How to market nonfiction books

There are a few ways you can effectively market nonfiction books and about 1000 ways you can ineffectively market them. Instead of banging away on Twitter, where the average tweet has a lifespan of less than an hour or seeing how fast you can lose all your Facebook friends by blasting them with promotional updates, try these tactics instead.

Note that no matter how well you launch your book, it is not going to sell well if the cover looks terrible, if the description is lousy, etc. But, if you have a book that’s ready to launch, here’s your gameplan.

When you launch your book, you should email everyone you ever knew and let them know that you published a book and you’d love for them to buy it. Then, a week or two later, send an email thanking everyone for buying (this is a sneaky way of reminding people). Then stop. If I  had to live off of friends and family supporting my work I would starve. Instead, thousands of strangers bought my books, while most friends asked for free copies and outright refused to buy unless I reimbursed them. What friends they are!

What actually worked was working with book promotion sites with big email lists–like tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of active subscribers. The biggest one, which most authors have heard of, is called Bookbub.

Bookbub is a Boston based startup that promotes discounted books. Besides Amazon promoting your book as a Kindle Daily Deal, which is like hitting the lottery, no one can sell more books in a shorter period of time than Bookbub. They have over 8,000,000 subscribers across all their genres and depending on the category, they average anywhere from roughly 1,000 sales to over 4,000 sales off of one email. Once you sell that many copies of a book, it makes the Amazon algorithm show the book to more people, and if your book is right for them, it will stay ranked highly and continue to sell 100+ copies a day indefinitely. The top 1,000 kindle books on Amazon make 100+ sales and about 300 dollars per day on average, so to get a book there and have it stay means you’ll be making six figures off your work per year as long as you stay. Bookbub is expensive, but not overwhelmingly so. This is their current pricing.

Also, if you want to see how much money authors and publishers are making, feel free to plug their sales rank into the sales rank calculator.

Everyone in publishing also knows about Bookbub, which means they only accept about ten percent of submissions they get. To have any chance at getting one, you need a professionally designed cover, at least 20-25 reviews on Amazon and 20-25 Goodreads ratings. Getting a bookbub isn’t the easiest thing to do. Fortunately, there are other book promotion sites that you can use to get some sales going.

Here’s a link to a group of good promo sites- stick to Tier 1 and 2 sites!

This list is absolutely correct for fiction, but not for nonfiction. They left one out the one site that’s really good for nonfiction, though. Bookbub’s subscribers tend to be women in their 40s and 50s. That is not the audience you would want to promote a stock market book to. The best site for nonfiction is called Buck Books. Their subscribers don’t fit the mold of the romance devouring women that subscribe to Bookbub.

If Bookbub had a bastard child, it would be Buck Books. The site is growing and someday will make its move for the throne. Here is a link to their site

Buck Books doesn’t have millions of subscribers, but the ones they do have are good for nonfiction. Last Buck Books promo I ran moved 39 copies in kindle and 2 in audio, for 29 dollars. Ever since the book has been selling more steadily and racking up KDP select borrows. Also, I noticed a lot of quality books in my also-boughts, rather than the chaff that usually populates it after running promotions.

Book promotion sites are great tools for authors who want to know how to market books. Along with AMS ads, sharp cover design, and getting reviews, promos are a critical factor in launching a book up the Amazon charts, and perhaps to becoming a bestseller.





High Rollers: A Novel

We think this novel is so great that we want to plug it on our website, because, why not? 15,000 copies in less than 90 days, thanks to some awesome book promotion websites, a good description, and a little hustle. It’s a great story and we’re proud to share it.

High Rollers: A Novel

Based on a true story. 
Faced with graduating with over 100,000 dollars in student loan debt, University of Miami freshman Cameron McKinney needs cash badly. His solution? Starting the largest sports betting ring in campus history. Business booms, supplying him with thousands of dollars of tax-free cash per week, which he uses to fund his South Beach “models and bottles” lifestyle. Cameron raises the stakes, signing up hundreds of customers and taking on a group of jet-setting international bettors. As his operation grows, so does his ego. He starts a steamy, dysfunctional relationship with Grace Cooper, the purity ring-wearing daughter of a prominent Republican Party lobbyist. The relationship takes a toll on the business, and his business partner’s reckless lifestyle threatens to bring him down completely. High Rollers gives a window into lifestyles of the young and rich, exploring the consequences of ambition, wealth and relationships.

In the tradition of novelists like Stuart Woods, Ian Fleming, and Scott Lynch, High Rollers is designed to take the reader for a spin inside a world of wealth and intrigue, reading like a night out on South Beach. Still deciding? Buy the book already!

How to Get Amazon Reviews

This is an actual conversation we once had with an author.


My novel isn’t selling.


That’s because you have two reviews and one is a one-star tirade about how bad your editing is. Would you buy your book?


It’s Amazon. Amazon is hiding my royalties.


Doubt it but would be a cool book idea.


This is a real problem with indie authors. Any time you publish a new book, we believe that Amazon will give you a little traffic right off the bat to see if your book will float or not. This traffic isn’t going to convert into book sales if you don’t have any reviews. Your book is like a restaurant.

Them “Welcome to our fine dining establishment! Would you like to order seafood?”

You “No.”

Contrast this with a full restaurant. You trust it more. You might even order lobster instead of tap water. The Kindle store isn’t much different, but on a more subconscious level.

How many reviews do I need to sell books on Amazon?

5-10 is a good starting place to actually make some conversions. 100+ is when you really start crushing the sales. Advertising converts less if you don’t have at least 10 reviews.

How do I get Amazon reviews for my book?

  1. Fans/Friends- Big authors call them fans, small authors call them friends. This is perfectly acceptable and is exactly how big publishers get reviews up on launch day. Chances are there are a few people in your life who are excited about your work and won’t mind sharing their opinion on Amazon. What is not acceptable, and what will get you in trouble is author review swaps on Facebook, buying reviews on Fiverr, and fake reviews in general.
  2. Goodreads Giveaways- They work. In our experience about 30-40 percent of people who you give away physical copies to will write reviews. For the new ebook option, we will see, but if it’s over 15 percent the program is an unqualified win.
  3. Outreach- Emailing top reviewers, bloggers, etc. Worth a shot but not plan-A.
  4. R&R services. The way some of these services are advertised, you are lighting your money on fire. Others are pretty effective. Do your homework!
  5. Free days and promos- Move a bunch of free copies of your book, and you’ll get some love in return. Here’s a great list of book promotion services.
  6. Organically. You’ll average a review for every 100 sales you make to the general public, and one review for every 600 to 1000 free downloads you drive.

Good luck out there, and happy hunting!



How to Get People to Actually Read Your Novel with Amazon Ads

Prospective author- “I’ve written a book, am I going to get rich?”

Us- “Uhhh. Probably!”

Two weeks later.

Prospective author- “Amazon is rigged.”

Us “Amazon is definitely not rigged.”

Seriously though, publishing isn’t a lottery. 99.9 percent of successful books are successful because someone marketed them. If they’re traditionally published, their publisher might have paid Barnes and Noble and airport bookstores a bunch of money to put their book on the front tables for the first few weeks. Then thousands and thousands of buyers casually wander into the 800 odd Barnes and Noble stores and buy their book.

If they’re self-published and successful, they probably used Amazon and Facebook ads, book promotion sites, and used other marketing strategies other than emailing everyone they know. Then they ask us–”How can I get people to actually read my novel?” This article focuses on AMS ads, probably the one way to market books that tends to make, rather than lose money.

AMS ads. If you publish through Amazon KDP and opt into KDP select, there is a tab that says “promote and advertise.” They give you the option to run free promos, kindle countdown deals, and run AMS ads. You get 5 free days with KDP select. Usually, when you run a free promo, you’ll get around 100 people to download your book per day. If you have a new book, you have nothing to lose by doing this. You might get a review or two out of it too. But if you want to make some money, you can run AMS ads.

How it works:

Amazon has two choices, AMS sponsored product ads and product display ads. We have never had success with product display ads. Amazon sponsored product ads, on the other hand, do work.

It’s pretty self-explanatory to run them, Amazon also lets you set a daily budget. In our experience, the daily budgets rarely get hit. We usually run about 20-30 campaigns at any given time and set the daily budget for each at 5-7 dollars. All these campaigns combined cost us like 300 dollars last month in actual spending.

If you’re an author, here’s what you do.

  1. Get 5-10 reviews for your book. If you skip this step, you won’t get as many clicks, and your ads and your book will never take off. The conversion rate goes up with each additional review. Once you get up over 50, it really takes off.
  2. Run 10 different AMS sponsored product ads for your book. Test out different ad copy! Amazon will automatically allocate your money to the best performing ads. Play different angles to appeal to different groups of readers. You have two choices, manual and automatic. You should run both. The automatic is self-explanatory. For the manual, try to think of 150 keywords that someone might type in on Amazon. They can be books, other authors, general keywords, long tail keywords, etc. The more, the better!
  3. Monitor the ads a couple times a week. You can adjust bids, add or delete keywords, and pause or delete ads.

How many books will I sell using AMS?

Using the Amazon marketing services will usually result in a steady trickle of sales. At a minimum, you should be able to sell 1-2 copies a day of your book between paperback and kindle. You won’t make money doing this if you price your book at 99 cents though. Try to price your book for at least 3.99 to have the best chance of making money. Also, about half of the buyers prefer paperbacks, so at the very least, get a KDP print paperback. You can price it higher too. We make double the money on paperbacks per sale than on Kindle!

AMS probably won’t make you rich, but it will ensure that you get at least a steady trickle of sales. Done right, you can double your investment in the ads, and get more organic sales along the way! AMS is a fair and useful program for authors and publishers, use it.


The Best Amazon Reviews of All Time

Every writer who has sold more than a handful of copies of their book online has dealt with the inevitable customer reviews that start to trickle in. They aren’t always positive, but every review helps the book become more visible to new buyers. Few people write reviews, but most people read them before buying. Contrary to what most authors think, a bad review or three is not the end of the world. As long as your overall Amazon average is close to four stars, you’re doing just fine!

Ask any author when they got their first one-star review, and they will likely be able to tell you exactly where they were when they read it, what they were doing, and how the rest of their day went (usually poorly). While the vast majority of people enjoy our work, not everyone does. In fact, those who dislike our writing go to great lengths to tell us how much they hate our books.  Cultivating a positive attitude to reviews is essential to being a successful author.

Without further ado, here’s our favorite Amazon and Goodreads reviews of our titles (unedited).

5. High Rollers– 1 star.Slogging through heavy snow” “Have you ever walked through snow up to your hips? …dressed in multiple layers of clothing? ….wearing heavy boots? That’s what it felt like reading the first couple chapters. Then I began to skip pages…no change. Still play by play of the betting, etc. So I skipped more pages…only faster. It wasn’t long before the f-bombs began to drop more frequently. So (on my kindle) then I scrolled page after page and even as I did the f-bombs were so frequent on every page I couldn’t scroll fast enough to avoid them. So, using the bar at the bottom of the page I begun to go past chapters. Every time I stopped, it was the same thing…play by play of the betting with f-bombs so frequent they were on almost every line or two. So, in desperation to see if there really was a point to all of it, I skipped to the last chapter, only to realize I should have quit while I was ahead way back at chapter 2.”

4. High Finance-– 1 star. “Meh” I’m a financial advisor, I think I provide plenty of value for my clients.

3. High Rollers– 2 stars. Clothes Horse Gospel” “As a UM grad, I do not recognize the scene that the book portrays as being reality. The storyline was oh, so predictable and the non-ending vapid.”

2. How to Make a Million Dollars Trading Options. 1 star. “Scam” “I have to say that this book is a joke, my 1st grader could had written it. Don’t waste your money.”

1. High Rollers. 3 stars. “A Glimpse of College Life” “A unique way to pay off student loan debt. College is not the place to get an education it’s a place to party. I hope this story has no basis in reality. If so the next generation is toast.”

What’s the worst review you’ve ever gotten? Post in the comments!