Use Bartering To Self-Publish Better 

They say time is money – which of course it is. By offering your time or services in lieu of a service you are receiving (bartering), your book marketing budget can be greatly reduced.

Modern day marketing is all about connecting – we make choices based on other’s reviews, we become aware of new products via social marketing and word of mouth – traditional marketing as we knew it is a thing of the past.

So what does this mean when it comes to marketing your book?

The answer is it is very good news for self-published authors. You have the opportunity to think outside the box and utilize the global social stage to reach your readers and engage with your fans. More than this when it comes to putting together your marketing strategy (and the budget that goes with it) you have a lot more options to play with, bartering being one of them.

  • Begin by making a list of all the skills and resources you have at your disposal. Perhaps you have a blog, or a family business that is willing to offer you vouchers or discounts that you can then pass on. Perhaps you paint in your spare time or you have items for charity that could be donated. Make your list as varied and as detailed as you can.
  • Then make a second list of all the services you are going to need to take your book to market. This list would look something like this:
    • Register domain name for your website
    • Website design and creation
    • Secure an editor to go over your manuscript
    • Convert your manuscript into an ebook
    • Design the book cover
    • PR exposure in local newspapers, magazines and radio stations
    • Get 10 reviews for your book
    • Choose your email manager (mailchimp, outlook etc)
    • Venue, photographer and snacks for your Book Launch

The above is a fairly simple list, for an in-depth checklist use this resource. Now go through your list and mark off the items that will 100% have to be paid for, then items that you think you could get a discount on, and finally items that you think you would be able to barter for (these would usually be items that wouldn’t require the other party to ‘loose money’ such as write ups in magazines and radio interviews).

Now it’s time to put your two lists together. See how you can match your skills and resources to items on your publishing and marketing list. Your combined list could look like this:

  • Register a domain name for your website: Have to pay (add to budget)
  • Website design and creation: Ask your developer for a discount if you promote them on your website and include their details in your newsletters /email signature. Get creative and ask them to offer a 15% discount for one month which you will promote on all your social platforms and website etc. In this way you will be actively helping them to grow their own business.
  • Get 10 reviews for your book: That’s an easy one, you will be bartering with your book itself that you would gift for free to your potential reviewer. Try to expand this offering past your friends and family to people of some influence who may enjoy or be interested in your genre (ask google for help on this one). Check out this resource for a more detailed strategy.
  • Convert your manuscript into an ebook: Once you have found the company/person with this skill do some research and find out more about them. Perhaps they are just starting out and you could set up their accounting system for them (if you are actually an accountant by day).
  • Venue for your book launch: Maybe you can gift them with a painting (if you are a good artist) or donate some items to their preferred charity. Do your research and see what would fit.
  • Marketing exposure: Google charities or events that would fit in with your genre and ask the organizers if you could be involved (have a small stand, say a speech) if you gifted 10 copies of your book to the audience.

Don’t be afraid to ask – the concept of bartering is re-emerging into our society, partly because of the global economic crunch but I would say more so because we have moved into a genuine desire to help others and be a part of their individual process. You may not get a ‘yes’ from everyone but for every one that does say yes you can save some pennies while also giving value to those who are helping you. Social collaboration is here to stay and the possibilities are just beginning to show themselves.

Be sure to offer real value though and respect other people’s time and expertise as you would want to be respected (that sentence sounds vaguely familiar). As an author you are the brand so from the very beginning conduct yourself with professionalism and charm. A thank you note and maybe a box of chocolates (if they are local) is always appreciated and sets up a long lasting and good relationship.

I always remind myself that if I was creative and resourceful enough to not only write a book but also publish it all on my own then I can do the same with my marketing.

As written for