All nonfiction book promotion comes down to two questions:
- What will I get from reading your book?
- Why should I listen to you, specifically?
If you can’t answer those two questions, no amount of promotion will sell your book.
If that sounds harsh, I’m not trying to be. I’m trying to save you from throwing away hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on book promotions that won’t work.
In fact, I wrote this post because of all the bad posts out there that list untested book promotion ideas—posts that don’t tell you the first thing about what really sells a book because they were written by people who haven’t actually sold any books.
I’ve sold over 4.5 million copies of my own books, and my company, Scribe, has put out books that have sold millions more. We know what we’re talking about, and when it comes to book marketing, this is it:
Line up these two answers first, and your marketing strategy will practically write itself.
The first question positions your book in the market.
Your book has to solve a need for a specific set of readers, or no one will care about it. I can’t stress that enough.
The only thing readers want to know about your book is what it will do for them.
The second question defines your Author brand, showing the reader why you are the right person to solve that need.
Ideally, you’ll answer both questions before you write even one word of your book.
Once you have those answers ready, I strongly recommend following Scribe’s proven step-by-step marketing plan.
It lays out:
- How to think about book marketing
- How to set the foundation for your book marketing
- How to leverage that foundation to reach your book goals
With that deep understanding of nonfiction book marketing in place, following these tried-and-tested book promotion tips will have a much better chance of getting the results you want from your book.
1. Create an Eye-catching Cover
One of the hardest things for Authors to do is to wear their “reader hat” when thinking about their own book.
A book is a tremendous investment in both time and money. It’s only natural to feel like that investment should be worth something in and of itself.
But the tough reality is that readers don’t care.
Think about the last book you bought. Did you buy it because you wanted to reward the author for writing it?
Of course not. You bought it because of what you expected to get out of it.
The right cover design sets that expectation for the reader.
For more specific help, read my post on creating a great book cover.
It’s never too late to create a great cover. If your book cover isn’t setting the right expectation, change it.
2. Write a Great Description
Your book’s description is the perfect opportunity to tell potential readers why they need to read your book.
It might sound counter-intuitive, but the point of the book’s description is not actually to describe the book.
It’s to show the reader what reading your book will do for them.
This is such an important point that I’ve written an entire post on how to write a book description that will sell books.
3. Take a Great Author Photo
Your book cover and description are about book positioning. Your Author photo is about Author branding.
The photo needs to position you as the right person to answer the reader’s question or solve their problem.
If you aren’t sure how to do that, read my post on taking a great Author photo.
It includes examples to show you exactly what I mean.
4. Gather Blurbs for Your Book
Book blurbs are quotes about you or about your book from people your target audience already trusts.
This point is critical. Ideally, you’ve aimed your book at a very specific audience.
Your blurbs need to come from people who are known and trusted among that target audience.
Blurbs aren’t necessary. If you don’t have the kind of blurbs that will actually help you sell your book, you shouldn’t include them at all.
But if you want to gather the kind of amazing blurbs that are proven to make a difference and sell books, I’ve written an entire post focused exclusively on getting blurbs.
5. Set Up Your Author Website
Once you have your book cover, description, and Author photo, you’re ready to set up your Author website.
Like everything else about promoting your book, your website should tell readers why they should read your book and why you’re the right person to answer their question or solve their problem.
6. Create an Author Central Page
Do this as soon as your book is listed on Amazon.
An Author Central Page gives you control over your Amazon book listing page, your Amazon Author photo, your Author bio, and a lot more.
It also gives readers a way to follow you on Amazon.
It’s a tremendously useful marketing tool, and I’ve written a post that tells you everything you need to know about how to set your Author Central Page up the right way.
7. Create a Goodreads Author Page
You can set up a Goodreads Author page either before or after your book is listed on Amazon.
It’s not necessary for every published Author, but a Goodreads Author page gives you access to more great tools, including a widget to embed your book’s Goodreads reviews directly on your website.
It encourages readers to share your book with each other for some free word-of-mouth advertising, but it also includes paid advertising opportunities and giveaways.
Read my post on Goodreads Author profiles to learn more about how to set this up and what you can do with it.
8. Add the Book to Your Email Footer
One of the most powerful things you can do as an Author to promote your book is also one of the simplest:
Add it to your automatic email signature.
The average person sends dozens of emails every day. Over the course of a year, that adds up to thousands of free impressions, all by people who have some connection to you and even more reason to be interested.
I recommend doing this right around the time of the launch because initial sales are much more important than pre-orders.
Read more about this in our complete step-by-step marketing plan as well as in Scribe’s free marketing course.
9. Contact Media, Bloggers & Influencers
There’s no better way to get your book out there than to get the right people talking about it.
They don’t have to be famous. They just have to be well known to your target audience.
As part of our free Scribe marketing course, we offer spreadsheets and templates to help you decide which kinds of media outlets are the right fit for your book.
If bloggers and media influencers are a good match, watch this video on media coverage to see exactly how to approach them to get them interested in you and your book.
10. Write Guest Posts and Articles
Another way to connect to those same media influencers and bloggers is to offer to write articles or guest posts for their sites.
Unlike old-school print publishing, virtual outlets have an unlimited amount of space for sharing great content.
If your article would be interesting to their readers, they’ll be interested in you.
Watch this video on guest posts to learn how to take advantage of this promotional opportunity.
11. Go on Podcasts
Podcasts are more interested in “evergreen” content than traditional news outlets like newspapers or television.
Where a TV morning show is interested in what’s happening today, most podcasts are more interested in general information that their listeners will always find useful.
That is why book authors are so compelling to podcast hosts. They generally have something to say that will last beyond this media cycle. Something that matters to people.
If podcasts are a good fit for your book, watch this Scribe Book School video to find out how to approach them.
12. Gather Book Reviews on Amazon
Reviews on Amazon do two things for your book:
- signal readers that it’s a worthwhile book
- signal Amazon’s algorithm that it’s a good book to recommend
No matter how professional your cover and description look on Amazon’s site, a listing with no reviews, even on a new book, will make some readers hesitate.
The easiest way to fix that is to discount your book on its launch date and use your own contact list to ask for reviews. You should be shooting for 20 or so in the first week after your book’s publication date.
For more information on gaming Amazon’s algorithm, read my post on our proven marketing plan for book launches.
To learn more about getting Amazon reviews, there’s a specific post for that too.
13. Use Your Email List
This is related to getting Amazon reviews, but it’s also a promotional tool in its own right.
You should be telling everyone you know about your book.
If that feels like bragging or showing off, you’re looking at it the wrong way.
You wrote your book to help people solve a problem. If it really does that, then telling people about your book is offering them a solution to that problem.
This idea lies at the heart of the most successful marketing techniques in the world. It’s okay to tell people how you can help them.
Telling people about your book isn’t really about you. It’s about your potential readers and what your book can do for them.
14. Use Your Social Media Presence
Not every Author has a social media presence, and that’s okay.
If you don’t have a presence already, don’t build one just for your book. There are plenty of other self-publishing promotional tools that don’t count on social media, so it is NOT a necessary part of a solid book marketing plan.
But if you do have a social media presence, use it.
Put your book in your profile on all your social media platforms. Add it to your Facebook page. Tweet about it.
For more information, read our post on the 5 things every Author should do on publication day.
15. Write LinkedIn Articles
If you’re on LinkedIn, you probably have a decent number of contacts.
You should tell all of them about your book.
Start by adding your book as a publication on your LinkedIn profile. Then use a mail merge tool to email all your LinkedIn contacts.
You can find out more about how to do that in our video on setting the foundation for your marketing.
16. Give It to Clients (And Potential Clients!)
One of the most important things we tell our Scribe Authors feels counter-intuitive when you first hear it, but it’s critical to understanding the power of your book:
Your book is a marketing tool you use to market yourself.
As much as I’m talking about book promotion, the ultimate goal is not really to increase book sales or find new readers. It’s to build your business and find new customers/clients.
That’s why one of the first things you should do the moment your new book is available on KDP is to buy 50 copies of your book.
Giving that free book to a potential client keeps you at the top of their mind. It positions you as an expert and makes you stand out above the crowd, and you don’t have to be a bestselling Author to do that.
If you’ve done a good job publishing that book, it doesn’t just look professional. It will draw a potential new client in and get them reading.
They will learn who you are and why they need you, having what amounts to several hours of dialog with you despite the fact that you weren’t even there.
That’s what a book really does for you.
17. Start a Blog or Podcast
I’ve grouped these together because it doesn’t matter what media you choose.
The important thing about a blog or podcast is to provide new and engaging content to keep your growing contact list engaged with you.
This is NOT something you have to do. For some Authors, creating any kind of blog or podcast takes more time than they have.
But if it’s something you’re interested in, this kind of regular content can
- grow your reputation
- enhance your LinkedIn presence
- engage your email list
- give your site a higher ranking on Google (which drives more people to you)
- engage your Goodreads followers
- provide easy social media posts
18. Create an Audiobook
It’s an often-quoted fact that audiobooks are growing more rapidly than any other book media.
Audiobooks let people listen to your book on their commute, on the road, during coffee breaks, while cooking dinner … any time they have a few minutes and need their hands free.
For people who prefer audio, having an audiobook gives you a much higher chance that they will actually read your book.
And, thanks to the growth of the audiobook industry, there are now several ways for an indie Author to create one.
Read our full post on creating an audiobook to learn how to get an audiobook of your own.
19. Use Book Promotion Sites
Finally, if you’re looking to boost book sales at a certain time or for a particular goal, we’ve tested the top paid and free ebook promotion sites to see which ones produce the best results for nonfiction books.
Don’t waste your time and money on sites that won’t yield results.
When you’re ready to promote your ebook on Kindle or other retail platforms, read our post on the book promotion sites that work.