Marketing Your Own Travel Books and Guides

Self Marketing your own travel books and travel guides
Updated: Nov 17th, 2009

Unless you’re a Stephen King or a Dan Brown, the chances are really high that you’ll do most, if not all, of the marketing for your books yourself if you want to sell them.

This is especially so if you’ve self-published your own travel guides, such as I have.

Self-publishing is, after all, a do-it-yourself project, and marketing is but one step in the process, albeit, perhaps, the most important one.

I personally think my guidebooks are the greatest thing since sliced bread, but others can’t share this opinion if they don’t know about my books. If I want to sell my books, then I’ve got to let people know they’re out there.

That’s where marketing comes in.

Things I do to market my Cheryl’s Guides:

  • Email signature. My email signature contains links to my books. Most of my friends forward emails without deleting contact information, including signatures, so I can potentially reach thousands of people just through my emails being forwarded.
  • Website. My website is crucial to my marketing efforts, as my signatures also refer readers to it. My main website is about travel in China, and I have a page in there about my guidebooks. When I expand my guidebooks to non-China topics, then I’ll create a separate website for all my guides. My guidebook page links to GuideGecko where my books are on sale. I post any positive reader feedback I get both on my website and the GuideGecko site for potential buyers to read.
  • Blog. My blog is about travel in China, and I talk about my books there, again linking them to GuideGecko. I post comments on other blogs if I can add something meaningful to the discussion, and use a signature. I also write guest blogs if the opportunity arises. As writers we like to be paid for our work, but if all I’m offered is a link to my books, I’ll do it on the chance the blog post may result in some sales.
  • Forums (aka Message boards). Forums are a good place to really promote my guides. I answer questions about China that people have, but only if I can give them a knowledgeable answer. My signature has a link to my website. I devote most of my time to answering questions on the Lonely Planet’s message board for China as independent travelers are my target audience. I occasionally post on Frommer’s, but rarely on Fodor’s, as those readers are into high-end luxury travel with private guides. They would have little interest in taking public transportation to an attraction, so they’re not a high marketing priority for me. I occasionally look at other message boards to see if they should be added to those I check regularly.
  • Reviews. Good reviews can help book sales a lot. Ask for them! For example, Suite101 and Examiner writers are among those always looking for things to write about in their specialty area. Research who those writers are and then ask if they’ll review your book. This is not a time to be shy! If the writers agree to review my books, I email them a .PDF copy and a request to link to where my books are on sale. I use positive reviews on my website and blog to promote my books.
  • Social media. I have mixed opinions about whether this works, but other self-published authors say it does, so I’m giving Twitter a try.
  • News releases. As a former reporter, I’ve worked for many newspapers.  I send out news releases to them when a new book comes out. I’ve gotten book sales this way. I also send a news release to my college alumni magazine.
  • This website offers good, basic information on how to promote yourself as a travel writer and guidebook author. Read and learn from the articles here. I have.

These are the main things I do to market my books. There are more things I could be doing, and perhaps one of these days I will.

My philosophy on marketing my travel guides is to do anything that’s legal to get my name before the public, and I think I’ve just touched the surface of what can be done.


What methods do you use to market yourself? Share your advice!

About Cheryl Probst 2 Articles

Cheryl Probst is an award-winning photojournalist who spent more than 25 years working for newspapers in Oregon, Washington, Alaska, New York and China.

She retired from her job at a local law firm last year to concentrate on freelance writing, and now writes mainly about travel in China and the Pacific Northwest, as well as about motorcycles (she’s married to a motorcycle fanatic).

She has also created her own guidebook line, Cheryl’s Guides, to cover all the travel areas she wants to write about. Books about local wineries and motorcycle museums are on the drawing board.

Cheryl and her husband, Jon Teal, live in Washington State.

Cheryl’s Guides on GuideGecko:,2175

Cheryl’s China website:


  1. Hi Cheryl,
    This, as with all of your posts, offers great information. The bulleted list is helpful in making a checklist on things to focus on. We have just begun to approach bloggers and journalists with our cultural guidebooks, but have not yet interacted with travelers on forums. I would love to hear more about your experience in that area in another post or offline.
    Thanks again!

    • Thanks for the kind comment, Jennifer. If there something specific about posting in forums you’d like to know more about? I find forums a useful marketing tool to get my name out. I am always open to other areas of marketing my books. On our last trip to China, I made t-shirts for our group to wear. Unfortunately, I switched to a new URL after we got home, so I’ll never know if that worked, but it was fun. Cheryl

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