Selling Nonfiction

Last week I was part of a discussion about nonfiction indie books. The actual subject was which is easier to sell: nonfiction or fiction. Of course, the correct answer is: it depends.

Nonfiction Vs. Fiction

Nonfiction is niche oriented just as fiction is. Of course, in fiction, we call it genre, but it pretty much means the same. Readers interested in a particular subject area (niche) look for that in nonfiction. Readers interested in a particular kind of story (genre) look for that in fiction.

Normally, I talk about fiction since that's where most of my book-length work is focused. I do have 1 nonfiction available Written Wisdom: Quotation-Inspired Essays, A Best of SlingWords Collection, 2005-2010.

Before the end of the year, I be publishing 3 other nonfiction books: Be A Better Blogger, From Book To Audio Book, and Ebook Success: Joan Sells & Tells All, the book I've planned to publish since last year when my indie career took off like a rocket.

With all that coming up, I've been thinking quite a bit about how to successfully market nonfiction ebooks. Here are my thoughts.

Know The Niche

Because nonfiction is heavily niche-oriented, know the niches your book fits. Make a list of all the subject areas or niches that your nonfiction hits.

Example: a book about the Harvey Girls. The niches that would hit: women in the workplace in 19th century America, Fred Harvey Company, waitresses, railroads, depots, depot diners, roadhouses, contrast between now and then with regard to food service, Harvey Girls in fiction, the MGM movie Harvey Girls, books -- fiction and nonfiction -- about the Harvey Girls, women traveling west, and probably a whole bunch more niches.

Search Engine Research

Take your list and do research with your favorite search engine. Mine is Google. Set up a Bookmark Folder and name it something like "Harvey Girls Market Research" or whatever abbreviation makes sense to you.

Form a keyword phrase like "blogs about Harvey girls" or "blogs about railroads in 19th century America" or "websites about waitresses in the 19th century workplace" and plug the keyword phrase into the search engine.

Form another keyword phrase: American historical organizations or social organizations -- the old-fashioned kind with real people in them as well as online groups.

You're looking for groups whose subject area fits your book subject area for the purpose of interaction. You want to interact with these groups because you have a specific subject area in common. You can interact online or in person by being a club meeting or luncheon speaker.

Online Interaction

If you strike gold with the keyword phrase, visit the webpages the SERP brings up. Save each good results page in your folder. Targeting non-writing blogs with your marketing pays big benefits. If the page looks as if it fits your niche for your book, check to see if there is interaction on the page.

Target the websites and blogs that most interest you and that fit your niche. Read what's going on. When you have a credible comment to make, make it. Sure, mention your book, but don't be obnoxious about it. Be subtle. Hardly any blogger or website owner will scourge you or delete your comment if you've previously been polite and social, and if your comment is of value. The point to remember is that you should be sharing information not screaming buy my book.

Most nonfiction authors are enthusiastic about their subject matter so it's easy to share. In sharing, your enthusiasm comes through, and so does the fact that you know what you're writing about. That is what makes someone seek out the book you have in your signature line.

In Person Interaction

Many people are hesitant to speak in person, but I've always found that my enthusiasm for my subject makes me forget any reticence I may feel. Social groups and clubs are always looking for speakers. Make a list of the groups in your local area. Prepare a Speaker Sheet and mail it to the Program Chair.

A Speaker Sheet is like a mini press kit. I print mine on tri-fold brochure stock. It should have a photo of you, your book cover, very brief bio, contact information, and information on how to buy your books. If you are ebook only, then make sure you give the buy links for all sellers.

When you go to speak, hand out postcards with the book cover on one side, contact info and buy links on the other.

Takeaway Truth

Always remember, your goal as a nonfiction author is to be seen as an expert with something valuable to share. Share is the most important word in that sentence.

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