You have written your book, you’ve had it edited, you have hired a professional to design the cover art, you are going to sell it online on Amazon and Smashwords and you are have printed a substantial number or printed a small number via a print-on-demand. You have your ISBN numbers, the blurb is written, it looks as professional as a traditionally published book – how are you going to market and sell it now?
From what I hear from many traditionally published authors, while they don’t have to worry about getting it into bookshops, most of them are having to do all of the marketing of their books. The differences between independently published and traditional published books are certainly diminishing. Whether your non fiction book is a business book or a humourous gift book, writing a book will certainly raise your profile.
Marketing Your Non Fiction Book
One way to market your book is to send out press releases and hope that the local, if not national, media will pick up on them. However, you have to work out how to make it topical. Just stating you have published a book is unlikely to gain coverage, your local paper may publish a story about you if they have plenty of space or if you’re well known by them.
Aim to tackle a topical news angle within the press release – either focusing on the content of the book or your own status. If stay-at-home mums becoming successful in business have been getting coverage in lifestyle magazines and you are a mum, business owner and a writer, then focus on the stay-at-home mum angle.
Another possible angle is to share some tips from your non fiction book within the press release so you are, more or less, writing the article for a journalist. For example, when trying to get press for my ‘Would You Marry A Farmer?’ this September, I included five tips on how to find eligible farmers at the Ploughing Championships! As a result, I got eight radio interviews and about four print articles. Take tips from your book and show how your target market can benefit from them.
Read, Look, Listen!
Listen to the radio, read the newspapers and set up google alerts for related topics. Then send a copy of your book or a press release to the journalist or radio presenter. Two weeks after self publishing my book, I sent a copy to Ryan Tubridy of 2FM after hearing him discuss a related topic and received a phone call the next day with an invitation for a radio interview.
Be prepared! Have a high resolution photo of your front cover available to send to a journalist at a moment’s notice and it’s a good idea to have an ‘author photograph’ ready too.
Book Reviews in Newspapers
It’s not easy to achieve book reviews in newspapers as the publishing companies will be keeping those reviewers busy with a steady stream of material. However, sign up to the books4media email alerts and you might spot a relevant request. My book was recently reviewed in Horse and Countryside as a result of an email alert.
Book Reviews in Blogs
Ask book bloggers to review your book but ensure that you have checked out that the blog material is relevant. There’s no point asking a reviewer of mostly romantic fiction to review your self published gardening book. You should also ask bloggers writing about your topic, many may be delighted to receive a free book in exchange for an honest review.
It’s a good idea to arrange a ‘book blog tour’ whereby the bloggers all feature the book on a specific date. I organised my tour over six consecutive days as it was getting close to Christmas but it can also be a good idea to have one post a week over a number of weeks. Do ask the bloggers to link to the previous blogger and to the next blogger too. Do share each blog post on your own social media platforms and comment on the blog post too.
If you can ask the bloggers to post a slightly modified extract of their review on Amazon or Goodreads, that will help too.
Listing your book on goodreads may gain it some traction there. You can host a competition there for free, just for the cost of your book (not an ebook) and posting it to the winner. Catherine Ryan Howard wrote an excellent post recently on how best to run competitions on Goodreads.
Using social media is crucial but the trick is to use it well! Do not send out ‘buy my book because it is 99c’ or even ‘buy my book’ tweets. You can send out occasional ‘call to action’ tweets but try to include a benefit of buying the book within the tweet. Remember that people buy from people and if they are impressed by your content on twitter, they will be much more inclined to follow the links to your blog posts and from there, they will see your book for sale, particularly if you have a link to it in your sidebar.
A blog is really important – not only can you write posts in a similar style to your book so you attract your target readers but your blog will also publicise your book. You never know what journalists might be reading your blog and decide to write a feature on your book! That has happened to me. Sharing relevant content with your fans on facebook will help to grow your loyal fanbase too.
Pinterest is becoming effective as a marketing tool for authors too, pin any reviews you have received, pin links to where your book can be purchased. If you had created secret boards for planning your book, consider making it public so readers can see the thought processes and inspiration behind your book too, it’s a little like letting them in behind the scenes.
How To Sell Your Non Fiction Book
Having a book launch is a good way to really kick start the sales of your book and gain some local press coverage too. I didn’t have a book launch for my first book as I’d already received a lot of pre-orders with my crowdfunding campaign (plus it was such a tight schedule, I didn’t have the time) but I managed to secure sales of 750 copies in the first three weeks due to crowdfunding, social media and press coverage (all pre-Christmas too so the gift season helped). I will be having a book launch for my second book though.
Do sell it from your own website. Although that will involve design costs for a website, you are going to need a website in any case.
While you will have to prove steady sales to have your book stocked nationwide and by book wholesalers, you should be able to get your book into local bookshops. In Ireland, the two main wholesalers, Easons and Argosy, take 55% of the RRP so do take that into account when you are deciding on your pricing. If you are supplying directly to a bookshop, they will probably look for 30-40% of the RRP.
If you can show that you’ve got some press coverage, local bookshops should be open to stocking your book. If they’ve had people coming in to ask for it, they’ll be delighted to see you.
Do bear in mind that while the local bookshops may pay upon receipt of the books or at the end of every month, the wholesalers wait three months before making their first payment.
Boot of your Car
Always, always, always keep copies of your book in the boot of your car. You never know when you might get into conversation with someone who shows an interest in your book and you then have a sale.
The advantage of selling your book at shows is that you get the full RRP so it can be fairly profitable – depending on the cost of your stand and your set up costs (promotional material such as a pop up banner and bookmarks / leaflets). Another advantage is you get to talk to your buyers and your readers. You find out why people are interested in your book and more importantly, their reasons for not buying it. What is really lovely is when people come up to you to say they’ve already bought your book and enjoyed it – it’s all the sweeter if they say that while beside someone who is wondering whether to purchase or not, it really helps the sale along!
Enjoy your self publishing journey – it can be a rollercoaster but with a good book, some planning, plenty of leg work, substantial sales can be achieved. As you’ll see from the tips above, you can’t start too early – so much of it is building up relationships on social media and offline while you are writing the book. Another advantage of putting in all the legwork with the first book is that you have all the contacts when you bring out the second book.