Book marketing is totally up to you when you’re an indie author. The planning, book tours, social connection and promotion, and networking… all up to you. It just takes a bit of courage, consistency, and patience. Once you’ve ensured quality content, formatting and professional cover design, the success of your book rests on your own marketing efforts.
For starters, we’re big on making a plan. Commit to spending a few hours – or hiring someone that knows what they’re doing – to craft a marketing strategy and plan specific to you and your book. Here is everything you need to include in your plan in order to launch a healthy book marketing approach for your nonfiction book.
Identify Your Genre’s Ecosystem: Audience and Competitive Titles
I’m sure you will have already done this during the planning and writing of your book. Because you already know that identifying your reader is crucial for more than just marketing. Right? So you’ll already have identified the ecosystem around your genre. You know your expected audience, the competitive titles, and the best way to distribute your book. This will have told you the kind of person most interested in reading your book. Does your book and your genre typically appeal to young adults? Professionals? Seniors? Are they men, women, or both? (Hint: your book should appeal to a narrower identification of reader than your genre.)
Next, it’s time to study successful books similar to your own, and books that target the same audience. Go through the bestseller lists and find the top 5 recent books that are like yours. Now try to figure it out: what made these books successful? How did they market and appeal to their customers? Think about the book descriptions, the cover, their ads, and promotional material. What did they do that you can improve on? What did they do that you can mimic, without plagiarizing and embarrassing yourself?
Complete Your Amazon Author Page
Creating a presence on Amazon is essential for every author in 2018. It gives you an online presence on the largest book-publishing platform in the world. Skeptical? Only 25% of books sold in 2017 came from the Big Five (publishers). The rest? Indie imprints, Amazon’s signed publishing, other specialty publishers, and micro presses. For most (if not all) of these books, the main platform used to publish and distribute them was – Amazon.
You don’t want to underestimate the importance of completing your Amazon author page. You want to complete your bio, add/claim your book(s) once they’re published, link your blog, and perhaps add video content. Here’s a look at my Amazon Author Page – to give you some ideas. Consider having a professional photographer take some good headshots of you. That dark, out-of-focus selfie taken at last weekend’s party probably isn’t the image you want to put front and centre!
Other Things on Amazon
Here’s a short checklist of other things you will want to get done on Amazon:
- Ensure your sales description is as good as it can possibly be. Read the sales page descriptions of as many of the bestsellers in your categories as possible. What do you think works about them? What doesn’t work? You want to grab your potential readers for the right reasons, accurately portray the benefits they’ll derive from your book, and hook ’em in.
- Seriously consider launching some ads through Amazon Marketing Services. There are entire courses, entire books on how to work AMS, like Mark Dawson’s Self-publishing Formula or Brian Meeks’ Mastering Amazon Ads. I’m not going to try to crack the code for you here or we’ll be here for a week.
- Get reviews. Legitimate reviews. The more (verified) reviews your book has, the more likely you are to be included in Amazon’s promotional algorithms. Remember that reviews from friends, family, or too many people who have not purchased your book through Amazon will likely be removed, and your efforts will backfire.
Build a List
Whether you blog, attend events, network on social media or just have a habit of running into new people, use every opportunity to build your email list. With a mailing list service like MailChimp or Mailerlite you can create, manage, and build a mailing list. You can view all your subscribed followers, check out your open and click-through rates, and easily send your next emails and promotions to all your subscribers.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with what you can do with your mailing list. If you need more followers, try advertising a giveaway for new followers on social media. Lead magnets are also a great way to drive more subscribers to your emails, either on your site or even at the back of your book. Nick Stephenson offers a great course on how to get Your First 10K Readers with a key focus on your mailing list.
Like it or not, social media is here to stay. Not having a presence on social media can render you virtually invisible in the online world. And you can’t afford invisibility online anymore: 55% of all 2016 book sales in the US were done online through Amazon. With 2.56 billion social media users (34% global penetration), as a good marketer there’s no way you can ignore it.
One of the biggest mistakes that thousands of authors fall into is the follow-for-follow circus on the various social media platforms. This is when an author produces no content and instead follows a gazillion other authors in the hope that they will follow back. Sure, you might end up with an increase in followers, but how many of them actually care about what you have to say? How many of them are actually interested in you and your books? How many of them are just trying to sell you their own books?
Creating an online presence is about being present online. Develop a personality. Craft posts that entertain or interest people. Do it consistently enough and people will want to connect with you and find more of what you have to say. however, beware that social media marketing is not all about selling! I try to follow a 10-to-1 rule: ten posts are about being helpful, engaging, providing useful information, and then one might be about one of my books. If you do try to be too salesy and push-push-push, you’ll get zero authentic engagement. Getting social should be about participating and reaching out, making yourself heard for the value of what you have to say. After you have built an audience, then you can start selling your books.
Organizations, Events, & Groups
What events are your readers likely to be attending? If you’ve written a book about how to take control of your personal finances, like Ingenium Books’ author David Rhodd, what are the conferences, organizations and events in your area that are targeting the same reader? Become a member of groups that serve the same audience, attend those events, arrange a display table at conferences that align with your message. Get out there and connect with those who want the same thing you do for your reader.
As a nonfiction author, you need to show that you are an authority in your chosen subject. And though it might sound unfair, the first question that any reader is going to ask when they see your book is: who are you and why should I care about what you have to say?
So, prove who you are. In addition to attending those conferences and events, write papers and essays and blogs. Become an active and visible voice in your field and your community. You don’t have to become the next Tony Robbins. However, you should get around enough so that you enough credibility to refer to in your author description. If you truly love the topic of your book, this will feel less like book marketing and more like a life calling.
While you’re at it, identify and connect with the influencers in the space. Influencers are popular individuals on social media platforms and beyond. They likely have thousands of followers, and may be interested in learning about you and your book. If you position your pitch well enough, you may convince them to share a post, tweet, or email with their tribe.
Analyze and Replay
Nonfiction book marketing is an entirely different world from what it was 20 or even 10 years ago (fiction too, we just love nonfiction). Social media and the Internet has changed so much—it has made it far easier for the average nobody to get heard, if they are willing to put in the effort. It has also made it more difficult to be heard for those who either can’t or won’t put in the effort.
It all comes down to one thing: analyze what you have done. Are your ads working? Is your marketing campaign resulting in any sales? Are you gaining new followers and subscribers? What marketing choice did you make that could have gone better? Which one is contributing to the results you were expecting? Do that one again.
Nonfiction Book Marketing is Ongoing
The biggest mistake you can make with your book marketing activity is to push for a month and give up when you don’t explode as soon as you launch. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months – or longer – for you and your book to start gaining traction. Especially if it is your first. Your book isn’t done simply because it’s written and published and for sale. For as long as you want readers to find and buy your book, you’ll want to remain active with your book marketing. Ask yourself: do you want success enough to market your book the right way?
What are your must-do nonfiction book marketing activities? Let us know in the comments!