Top 15 Book Marketing Tactics for Nonfiction Authors on a Budget

Laura Blog [read me!], Book Writing

Wondering what the best Book Marketing Tactics are for Nonfiction Authors on a Budget in 2021? Look no further!

We’ve compiled — and listed clearly below — the 15 best Book Marketing Tactics for Nonfiction Authors on a Budget including a short description, link to learn more, and pricing information (if relevant).

[Affiliate Disclaimer: Some links below are affiliate links that reward us for sending you their way, at no additional cost to you — if you prefer not to click them, just Google the name of the site]. : )

You’re a new nonfiction author on a budget and…

…you’ve written up your manuscript
…you’re going through the final edits and formatting fixes
…you’re moving ahead with a publisher (our doing my favorite plan: self-publishing!)
…everything’s coming together 

Soon you’ll have a book with your name on the front cover!

There’s only one question: How can I make sure that people actually buy and read it?

Yep, you’re ready for book marketing tactics.

Historically, advertising has been very costly and difficult to measure its effectiveness. Billboards? Newspaper ads? Paying for commercial air time on television? 

Hard pass for me, thanks.

Luckily, there are many effective marketing tactics that authors old and new can pursue on a tight budget. Building connections with others who have audiences? Author networks? Global outreach on social media? Book distribution platforms? 

Yes to all and more!

So let’s dive into 15 easy — and affordable — tactics that you can use to build up your readership as a nonfiction author!

#15: Go on A Podcast Book Tour

Traveling across the country on a book tour to promote your book is certainly daunting and expensive (with or without COVID restrictions). Luckily, you no longer need to spend money on gas, hotels, or promotional time slots at bookstores and festivals.

Podcasts are booming, and you can be sure that there’s at least one podcast covering every topic under the sun. 

Business management? Check. 

Personal coaching? Check. 

Self-publishing? Check!

Copywriting? Check! [Okay, this one is biased].

If you’ve never listened to podcasts before, start looking up the most popular shows that relate to your career, experience, and book subject matter. If you already listen to podcasts, you may have some potential interviews already in the making!

Podcasts—especially smaller, more niche podcasts—are often eager to expand their listenership and industry connections. Familiarize yourself with their material, if you think it’s a good fit go ahead see if there’s an email address you can contact. 

When you reach out, don’t just start pitching yourself and your new book. Instead, think about what the podcast host wants. The host wants to bring value to his or her audience (and look like he or she is well-connected to great professionals too). 

What would be valuable to the podcaster’s audience?

Put in some time listening to a few episodes, scanning the topics that have already been covered, reading the podcast’s show description, and engaging with the host on social media. 

Trust me as a podcaster myself since 2016…I get cold pitches all the time and I can sniff out “spray and pray” requests versus requests from real, genuine colleagues who care about what my audience and I would care about.

99% of email pitches to be on my podcast get ignored and deleted. Don’t be like these lazy, entitled folks. Be better. Take the time to personalize and truly connect. It will be more than worth it.

#14: Work with Other Authors

Creating a book you can be proud of is hard work. It requires research, editing, and fact-checking. Make note of any other authors who support you on your journey—especially if you draw on their work or reference them—and make sure to maintain a strong relationship.

If someone is willing to be cited in your book, to help with editing, or to offer advice on the publishing process, it doesn’t hurt to see if they’ll share your book on their own social media or if they’ll offer a blurb to put on your book cover or website.

With a little luck, you can build a reliable network of writers who can support your authorial endeavors, while also getting to promote their work in return. 

You may even see your book cited in future works!

#13: Purchase Amazon Ads

While they’re not as glamorous as tours and collaborations, Amazon Ads are still efficient at reaching a mass audience and can be purchased on a small budget.

With Amazon, you can create ads that target customers who have bought similar products, show your book on the distributor’s homepage, or even appear on Kindle E-readers.

Amazon ads are pay-per-click (or PPC) which means you only pay when shoppers click on the ad shown. You get to allot how much you are willing to pay before ads are no longer shown, starting for as little as $1/day, or $100 per campaign, depending on the format of ads you want to show.

Here’s a terrific free course to get you started so you can sell more books with Amazon Ads.

#12: Use Your Mailing Lists

As a nonfiction author, chances are that you’re already writing about your area of expertise. If you’ve already built an audience through a mailing list, then don’t be afraid to use it!

[Note: If you don’t have a mailing list already, it’s still a great idea to start one.]

With a mailing list, you can offer discounts on your book, on products or courses you offer, or on exclusive bonus materials. Plus, you can cultivate a steady source of reviews to keep your book highly rated on Amazon, GoodReads, and other places you want your book to be discoverable.

#11: Share an Excerpt or Chapter

Give your audience just a taste of what’s in store and they’ll be hungry for more! 

Consider sharing an excerpt or chapter from your book on social media, on your website, or as a freebie to those who join your mailing list.

Choose a section that discusses a problem, scenario, or lesson that will resonate with your target audience. This gives you a useful hook and call to action that will build interest in the rest of the book.

 

#10: Use Hashtags

Hashtags on Twitter and Instagram are useful tools for navigating topics of interest. Some of these might be more obvious (#NewBook #BookLaunch #SelfPublishing) but with a little research you can uncover niche hashtags, slogans, and terms that will draw in attentive users looking for your book.

Hashtags with too many others using them can mean your posts get buried.

Hashtags with too few others using them can mean no one will really be looking.

To find that “just right” range, you’ll need to research, test, and be open to adjustments as you learn.

Learn More: Hashtag analytics 101: Using the best hashtags for your social strategy by Sprout Social

You can also consider creating your own hashtag using a creative spin on your book’s title or subtitle. Make sure that you know your audience—subtle changes in your tags can affect whether readers, authors, or publishers are more likely to see your content.

#9: Blog About It

You’ve already written an entire book, so why not keep your writing going with a blog? 

Blogs let you explore digressions and ideas that you may have had to cut from your manuscript or summarize key points with relevant examples for your audience.

Blogs are great because they keep your writing skills sharp, expand your social media and newsletter content, and give you a platform where you can talk about your book, all at the same time. 

Plus, platforms like WordPress and Squarespace let you start your blog for free! [I use WordPress for this website].

#8: Share Graphics on Instagram

It might seem paradoxical, but sometimes the best way to share your words is with images. Instagram is one of the most successful social media platforms today because of its visual focus.

Sharing excerpts in a text box on your Facebook wall just doesn’t pop like a well-formatted quote on a snappy background. Plus, with Instagram Stories, it’s possible to let users share their favorite quotes and excerpts from your Instagram page.

Looking to design some graphics on your own? You can check out Canva to make stylish social media designs for free!

#7: Create A Fan Page on Facebook

Facebook works best when it brings together like minded communities that share interests. By starting your own page for fans, readers, and other authors to follow, you provide a consistent resource where they can find all of your content, ask questions, and sign up for events, talks, and courses.

It’s important to realize that, while free, a Fan Page can be an investment. You need to make sure you have the time and know-how to moderate the page, make sure people follow your guidelines, and keep everything running smoothly. 

If you have the capacity to run a page, then you’ll have the perfect resource for communicating with your dedicated readers.

Make sure to have someone monitor the inbox.

#6: Go Live

Your readers want to hear from you! Livestreams allow you to discuss your book, read passages, feature guests, and address comments and questions from your audience, all from the comfort of your home or office!

Choose what platform you want to go live on: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch are all popular streaming platforms, and programs like StreamYard let you stream to multiple platforms at once.

Make sure to advertise the date for your live appearance. Send out sign-ups on your social media and newsletter so viewers will remember the event and receive the link to view your appearance!

#5: Feature Your Book in Online Courses

If you’re a coach, trainer, or educator, your book is a convenient collection of course materials for you to draw from. By incorporating lessons, readings, and exercises from your book, you can seamlessly combine reading and discussion, bringing your writing to life in a whole new way.

Chapters based around previous courses can be excerpted for your syllabus, and you can recommend the book as a resource for those who want to learn more. Alternatively, you can produce a whole new course using your book as the syllabus, each lesson advancing chapter-by-chapter.

#4: Promote for Free on Amazon’s KDP Select Program

If you’re choosing to publish via Kindle Direct Publishing, you might want to consider the KDP Select program. This program allows you to promote your book as free every 90 days for up to 5 days straight, giving you lots of exposure and new readers who can leave reviews.

The one downside to KDP Select is that it demands exclusive rights to your book. That means you can’t publish or distribute on other platforms: no Apple Bookstore, no Barnes & Noble, nothing but Amazon.

KDP Select can be a smart move for your first book, it helps you cultivate reviews and get your name out there. But sacrificing distribution for free promotion may not be the best plan if you’re releasing future books with an already established readership.

#3: Cultivate Online Reviews

You may have noticed this come up a few times in previous entries: acquiring positive reviews is an essential part of marketing your book. Not only does it build trust among new readers that your book is worth their time, but it also improves your performance in search engines and platform algorithms.

When producing new marketing material, if your CTA isn’t about purchasing the book, then your next choice should probably be a review request. You can also create automated emails asking confirmed purchasers to leave a review of your book.

#2: Contact Local Bookstores and Libraries

If you are producing physical copies of your book, then you should consider looking at local bookstores and libraries that feature a “local authors” section. 

Having them carry your book not only gets people looking at a physical copy, it also builds cache and recognition in your community.

In addition to carrying your book, you can also see if local bookstores and libraries allow author readings and discussions. This can be a great opportunity to talk about your book with readers and patrons.

#1: Gather a Launch Team

This is a bit more technical, and self-publishing authors just starting out might not have any idea what a launch team is. Your launch team is a group of selected readers who will receive a preview copy of your manuscript before launch, read it, write reviews, and share the news about your new book.

Your launch team can feature anyone from dedicated fans and close friends to mentors and editors. Assembling a team requires clear communication and guidelines: make sure that your team knows that they need to read the book by launch, that they know where they must post honest reviews, and any other social media strategies they will take part in.

The ideal launch team features roughly 20-30 people, and you should be prepared to send emails or use a group communications app for weekly communication.

With these 15 tactics up your sleeve, you’ll be able to develop review and purchase pipelines, as well as network with other creators, to drive attention towards your books.

Not sure where to start? Looking for more resources to help you? Check out my Author Resource List, covering everything from Amazon ads to email marketing, and much more!

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