Writing your nonfiction book is not the end of your work; in many ways, it is the beginning of the next phase—getting it into the hands of your readers. Now it’s time to move into the “promotion” mode. Many first-time authors are surprised to learn that promoting your book is just as important as writing it.
Whether you are published by a conventional publisher, a print-on-demand (POD) digital printer, or your own homegrown publishing company, marketing and promotion are in large part your job. For writers, marketing may seem daunting prospect, fraught with questions. Why is this important? Where do I begin? How do I do it? What will it cost?
The short answers are
- It’s important because if don’t tell people you have a book, they may never hear about it.
- You begin with a plan, which already exists, if you have written a book proposal.
- You market the same way you write—one step at a time.
- Costs will vary, but they don’t necessarily have to break the bank when you take advantage of the myriad opportunities provided by the Internet.
Let’s look at these one at a time.
Why is this important?
Walk into any bookstore, and you can see how many books are vying for attention. In your genre, which is nonfiction, there are thousands upon thousands. This is not meant to discourage you but to help you see that if you don’t let your readers know your book is waiting to be read, it will be lost in the crowd. If you have a conventional publisher, your promotional plan will underscore your willingness, enthusiasm, and cooperation in promoting your book. It will also provide the promotion department with ideas on how best to reach your audience. If you are self-publishing or using a POD printer, you will be responsible for all promotional activities, so it helps to understand your options,
Where do I begin?
Let’s say you are starting from scratch. Gather no more than eight people who think outside the box and will be honest with you. Make it a party; serve refreshments. Put up a flip chart, or pass out file cards or sticky notes and pens. The point of this exercise is to identify five target audiences you want to reach and then four or five ways to reach each of them. Where do they go? What do they read? What other interests do they have that may tie in with your subject? What groups or associations do they belong to? What websites do they surf? What mailing lists might they be on? What seminars or classes would they be likely to attend?
Brainstorm. No idea is too off the wall. Write them down as fast as you hear them. When you run out of ideas, evaluate the results. Which ones might just work? What can you afford to do? Narrow down the possibilities to no more than ten you really plan to try. That list is the beginning of your promotional plan.
How do I do it?
You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to getting the word out about your book. Here are a dozen ideas to get you started:
1. Advertise your book in publications that target your readers.
2. Be sure your book is on amazon.com; ask your friends to write reviews.
3. Display your book at book fairs; share a booth with other authors.
4. Get to know your friendly World Wide Web; better still, hire a Web-marketing expert.
5. Have punchy postcards deigned and printed; send them to everyone you know.
6. Join industry-specific organizations, and talk about your book whenever you get the chance.
7. Make presentations on your subject to book clubs, bookstores, appropriate organizations.
8. Perfect your elevator speech—“My book is about …” Introduce yourself, using it.
9. Send advanced review copies (ARC) to book reviewers at newspapers, magazines, and bookstore chains.
10. Take your book around to specialty retailers whose customers might be interested in your topic.
11. Write articles on your area of expertise; submit them to online article sites and special-interest magazines.
12. Put together a press kit—print and electronic ; post it on your website; and send it to book-review section of newspapers and magazines, your local NPR station, and local daytime news programs.
What will it cost?
Some promotional strategies will cost money—anything you have printed or duplicated, postage, advertising, renting a booth at a book fair, and organization dues, for example. Some things will just require ingenuity, time, and shoe leather—networking, making presentations, taking your book from place to place, writing articles, networking. You decide what you can afford and what is worth your investment.
Book promotion is not something you do once and then move on to some other activity. It is an ongoing series of plans, actions, and evaluation. Did it work? Keep doing it. Didn’t it work? Do something else. Everything you do will take you to another idea. Follow the trail. It leads directly to book sales.