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How Fiction Authors Can Steal Marketing Ideas from Their Non-Fiction Friends

BasketBall - scoreI abhor playing team sports.

I presume I’m not alone in this dislike, but I do feel the need to share my reasoning.

You see, it’s not that a bad teammate or anything like that. It all goes back to middle school: in 6th grade, I went from being the tallest person in my class to one of the shortest.

The sudden height catch-up from my peers had an inverse relationship to my prowess in PE class.

Basketball was the particular bane of my existence. When you’re towering two or three inches above your peers, man, basketball is a BLAST. You come to think you have some sort of actual skillz (with a ‘z’) when all you really have is a distinct height advantage.

You may call me a sore loser if you wish (I freely admit that I’m WAY competitive), but when I stopped winning games, I started becoming a bit sour on the whole team sports thing. All of those height-blessed peeps had a total unfair advantage…how could I ever hope to catch up?

I see many fiction authors complaining about a similar unfair advantage, and I completely understand their point of view.

Tell me if you’ve ever felt this way: you look at a fellow indie author, very similar to you in every way except one key one: her book is non-fiction.

You can’t help but think, “wow, it’s so much easier to market a non-fiction book. You have a built-in jumping off point for marketing, a specific, niche target audience and oodles of angles to approach someone with other than ‘hey, I wrote a book.'”

I totally understand your frustration.

Because, in many ways, marketing non-fiction is much easier than marketing fiction. (Please don’t throw stones at me, non-fiction peeps. I know it’s not necessarily easier for everyone!)

Non-fiction authors have built-in topics to blog about. They have a much easier time pinpointing readers who are interested in their book’s topic. When they find them, there’s an automatic open to engage potential readers in conversation. They’re never short on newsletter content. They can put out a free report or fancy manifesto to draw in fans.

In short: non-fiction authors have it all, right?

Here’s a secret: you, dear fiction author, can have it all, too. Wanna know how?

I’ll show you; it’s a method I’ve enjoyed using with fiction authors for awhile, but it wasn’t until the fabuluous Laura Pepper Wu gave it a name that the concept really gelled in my mind.

Fiction authors can gain the advantage of non-fiction authors by finding non-fiction angles for their work.

A What Now?

Think of it this way: how can your fiction work relate to what’s going on here in the boring ol’ real world?

  • Maybe it’s a fabulous location the characters in your novel visit.
  • Perhaps it’s a time period you became particularly well-versed in.
  • Or, maybe it’s a common life topic like parenting, death or disease.

Here’s a quick example: Even if your book isn’t 101 Ways to Cook a Steak, if your main character is a chef, you can still tap into the same fan-finding angles as your non-fiction author friend.

16 Non-Fiction Angle Ideas for Fiction Authors

Luckily, there are a variety of categories you can “mine” for non-fiction angles. Keep reading for overall non-fiction topics as well as specific examples for how you can turn those angles into viable marketing ideas!

Angle Category #1: A Location or Time Period

  • My book takes place in St. Augustine, Florida. Reach out to the St. Augustine Record newspaper and share a bit about your book. Also consider offering up a review copy!
  • My book is set in Paris, France, where I visited last summer. Contact travel blogs and pitch a guest post about your journey and how it influenced the writing of your book.
  • My book is centered around a cruise to Fiji. Partner with a local travel agency to host an event where they can share how to take a trip to Fiji and you can share details about your book.
  • My main character’s parents are from Italy. Host a theme night with a local restaurant featuring Italian food and a reading of your book.
  • My book is a Victorian Romance. Contact a blog interested in Victorian history, culture or fashion and write a guest post or give away a copy of your work.
  • My book takes place during the Civil War. Reach out to reenactment groups, bloggers and historical societies interested in that war and time period.

Angle Category #2: A Character’s Generation, Job, Hobby or Interest

  • My main character is a 75-year-old retiree. Reach out to senior centers in your area and offer to do a reading or signing.
  • My main character is celebrating her Sweet Sixteen. Reach out to high schools and youth-oriented programs.
  • My villain is obsessed with sports. Contact sports bloggers or local sports teams in your area.
  • My sassy sidekick loves gardening. Reach out to local garden clubs as well as bloggers who focus on gardening.
  • My main character is a ghost hunter. There are niche blogs about everything! Contact paranormal bloggers and share a bit about your work and why their fans would enjoy it.
  • A character in my novel is a fashionista. Get in touch with fashion bloggers or the local fashion column in your local paper.

Angle Category #3: A Major Theme or Topic

  • My novel deals with adoption. Contact parenting and adoption bloggers to share your work. Also consider partnering with a local adoption support or awareness group.
  • The main character in my novel is a widow. Contact grief support groups and offer to discuss your book. It can be helpful for those going through something similar.
  • Divorce is a theme in my novel. Contact marriage and relationship bloggers to share your work or ask for a guest post. Share what you’ve learned and experienced on the topic.
  • A character in my novel has a rare form of cancer. Contact foundations and support groups to share your book — many will be appreciative of the research you’ve done and interested to hear of an author discussing the illness.

Now, Start Brainstorming!

  1. Physically or mentally run through your novel, making a list of every non-fiction angle you can think of. Come up with at LEAST 5-10!
  2. Brainstorm a way you can use each angle to reach out to potential readers.
  3. Choose the three best ideas and work on implementing them for the next few months.

The Big Idea

Using non-fiction angles immediately forces you to think outside of the box and connect your fiction story to real-life readers.

While those readers aren’t necessarily crazy fans of [insert your genre here], their interest might just be piqued by a particular angle your book offers them.

The best part of this non-fiction angles gig is that, any time you need to think up new marketing ideas, you can complete the exercise again. I guarantee you will find a new idea each and every time!

As for me…well, I still haven’t quite figured out how to steal basketball strategies from the folks towering over me. Ah, well; I’ve learned to love my short stature anyway!

Talk Back

What non-fiction angles did you find for your book? What brilliant marketing ideas did they spark? Share them with me (and your fellow authors) in the comments!

  • This was a VERY helpful post. I’m in the process of revamping my blog and have been looking at the posts which have so far been read the most. Posts on Mexico–especially the controversial issues that have inspired my books such as the drug war, immigration, missing women, and the country’s caste system–have gotten the most hits and retweets. While not all my books will be set in Mexico, more posts about the issues that inspire the current ones may be a good way to build a current readership.

    • Hi Carmen! That’s a wonderful idea — definitely capitalize on that connection, especially if it’s something that inspires you. It’s great that those posts end up being popular as well. Rock on!

    • Thanks for the encouragement! These are just the sort of ideas that are so helpful.

  • Bette A. Stevens

    Great post… Off to start mining the field! THANKS, Bette

  • Alison Walker

    I already did this! Part of my story, The Four Treasures of Eirean, is set in and around Newgrange, the biggest archaeological site and tourist attraction in Ireland. I contacted the buyer for their gift shop, and now they are stocking my book! Your article has now opened my mind to taking this further, so thanks very much for that!
    Regards,
    Ali Isaac.

    • Hi Alison! That is too cool — thank you so much for sharing and I’m glad you enjoyed the post :-

  • Helluva ideas! This format can also be used for author blogs versus blogging on the author journey to other authors. Blog for your target audience (readers :)

    • Exactly, CJ, you hit the nail on the head. Thanks for your comment! :-)

  • I love all these ideas.

  • suz

    Some great ideas. Just got to get my thinking cap on :-)

  • moscowrunner

    This is great! Even as a non-fiction author I found this helpful. I feel like most of my creative marketing juices end up going into the “happening now” needs of the orphan ministry that I work with. So, by the time I get to my own marketing I just sort of stare at the computer thinking, um, nothing. The brain is empty by that point! So, this will actually help me to take a better look at smaller portions/aspects of the book and focus in on them. Thank you!

  • Bronzeman

    I based my fiction novel, “Memoirs of a Demigod” on my own life experiences. The characters were changed from who they really were plus the dialog was made up along with some of the story line to keep it flowing from one chapter to the next. Many TV series and even some movies use stories from the headlines and turn them into fictionalized stories. We all have had interesting things that have happened in our own lives so use them as a theme when you can.

  • Great tips! I’m a non-fiction writer as well as a fiction writer and I haven’t been using these angle as much as I should even for the non-fic! For the fiction, since I write fantasy and historical, I include blog posts on cultural or folklore aspects which might be interesting to modern or Western readers. Since one book is rooted in Japanese mythology, I have a whole category of posts on folklore creatures, folklore influences today, etc. (http://lauravanarendonkbaugh.com/tag/folklore/). They don’t get as many comments, but analytics indicates that they do draw new visitors to the site, at least, and that’s a start!