Marketing Non-fiction – the Dark Chasm

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There is a ton of information out there by indie authors, for indie authors, on marketing fiction. Blogs, books, Facebook groups, you name it. But dare to venture into the world of indie non-fiction, and you are suddenly lost in the dark. Don’t believe me? Google it. (Or Bing it. Or Duck-Duck-Go it. You get the picture.)  And if your book is at all controversial (think politics or religion), then forget about it. Even places that do routinely feature at least some non-fiction will turn you down because they don’t want to rock the boat. I get that, but it’s frustrating.

Here are the options and routes I’ve discovered so far in this journey. (To clarify, I’m finding promo sites for my husband’s book on the 2012 election, which is, apparently, as shocking and polarizing as saying that I was abducted by aliens. Actually, more so. People write about getting abducted by aliens all the time!) Okay, back to the marketing.

BookBub, which is fabulous for a lot of types of fiction, will not take controversial material. Now, this is an educated guess on my part due to several factors, because they never tell anyone they turn down the reasons for their rejection. But another, similar site, does, and that was their explanation. Also, BookBub only has “General Non-fiction” rather than Current Events or Politics, so the fit may not be that great for their subscribers anyway. You can always try it – you don’t pay until they accept you – but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

Book Gorilla. This is the site/service that’s similar to BookBub. They are currently reading the book to decide whether or not to take it. I have paid (and paid for a spotlight feature), but they will return my money if they decide not to promo the book. They’ve been very easy to work with and clear in their explanation and apologies, so no hard feelings. Again, the explanation was that they don’t present things to their subscribers that are controversial/polarizing. (Which brings up a point… Shouldn’t we all be able to see the cover of a book in a list of books and not feel personally affronted if it disagrees with our own worldview? I mean, it’s just a photo, right? Sometimes… Well, never mind.)

EBook Booster. They took the ad and ran with it. Now, whether all 45+ of the sites they post to will run it, I don’t know. But there was no hesitancy on their part to take it. I suspect they just take anything that isn’t heavy erotica, but I’m not sure about that. So far, so good, anyway.

FreeBooksy. I have placed the ad request and paid. They take a day or two to get back to you, usually, so I’m not sure if they’ll run it or not. I’ve had success with my novels on this sight, and they do have a Non-Fiction genre, so fingers crossed. UPDATE: We’re good to go!

BlogAd consolidators. I have just discovered this, and am going to get on it after I receive banner ads of the correct size from my graphic artist. What I finally did in desperation was type “advertise conservative sites” in the search engine. This one came up, and it has links to a lot of great sites for my husband’s book, so I’ll be placing ads. It’s expensive, but it seems that most things having to do with non-fiction are. You can break down your search into just about any type of blog/topic, and then select the ones you want to advertise on. The prices vary hugely – advertising on Perez Hilton’s celebrity gossip site starts at $1442 for a little ad. Towleroad starts at $2200. But Legal Insurrection is $30, Kindle Buffet is $21, and This Ain’t Hell But You Can See It From Here is $10. (In other words, all price points for ALL TYPES of blogs!) This is probably the easiest way to hit your target audience with non-fiction.

Guest posting. One of the things about non-fiction is that it seems that people are a lot more competitive. Most novelists in the indie world see their fellow novelists, even in the same genre, as co-adventurers. But boy, in non-fiction, all bets are off! I guess if you write non-fiction, you are pretty sure you’re right, and you want people to buy YOUR book on your topic, and no one else’s. However, it is still possible to find some amenable souls with whom to exchange articles/blog posts, if you’re diligent and nice and complimentary and not too competitive. (For instance, if your book is called The One and Only Houdini, you might not want to approach another author/blogger whose book is called The Definitive Guide to Houdini. Just sayin’.) The worst someone can say is no, and if you offer space in your blog/Facebook/Twitter in exchange, they may just go for it.

Tweeting services. I’m on the fence about this one, because book tweeting services are geared towards fiction, so I don’t know that you are getting the most bang for your buck. However, the couple we’ve used have been willing to discount their price because of that very thing, so it may be worth a shot. The better plan might be to find someone with a similar following to yours (and this is a lot more broad, perhaps, than with blogging), and again, offer to cross-promote with them.

Giveaways. We are planning a Rafflecopter giveaway for WTF? How Karl Rove and the Establishment Lost… Again. Rafflecopter is super easy to use, and if you have a good giveaway, it’s a great way to boost your Facebook Likes, your Twitter followers, and your mailing list. You can give people who enter the chance to get more entries by Liking you on FB, retweeting the giveaway, or answering a question, plus you get their info in a csv file and can add them to your mailing list. Then ask your followers to retweet the giveaway, too. If it’s a good one, they will. I recently did one for my novel Solomon’s Throne, which has a ton of travel to cool locations in it. I made a “travel pack” with a great, packable hat, a cool bag, a hot/cold water bottle, some lip balm, and two signed books from the Quinn series. It was valued at over $150, and I got a lot of entries, plus the winner was so excited that she was tweeting about it all over the place, giving me more exposure. (And that $150 is a tax write-off!)

Book blasts. I haven’t tried this yet for WTF?, but I’m going to, because this has been a huge thing for my sci-fi trilogy. When I combined a book blast with a giveaway worth over $175 (an Ixeos survival pack that included a Northface backpack, a pocket atlas, a tee shirt, and a bunch of other ‘survival’ items plus signed books), we had over 9,000 entries! So I’m going to approach my usual book blast gals, Book Nerd Tours, and see if they’re open. I’ve also used I Am a Reader for book blasts, so I’ll try them, too. If neither want to try it, I’ll keep searching!

Mailing lists. I think this is probably very effective for non-fiction, especially if you write multiple books on your topic. I don’t love mailing lists — I just did my first newsletter of 2013 recently! — but if people are interested enough to sign up, go for it! Just keep it content oriented, not simply an ad for your book. A lot of the people who’ve signed up will have already read it. They want new stuff!

Blog/website/landing page. A lot of non-fiction books have landing pages. My husband’s is www.TokyoRove.com. It’s a good idea, and content should be updated frequently. Same goes for your blog and website. Non-fiction readers, particularly of current events, are voracious in their appetite for news and ideas. Give it to them! Be the place they go when they want to know the latest.

Keywords. This is a biggie for non-fiction. You get 7 keywords for your Kindle listing (numbers vary for other publishing outlets). You need to update these frequently, based on what is trending in your genre and on your topic. If you’re compared in a review to a best-selling author, put that author’s name in your keywords for awhile, so people searching for them will also find you. If a topic is trending that pertains to your book, put that in your keywords. Update MONTHLY to stay on top of trends and capture all the searches you can.

That’s all I’ve got so far! It is definitely harder to market non-fiction online than it is fiction, although it’s a lot easier to market it in person. Go to conventions and get a booth, offer to speak on your topic, approach local radio to be a guest, offer your book to groups at a discount. Be creative and proactive. After all, you’re an expert! There are a million (actually more like a billion!) books out there, and you have to get yours in front of your target audience. Build a tribe and all that…

Have more ideas? Let me know! And soon!!

Yep, I’m a bestseller! (What???) And you can find all my books on Amazon!

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2 Comments

Filed under Marketing, Self publishing

2 responses to “Marketing Non-fiction – the Dark Chasm

  1. Great list – and yes, I agree with you about the challenges of marketing nonfiction. Ironically, I find that special events aimed at promoting authors normally have very few nonfiction author participants. I recently participated in a book fair and out of over 100 participants there were less than half a dozen nonfiction authors, and of those most also wrote fiction and just happened to also have a nonfiction book to throw in the mix. And, there was not one single book blogger participating who would review nonfiction. This is not unusual, and one of these days I’m going to dig into this with a little research. In the meantime, I’ve decided that with what’s left of this year I’m going to work on compiling a list of promotion resources (including book bloggers) specifically for nonfiction. One way or the other should be an interesting exercise.

    • Excellent points! I think, with nonfiction, you have to find things in your niche, as opposed to novels where a book fair is great. So if you write about dogs, a dog show. Politics, a convention or other gathering. But it’s time consuming and there’s definitely no one-size-fits-all solution! I’d love to see your list when you have it!

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