FACT: Self-publishing is not all about fiction


This is a guest post from the team at CompletelyNovel, sponsors of BookMachine Brighton (photos here).

There has been a lot of media attention on self-published fiction titles that have gone on to success. Hugh Howey, E. L. James and Bella Andre – to name a few – have all proven that self-publishing is a viable way to reach readers. At CompletelyNovel.com we saw an initial wave of customers focused on fiction (largely, I imagine, due to our name!) but it’s interesting how your customers can start using your service in ways you didn’t necessarily expect.

Up to 25% of our new authors are publishing non-fiction titles on our platform, and we’ve found that they can often be some of the best performing titles. If you’re a non-fiction writer you can make the most of quite a few natural advantages when it comes to self-publishing, particularly in print.

Knowing your market  

It can be tricky to narrow down your market if you’re writing a fiction book. The self-publishing hits tend (though admittedly not always) to be in a specific genre, such as romance, but in any case, you are usually competing with a huge number of books which may have a similar target audience, have a raft of social channels to try and master and it can be hard to cut through the noise.

When you are writing on a specialist topic, your audience is more obvious. Embracing this and creating a strategy of how to reach them via online channels such as focusing on LinkedIn or specialist business forums works really well for many of our authors.

Working with editors, designers and other freelancers

As a non-fiction writers you may be used to working with freelancers, so working with editors or designers to produce a more professional product will come more naturally. You may also have a bit more budget at your disposal. We often have consultants or editors getting in touch with us on behalf of the writers they are working with, or writers looking for specialist help. Services such as CompletelyNovel can often act as a handy bridge to access the printing, distribution or other services their client needs.

Having a variety of successful outcomes for your book

We’ve seen business books used successfully as an extra revenue stream, a way for brands to reach a different sector and a means for professionals to establish themselves as experts. Having a low-cost eBook available can be a great way to drive traffic to your site, perhaps through extra material that the reader can download there.

If you want a way to stand out from the crowd, print books can be used as calling cards at events. At CompletelyNovel, our business model (a monthly subscription, rather than a commision on book sales)  enables authors to buy as many copies as they like of their paperback at cost price. Having that option is particularly useful if you are likely to be hand-selling books or giving them to new clients, as non-fiction authors often do.

We’ve also seen a number of workbooks printed that are used to great effect by course leaders as a professional way to collate and present information for their customers.

Having an ongoing customer funnel

For a lot of fiction books there is an initial spike in sales on launch, which then reduces over time. Though this is often true to a degree for non fiction books, there can be more natural ‘hooks’ on which to hang promotions on an ongoing basis related to news or developments in your field or company.  There may also be a more steady stream of customers who come to you through other aspects of your business. Partnerships with other authors or businesses who are in a similar space can also be very beneficial.

Getting involved in audience-focused events

We’ve noticed that self-published books on travel and sports (and particularly things that combine the two, such as cycling and hiking), seem to find a good home in print on our site. Travel and sports writers are often incredibly passionate and driven people, which makes them excellent promoters. What’s more, these authors aren’t afraid to do events – most of their promotion is split 50/50 between social media/forums, and simply getting out on the road and meeting people.

There are certainly plenty of reasons why it’s a good time to be self-publishing a non-fiction book. eBooks are a low-cost way of making your work available globally and the advances in print on demand technology have made it easier for professional authors to create high-quality books. These individuals are certainly giving traditional publishers a run for their money when it comes to marketing and sales strategies too!

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