15 Tips for Promoting Nonfiction Books Successfully

WNFINOVEMBER.png This post is part of the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge (WINFIN), also known as National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo). To find out more or participate, click here.
how to promote nonfiction books

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No matter how you choose to publish your book, once it’s released, you become its primary promoter—whether you like it or not. You probably don’t relish this role. However, you need to master it to succeed.

Here are the facts: Your traditional publisher will provide only a small amount of marketing help—if any—unless you are a well-established, New York Times bestselling, big-dollar earning, multiple-book author with a huge fan base. And as the publisher of your own titles, you can’t rely on anyone but yourself to promote your book. After all, you are the publisher.

The key, therefore, lies in learning to promote your nonfiction book or books in the most effective ways possible—ways that you either can stomach or learn to enjoy. Book promotion tools and tactics now run the gamut from podcasting to videos to press releases to spin-off books to blogs (and more). You can pick and choose—and you can always hire help if you feel you need it.

No matter what, do create a promotion plan and carry it out upon release of your book. And don’t forget that pre-promotion of your book equates to platform building. Your platform provides the foundation for your marketing efforts. Include your promotion plan in the business plan for your self-published book and the book proposal for your traditionally published book. (You can learn more about business plans for books in The Author Training Manual.)

To help you create your book’s promotion plan—or even create a plan to build author platform—I asked the following six experts to answer this question:

What are your best tips for promoting nonfiction books quickly, easily and effectively?

You’ll find their answers—jam packed with valuable and actionable tips—below.

Sandra Beckwith
  1. Write an excellent book with a title that focuses on clarity over clever. Then, pay to have it professionally edited and packaged with a compelling, professionally designed cover. Nothing sells a book quicker than good word-of-mouth marketing, and good word-of-mouth requires a great book.
  2. Know as much as you possibly can about your book’s target audience. Who is most likely to buy your book? What is that person’s age, gender, income level, profession, location, lifestyle, life stage, and so on? Know that person well enough that you create what marketers call an “avatar” for that person — a persona for that individual who best represents your target audience. Write the book with that person in mind and it will be easier to find and connect with that audience when your book is published.
  3. Develop a book review strategy well before your publication date so that your Amazon sales page gets honest reviews that will help book buyers decide if your book is a good fit for them. Plan on giving books away to the right people to generate these reviews.

SandraBeckwith x150Sandra Beckwith is an author and national award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to save thousands of dollars by doing their own publicity, promotion, and marketing. The author of three traditionally published books and two self-published titles, Sandra has been a guest on “The Montel Williams Show,” MSNBC’s “Your Business,” “CBS This Morning,” and several nationally syndicated TV talk shows. She has been interviewed by hundreds of radio stations in the U.S. and Canada, and has been featured in countless newspapers and magazines around the world. Learn more and get free do-it-yourself book marketing tips, tools and tactics twice a month by subscribing to Build Book Buzz at http://buildbookbuzz.com.

Lou Bortone

Video is a powerful way for promoting a nonfiction book because it’s more personal and engaging than any other medium. Marketing your book with video quickly builds your “know, like and trust” factor and increases your visibility and credibility. Here are three quick tips for promoting your book using video:

  1. Create a “quick tips” series on YouTube related to the content of your book. Your video tips can be short and simple – even just 60 seconds is fine. Share your expertise with a quick tip, and be sure to tie it back to your book. Remember to always include a Call To Action (CTA) at the end of your video – in this case, your CTA should include information on where to buy your book.
  2. Consider “off-camera” video methods to promote your book. Off-camera videos, such as animated videos, “sketch” videos or even PowerPoint slide videos, can be an effective way to promote your book. Explore your options by looking at free online resources such as Animoto.com, Powtoon.com or the Adobe Voice app for the iPad.
  3. Use new video streaming platforms for live, “in-the-moment” videos. New live video streaming platforms such as Periscope and Blab make it super simple to fire up your smart phone camera and start streaming. Use apps like Blab.im to do live Q&A videos with you and up to three other guests. Blab is a free platform and is very easy to use, making webcasting a viable option for anyone.

Lou Bortone headshot x150Lou Bortone is a video marketing expert and online branding consultant who helps entrepreneurs and service professionals build breakthrough brands on the Internet, so they can have more visibility, credibility and profitability. Lou delivers innovative online branding strategies, including video marketing coaching and consulting.
Lou is a former television executive who worked for E! Entertainment Television and Fox in Los Angeles. He is also an author and ghostwriter of seven business books, a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach and a Book Yourself Solid Certified Coach.

Lou is also known for his unique and engaging videos on YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/lbpromo Find out more at www.LouBortone.com.

Frances Caballo

The advice I would give writers for promoting their nonfiction books isn’t any different than the advice I would suggest for fiction authors. The general tenets of social media marketing are the same despite the genre, niche or discipline.

  1. The first rule of book marketing is know who your readers are. Someone who writes grammar books once told me that her books were for everyone. Well, maybe everyone should speak and write properly but certain segments of the population care about grammar more than others. She now markets her books to specific demographics, and her sales have soared. So the first step is to be clear about who your readers are.
  2. The second step is to determine where you’ll most likely find your readers online. Authors need to take time to study Pew Research Center’s newest studies that focus on the demographics of social media users. Once you have this information in hand, you can then focus your energies on the social media networks where you’ll find your readers. You can go to Pew directly or read my newest post on the most recent findings (Authors: Use New Pew Center Results to Better Reach Your Readers). Some marketing experts will advise clients to “be everywhere.” Well, no one can be everywhere and do a good job without hiring at least one assistant. Now let’s look at an example of how nonfiction authors can apply Pew’s findings to their marketing. Let’s say your nonfiction book is geared for parents of young children. In that case, you’d want to use the social media sites where you’d find those readers. For women, that would be Pinterest and Facebook. Did you write a book about the banking industry? Then you’ll want to have an active presence on LinkedIn (the most valued social media network among professionals) and Twitter, a social media network that trends to a higher income bracket. Always do your best to spend your energy marketing to the right demographics and on the social media networks where you’ll find your readers.
  3. Finally, if you hope to find a publisher, start growing your email list right now. Make sure your email opt-in is on every page of your website and that the wording that invites your readers to join doesn’t use the terms list or subscribe. Offer a valuable giveaway, such as a tips sheet or the first chapter of your book and when you write your opt-in message, stress the benefit of that giveaway. Then when you write your blog posts, make sure you include a call to action at the end of each post. Again, make the opt-in for your giveaway – which ideally would relate to the topic of your post, if possible – difficult to resist.

If you follow these three steps, you’ll know how to reach your readers, economize your time when marketing, and you’ll be building a system that will allow you to communicate directly with your readers.

My final tip is simple: have fun!

Frances-Caballo x150Frances Caballo is the author Avoid Social Media Time Suck, podcaster and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can check out her Social Media for Authors podcast on iTunes.

Peg Fitzpatrick

Create a great media kit on your blog so when people want to review your book or interview you for your book launch they have all the collateral they need.

You’ll need to build your digital assets prior to your launch so you are ready when people want to interview you. You’ll need:

  1. A short and long bio
  2. High resolution photo
  3. Links to your social media profiles
  4. High resolution book covers

How you can do this:

  • Make it easy for people to spread the word about your book.
  • Create a media kit at least a month prior to your launch.

PegFitzpatrick x150Peg Fitzpatrick is a director of digital media and social media strategist. She’s the co-author of The Art of Social Media with Guy Kawasaki. She’s a cross-platform social media passionista, writing on her own website as well as guest blogging across the web. Peg has spearheaded successful social-media campaigns for Motorola, Audi, Google, and Virgin as well as having been a brand ambassador for Kimpton Hotels.

Rusty Shelton
  1. Grow your email list. Few things give a nonfiction writer more leverage in today’s media environment than a large email list, so everything you do (PR, speaking, blogging, etc.) needs to drive traffic back to a clear, valuable email grab on your website. Consider creating a free download or, better yet, a free quiz or assessment that gives your audience a personalized experience. Once you create your email grab, add a call to action at the end of guest blog posts, speeches and interviews that alerts the audience that they can find it on your site.
  2. Use Twitter to build targeted relationships with journalists and influencers. Few platforms provide as much opportunity for nonfiction writers as Twitter, which, when used the right way, can open doors to new relationships with journalists, influencers and potential clients. Take advantage of the “lists” feature within Twitter to target the 50-100 top journalists and influencers in your topic area and each day look to engage at least one person on each of these lists. You’ll look up six months later and be amazed at how many new connections you have in place. Curious how to do this? Click here to download my free Twitter Playbook, which walks you through this Twitter strategy in detail.

Rusty Shelton headshot x150Rusty Shelton is the founder and CEO of Shelton Interactive, an award-winning digital marketing and PR agency established to help clients, from bestselling authors and thought leaders to the world’s biggest brands, start conversations that matter. He first spoke at Harvard on the changing world of PR at the age of 23 and has led digital strategy for more than 25 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers in his career. Follow him on Twitter here.

Joan Stewart
  1. Make email marketing one of the cornerstones of your book promotion and mail your list regularly, at least every other week. It’s by far, the most profitable way to promote your expertise, your books, and other products and services. Having a ready-made email list of readers and fans who have given you permission to you market to them lets you stay in touch regularly, share valuable content, answer questions, share resources, and create SuperFans. A SuperFan is someone who actively promotes you and wants to buy everything you offer. Grab my cheat sheet on “10 Profitable Ways to Use Email to Create Super Fans Who Help You Sell Books” when you click here.
  2. Use the free Tweak Your Biz article generator, a helpful free tool here to get hundreds of ideas for killer headlines for articles and blog posts. Excerpt tips from your book and link to your sales page.
  3. Partner with coaches, authors, speakers, experts and others who have large, ready-made audiences that are searching for solutions to the kinds of problems your book discusses. Offer yourself as a guest blogger, webinar or teleseminar presenter, podcast interviewee, etc. Ask for their ideas on joint ventures. If they have an affiliate program, join it and promote their products and services to YOUR audience for a commission, but only if it’s a good fit.

Joan Stewart head shotPublicity expert Joan Stewart, also known as The Publicity Hound, is a coach and mentor who works with fiction and nonfiction authors like you who want to use free publicity from traditional and social media. She teaches you how to establish your credibility, enhance your reputation, position yourself as an expert, and sell more books, products and services. She has helped her clients pitch themselves to the media to get onto “Good Morning America” and onto the front page of The Wall Street Journal. She is the author of four ebooks on publicity and is quoted in more than 60 books on marketing, public relations and small business. Grab her cheat sheet on “10 Profitable Ways to Use Email to Create Super Fans Who Help You Sell Books” when you click here. Subscribe to her free snack-size email tips twice a week at http://PublicityHound.com/tips/sample.

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  1. Thanks for the great info, Nina. These days it’s even more important for writers to be responsible for their own marketing and PR. Some of the most well-known writers in history were also the best promoters of their work.

  2. Anthony Pellegrino says:

    What about the *&^%# who spends 15 years (on & off) writing a scholarly and very complex-book, but does not have a degree, thus possibly not an audience. He Will Rule as God is possibly the best commentary ever written on the Old Testament, but renders one questioning their beliefs (if they can follow the myriad subtleties transpiring). The ability to associate seemingly distinct phenomena is a must when reading this book, along with an open and objective mind, therefore, how many people are left (by analogy) and HOW do I find them?


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