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8 Tips for Marketing Self-Help Books

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The self-help and wellness industry is thriving. In the U.S. alone, the personal development industry takes in just under $10 billion annually. Books represent a substantial part of this market. So, while this means there is indeed great potential with such a robust market for self-help authors, it also means the competition is fierce. With self-help book marketing, you must make you and your book stand out from the crowd.

Here are some tips for self-help authors that can help make the difference between a successful, impactful book publicity campaign and one that produces marginal, average results. If you are a self-promoting author, you can use, implement, and follow all of these tips without professional help. If you do your research and prepare, you can get similar results to what a book publicist might secure.

1. Flaunt your credentials

Since you’ve written a self-help book, it is presumed you have substantial credentials related to the topic you’ve written about. Especially in self-help book marketing, credentials are crucial. Don't be shy about sharing your expertise. Let people know that you know what you are “talking” about. Make sure your academic and career experience is clearly noted both within press releases and in the bio. Make them prominent on your website and social media platforms.

2. It’s not all about the book

Much of nonfiction book promotion—and especially self-help book marketing—involves promoting the author just as much, if not more than the book. Tying into the first point about credentials, media outlets are going to want to talk to you because, as we say, “no one interviews a book!” Your book opens media doors, provides credibility, and a newsworthy angle, but you are the expert. Exposure for you equates to exposure for your book, and vice versa.

3. Be ready to write

You likely spent a long time writing your self-help book, but your writing doesn't stop there. Byline articles are a key component of self-help book marketing. These are articles written by you, typically between 800 and 1200 words, listing you as the writer. You (or your publicist) then pitch and offer these articles to appropriate media outlets.

Print and online media outlets love quality articles because they provide ready-made content. Keep in mind that these articles are not promotional in nature—they’re informative. You need to offer advice that helps people improve their lives in some way, solves a problem, or provides information that hasn't been offered before. Promotion for you comes at the end of the article with a brief bio.

Some of the most successful book publicity campaigns Smith Publicity has implemented for self-help book authors were made possible because authors were willing to write articles as needed. Yes, you pay a book publicist to promote your book, but you are the expert in your area, and you want your “voice” to come through in articles.

Additionally, media coverage is often interconnected, meaning that a TV show producer may read an article by an author, and then want them as a guest.

4. Develop a solid digital footprint

Self-help and wellness authors should have well-established, robust, and active social media platforms. Don't over do it; focus on two or even just one platform. Carefully assess which platforms are best for your messaging. Facebook and Twitter are the most common for authors, but Instagram may be well suited for you and your book too.

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Keep this in mind: It’s better to have no social media presence than to have platforms that are dormant and haven't been updated for long periods of time. This is an immediate turn off for media who research you.

5. It’s not all about book sales

As a self-help book author, you might be a consultant, operate a small business, or want to secure speaking engagements. Books and media coverage can be extremely powerful marketing tools that generate prospective clients, increase business, and/or lead to invitations for public speaking.

6. Get ready to be … brief

Self-help authors are popular broadcast interview guests. When it comes to radio and TV interviews, you need to be able to convey key points in a succinct manner. Producers and hosts do not like long-winded answers. They also don't, of course, want one-word answers to questions!

Watch a TV interview with an author and you’ll see polished guests give short, to the point answers to questions. If hosts/interviewers want guests to elaborate, they ask. On TV, you may have as little as four minutes, or at most, likely right to ten.

Practice, practice, and practice more. Have someone ask you questions that will likely come up, and refine your answers to perfection!

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7. Be available!

One of the biggest mistakes we’ve seen self-help book authors make is not being available when a campaign is underway. You’ve written a great book, it’s being promoted…you must be an active and available participant! You can't expect to sit on the sidelines and watch good things happen. You are a big part of making those good things happen.

Of course, there are limitations on everyone’s schedules. But you will need to make time to be available while promoting your book.

8. Be willing to be creative

Because competition for media coverage is so intense, you will likely need to move out of your expert comfort zone at times, or to use just a small part of your book or expertise as a means to get coverage.

We had a client with a self-help book that focuses on helping high school and college students prepare to get the kind of job they really want. A news story broke about presidents and handshake styles. 

Clearly, our client's book had no connection to politics, but because one small part of her book teaches young people the appropriate way to shake hands, our publicists used the political story to get her coverage. The "hand shake angle," thanks to the political story, had media asking us if they could interview her!

It all starts with the right story, but follow the steps above and you're sure to see success promoting your self-help book.


Dan Smith

Dan Smith is CEO and Founder of Smith Publicity, the most prolific book marketing agency in the publishing industry, with over 3,000 books promoted since 1997. From first-time, self-published authors to New York Times bestsellers, Smith Publicity promotes every genre, and has secured media coverage for authors and books with every top media outlet in the U.S. and Canada. The firm has offices in Cherry Hill, NJ, and Toronto. Contact Smith Publicity at info@smithpublicity.com.