Finding the Best Way to Sell Your Book: Non-Fiction

Academics, experts, spokespeople, business owners–many of them publish non-fiction books.  To look at these books as one giant group of promotable content packs is to ignore the fact that there is likely a “best way” to sell your book.  There is not a set of “book media” who generically cover anything that is made between paper covers.  And there is no giant pool of people who are awaiting the next “book”.  There is much more to the story.  How the book is structured and what it is about will determine how you sell it.  Some books are idea driven, others are more “how-to” focused.  Some are both.  Do you know which one applies to you?

Selling Ideas

Is it an idea book, a how-to or both?  It is one thing to pitch a mystery novel or a book on weight loss.  It is an entirely different approach if what you want to sell is a new concept or a new spin on something we all know.  Let’s break it down with one of the more difficult “idea” categories using some of my favorite tools from economics class.

Faux Title Study I: Selling The How-to Book

Dominating the Widget Market for Investors”

Let’s say you are publicizing a book about investing in the widget market.  Your book describes the market, it’s history, sample strategies, tips, potential outcomes, etc.  It is a prescriptive book that can help people make money from widgets, and in general help them learn more about the stock market.

You would likely employ a strategy that included:

  • a “top ten strategies/tips” list
  • soliciting radio interviews
  • pitching long lead magazines and soft financial publications for the average investor,
  • trying to get on a morning TV show or other talk show that features self-improvement topics
  • outreach to digital networks about making money in the market

With this book you have a clear direction and advice you can impart.  You are also directing your message to digital and traditional communities that want to know how to improve their financial situations. Now let’s look at the other side of the coin.

Faux Title Study 2: Selling The Big Idea Book

“Dominating the Widget Market in a Changing World”

This book is similar to the first in that the author talks about the market and history of the widget industry.  He will also probably share some case studies of investors both successful and unsuccessful as a way of illustrating the changes.  Theories of the future of widgets and why things are or are not improving will be in the book.  The conclusion may be more gray than black/white and the author will present a picture of what things are going to look like.  He may also suggest ways we might adjust to allow for a more (or less) volatile environment.

What Makes These Books Different?

I’m sure you are getting where I am going with this.  Title 1 is a clearer “how-to” offering whereas Title 2 is based on a hypothesis and theory based on research and/or data.  There may be some takeaways that suggest what to do, but they will be implied rather than listed as “tips”.

Clearly these are simplistic examples, but I run into this all the time.  The thing is, we almost always want to try to promote the theory the same way we would promote the prescriptive, and it just doesn’t work.  First of all, authors who are writing about theory usually have a combination of academic and applied credentials.  They generally don’t want to give people “advice”.  The kind of interview where “tips” are the goal is often awkward for this kind of person.

The other author loves giving workshops and presentations about how to do things better. For her topic, how we got here isn’t as important as what we are going to do about it.

It is challenging to make these distinctions, but it is important.  If you do, you will be much more focused.  You will see your path to selling your ideas and achieving your goals.

What Does it Cost to Hire a Publicist or Digital Marketing Consultant?


If you are an individual or a small business, the question of what does it cost to hire a publicist or digital marketing consultant is an important one.  If you are just looking for an intern to post for you on Facebook and Instagram and you aren’t in need of a professional strategist, plan, campaign, etc., then this may be more than you need.  If you are investing in your business, career, product launch, or all of the above, then read on.

Several years ago I wrote a blog about hiring a publicist and it continues to generate traffic and interest.  Although the goals of these jobs are the same, the tools we use and the way we go about getting the job done has changed.  Instead of becoming less demanding as a result of a shrinking traditional media landscape, our jobs have grown.  In order to be successful we have to grow communities, sell to target audiences, conduct events virtually and in person, and get press attention every time we hit a goal.   The cost to hire a publicist or marketing consultant is going to be based on the level of experience of the person/team and the amount of time your project is going to take.  The more experience, skills, and services you want, the larger the budget.

What Does it Cost to Hire a Digital Marketing Consultant

I specialize in individualized brands, which include authors, experts, academics, thought leaders, and specialists of any kind.  Most of these people develop their images on social media in order to gain the credibility they need to sell something or be featured in the mainstream media.  The best way to do this these days is through social media.  There are so many firms out there offering social media services it is very difficult to know what to pay or what you should get.  Here are a few services to look at when you are deciding who to hire:

Plan and Strategy: Whether you are already on social media and are not getting the results you want, or you are completely new to this world, a strategy and plan are important.  A lot of people will worry about posting more and creating cool content without understanding how much their efforts are achieving.  You need to know that in order to make a difference and accomplish your goals.  Firms that offer these services should be spending at least four to six weeks working on your plan and strategy and additional time teaching you how to implement it.  The cost: $10,000 – 20,000.

Monthly Content Development and Posting:  This job requires a range of things from writing blogs to designing graphics and composing posts on multiple platforms.  It will require materials from you including photos, boilerplate copy for your business, and any slogans you use.  Video content can come from you directly in the form of single, in-person commentary, or be developed further by your marketing team.  This may also include running ads.  Posting will include a content calendar, scheduling, and analysis.  The range of costs: $600/month for a single campaign on one platform – $2,500+/month on multiple platforms.  The cost is dependent on the number of platforms and the amount of content that needs to be produced and scheduled.

What Does it Cost to Hire a Publicist?

I’m sure if you are Lady Gaga you are spending many thousands a month to have a PR team run your brand.  At that level you have someone listening and monitoring your brand on social media, planning, posting, blocking press and news stories, granting interviews, and more.

For our purposes, we are going to stick with a more general level of service and cost.  Again, there are many service options and people who offer them.  I differentiate them in a couple of ways “plug n’ play” and “customized campaigns”.

“Plug n’ Play”: These services are usually very reasonable, but they are limited.  If you are looking for someone to accomplish a part of the job for you, like offering a list of media contacts or pitching a set number of outlets, this would work for you.  The costs: For a limited campaign or service: $hundreds to purchase lists; $5000+ to be pitched to a specific list of contacts and scheduled for reviews or interviews over a short period of time (6 – 14 weeks).

Customized Campaigns: A campaign like this could involve regional and national media, bloggers, influencer targetting, event planning, national media, and speaking engagements.  Depending on whoever else is on your team it could also involve social media and brand management and marketing.  If you are looking for long term public relations for yourself and your brand the costs are usually set monthly for a contracted period.  If you are planning a single product launch or book launch then the campaign is usually set up as a “project” and charged accordingly.  The costs: $3,500 – 5,000/month for a retainer/contract, $20,000+/project.

Whether you are looking to grow your brand, business, or product, it is important to have a plan and a way to execute it.  Hiring an expert is an investment.  Being informed about the services and costs will help you determine what you will pay to have done and what you will do on your own.

Publicity 101: The Importance of Tracking Your Pitching

While tracking the outlets you’ve pitched in hopes of procuring reviews, features or interviews for you and your book isn’t the most exciting process there ever was, it sure is important.

Why, you ask? Firstly, it saves valuable time and money. Arguably just as important, tracking the outlets, contact names, contact emails, phone numbers, addresses, contact positions and outcomes will not only keep you organized, but also stop you from pitching the same people twice. No one enjoys getting the same copy and pasted message more than once.

Your personal running record of contact information acts as a good reference sheet for future pitches as well. For example, we’re currently launching a media campaign for the third installment of Chris Babu’s Initiation series (more on that to come—stay tuned!). Having worked on the second book, The Expedition, and documenting every pitched outlet while noting those who ran our pieces in the past gives us a better idea of who we should re-pitch for the new book.

In other words, because of our record-keeping, we know who is more likely to say yes, who only offers paid reviews, who only works with local authors, and so on. You’ve already spent countless hours on outlet research. Why start over for every pitch? Tracking your work is also crucial for determining when to follow up. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly check-in via email or phone to yield a response.

Now that we’ve covered why it’s essential to track your pitching, you may be wondering how exactly you should track. Lucky for you, there are plenty of tracker templates and organizers out there that make it easy for you to input key information. Even an Excel spreadsheet does the trick. Below you can find a sample format:

Want more information on how to curate the perfect media list? Check out our five-step process.

Book Giveaways!

We are now doing book giveaways through Rafflecopter!

This post will be updated with ongoing Rafflecopter book giveaways.

Check periodically for the latest book that we are giving away to lucky readers!

Read more about the books and authors we work with on our campaigns page.

We are currently giving away a copy of Neal Rabin’s adventurous novel (perfect for summer reading) 23 DEGREES SOUTH: A Tropical Tale of Changing Whether… ending on May 16th, 2018 at 12:00AM EST. The winner will be contacted by email, so make sure to check your inbox in case it was you!

“Enjoy with your favorite cocktail!…23 DEGREES SOUTH will capture all readers with its story of two young friends on different paths who intersect within an action packed story.”
– Chanticleer Reviews, 5/5 Stars

“McKinney, a veteran book publicist, has produced a clear, basic road map to publicizing a book. .” – Publishers Weekly
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does?

Do You Know What a Book Publicist DoesDO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES?
A Guide for Creating Your Own Campaigns
By Claire McKinney

For more information on the book visit our Plum Bay Publishing page or on Amazon.

Book publishing is an ever-changing industry—between technological advancements, the emergence of self-publishing, and the rise of social media, how can an author distinguish their book from the competition? Whether traditional or self-published, authors can be left in the dark when it comes to promoting and marketing their books.

Book publicity expert Claire McKinney has found that the lack of information on how book promotion works has left most authors without a clear idea of how they can contribute to their campaigns. Her new book DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES? A Guide for Creating Your Own Campaigns, stems from over twenty years of experience in the field.

In her book, McKinney exposes the depth of extensive campaigning necessary for successful promotion. From this, authors can begin to understand the everyday workings of their in-house publicist—and for indie authors, how they can improve their own promotional efforts.

Book promotion can be rife with opportunities to make or break an author’s career, and McKinney examines these pitfalls. Showing writers how to brand themselves and identify their professional goals to properly prepare their books for success, McKinney also dives deep into important topics such as creating a personal image, writing press kits, and the importance of building momentum through media with unique insight that could only be provided by a seasoned industry professional.

Combining professional advice with charts and case studies, authors will see the inner workings of book publicity at every angle from initial idea generation to event planning.

In DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES? authors will learn:

• How to promote their book to the media
• How to create their own media contact list
• How to write press release materials and how to use them
• How to create a timeline and plan a campaign on their own
• How to pitch, who to pitch, and when
• How to talk to their publisher about publicity

With McKinney’s clear voice, readers will be equipped with the tools they need to create a campaign from scratch, and have fun in the process. DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES? serves as a comprehensive step-by-step guide that every author should have in their arsenal.

About the Author
Claire McKinney is twenty-year veteran of the publishing industry. She has worked for major publishers, including Little, Brown and Company, Putnam, and Disney Publishing Claire has appeared on CSPAN and on the Today Show as an expert on self-publishing. She travels regularly to speak to authors and audiences about book promotion, publishing, and social media marketing. Visit her at www.clairemckinneypr.com.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES?
A Guide for Creating Your Own Campaigns
Claire McKinney
Plum Bay Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: June 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9988617-0-8
Paperback
Price $11.99
146 pp

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