Marketing a Professional, Technical, or Academic Book

A majority of the blog posts thus far have been more geared toward authors publishing work for the general fiction reader. But what if you’ve written an academic, professional, or technical book that doesn’t have the far-reaching market of a novel? Should you follow the marketing guidelines put forth thus far?

Well, yes and no.

Building a community through social media is important no matter who you’re writing for. However, there are certain aspects niche marketers need to pay more attention to, such as:

Planning your book’s release: Trade books can be released at any point of the year because there is always a willing market of readers. Professional, academic, and technical books are another story altogether. You wouldn’t release a manual for the iPhone4S a month before the iPhone5 is scheduled to come out, nor would you release an SAT guide in May, right after a majority of high school juniors in the country have taken the test. So, before you decide on a release date, research sales spikes for your topic to determine the best season and month for publication.

Finding your niche: This should be a goal for all writers, but it’s especially important for those who write about more obscure or challenging concepts. The good news is that, given the narrow breadth of your topic, you have a smaller community to break into — and thus more of a chance of being noticed. So even before you finish your book, start visiting different chat/community boards, join appropriate associations and groups (try meetup.com for in-person groups and Linkedin.com for online groups), and begin making a list of influential media (including bloggers) and “big mouths” — a.k.a. the people who other members of the community listen to.

Building your community: Don’t spam; build relationships with others in the community. Keep it casual at first. No one likes to be asked for favors from the get-go, but you’ll be surprised at how much more likely someone will do something for you down the road if you have a rapport. A good way to build rapport is to read the other person’s content and comment on a regular basis.

Attending an industry conference: While making electronic contact with someone is helpful, nothing can substitute face-to-face time. Look up conferences in your field and consider the expense as an investment. Here’s a money-saving tip: keep your receipts. If you are going to claim yourself as a “writer” on your tax return you can write off your trip. Alternatively, if you just cannot front the expense or time, reach out to the conference organizers about adding promotional materials (postcard, bookmark, etc.) for your book in the welcome bag attendees receive.

Bragging: In the academic, professional, and technical world an author’s bio isn’t merely about where one lives or the dogs he/she keeps — it’s what a reader turns to get a sense of the writer’s credibility. So don’t hold back in your book bio or the one you post to retailer sites. If you’ve worked in the industry, especially at a place of prestige, name it — along with any awards or recognition you’ve received. This is not the time to be modest!

Early reviews: In the professional market a good, early review goes far. So once you’ve established a good relationship with new (or old) contacts, “pitch” them with a synopsis of your book and ask if they’ll write a review. Make sure to add your quotes to the detail page for your book at the various online retailers ASAP, where pre-ordering is especially popular. You can even add a particularly great quote to the front or back cover of your book depending on how influential the source. You might also consider paying to have a professional review of your book.

Cover Design: Professional, academic, and tech titles need not have splashy foil or embossed covers, but don’t underestimate visual appeal either. A good cover will spike interest. It’s also especially important to convey what’s in your book, so be clear in your product description and where possible use bullet points. Make it easy for a customer to figure out what your book offers that others may not.

Last, but certainly not least, you should research which awards in your field allow independent authors to submit their books for consideration. Awards give credibility to a book and that can go along way.

Now you tell us, Lulu authors, what have you done that has or has not worked?

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks, I coach authors how to get on TV and those are the kinds of activities that lay the base for mass media exposure. The media looks for experts, not authors, so a person that wrote this kind of work has an advantage to getting on TV going in. Of course the work has to be made relevant to the mass audience but that is generally not a problem if you are using the right system. Thanks,Edward Smith.

  2. Morgan, Lulu

    Edward, that is really great advice for people who are experts in the field. Thanks so much for sharing it.

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