Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How to Sell a Self-published, Non-fiction Book

Brooke McGlothlin is a mom of two young boys who leave her desperate for grace, knowing that if God doesn't show up, nothing happens. She's the author of the best-selling e-book Warrior Prayers: Praying the Word for Boys In the Areas They Need It Most, and creator of the 21 Days of Prayer for Sons challenge. In 2010, she co-founded the well-loved online community for mothers of boys, the MOB Society. Brooke makes her home in the mountains of Southwest Virginia with her husband—the man she's had a crush on since the 3rd grade—and spends her days writing, homeschooling their two sons, and playing with their sweet Labrador Retriever, Toby. She enjoys playing hard with her boys, searching for beauty through photography, and leading women to say "yes" to God at her personal blog, Surprised by Life. Follow her on Twitter as @BrookeWrites.

In February of 2011 I took a leap of faith and wrote my first self-published book. I made a deal with God over it that basically went like this:
"Hey God...I don't know if anyone cares about this subject, but I care about it deeply. So I'm going to write about it in a book. If You don't want me spending my time with this anymore, let it fail. And when I say fail, I mean let it splat. Show me no one cares and I'll let it go. But if this is something You do want me to pursue, well, let a few hundred people buy it. Give me something to go on here Lord. Show me the way and I'll walk in it."
Since the day I prayed that obviously full of faith prayer (ahem), I've sold around 18,000 copies of two self-published books.How in the world did I go from nothing to 18,000? Work. And a lot of it. In today's world, anyone can write a book and sell a few copies. But if you want to write a book that makes money, gets the attention of publishers, or (if you're like me) you want to change the world with your message, it's going to require a ton of work (and a lot of prayer).
Things like...

Build your platform first

Confession? Sometimes I get tired of hearing about building my platform. I wish we still lived in the time when an author's following didn't matter as much as the worth of her words. But we just don't. If developing a well-established platform BEFORE releasing a book is important for the traditionally published author, it's even more so for the self-published author. I started out with a very small platform and worked hard to grow it a little every day. Here are a few things to try as you're building yours:

  1. Write a monthly or weekly blog feature on the topic of your book to get your tribe engaged in the concept and wanting more. I started a monthly Warrior Prayers column on the site I co-own for mothers of boys, the MOB Society, that was well-received. The faithful followers of that column grew steadily leading me to believe I might be on to something. Blog bonus tip? Make your posts pinnable. Better yet, create a whole group of images and ask your tribe to share them.

Where God Meets You in Your Mess

2. Create a Facebook page for your content. I started the Warrior Prayers Facebook page and consistently worked my tail off to serve its fans and give them tools to keep them praying for their sons. Today, I have a thriving community of praying boy moms 8,000+ strong. I always encourage writers to try their hand at one social media outlet at a time. Once you've mastered one, move on to another. Amy Porterfield has amazing information on developing a dynamic Facebook presence.

  3. Serve your readers. Find out what blesses them and then do it . . . a lot. My Warrior Prayers readers love my free monthly printable prayer calendar and weekday Facebook Warrior Prayers for the day. If the calendar is day or two late they start asking for it. Why? Because mamas long for tools to help them get in the battle for the hearts of their sons. Giving away content for free is a way you can serve their needs AND keep your product at the forefront of their minds.

Pay careful attention to your design

Where God Meets You In Your Mess
Be sure your cover designs are beautiful, eye-catching, and don't scream SELF-PUBLISHED BOOK! I can't stress the importance of your design highly enough. Unless you're a highly skilled graphic designer (and let's face it, most of us writer types aren't), you need to hire someone to do it for you. My most recent project, an expanded version of Hope for the Weary Mom (launching today, by the way!) was produced by MASVMedia. Mike Thacker did a fabulous job of working until the cover was just right.

Focus your marketing efforts on a target niche

(Note: Do you know what your niche is? Who will read your book? If you don't know, stop writing and figure it out. It's that important).

  1. Soon after I published my first eBook, a friend of mine offered to have his network of 10 influencers (who reach a group of diverse people over 1 million strong) tweet about it. I was thrilled, and sold several books as a result of this favor. But I quickly found that asking for reviews, and even paying to advertise on sites that already reach the audience I was targeting, was more effective.

  2. A few months ago, my Hope for the Weary Mom co-author and I developed a launch team 50 women strong to help us get the word out. They prayed us through the writing of the book, encouraged us to stay the course, helped us put together an amazing launch day giveaway package, and will provide an honest review of the book on their blogs over the next week. They're excited about helping because they represent the very population we're trying to reach. The book has blessed them, and they're ready to share it.

  3. Develop a newsletter. Put a MailChimp sign-up form on your sales page and offer people a free resource based on your book in return. Anytime you speak or write offer like-minded people the opportunity to sign up. Our Hope for the Weary Mom subscribers were the first people we asked to be a part of our launch team, and they showed up for us. We sincerely love them, and try to treat them that way. Michael Hyatt has a great article on developing a newsletter following.

Create a way for people to use your book

In order to encourage buyers to actually read my books and not shelve them forever, I've created ways my readers can actually use them…the 21 Days of Prayer for Sons challenge and Seven Days of Hope. Create a unique and meaningful way for your readers to use your book and watch how it helps you spread the word.

That's a lot of work!

Marketing my books has been exhausting at times, but the experience I’ve gained in the process is invaluable. If you're ready to work hard, build your platform, serve your audience, and keep going even when you want to quit, you can do the same thing. My latest self-published book, the expanded edition of Hope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess is launching today! 

You can get it TOTALLY FREE for your Amazon Kindle for 48 hours (Oct 23 and 24). Don't have a Kindle? Don't worry! Just download their free Kindle app for your computer or smart phone and then download the book absolutely free! Don't miss it, and be sure to enter our launch day giveaway for a chance to win a new Kindle Fire HD! 


Gina Holmes said...

Just got my free copy, thanks Brooke! Love your drivenness, your dedication to craft and your heart for God. You're an inspiration on so many levels! Congratulations on your successes. I know they'll be many more!!!

Brooke said...

Thanks so much for having me Gina!