Tag Archives: keywords

Marketing Non-fiction – the Dark Chasm


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!



Filed under Marketing, Self publishing

Marketing is like laundry…

laundry the never ending story

I realized this morning that I didn’t have much planned going forward in the way of marketing. For the last eight months or so, I’ve had marketing booked for each novel out about six weeks. When I looked at the calendar that has all that laid out, it was disturbingly blank. My first thought was, “Seriously?? I already did that!” because sometimes I feel like I spend a crazy amount of time marketing. And I don’t even like marketing! My second thought was, “This is just like doing laundry! It never, ever ends…” That was followed by a big self-pitying sigh. If people would just quit wearing clothes. *sigh* again.

Your book only sells if people know it’s out there. Unfortunately, in the universe in which we live, we have like twenty-seven billion competitors. That may be a slight exaggeration, but not by much. Every single book in every single genre is technically a competitor for a reader’s dollars. You have to give them a reason to choose yours. And the first way to do that is to make them aware that the book exists. Seems self-explanatory, but somehow we think that the fact that it’s available on Amazon should mean that people will find it. I did, at first. I didn’t do any advertising, even for free promos. I just sat there, listening to crickets… Well, there probably weren’t crickets.

Doing a KDPS free promo IS a great way to get your book out there, but making it free doesn’t put it up on some magical Amazon billboard with arrows and neon lights. If no one knows your book is free, you may not give away enough to make it to the Free Bestseller list. And if you don’t get it there, at least in your categories, you won’t give away more. It’s a vicious cycle, I know. (And as a caveat, I wouldn’t worry too much about KDPS unless you have a second book out or coming out soon, where readers of the free books can buy the next one. Giving away a free book should point the reader to another action, specifically a purchase. Give away books to whoever you want, but don’t spend money marketing a free promo if there’s no book for that follow up action.)

Promote your free days by marketing them. There are sites that will list your book for free, or that may list your book for free, if they have room on the day you select. Several of those sites only charge $5 for a guaranteed listing, so it’s worth sacrificing one of your white chocolate mochas to do that. There are other sites, like FreeBooksy and eBook Booster, that give you a lot of exposure for $40+. If you have other books and are running a free day, I’d recommend those. If your budget is open for it, and you have a good number of good reviews, you can try a listing on BookBub. (You can see my semi-giant list of marketing sites here.)

Paying for promotions when your book is NOT free costs more money. Bookbub is by far the best avenue for this at the moment, but pricey. The one ad I ran through them more than made up the cost, but be careful about genre. For instance, IXEOS is YA dystopian sci-fi. I ran the book in Science Fiction, not YA, because YA doesn’t do so great on BookBub. Look at the average downloads on their website for your genre, vs the price, and decide where best to list it. Kindle Books & Tips is a great venue, and Kindle Boards Spotlight ads do pretty well. I, personally, haven’t had much luck with Facebook ads, but I know people that do. Be careful on your targeting and try to get the number down from 4-bazillion to about 20-50,000.

A good rule of thumb is to have an ad for your book (or for each of your books if you have multiple) somewhere once a month. Exposure is key, as is word of mouth, so you want people to know about your book, read your book, and talk about your book. Blog, tweet, G+, Facebook, and be on any other social media site you can handle. (For me, blogging, Tweeting and Facebooking are about all I can take!) DO NOT SPAM. Ever. Period. You will do the opposite of what you’re trying to do, because people will hate the sight of your name. Blog, Tweet and post useful info, personal author-related info, and content that people will like. Intersperse that judiciously with a sprinkle of book promotion. I don’t know the magic formula, but I’d say no more than one promo-type thing to every five “real content” post.

Keep your total postings reasonable, too. I try to blog twice a week. I think I could do three, but daily seems too much – people get saturated, and you want them to read your blog, not think, “What another one?” Unless you have super fabulous, super interesting, super useful info, in which case, by all means blog daily! I just don’t… at least not on the subject that this blog is dedicated to. Tweets are hard. My personal limit is about a dozen a day max, which includes Retweets and comments on other Tweets. On Facebook, I try to post something daily, even if it’s just a fun meme or quote. My max there is about three per day, not including responses to comments. Basically, respect your audience/fans, and give quality without killing them with quantity.

Another way for exposure is to tweak your categories on Amazon until you are in the smallest you can legitimately be in. I changed my categories recently for the Quinn adventures, and have since been in the top 50 on the Genre Fiction>Mystery & Thriller>Thriller>Historical Bestseller list. Amazon put my IXEOS books into Teens>Science Fiction & Fantasy>Science Fiction>Aliens, and I’ve stayed in top 40 on the Bestseller list for a couple of weeks. Now, that isn’t a category you can put your book in from the KDP Dashboard. But if you find a non-listed category, you can go into your dashboard, remove one of the two categories you are listed in already, then send the KDP Help Desk an email requesting to be put into your new one. They almost always will, but you have to have one category free for them to do it. This is well worth the effort, because your book is on those Bestseller lists and thus available for people to see without any other marketing or promo on your part.

Finally, and I just learned this one myself (thanks Melissa Foster), monitor your keywords. If another book in your genre is trending, put that book title in your keywords. If your writing or book has been compared to another – and more well-known – author, put that name in your keywords. This way, if someone is searching for that title or author, your book also comes up. Change this monthly if needed to follow market trends! My Quinn books have been compared to Clive Cussler, so I have Clive Cussler in my keywords. My IXEOS books have been compared to The Maze Runner and Falling Skies. I have updated my keywords to reflect that. This is especially important if you write current-events type non-fiction.

I’d like to say this part of the job comes to an end, but I don’t think it does. While the beauty of ebooks is that they’re out there forever, the difficulty is that they’re out there forever! They’re like children who never grow up and leave home… You still have to tend to them. At least they aren’t eating you out of house and home or having loud parties til 3am. So there’s an upside.


Filed under Writing