Why writing nonfiction books is not just about books any more

One of the best things about the current spread of media and publication options is that the basic content from your book can be shared in many more different ways than was the case 20 or even 10 years ago. I have mentioned quite a few of these en passant in my new book but it’s worth taking another look at the main ones, so you can bear them in mind.

woman sitting on bed with flying books

Who knows to what other communication treasures your book could lead you?

Blog to book and back again
Depending on the nature of your content, a series of blog posts form a very good basis for a book. I’ve done this a couple of times now and so have a number of other authors who contribute to How To Write Better. You get the double bite at the cherry. Don’t worry that people won’t buy the book if an equivalent but spaced-out version exists on your blog, by the way. They will buy the book because the formats are very different and will be used for different purposes. At the other end of the scale, serialising a book in blog posts once or twice a week, say, is an excellent way of maintaining regular traffic to your website and at the end you can offer readers the chance to buy the beautifully presented eBook or even print/audio book, for a discounted price.

Create an online course based on the book
These courses are very popular and are good examples of projects that earn you money while you’re asleep. I haven’t gone into the methods here – and in any case options will vary from country to country. Simply Google ‘how to create an online course” and there will be a good supply for you to choose from based on your country’s criteria. But take this one seriously: for the rest of 2020 and probably well into 2021, people will be spending more time at home and will be seeking to improve their skillsets.

Set up some webinars or Zoom workshops on your topic
If you have a strong online presence you can pick out key elements from your book and base a webinar or Zoom workshop on each. Your webinar script, or your Zoom topic guidelines, can be based on the text from your book, too. To find out how to set up and deliver a webinar, Google ‘how to run a webinar.’ More info on Zoom and how to use it here.

Get some speaking engagements (in non-COVID times)
People love to meet authors at presentations and other live events and will buy a book from them eagerly – especially if you have signed it personally. Many of us carry our books in the back of our cars and take a few into meetings and events even if all we’re doing is a five-minute elevator pitch. We nearly always sell a few. Larger events yield greater sales so make sure you have plenty of stock for ‘back of room’ sales. And for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, you should still be able to get speaking gigs from groups using Zoom, MS Teams, etc. You may well also find you’re in demand to speak on your topic in the large – and growing – number of other people’s podcasts.

Set up face-to-face workshops
This doesn’t work for every topic but I run some very lively and popular interactive workshops based on my book How To Write Brilliant Business Blogs (and that is based on a series of blog posts I wrote on How To Write Better.net!) Usually I include a signed copy of the book in the delegate price. Zoom versions of these work well too, as long as you don’t try to cram in too many people; with ten or fewer, you can stick with one conversation which is essential online. (And as this is online, you can offer your book to delegates as a Kindle / eBook.)

Record an audiobook
The fashion these days is for more and more authors to record their own books in audio mode, rather than employ (expensive) professional voice overs. Unless you have a voice like a misfiring traction engine, try it and see. Readers actually prefer to hear the author’s voice as, quite rightly, they see it as the author speaking directly to them – not through a paid voice-over artiste. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is although it is tiring. Where to do it cheaply? Your local music recording studio. Music studios usually have quite high-quality equipment and if you can spare the time on weekdays, are often not busy. (Bands and singers most likely have day jobs so only record in evenings and on weekends.) That means the studio is usually prepared to work for you at a very reasonable rate. If you’re going to put your audiobook on Audible (Amazon’s audiobook subsidiary) or the other audio outlets the technical standard required is quite high, but a music studio’s standard is likely to be high enough. Be sure to check this carefully though, before you agree to commissioning the session. And don’t forget to get your book’s cover design adapted to a square shape for the Audible ‘cover.’

Record podcasts
These are much simpler to produce than audio books and if you’re clever you can do them yourself using your smartphone. Try to make them lively and interesting: interview other people connected with your topic, do little vox pops when you’re out and about, do a small round table discussion about relevant issues. These then can be loaded on to your website. You can also distribute them for free on these sites, and paid-for sites may well be worth investigating.

Get into video
Don’t be shy! Shoot some video on your phone of yourself discussing various elements arising from your book (avoid repeating them though) as you walk your dog in the park. Upload it to Facebook, other social media platforms and to your own YouTube channel.

A readers’ club
You can continue to generate more material and updates to your topic. Many nonfiction authors now are setting up password-protected sections on their websites where people who have bought their book can access this new information. (Initial passcode will need to be something people can only know if they have bought the book online, e.g. “on which page does Chapter Thirteen start.”) If nothing else, this exercise can help you come up with ideas for sequels to your book and other media channels: invaluable stuff! Also it can establish a kind-of ‘loyalty programme’ for your book and other writings which will help you in your promotion of general business, as well as further books and similar products.

Don’t forget, though, that your book is a special animal

As time goes on we will welcome many more media opportunities for sharing the content that shakes down from a book. But it’s essential to remember that despite being an ‘old’ media format going back hundreds if not thousands of years, books are still the foundation of our written communication and probably will remain so for some generations to come.

how to write a brilliant nonfiction bookThat’s why I wrote How To Write A Brilliant Nonfiction Book – to help as many of you as possible to communicate your expertise and skills to the world at large … and to provide you with a long-running fund of content to share across your social media and other communication channels.

Get your copy here:

Amazon UK
Amazon USA
Amazon Canada
… all other Amazons too.
Print and Kindle.

(And thank you in anticipation of your purchase!)