5 Marketing Myths Every First-Time Nonfiction Author Must Bust

book marketing May 30, 2024

So, you’ve finally done it. After countless late nights, bottomless cups of coffee, and what feels like a lifetime of writer’s block, your nonfiction book is out in the world. Give yourself a pat on the back and maybe a well-deserved nap. 

But wait, before you kick back and relax, there’s one more mountain to climb: marketing your book. 

For many first-time authors, this part can feel like navigating a maze blindfolded. You’ve heard the rumors, the myths, and the downright bizarre advice. 

Let’s cut through the confusion and debunk some common misconceptions about marketing your nonfiction book.

I’ll help you clear up five of the biggest ones with a dose of humor to keep things light.

Misconception #1: “If You Write It, They Will Come”

The Myth: Just because you’ve written a brilliant book, readers will magically find it and buy it in droves.

The Truth: Sorry to burst your bubble, but it doesn’t quite work that way unless your name is J.K. Rowling. The “Field of Dreams” approach to book marketing — where you believe readers will find your book purely because it exists — is a fantasy. You must actively promote your book to get it in front of potential readers.

Example: Take Tim Ferriss, author of “The 4-Hour Workweek.” He didn’t just rely on his book’s genius to attract readers. He leveraged his blog, social media, and network to build a massive audience before the book even hit the shelves. He also did countless interviews and podcasts to keep the buzz going.

Misconception #2: “Social Media is the Only Tool You Need”

The Myth: All you need is a FaceBook account and an Instagram profile, and your book will sell like hotcakes.

The Truth: While social media is a powerful tool, relying on it exclusively is like trying to eat soup with a fork — inefficient and messy. Effective book marketing requires a multi-faceted approach. Social media should be just one part of your overall strategy.

Example: Brené Brown, author of “Daring Greatly,” uses social media masterfully, but she also writes articles, gives TED Talks, and hosts podcasts. She understands that while social media can amplify her message, it’s the combination of various platforms that truly expands her reach.

Misconception #3: “A Big Launch is Everything”

The Myth: Your book’s launch day is the be-all and end-all. If it doesn’t become a bestseller immediately, it’s a failure.

The Truth: Yes, launch day is important, but it’s just the beginning of your book’s life. Books can have a long tail, meaning they can continue to sell well long after the initial release. Focus on long-term strategies rather than just a big splash at the start.

Example: “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg didn’t become a bestseller overnight. Instead, its sales grew steadily, thanks to ongoing media appearances, speaking engagements, and word-of-mouth recommendations. Duhigg’s persistence paid off, proving that consistent effort can yield impressive results.

Misconception #4: “Good Books Don’t Need Marketing”

The Myth: Quality alone will sell your book. If your book is good enough, it will sell itself.

The Truth: Even the best books need a push. Without marketing, your masterpiece will likely remain undiscovered. Marketing is not about tricking people into buying a bad book; it’s about helping people find a good one.

Example: “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari is widely praised for its quality, but it didn’t achieve global success by accident. Harari and his team put in significant marketing efforts, including media appearances and partnerships, together with a course. The book’s quality helped to retain readers, but marketing helped to find them.

Misconception #5: “Marketing is Expensive and Only for Big Publishers”

The Myth: Marketing requires a huge budget and is something only big publishers can afford to do effectively.

The Truth: Effective marketing doesn’t have to break the bank. With creativity and resourcefulness, it’s possible to market your book on a shoestring budget. Many tools and strategies are low-cost or even free.

Example: Amanda Hocking, an indie author, made headlines by selling over a million copies of her self-published books. She utilized inexpensive marketing tactics like engaging with readers on her blog, using social media, and offering promotions. Her success story proves that with the right approach, you don’t need a big budget to achieve big results.

Getting Practical with Marketing

Now that we’ve busted these myths, what should your marketing strategy look like? Here are some practical tips:

Build an Author Platform: Start a blog, create an email newsletter, and establish a presence on social media. Engage with your audience regularly.

Leverage Your Network: Don’t be shy about asking friends, family, and colleagues to help spread the word. Word-of-mouth is powerful.

Use Content Marketing: Write articles, create videos, or start a podcast related to your book’s topic. Offer valuable content to attract potential readers.

Engage with the Media: Reach out to bloggers, podcasters, and journalists who cover your book’s genre. Offer review copies and pitch story ideas.

Host Events: Book signings, webinars, and virtual book tours can help you connect with readers and create buzz.

Offer Promotions: Discounts, limited-time offers, and giveaways can attract new readers and encourage word-of-mouth promotion.

Remember, marketing is not a one-time task but an ongoing process. Stay persistent, keep learning, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different strategies. Your book deserves to be read, and with the right targeted marketing approach, it will find its audience.

Happy marketing, and may your nonfiction masterpiece reach the readers who need it most!