8 Steps to Fail Forward to Boost Your Book Marketing Success

book marketing Jun 27, 2024

In Seth Godin’s book The Icarus Deception, he talks about “failing forward.” This means that even when you fail, you move forward by learning from your mistakes. Instead of fearing failure, you use it as a stepping stone to success. 

Marketing a nonfiction book can be tough. There will be setbacks and mistakes. But if you adopt the “failing forward” mindset, these challenges become opportunities to grow and improve. 

Here are eight steps you can take to put this concept to work to boost your book marketing success:

Step 1: Understand Your Audience

To market your book effectively, you need to know who your readers are. Ask yourself:

  • Who would benefit from my book?
  • What problems does my book solve for them?
  • Where do they hang out online?

Start by creating a reader profile. This is a detailed description of your ideal reader. Knowing your audience helps you tailor your marketing efforts to their interests and needs.

Example: If your book is about healthy eating for teenagers, your audience might be parents, health-conscious teens, and educators.

Step 2: Test Your Marketing Strategies

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different marketing strategies. Try out various methods like social media ads, email newsletters, or book giveaways. Track which strategies work best and which don’t.

Failing Forward Tip: If a strategy doesn’t work, don’t see it as a failure. Instead, analyze what went wrong and adjust your approach. Maybe the social media platform you chose isn’t where your audience spends their time. Try another platform or change your content style.

Example: Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, tested different types of social media posts. She found that short, visual tips worked better than long text posts.

Step 3: Build a Strong Online Presence

Your online presence is crucial for book marketing. This includes your website, social media profiles, and email list. Keep your website updated with blog posts, book excerpts, and author information.

Failing Forward Tip: If your blog posts aren’t getting much traffic, look at the topics and keywords you’re using. Try writing about current trends related to your book’s topic. Use tools like Google Trends to find popular search terms.

Example: James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, shares insights about habits and productivity on his blog. His consistent and valuable content attracts a steady stream of readers.

Step 4: Network with Other Authors and Influencers

Connecting with other authors and influencers in your genre can help spread the word about your book. Attend conferences, join online groups, and participate in webinars.

Failing Forward Tip: Don't get discouraged if a networking attempt doesn’t result in immediate sales. Focus on building genuine relationships. Sometimes, the benefits of networking take time to show.

Example: Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, collaborated with other wellness influencers to expand her reach. These partnerships helped her connect with a larger audience.

Step 5: Engage with Your Readers

Interact with your readers regularly. Respond to comments on social media, answer questions on your blog, and hold live Q&A sessions. This makes your readers feel valued and more connected to you.

Failing Forward Tip: Don't be disheartened if you try a Q&A session and only a few people show up. Use the feedback to choose a better time or promote the event more effectively next time.

Example: Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fck*, engages with his readers through social media and email newsletters, building a loyal community.

Step 6: Use Reviews and Testimonials

Positive reviews and testimonials can greatly boost your book’s credibility. Encourage your readers to leave reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other platforms.

Failing Forward Tip: If you get a negative review, learn from it. Look for constructive criticism that can help you improve your next book or your marketing approach.

Example: Brené Brown, author of Braving the Wilderness, embraces positive and negative feedback. She uses reviews to refine her messaging and connect more deeply with her audience.

Step 7: Offer Free Content

Give away free content related to your book. This could be a sample chapter, a free eBook, or an exclusive article. Free content can attract potential readers and turn them into loyal fans.

Failing Forward Tip: Try different formats or topics if your free content isn’t attracting attention. Pay attention to what your audience responds to and adjust accordingly.

Example: Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup, offers free resources and guides on his website. This helps him build trust and attract a dedicated readership.

Step 8: Learn from Analytics

Use tools like Google Analytics to track your website traffic and see which marketing efforts are working. Pay attention to metrics like page views, time spent on the site, and conversion rates.

Failing Forward Tip: If the data shows that certain pages aren’t performing well, tweak them. Experiment with different headlines, images, or calls to action to see what resonates with your audience.

Example: Tim Grahl, author of Your First 1000 Copies, regularly analyzes his website traffic and email open rates to refine his marketing strategies.

Embrace the Journey

Marketing a nonfiction book is a journey full of learning experiences. By adopting the “failing forward” mindset, you turn each setback into an opportunity for growth. Remember, every successful author has faced challenges along the way. Use these steps and examples to guide your marketing efforts, and don’t be afraid to fail forward. Your next big success could be just around the corner.