Monday, April 15, 2013

Seven Tips I've Learned from Non-fiction (and Why EVERY Fiction Author Should Use Them)

I've been a successful nonfiction author for nearly three years. In that time, I've released two niche books, and have two bigger books coming this year (The Girl Guide (May 2013) and Quiet Kids (Oct 2013) ). I've very proud of the work I've done in nonfiction, and even more pleased with the things I have learned along the way and how much those things impact me as a fiction author.

So, what were the things I learned? 

First, nothing replaces writing a good book! NOTHING. As new writers we spend a lot of time fretting about our platforms and marketing. Sometimes we allow this fretting to get in the way of writing – bad idea. This entire journey starts, and continues, with a good book.

That said, a good book isn’t enough to get it in the hands of readers these days. This means that we have to promote our work. Period. And that is where the lessons I learned in publishing my nonfiction books can really help all writers:

  1. Know Your Market.
Before you design a promotional campaign of any form, it is important to have a clear understanding of your primary and secondary markets. With nonfiction, most authors figured this out when they wrote the “marketing” section of their proposals. Fiction authors should go through this process too. Ask yourself who the book is for – teens, children, adults? Who is the secondary market for the book? With Emotional Intensity, the primary market is parents and educators. Psychologists and other personnel involved in gifted education for a secondary market.

  1. Know Your Comfort Zone.
As with all forms of social networking and marketing, it is important to know your own personal strengths and weaknesses. Are you comfortable speaking in person to a large group, or is Skyping or chatting more your thing? Do you like to cold call potential hosts for tours, or does the thought of that give you hives? Knowing your comfort zone is important. Don’t spent a lot of time doing things you hate  – you will only make yourself crazy. Instead, spend your time promoting in ways that you are comfortable with. In today’s market, you are really only limited in terms of promotion by your own comfort level. So, get to know what works best for you and your book. Then repeat it over and over again.

  1. Set Clear Goals for Promotion.
I have a background in marketing in sales (before my days as a psychologist), so the first thing I did was set clear monthly goals for promotion. I planned one major event – blog tour, book signing, speaking engagement – monthly. I’ve really tried to space out the events to keep the message from getting muddled and maintain a regularly presence. I have maintained these goals for both books

  1. Blog Tours and Book Tours.
These are both fabulous ways to connect with readers. The important thing to remember – planning. With blog tours, ask people in your particular niche to host a leg. If you are targeting teens, for example, try to have a blog that is frequented by teens host a leg of the tour. The same is true with book tours – market to both chain and independent booksellers. Do your homework; know which stores are well connected with your niche. A couple of other things to keep in mind:
·         Start early – proper planning of events is really a key.
·         Know the expectations of the host. Ask questions about how they envision your visit, or what they see as their role in the blog tour.
·         Stay organized – use spreadsheets and other organization tools to keep track of the places you pitched too, the hosts of your tour, and any giveaways.
·         Send reminders to participants. We are all busy and it is easy to forget things. Take on that burden and don’t be alarmed when things get forgotten. Just be prepared.
·         Remember to follow-up with a thank you. There is no substitution for good manners! Personal thank you notes go a long way to letting your hosts know how much you appreciated working with them

  1. Other Venues to Connect with Readers.
I love doing Author chats. In fact, my author chats are really the reason I have sold as well as I have. In addition to in-person events, I am involved in webinars and events on SecondLife. These are amazing ways to connect with readers and enable you to “go global”. I cannot tell you how excited I am to host a global bookchat in a few weeks.

Be willing to get creative and look for new ways to connect your message to your market. For my newest book, 101 Success Secrets, I have created all new reader-experiences to bring to my book chats. I can’t wait to see how they work out.

  1. Using Social Networking sites.
Promoting your message is about creating buzz. In this day and age, it is easier than ever to create buzz on a large scale. But, how do you separate yourself from all the noise out there? That’s easy. Be creative. Do something unique and different – and then make sure EVERYONE knows about it. For my niche, the message itself is unique to the market. So my job was getting it to the right people. Utilizing niche-specific social networking venues (#gtchat on twitter, participating in gifted groups on facebook), I have been able to bring awareness to my message, and my books, directly to those most likely to read it.

This same process applies to fiction – if you are a YA writer, for example, utilize creative sites that teens frequent, and find tie-ins for your specific project. Connect with your readers – that is the key.

  1. You Are Only As Good As Your Last Book.
Finally, people have short attention spans. This means the message you have is easily replaced by the next greatest thing out there. To keep your sales up and your message heard, it is important to keep writing. Produce new content – either on a blog, or in a newsletter. Respond in fresh ways to the questions readers have. And write new books. This is how you cultivate a writing career – fresh content of the highest quality.

In fiction, this really means KEEP WRITING. If you want a career as an author, it is important to continually hone your skills and continue writing.

Whether you are traditionally published, with a small press or going Indie, you will be doing some promotion for you book. Hopefully the little things I have learned with my nonfiction can help you in your endeavors!


  1. Non fiction is still writing. Both sides of the table can learn something new.

  2. I do think it's important to do all that but none of it guarantees sales. So, I think that stuff is worth once you see an interest in your book and realize it has potential in the market. Some books demand readers, others don't. Don't ask me why. I've read some fantastic books that are well written that aren't doing as well as they should.

    B/c it doesn't make sense to exhaust yourself marketing a book that's not picking up traction. And I think those are things that authors can see.

  3. Good non-fiction is a wonderful read. I love it and I usually have one going while I read the fiction I also enjoy.

    Having a chance to really "talk" to readers is wonderful, and I know you're right about the impact it has. People like to connect with writers on a personal level.

    Great post.