When I met with my nonfiction publisher and book marketing team, we discussed these nine ways to promote my first Christian self-help book for women. My marketing plan will help you launch and promote your own nonfiction book.
Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back is the nonfiction Christian self-help book I wrote. My purpose is to help women walk through loss. When life changes dramatically — whether by divorce, disease or death — we’re never the same. Lives are uprooted, hearts broken, and we’re left to pick up the pieces. We need hope and help…but where do we start?
The above paragraph is the back cover blurb for Growing Forward; it’s also the foundation of my book marketing plan. Everything an author does should somehow tie in to her book (a red thread that always leads back to the theme). Christian self-help is a competitive market, but every nonfiction book has a place on the shelf! A huge part of your job as an author is to find your place and stand firm. And that’s what this sample book marketing plan will help you do.
Here’s the rest of my one-page description of Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back:
Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back (Bethany House) offers a fresh, practical perspective on moving through loss. In this book I share stories of ten biblical women who transcended extraordinary pain and grief — including Eve, Hagar, Esther, Naomi, Mary and Martha. You’ll see these women in a different light, experience Jesus in new ways, and find hope for your own journey.
I also weave in my own experiences of growing up with a single schizophrenic mother, living in foster care, teaching in Africa for three years, surviving a home invasion and attempted rape, and coping with infertility. I included several stories of contemporary women who grew through loss to make this book even more comforting and encouraging.
Every chapter includes five actionable “Blossom Tips” to help women:
- Accept — and even embrace — a new season of life.
- Take small steps forward in practical, creative, delightful ways.
- Weave faith, trust, and hope into their hearts, thoughts, and daily lives.
Each Blossom Tip highlights a different aspect of who we are: spirit, heart, soul, body, and mind. This holistic approach incorporates spiritual, emotional, creative, physical, and intellectual growth. It gives us a variety of practical tools while honoring different personalities, cultures, interests and abilities.
This book is perfect for reading groups, book clubs, and even Bible Studies. The Discussion Questions at the end of each chapter support both group connection and individual growth.
Author Bio: Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, MSW, is the author of Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back and the creator of the “She Blossoms” blogs. Her experiences taught her that choosing to grow forward is essential—especially when you can’t go back! Her degrees are in Psychology, Education, and Social Work. Laurie writes full-time in her treehouse in Vancouver, Canada. Visit BlossomTips.com.
Sample Marketing Plan for a Nonfiction Self-Help Book
Before I met with my publisher (Bethany House in Minneapolis) and agent, I created this book marketing plan. Whether you’re self-publishing your first nonfiction self-help book, signing your fifth contract with a big publishing house or simply considering writing a book for Christian women, you’ll find my ideas helpful.
Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back – Marketing Plan
- “She Blossoms” Blogs
- “She Blossoms” Weekly Newsletter
- Social Media Ideas for Book Marketing
- “Growing Forward” Workshops
- “Growing Forward in the New Year” Workshops
- Media Interviews for Christian Authors
- Book Marketing Materials – to be discussed with Bethany
- Weird Ideas for Marketing Nonfiction Christian Self-Help Books – to be discussed with Bethany
- Book Marketing Questions for Bethany
As you can see, I had lots of ideas for marketing my Christian non-fiction book to help readers cope with loss! But unfortunately I didn’t have enough time or energy to actually do everything I proposed in my book marketing plan. But, I suppose that’s why this was always a “Sample Book Marketing Plan” or working copy.
1. “She Blossoms” Blogs
Audience: Women over 40.
Focus: Tips and tools for walking through loss, into the new season God has planned.
Goal: To reach over 40,000 unique page views per day by January.
Currently, my “She Blossoms” blogs receive over 20,000 unique page views per day. It was much higher before I started writing Growing Forward; writing consumed my time and stalled blog growth. Worse, however, was that last summer my original website theadventurouswriter.com crashed because of too much traffic! So I created two separate sites: BlossomTips.com and HowLoveBlossoms.com . This destroyed my ranking with Google, essentially causing me to start over. It also led to She Blossoms 🙂
My primary online focus is to continue writing practical and inspirational loss-based blog posts for women over 40. My SEO terms revolve around living with loss, recovering from tragedy, healing from grief, Christian grieving, etc.
I write two new blog posts (1,200 words each) three days a week, for BlossomTips.com and HowLoveBlossoms.com . I update and republish four old blog posts every week on theadventurouswriter.com . I have thousands of old blog posts that still get significant traffic; it’s important to refresh old content and link to the new.
Currently, I receive about 10 comments a day from readers. In the past I didn’t prioritize responding to comments because it took so much emotional energy and time. My perspective has changed; now, I see it as part of my ministry. This isn’t just a marketing plan for nonfiction Christian self-help book…it’s part of serving readers who want to grow through loss.
Note to aspiring or published authors: if you don’t have a blog yet, read How to Start and Sustain a Popular Christian Blog. You’ll find it helpful even if you’re not a Christian nonfiction writer or blogger.
2. “She Blossoms” Weekly Newsletter
Every Wednesday I send a newsletter with a specific theme (e.g., Acceptance, Growing Forward, Energy, etc). In it, I share five uplifting, unique “Blossom Tips” images that are directly related to that theme. These images capture the five aspects that are also found in Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back: Spirit, Heart, Soul, Body and Brain.
Goal: To reach over 10,000 newsletter subscribers by January.
Currently, I have 5,000 subscribers; I usually get about 20 emails in response. Since my subscriber lists grows by about 200 subscribers each week (without a pop-up or free offer), I expect to have over 10,000 subscribers when Growing Forward is released.
3. Social Media Ideas for Book Marketing
“She Blossoms” Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/sheblossoms/
My “She Blossoms” Facebook Group, created in April 2017, currently has over 1500 members.
Our weekly theme is the same as my newsletter (e.g., Acceptance, Growing Forward, Energy, etc). Every day I share one of my “Blossom Tips” images. Mondays is Spirit, Tuesdays is Heart, Wednesdays is Soul, Thursdays is Body, and Fridays is Brain.
On weekends, I share Blossy. She’s my “mascot” — a fun, bright drawing of a girl with big eyes, curly brown hair and freckles. My group members enjoy her light, lively approach to growing forward!
Goal: To have more than 5,000 Group Members by January.
“She Blossoms” Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/SheBlossomsBlog/
My “She Blossoms” Facebook Page currently has 1,300 likes and 1,260 followers. I share the previous week’s Blossom Tips images on my Facebook Page (the images that were shared in my private Facebook Group). This way, my daily Blossom Tip images are public and find-able.
Currently, I have 130 followers on my new Instagram account. I share one Blossom Tip image per day.
4. “Growing Forward” Workshops
Goal: To send 25 print copies and 25 digital copies of Growing Forward to 50 groups by mid-January.
In October/November, I’ll contact the leaders/organizers of grief, infertility, loss, GriefShare, and related groups in Vancouver (where I live). I’ll also contact book clubs, Christian women’s groups, and church community groups.
My plan is to offer a free one-hour “5 Ways to Grow Forward When You Can’t Go Back” interactive workshop. I’ll obtain permission to sell my books at this workshop, and encourage leaders and members to read the book as a group. I’ll explain the features and benefits of Growing Forward, especially read in a group format.
Note to aspiring or published authors: try to avoid filling your book marketing plan with great ideas that you can’t actually do. Instead of following my example and putting waaay too many things to do in your book marketing plan, just include what you’re sure you can accomplish. I think I also over-promised and under-delivered in The Nonfiction Book Proposal That Won Me a Publishing Contract.
5. “Growing Forward in the New Year” Workshops
In December/January, I’ll reposition my workshop with a “New Year” hook. The focus will be on moving through loss into a new season of life. Again, I’ll obtain permission to sell my books at these workshops, and encourage leaders and members to read the book as a group.
6. Media Interviews for Christian Authors
I’m happy to participate in podcast, blog, radio, etc tours and/or interviews. I’ll create a press release for my local media channels.
I’m researching grief/loss conferences, and hope to attend at least one conference — with a box of books! — but it depends on my workshop schedule.
7. Book Marketing Materials – to be discussed with Bethany
- Gift-giving slant? Christmas and the New Year are painful for many people, even years after a loved one’s death or divorce. Can we organize a gift-giving campaign or slant to help people cope with loss?
- “Growing Forward” or “She Blossoms” Calendar? Free with pre-order — can this be part of a December/Christmas marketing campaign?
- “Growing Forward” or “She Blossoms” Journal? This would be a lovely gift to give along with the book.
- Bookmarks and postcards.
Note to aspiring or published authors: consider hiring a marketing expert or even an assistant to help you sell your books. Even better, sign with a literary agent who will actually walk with you through the process of writing, publishing and marketing your book! When I write this sample book marketing plan, I had no idea that I was biting off way more than I could chew alone. You’ll find more tip in 5 Ways to Market and Sell Your Poetry Book.
8. Weird Ideas for Marketing Nonfiction Self-Help Books – to be discussed with Bethany
- Do funeral or memorial homes give sympathy gift baskets to families after a service or burial? Can Growing Forward be purchased in bulk by death-related organizations who offer sympathy baskets?
- Sympathy baskets? Can we contact organizations who create gift baskets, and sell them bulk copies of Growing Forward? This way, sad people are invited to be part of something that will offer support and encouragement. It’s better than “just” flowers, chocolates, etc 🙂
- Hospital gift shops, hospices, long-term care centers, cancer treatment centers? Gift shops in care facilities might purchase boxes of the book — especially since Growing Forward isn’t as somber as grief-related books.
9. Book Marketing Questions for Bethany
Street/Launch Team — Will you run a launch team for Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back? I understand the importance and I would love to have one! However, I don’t have the experience or time. I’d rather not do it at all than do it poorly.
Do you have any feedback/suggestions for my blog layout, colors, etc (BlossomTips.com)? Perhaps an “ideal author website” to show me?
What are authors surprised to learn about book marketing and publicity? How can I prepare myself for the release?
How will we send copies of Growing Forward to reviewers, group leaders, etc? Bethany doesn’t send print books out of the US….will I be responsible for mailing my own print copies to Canadian, Australian, British, etc reviewers?
Aspiring authors, read 6 Tips for Submitting Your Sample Chapters to a Book Publisher if you’re searching for a publisher or agent.