There are two things every author must know about promoting your nonfiction book. First, it is your responsibility, no matter what publishing method you use—conventional, print on demand (POD), or do-it-yourself. Second, promotion should begin long before your book is finished. In fact, you should be thinking about it from the very beginning of the planning process.
One of the first questions you probably asked yourself was who are my readers? Once you have identified them, your next step is to find ways to tell them what the book is about; what problem it will solve; why it is funny, informative, or moving; who wrote it and why; and, most important, why they want to spend money to own it. What follows are seven proven ways to reach your readers with this information:
1. Create a website.
You must have a presence on the Internet. A Website showcases your book, highlights the cover, introduces you as an expert author, delineates the main points, tells where the book may be purchased, and provides a place for testimonials. A Website doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, but it should be professionally designed and constructed. Unless you are a Web guru, invest in a professional Website designer.
2. Brainstorm ideas.
Gather a group of your most creative friends to generate as many ideas as you can (It’s a good idea to feed them). Break your reading audience into subgroups, and list all the places to find them. Where do they hang out? What organizations do they belong to? Where do they shop? What are their passions, hobbies, and vocations? The spreadsheet you create is the beginning of your promotional plan.
3. Send advance readers’ copies (ARCs).
When the book is finished but not yet published, send bound copies of galley proofs to book reviewers at print and electronic media. Be sure to stamp them “Reader’s Copy” or “Galley Proof.” You want to time the reviews to coincide with the publication and availability of your book. Reviewers want to read it before it hits the shelves. Timing is everything.
4. Submit articles.
Your book is a goldmine of article ideas. Every major point is an article ready to be excerpted or paraphrased. Once you know what your target audience is reading, you have a list of potential publications, print and electronic. Write a 25- and 50-word author’s blurb to be printed at the end of every article. When you submit to an online article Website, indicate that the article may be reprinted at no charge, as long as it includes the author’s blurb.
5. Take part in book fairs.
Share a table or booth with other writers or with members of an association of which you are a member, if it is relevant to your topic. Book fairs can mean long hours on your feet if you go it alone; but, when you share the workload, the experience can be fun and rewarding. You’ll meet new people, reach readers directly, and become personally involved in selling your book.
6. Share what you know.
Offer to give free presentations at bookstores and other venues that carry your book. This is a great way to build your reputation as an expert in your field, provide value to the bookseller and the book buyer, and connect directly with your readers. It’s good for your ego to be asked to sign your own book. One caveat: if you don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of a group, join Toastmasters or hire a speaking coach. Don’t muddle through your presentation.
7. Assemble a sales package.
Put together a press kit to send to local radio and TV stations. Include a news release with pertinent information about the book and future scheduled appearances, an author’s bio, talking points to use in an on-air interview, a sample book cover, background information, and favorable reviews and testimonials. A press kit is like a resume; it gets you in the door. Once you get there, the rest is up to you.
Promoting your book is an ongoing project. It isn’t something you do once and then move on. As long as your book is available and there are potential readers who could enjoy it and benefit from reading it, you have a job to do. This is, after all, why you wrote it.