If you’ve written a non-fiction book, congratulations! That’s quite an accomplishment. Next step: to make sure people buy that book! “Marketing a book essentially hinges on an author’s ability to build an audience and then spur that audience into action,” says Rob Eagar, a professional marketing consultant who has helped a number of non-fiction books hit the New York Times bestseller list.
And that’s what the following four tips from fellow marketing experts are all about—setting yourself up for success so that come Launch Day, you’ve acquired an audience that is ready for action: reading your book and leaving reviews!
1) Get your shop in order: Update your digital presence
Think of your author website like a bookstore that sells only your book. If you can get people into your store, you want to make sure your product is at the ready. So heed the advice of freelance book publicist Celina De Leon and, “Get your house in order! Make sure your website and all of your social media profiles are active and updated with your book’s information and release date.” In addition to the release date, ensure your website has a clear brand and aesthetically pleasing design, showcases your books, includes a well-crafted book blurb, and has a mailing list people can subscribe to. For author websites inspiration, head here.
2) Get ahead on your correspondence: Build your mailing list
“One of my favorite strategies (and one I’ve seen get big results for authors) is to create and then deliver value to an author email list,” suggests writing coach Sara Connell. One great way to build your mailing list is through a lead magnet, which offers visitors to your website something of value in exchange for their signing up to your mailing list. A popular type of lead magnet is downloadable content that gives people a taste of your book—such as a guide, checklist, or a first chapter. For example, Jen Sincero, author of noted self-help book, You Are a Badass, offers a free download of her article “10 Secrets to Being a Badass” to new subscribers.
When determining what your lead magnet should be, ask yourself what will attract your target reader. The benefit of a mailing list is having ‘qualified’ leads, meaning leads that are already really keen on your subject/genre.
Lastly, start building your mailing list as early as possible. As Digital Marketing Director for Odyl, Marquina Iliev-Piselli says, “An email list started early can help you find first-readers, increase pre-orders, and ensure you have several reviews in place before launch day.” To learn more about setting up and growing a mailing list, give Reedsy’s free, ten-day course on the subject a whirl.
3) The personal touch: Show what makes your book unique
To stand out in the non-fiction market, readers need to understand why your book is more relevant to them than other titles about the same subject. “Show how you personally connect with your non-fiction book,” says Celina De Leon. “Write blog posts that showcase your knowledge and book’s unique point of view as it relates to current events and trends. Also look for opportunities to get quoted in news articles on your book’s subject matter.”
A good way to get your name out there is by subscribing to HARO (Help A Reporter Out), which allows you to connect with journalists who might want to quote you in relevant articles.
4) No author is an island: Assemble your street team
What is social validation? To answer that question, let me ask you this: would you be more inclined to follow the tips in this post if 30 non-fiction authors commented that the tips had lead them to success? Ah-ha!
Your street team’s most basic function is to ensure that your book receives great reviews on the day it launches—so you want to make sure they’ve received their ARCs (advanced reading copies), have completed the book, and are ready to comment before it goes out. Look to your friends, family, and anyone who helped work on your book to get your street team rolling (once you’ve published several books, you can also start looking to fans). Next, start actively participating in communities that are home to like-minded authors, such as Absolute Write, Goodreads, or Scribophile, or Facebook groups such as this one.
When it comes to marketing a non-fiction title, there’s no end to the things you can do: run promotions, talk at conferences, use targeted Facebook advertising, run webinars, to name a few. But if you want to know where to start, these four tips will lay the foundation for all your marketing efforts. If these are all working for you, the sky’s the limit.
Arielle Contreras is a staff writer at Reedsy, a curated marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers and marketers. Over 2,500 books have been produced via Reedsy since 2015.