a funnel into each series.
Often, these sets are set up by authors and filled via networking. I was asked by the organizer to join this particular set after being recommended by another author. These box sets are a great way to find new readers. All of the authors in the box set market it to their reader base. It’s the ultimate cross-promotion strategy. It’s also good for readers because they are often able to pick up these box sets for $0.99, or sometimes for free!
11. Co-author a book
Writing a book with another author is another ambitious endeavor, but having two authors promoting the same book to their readers could potentially double their reach (depending on each author’s existing platform).
Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy have co-authored several books together, including Him and its sequel Us. Each author added a dedicated page to her website for each book, promoted the book online, and participated in interviews together — even interviewing each other for USA Today.
See tips on how to co-author a book series here!
12. Share each other’s cover reveals
A cover reveal is an exciting event for any author. Not only is it a celebration of the author’s tremendous achievement, but it can help boost buzz for an upcoming book — and if timed right, can jump-start preorders. It can be a great idea to share cover reveals for author friends, whether they write in the same genre or not. And they’ll likely reciprocate once it’s your turn to publicize a cover reveal.
13. Bookstagram each other’s books
A cover reveal isn’t the only time to show off friends’ book covers (whether coordinated or as a show of goodwill). Many authors post fun pictures of books they recommend on Instagram using relevant hashtags like #bookstagram or #bookshelf. These books are often artfully showcased in front of a creative backdrop, or hilariously posed with a cute animal. Author J.C. Davis often posts books she recommends with a tiny hedgehog.
Rainbow Rowell often makes book recommendations on Instagram as well, giving her peers a nice visibility boost.
14. Host an online author party
Many authors host online parties — for giveaways and ask-the-author chats, for example — but including other authors in the party can help boost reader attendance. Barbara Freethy had the creative idea of hosting a holiday-themed online video party on her Facebook page. First, she posted a welcome video explaining the party.
Throughout the day, she published videos from other authors on her page. She also ran a giveaway in which a commenter from each video won a prize. This was a great cross-promotion opportunity for all of the authors involved!
How have you coordinated with other authors to cross-promote your books? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
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