How to Sell Books without Advertising

sell books without advertising

Sell Books without Advertising

Whenever I post earnings figures to author forums, writers ask me about my advertising techniques. Do I prefer AMS or Facebook ads? Am I more of a Bookbub guy? Do I target authors, keywords, or ASINs, and how high do I bid?

I’ve sold almost $50,000 worth of e-books and paperbacks in the first 80 days of 2021, so I must be an advertising guru, right?

I turn a profit through my advertising efforts, but margins are slim. I’m no Mark Dawson (though I completed his Ads for Authors course and highly recommend anything Mark produces). As sales grew last year, I sensed most of my growth was organic. I had no idea how much.

When I broke down my 2021 revenue, the results shocked me.

Percentage of Sales by Source (2021)

AMS Ads 12%

Facebook Ads 4%

Organic Sales 84%

Organic sales drive my bottom line. That’s a great problem to have.

I’d be disingenuous if I suggested advertising wasn’t a significant contributor to my success. When you start from ground zero as I did in 2018 when I switched from horror to psychological thrillers, you must build an audience. Advertising the first book in a long thriller series introduced my name and writing style to thousands of readers. The thing is, I didn’t spend much money to build my initial audience.

Once I built a small but loyal following, every new release spread my brand better than any advertising campaign could. And as we near the end of the first quarter of 2021, 84% of my revenue is the result of organic growth. I could shut down all my ads tomorrow, and I’m confident readers would still find my books.

So where does organic growth come from?

I wrote at-length about the importance of great covers, titles, and blurbs. If your cover exceeds genre standards, your title is instantly recognizable as something your target audience would want to read, and your blurb closes the deal, you’ll sell books without advertising.

In addition, I publish a new book roughly every 45 days. Each release builds momentum. There’s a ceiling somewhere, but I haven’t hit it yet.

How to Organically Grow Your Readership: Tips for Authors

The Power of Organic Growth

As the article above demonstrates, organic growth can be an incredibly effective way to increase book sales and establish a loyal readership. Here, I’ll offer some actionable tips for authors to expand their readership organically.

1. Quality Content is King

The foundation for any organic growth is the quality of your books. Before you think about complex strategies, make sure you’re offering a product people want. Well-researched, carefully edited, and compellingly written stories are the cornerstone of reader loyalty.

2. Engage with Your Readers

Use social media, newsletters, or your blog to keep in touch with your audience. Not only does this make readers more likely to recommend your books to their circles, but it also keeps them informed about upcoming releases, special offers, or appearances.

3. Word-of-Mouth and Reviews

Encourage satisfied readers to leave reviews on platforms like Amazon and Goodreads. Reviews not only serve as testimonials but also affect the algorithms that determine which books get promoted. Don’t underestimate the value of good word-of-mouth; it’s the oldest and still one of the most effective forms of organic marketing.

4. Leverage Networking and Collaborations

Collaborate with other authors in your genre through interviews, co-written novellas, or anthology collections. Networking with other writers can introduce you to their audience, which might be interested in your work as well.

5. Multiple Points of Entry

Offer a range of products: from novellas to full-length novels, from e-books to paperbacks and audiobooks. The more avenues people have to discover your work, the larger your potential audience.

6. Book Bundling and Sequels

If you have a series, consider bundling books together at a discounted price. This encourages new readers to purchase more than one book at a time, which not only boosts your sales but also fast-tracks the reader into becoming a fan of your series. Each new book in a series can also serve as an entry point for new readers while re-engaging your existing audience.

7. Cross-Promotion with Similar Genres

If you write in multiple genres or sub-genres, use each one as a potential gateway to the others. A reader who loves your fantasy novel might be willing to try your science fiction or mystery stories, especially if there are thematic similarities.

8. Consistent Publishing Schedule

As the original article mentioned, releasing new books consistently can help build momentum. An active publication schedule keeps your readers engaged and gives them something to look forward to, thus fostering organic growth.

9. Author Branding

Establish a recognizable author brand. Whether it’s your writing style, the themes you explore, or even the aesthetics of your book covers and promotional materials, consistency helps you become more memorable in readers’ minds.

10. In-Book Promotions

Utilize the backmatter in your books to promote other works, provide a sneak-peek of upcoming titles, or to invite readers to subscribe to your newsletter. Someone who has just finished your book is already a warm lead; don’t miss the opportunity to guide them to the next step in your reader journey.

11. Adopt a Rapid Release Schedule

A rapid release schedule can be an effective strategy for maintaining reader engagement and fostering organic growth. The concept is simple: instead of releasing one book and then waiting a significant amount of time before the next one, you prepare several books in advance and release them in quick succession. This could mean publishing a new book every month, every two months, or whatever time frame works for you and is sustainable.


  • Reader Retention: It’s easier for readers to remember you and your story if the next installment is released quickly.
  • Algorithm Boost: Frequent releases can trigger online bookstore algorithms to promote your work more heavily, leading to more visibility and therefore, more organic growth.
  • Momentum: Each new release can serve as a marketing event that draws attention to your entire catalog, benefiting not just the new release but all your works.


  • Quality Control: The rapid release schedule must not compromise the quality of your books. Poor quality can harm your reputation and alienate your reader base.
  • Burnout: This approach can be exhausting, so it’s essential to find a pace that is sustainable for you in the long run.

By adopting a rapid release schedule, you can capitalize on the excitement generated by each new release, keeping your readers engaged and eager for more. This not only helps with organic growth but also allows you to build a more predictable income stream.

Organic growth doesn’t happen overnight, but the long-term benefits are immense. A loyal, engaged readership not only sustains your current work but creates a foundation for future successes. Invest time in understanding your audience and providing value, and you’ll likely find that organic growth can be a cornerstone of your career.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *