4 Essential Tips for Marketing Nonfiction Books

January 31, 2023 5 min read


By Rose Atkinson-Carter


Written a nonfiction book? Let’s talk about how you’re going to market it to your target audience so that it comes to their attention, clearly shows what it’s going to help them accomplish, and finally persuades them to pick up a copy.

Bear in mind that I’m not considering academic texts,memoirs, and reference books for this post. They demand a different approach in terms of how they’re marketed. Let’s get cracking!

1. Ensure your book cover looks professional and trustworthy

The human mind processes pictures faster than words, and since it’s the first thing people see when they come across your work, thebook cover design can either make or break that vital first impression.

As it turns out, peopledo ‘judge books by their covers’ after all—which is exactly why you need to ensure you have a good one ahead of your release.

An eye-catching, well-designed book cover is not only a way to grab the attention of your audience and get your nonfiction book noticed, but also a powerful marketing tool in itself, as it does a lot of the talking for you. 

A good cover uses design to convey genre and topic to capture your intended audience, as readers often gravitate towards familiar visual cues. Therefore, having a cover that aligns with the conventions in your genre and looks credible will help the right readers and reviewers notice and connect with your book.

If, on the other hand, your nonfiction title about the fall of the Roman Empire ends up in the hands of a reader or reviewer that specializes in romance fiction, you risk not getting the feedback and exposure you want—which can be detrimental to your marketing efforts. 

Moreover, paying attention to the overall quality of your cover will help buildyour author brand and credibility, which is key in the world of nonfiction.

A professionally designed book cover increases your overall chances of attracting readers because it indicates that what’s on the inside is of the same quality as what’s on the outside.

Do a shoddy job with the cover and readers might suspect the same is true for your research or reliability. 

2. Make it clear what problem your book is solving

Nonfiction books generally help solve a problem. This could include ‘how to be more productive,’ ‘how to have a successful side-hustle,’ or even a ‘guide to backyard gardening.’

Knowing the problem your book addresses will make it much easier to marketyou’re essentially telling your readers why they should buy it! If you market your book with a clear positioning (a target reader and their unique problem), you’re saying you wrote it with them in mind.

This makes them feel seen and understood, increasing the likelihood that they will give your book a shot.

It is also very possible (and highly likely) that there are other books out there that are trying to solve the same problem. This is where having a unique positioning will help your book stand out.

Don’t just help people increase productivity, helpstudents increase productivity, don’t just tell people that you’ll teach them mindfulness in general, but that you have narrowed it down to 5 essential steps.

While narrowing down on your niche as far as possible may seem counterintuitive,  focusing on one type of reader and displaying your unique method of solving their problem will help explain what your book does differently and why readers should invest in it. 

3. Emphasize your relevant credentials or qualifications

Another question you should ask yourself before youstart marketing your book is “Why should people take your advice?”While this may sound harsh, you need to be prepared to give people a reason to listen to you.

Nonfiction books are mostly written by authoritative figures on the subject, as their authority almost serves as a social license to voice their opinions.

This credibility could be as a result of having attained a certain celebrity status, such as Gordon Ramsay’s cookbook,Quick and Delicious,or the outcome of being extremely qualified in your subject matter, as with Instagrammer biochemist Jessie Inchauspé’s book on balancing blood sugar,Glucose Revolution. 

Needless to say, it helps if you’ve solvedfor yourself whatever problem your book is solving! If you don’t have any relevant credentials yet, you can always use your personal experiences to show that you know what you’re talking about.

For instance, Tommy Tomlinson’s book on weight loss,The Elephant in the Room, earned a lot of credibility owing to the fact that he’d gone through a drastic weight loss journey himself. If he could successfully lose the weight, the logic goes, he might just know a thing or two about the matter.

At the end of the day, people want a solution to their problem. Therefore, showing that you’re sufficiently qualified to solve it gives them a reason to trust you and listen to you. 

4. Make yourself visible in the digital space for your topic 

Promoting your book is all about visibility. This is where building a loyal fanbase and having an ‘online presence’ can be a game-changer.

While this may be overwhelming, you can simply start off by picking a social media platform and regularly posting content on it. This could be Instagram, TikTok or even Twitter (wherever your target audience is) — but should at the very least include anauthor website.

Having a digital presence makes it easier for people to find your book and keep track of your future releases. It also builds credibility and shows that you’re knowledgeable about your subject matter.

This is especially important if you’re going down the self-publishing route since your book hasn’t received a stamp of approval from aliterary agent or major publisher.

You can constantly plug your book into all your content pieces, and also put the sales link on your Instagram bio or as a pinned tweet on Twitter.

For example, Nicole LePera (@the.holistic.psychologist on Instagram) has a massive following and regularly posts psychology-related content. People often find her content first and then consequently discover that she has written books too.

So, every time her reel or content piece goes viral, it attracts attention to her book. In this way, your books and your content can feed off each other, making it a win-win situation.

Alternatively, you could also write pieces for magazines that cover your domain of expertise (e.g.Ellefor fashion), and establish yourself as a respected voice in the industry. 

I hope that the above tips will help you start marketing your non-fiction book (and yourself). Remember, it’s a long-term game so don’t be discouraged if your book sales don’t instantly skyrocket. Just stay the course, keep doing the right things, and most importantly — keep writing!

Rose Atkinson-Carter is a writer with Reedsy, where she helps advise authors on all things publishing, from ISBNs andquery letters to copyright and literary agents. She’s previously written forFirst Editing,Chris the Story Reading Ape,The Darling Axe, and more. She lives in London.

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