Photo of an author sitting at the window in a cafe writing notes

Marketing Mini Guide: Non-Fiction Author and Speaker

Whether you’re promoting a new book for pre-order, a book you’ve already published or an entire body of work, marketing yourself as a non-fiction author is all about your expertise and building trust.

Generally, even when publishing traditionally, you’ll still be responsible for the majority of your own marketing, so this information is relevant for those working with a publisher and those self-publishing a book.

The same is true for working with a speaking agent. Even if you outsource some of the recommendations below, it is beneficial for someone to be doing these things for you, and for you to understand how they should be done to better manage that contract.

If you’re thinking ahead about a book you may want to write, save this post for later, but start thinking now about each of the items you could build now. It’s becoming more common for traditional publishers to want to work with authors who have a large email list or a dedicated social media following, and the same should be true if you’re looking to self-publish or book speaking opportunities, since the audience you build prior to an announcement are most likely to buy your books and attend your speaking gigs.

Your Website

My recommendation for this type of brand, is to consider:

  • Sharing your story, even if it isn’t totally relevant to your book topics. People like to know the origin story of those they choose to take advice from
  • Create a page about each of your books, linking to where people can buy it. Think of this like a product sales page, but possibly without the ability to purchase directly
  • You may like to use trackable links for all book links. While you may not be able to track them right through to purchase, you will be able to track how often those links are clicked.
  • Create a calendar for upcoming speaking events to allow people to attend
  • Create a page that showcases the topics you can speak about, showcase a few events or businesses you’ve spoken for, as well as testimonials and contact information
  • Create a media kit page (or Dropbox link) that you can supply, including a bio, photos, website links, so you don’t have to collate this each time

You should also make sure you take photos and video of:

  • Headshots, looking straight to camera, but smile
  • Speaking or running workshops (if applicable)
  • Writing, and doing the work
  • Recording podcasts (if applicable)

Many non-fiction authors will work to create a professional website that shows off other parts of a business they have, when the book is related to that topic. However, iIf you plan to implement quite a simple marketing plan, you may prefer to start by working with an all in one software, such as Squarespace, Substack or Beehiiv. These softwares allow you to create blogs and email newsletters, without the need for a whole bunch of extra tech. Since the softwares you choose will set the parameters you then need to work around, keeping it simple is a great way to get the website done so you can start sharing about it as soon as possible.

Social Media Content

The platforms you use will depend on who your target market is, but if your focus is millenials or younger, you may find you have more exposure on the newer platforms over the older ones, like making the most of #booktok. You can also:

  • Post consistently and engage with all comments within a couple days
  • Try to do as much video as you can, so that people get to know the person behind the book, and to show you have some speaking chops. You can also duet or remix when people are sharing something in your area of expertise or specifically about your book or talk
  • Share people’s stories when they tag you, and repost their photos into your feeds
  • Share clips of you speaking to show your speaking style
  • Show a little personality throughout your content, either sharing the behind the scenes of a book tour, or backstage before or after your talk, or how you decompress after those events
Graphic of two people sitting down reading

Social Media Advertising

This could be a place to run awareness ads, or traffic ads to get people to your website. You can show up in front of people in your area or locations you’ll be traveling to on a book tour, or who might be likely to want to read your book depending on the topics discussed. Ideally you have a pretty clear target audience, so you can use that information to specify who should see those ads, by hobbies, interests, religion and life stage.

Influencer Marketing

You might like to send your book to a few content creators for review, either ahead of your release or as part of a wider campaign. You might choose to opt for paid collaborations to guarantee coverage, but there are also many people who might be classed as micro-influencers who would be overjoyed just to receive the book for free. In those instances you can’t guarantee when or if they will share about the book.

To find these creators you can follow hashtags and let the algorithm do its thing, use a platform like Netgalley to share an ebook copy, or if you are working with a publisher, they may have a list of contacts.

You might also like to check who is following you on social media platforms to find people who are also interested in your content, who also have a following of their own.

Graphic of 4 people holding and reading books

Email Marketing

Email marketing can be one of the more reliable forms of marketing for you, since you don’t have to contend with an algorithm. You may need to pay for a software to help you facilitate this, although many softwares have a free plan to get you started.

If you don't have a website, and plan to combine the email list, blog and website into one combined site, check out Beehiiv. For those who already have a website separately and are looking for a tool just for email, is Flodesk. If you have an established tech stack, you might like to make everything work in together with something like Zapier, the glue of the internet.

To keep people subscribed and start to grow more of an appreciation for your writing style, it can be beneficial to create regular content, that could be of high value to your readers. Depending on the topics you speak or write about, this style would be different, and you can also include a mini digest of where you’ve been speaking, podcasts you may have been at or new dates added to your book tour.

As you work to market both yourself and your works, focus on your potential readers or who would be most impacted by hearing you speak, what they need to hear, what they should know and where they might go to seek out that information.

Disclaimer: This blog post is a small guide to some platforms this business type could use to expand their marketing. It is not a marketing plan or marketing strategy and is not tailored completely for your business. If you are looking for a marketing strategy, let’s chat.

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