Marketing your nonfiction book: do you get what that REALLY means, and why it’s crucial?

When my former business partner, a rigid academic, tried to edit my forthcoming book – How To Write A Brilliant Nonfiction Book – he made a great fuss over the fact that the chapter about “marketing” at the end of the book only ran to 3,000-odd words.

“But you’ve only written 3,000 odd words about marketing” he yelled gleefully down the phone to me.

Anyway, I didn’t get what he meant, at first

Why were there only 3,000-odd words in my book about “marketing,” as he called it? Those were 3,000 words about marketing communications. (My bad: I should have made that much clearer, although very few of my readers will be cloistered academics like him and will know the difference.)

Prior to that, there are references throughout the book from the introductory pages about marketing – what it really means and what a key role it plays in the conception, development, writing, editing and roll out of any nonfiction book that is to seek a commercial future.

That I didn’t realise so many people misunderstand what marketing really means: Sorry.

Seems that marketing isn’t a subject taken seriously by Oxbridge graduates such as this guy. Fortunately it IS taken seriously by the vast majority of people in the business/self-help books market out there in the real world.

In the book I have now recapped on key marketing points right fron Chapter One.

Marketing realpolitik: some excerpts from the earliest parts of my book…

If you’re selling your book to the open market (as opposed to your own opportunities for book sales connected with your business, pastime or other activity) you need to start thinking about marketing right now, before you have written anything.

And that applies nearly as much to a book published by trade publishers who always say they market your book but don’t do much. These days the marketing depends on you to do the lion’s share of it, as it does if you self-publish. And that’s OK: you, as author, are always going to be the book’s most important marketing tool. Remember this:

Marketing your book begins at conception, not at birth

If you think back to your economics lessons at school or college (unless you’re a shielded academic!) you’ll probably remember learning about “The Four ‘Ps’ of Marketing” – Product, Price, Place, Promotion (although some experts invert Place and Promotion. Not really a problem but in the case of books I believe Place comes before Promotion.)

Without going into a long and wheezy academic essay about this, here’s a brief glimpse at how “The Four Ps” relate to your book’s marketing process.

Product: Establishing your topic, your target audience, what to write about, etc.

Price: Not something you need to think about too early on, but it’s worth checking the price points of similar books in your genre as well as the prices of corresponding eBooks, audiobooks, and if appropriate hard cover books. Then bear in mind the general standards, cover design styles etc. used by books in the same genre and price range while developing your own.

Place: How and where the book will be distributed and available for sale. Much depends on whether you go the trade publishing route or the self-publishing route, so bear your distribution options and preferences in mind when making that particular decision.

Promotion: The actual marketing communications you can use, how and where to use them, how to match available types of communication to the genre and content of your book. etc.

Some further excerpts from my book which may help you – now!

Especially if you already have a social media or other following and your book will be about your main business/special interest topic you really need to start the marketing process long before the book is out there.

Mind you, don’t make the mistake a good friend of mine did when promoting his second crime thriller book, by starting a “teaser campaign” about the characters, plot, etc., before he had written more than a few chapters. His “book pre-launch” campaign went on for about two years and it’s only because his (second) book is even better than his first that his fans didn’t go “oh for Heaven’s sake, crap or get off the pot.”

Working with a “trade” publisher

Different experts have differing ideas on how long before publication you should start trailing your book via your email list, social media etc. Often you won’t have a lot of choice: your publication date may well be dictated by a trade publisher to fit in with their publishing calendar. Don’t worry too much, as trade publishers plan book launches a very long way ahead so there’s likely to be plenty of time for you to start the publicity machine rolling.

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How To Write A Brilliant Nonfiction Book … No-BS support to get your book planned, written, published and out there – coming soon from Better Books Media

If you are going with a trade publisher it makes a lot of sense for you to liaise closely with their marketing (still, sometimes, quaintly called “publicity) people so your efforts are coordinated. However don’t expect them to do very much other than issue a press release or two and perhaps give your book a bit of coverage on their social media channels. The rest is up to you.

Regard the run-up to your your book’s publication as a key promotion point

Whenever you decide to start, ensure that you understand exactly where and how you will achieve the best possible ROI for your efforts. If this amounts to social media promotion clicking through to Amazon, maybe backed up by Google, Facebook and other social media advertising or editorial activity, start trailing teasers about your book as soon as possible once you have a publication date established.

Start giving people on your mailing list some tasters from the book – perhaps a sample chapter, or some key tips. You might even be able to offer them a sample chapter to download, as an introduction to the book.

The whole objective here is to establish a growing enthusiasm for your book so that when it finally becomes available, people will want to hurry over to Amazon and buy it. This enthusiasm is sometimes called your “author platform,” or at least the basis for it. If your book is linked to your business or other occupation you’re like to have quite a useful author platform already, in terms of people already aware of who you are and what you do.

And what more marketing issues should you check out?

Watch this space. My new book will be out soon! In the meantime what questions might you have about writiing and publishing nonfiction books?

Share your thoughts and questions here – will answer!

Sz xx