Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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June 6, 2022

4 Ways Non-Fiction Authors Can Succeed in the Age of "Free"

by Penny C. Sansevieri

As someone who writes non-fiction and has a longstanding blog where I release free content, I feel I am a great example of an author that has faced and conquered the challenge of convincing people to buy non-fiction books. There is tons of free information out there, and it can be hard to compete -- both with other authors and also with yourself!

I see many non-fiction authors leave this factor out when planning and executing their book releases and promotions. The fact that they’re not just competing with other books, but they’re also competing with Google and all the free information available out there on pretty much any topic is a crucial element in any book's success.

So, let’s talk about ways to make your non-fiction book stand out in today’s crowded and distracting market.

You Need Your Own Unique Approach

This goes without saying, but you need to stand out from your competition. What are your key selling points? Why should people buy your book? You have to have a better answer than simply saying, “My way works better!” because that’s not convincing enough if you’re a potential buyer. Trust me; everyone says that.

Once you create your list of key selling points, you need to include them in your Amazon description in an easily digestible way, for example, a bulleted list. Bullets draw attention and should be extremely compelling. What if the bullets were all potential buyers got to read about your book? How convincing will you be? Take the time to make sure your first impression persuades your buyer.

Your Buyer Should Be Your Focus

Yes, you have to sell your book’s content, but people don’t buy a book just because of the content. They buy a book because of what they hope it will do for them.

So your unique selling points are essential, but so is convincing people you’ll make their lives better in some way. That’s something a lot of free online content doesn’t get a chance to do!

Use your book description to convince potential buyers you wrote your book with their needs in mind. Make it about them and what you can do for them, and I assure you they will be interested.

Don’t Leave Out All The Free Information

You have your unique selling points and your emotional appeal, and now you should also be hitting people over the head with Google and free info reference! There’s no such thing as making it too easy for someone to make a buying decision.

You may be hesitant to give out information for free, but it allows readers to trust you as a resource. Plus, since you’re not giving away everything, buyers will be eager to buy your book to learn more.

Never assume!

Too often, I see authors miss key sales opportunities in their book description because the value of the book seems so incredibly obvious to them. But you should never assume the value is obvious to the buyer. You have to convince them.

Work it into your description WHY your book will serve someone better than simply Googling info about your topic online. If you don’t have a strong argument at the ready, then you have some serious work to do.

You Need a Clear Plan

Having a clear plan for what you give away for free on your platform and what you include in your book or books is extremely important. Otherwise, your strategy can become a jumbled mess.

There’s a lot you can accomplish for your sales funnel by giving away quality info on your blog or in your podcast, but if you give away too much, it makes your book less competitive.

Don’t wing it; figure out your boundaries and justify why that division serves your long-term goals. You have to give a little to get a lot in this area- but every author needs to decide their limits for themselves.

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About Penny

Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine. 

Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon visibility campaigns as well offering national media pitching, online book marketing, author events, and other strategies designed to build the author/book visibility.

She is the author of 18 books, including "How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon," "Revise and Re-Release Your Book", "5-Minute Book Marketing for Authors," and the newly-released “From Book to Bestseller.”

AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal. 

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.  

6 comments on “4 Ways Non-Fiction Authors Can Succeed in the Age of "Free"”

  1. Thanks for this helpful post, Penny! I want to apply it to my own non-fiction

  2. Hi Penny- Thanks for this timely post! I agree with having to give potential buyers information on why your work will do more for them than the free online information and how it will fulfill their hopes and needs. I do this for my NF handbook on believable perilous drug scenes- by offering the reader pre synthesized and realistic scene examples, helping them know how to use that overwhelming wealth of information (and sort through the junk info) to create page-turning scenes.

  3. I do a ton of non fiction articles etc. Because I know that they draw interest to the non fiction books.

    I think readers then appreciate that the books are a more polished [and much more organized] way to consume information. I always wonder why people don't get that buying the book and having the info all in one place is such a godsend and a time saver.

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