Nonfiction Proposals: Marketing Plan


I hope you’re ready, because today we look at the most fun part of your nonfiction proposal — getting your book into readers’ hands. It’s time to talk marketing and promotional plans. (Novelists, you might want to follow along too, as all of us are expected to help promote our books these days.)

If you’ve been following along with this series, you’ve already started your marketing plan. When you wrote your Market Overview, you identified who your readers are and described them down to the last detail.

Now we build on that deep knowledge of who your reader is, by asking, “How will those readers find out about your book?” For example, if your book appeals to parents of children with autism, how do these parents learn about new books? Brainstorm and make a list. Don’t cross anything off as too wild or silly.

Here are some ideas I came up with. Your readers might:

  • Follow autism parenting blogs like Autism and Oughtism.
  • Read newsletters from groups like Autism Speaks.
  • Attend the Autism Society National Conference.
  • Engage with Facebook groups targeted to parents of kids on the spectrum.

Once you’ve identified where your readers hang out, brainstorm how to get news of your book to those blogs, newsletters, magazines, etc.

  • Autism parenting blogs (See if blogger would be willing to host a book giveaway.)
  • Newsletters from groups like Autism Speaks. (Write and send a press release to the editor of autism-related newsletters and magazines.)
  • Autism Society National Conference. (Pay for a booth at the national conference and/or see if you can book a speaking engagement at the conference.)
  • Facebook groups targeted to parents of kids on the spectrum. (Join those Facebook groups. Be part of the conversation. DO NOT SPAM the group with constant self-promotion, just be helpful and share your knowledge.)

When you can, attach some numbers to these strategies. For example, how many people attend the Autism Society National Conference? How many people are members of Autism speaks (and get the newsletter)? It’s helpful for a publisher to know how many people might hear your message through your marketing efforts. And it will help you evaluate your marketing options, making sure you get the best bang for the buck (or your time).

Don’t forget to include your online marketing strategy in your plan too.

  • Web sites: You should have an author Web site so readers (and media outlets and conference organizers) can find you. Jane Friedman has an excellent post called What Belongs on Your Author Website Homepage. (She also posts a lot of great marketing content.)
  • Social media: Pick one or two social media platforms that your readers use (and you feel comfortable with), and learn how to use them. The rule of thumb is to rotate among three types of posts: something personal, something promotional, and something interactive that gets your followers talking and offering their opinions. Even for promotional posts, do not beg people to buy your book outright. Post a cover reveal. Tweet about an upcoming book signing. Keep it subtle. Dana Kaye has a great section on this topic in her book, Your Book, Your Brand, which is required reading in my opinion.

The sky’s really the limit when it comes to marketing, but remember, this is about selling books. Focus on the marketing strategies with the biggest possible payoffs for your limited time and budget. Write up your list, and voila, you can check off the box for this part of your nonfiction proposal.


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