You may feel you’ve pulled out all the stops and you’re doing everything you can think of to market your nonfiction book. Price promotions? Flog free copies on social media? Book signings at your local community bookstore? Speaking engagements and media interviews? All likely on your list. Here’s a nonfiction book marketing idea we’re going to bet you haven’t thought of.
Market Your Book – in India
While it makes sense to focus the bulk of your book marketing ideas and efforts in your own region, you might be surprised at the opportunities to make nonfiction sales in India. Here’s why you might want to think about tailoring your social media posts (Facebook ads would do well, thank you very much) and other outreach to the market in India.
English Language Books in India?
Yup. English language books in India. On the list of countries with the largest number of English speakers, India ranks number two. How many are there? More than 125 million. There is a huge potential market for English-language books in India. In fact, in recent years, publishers have increasingly been looking at India as a country where they should market and sell their books. India can be lucrative and the country is the world’s third largest producer of English-language books. Major international publishing companies all have Indian subsidiaries.
India’s Book Market
So what does the Indian book market look like and why should it matter to you as an author? Well, at risk of stating the obvious, whenever you explore a book marketing idea, you want to be sure you understand the numbers, aka the potential.
In 2015, global market research firm Nielsen’s Indian division was commissioned to do a major survey of the Indian book market. According to their Nielsen India Book Market Report 2015, there are 9,000 publishers and 21,000 book retailers in India. While most of the approximately 100,000 books published every year in India are in Hindi or the country’s regional languages, more than half the trade books sold in India – 55% – are in English.
What Do Readers in India Buy?
Educational books make up around 70% of all books published. But they account for only 40% of book sales. The most popular books in this sector are ones that help with test and exam preparation. Trade books, including fiction, non-fiction and children’s books, make up the other 30% of the books published. Fiction is a bit of a niche market in India. Non-fiction authors will have more luck selling their work. If you want to write a non-fiction trade book specifically with the Indian book market in mind? Consider writing about social media, start-up business, self-help and leadership as books in these sub-genres are in high demand. Biographies, travel books, and histories do well too.
Demographics and Literacy
Writing Magazine says that most of India’s book buyers fall within the 15–30 age group. Before you think this must be too small a slice of the market, consider there are approximately 550 million people, nearly half of the country’s total population, in this age group. Of course not all of them speak English. Not all of them are literate. But tailoring each book marketing idea to hit even a portion of 550 million young adults under 30 sounds like pretty interesting prospects to me.
However, even though India’s per capita income is quite low, the country is home to a growing upwardly mobile middle class. Especially in urban areas. Estimates of the size of India’s middle class vary depending on which source you use. But one thing researchers seem to agree on is that by 2025, India and china will have the world’s largest middle income markets.
While economic advances have certainly helped grow India’s thriving book market and will continue to do so, a rising literacy rate is a crucial factor too. In 2001, 65% of the Indian population was literate. In 2011 the figure had risen to 74%. By 2020, it’s predicted that 90% of the population in India will be literate. What happens when you combine an increased literacy rate with a growing middle class? Yup again. You have more and more people who are both willing and able to buy books.
Digital or Print?
For indie publishers and authors, a crucial fact about the Indian book market is the potential for digital publishing. Print books still make up the bulk of book sales in India, but there isn’t yet much in the way of distribution support for indie publishers who want to push their paperbacks. However, around 900 million people in the country have access to mobile technology. More than 70% of Indian publishers produce digital content as well as print. And e-book sales make up 15% of all e-commerce in the country. While compiling their report on the Indian book market, Nielsen conducted a survey of 2,000 consumers over 18 years of age. What this survey found was that on average, people read books 2.1 times a week. A little over half of the respondents– 56% – said that they bought at least one e-book every year. Of these, about half bought three to four e-books a year.
The e-book market in India was worth $85 million in 2016. Projections peg it at four times that – $340 million – by 2019. By 2020, e-books will likely have a quarter of the market share.
These statistics include books in all of India’s 122 major languages. Most e-readers don’t yet support Indic script (but someone will probably come out with one that does, soon, given the size of the potential market).Your book is written in English, so that’s not a problem. You’ll simply want to focus each book marketing idea to the ebook market.
How’s That for a Nonfiction Book Marketing Idea?
To get your book into the Indian market, it makes sense to focus on e-books. With more people having access to smartphones and e-readers, selling your book in digital form will make it easier to get it to the reading public, no matter where in India they live. The two biggest e-book retailers are Amazon India, which has adapted its business models specifically to the diverse Indian market, and Indian e-commerce company Flipkart.
With so many books available in India, however, you still need to find a book marketing idea or two that will help people find and buy yours. Most readers of e-books – 29% – choose new books because they know the author’s work. However, 25% find new books through browsing the internet and 20% choose new books based on reviews.
What does this mean for you as an author? More of the same stuff you’re encouraged to do in your local market. You need to build up an online presence through social media. You want to have some website presence and pay attention to SEO (search engine optimization). But most important of all? You need to produce an excellent, professional book that will get great reviews. Easy peasy, right?