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Look to the Outliers for Guidance on Nonfiction Book Marketing

If you do what everybody else is doing, you’ll get the most common result.

The most common result = “not enough people read my stuff and pay me money.”

That’s OK, but it’s so much nicer to connect with people who are genuine and assured they’re on the right path no matter what external results they’re getting. Isn’t that such a relief?

I’ve seen a lot of diverging bits of advice as to the best way to market your book or product. You probably have too.

Some of this advice is really compelling. It’s great to get tips from people who really love what they’re doing. It’s like the psychology of dating, where you’re most attracted to the person that doesn’t need to attract anyone.

Marketing guidance tends to be most compelling when it strikes us as either genius or weird — legitimately so, and not as a stunt or a marketing ploy.

The only way to succeed is by being true to yourself. The road to worldly success can be a big trial that brings out the best in you. Of course, you don’t need worldly success, unless that’s what you truly and deeply feel compelled to do–in which case, it’s your task to follow through with integrity. Probably, that means taking a unique path, not necessarily the one most people would suggest.

Here are two examples of people who have succeeded due to non-traditional means.

The Ferriss

For nonfiction, Tim Ferriss is a great example. (You can’t argue with results.) He’s pretty up-front about his strategies for engineering success.

A good summary of Ferriss advice is to know your metrics. Figure out what measurables you need to pay attention to. You can’t control everything, but if you know where to put your energy, you’ve got gold. Tim’s well known for utilizing new media and getting good results from it. He got better results from one person’s blog post than from being on The View. (Important note: he was able to track and measure this.)

Tim and other successful marketers are refreshing in that their advice runs counter to some of the tips one might find sitting around getting dusty on the shelves: Post blog updates all the time. Send out tweets several times a day to market your book. Somehow acquire a huge following and treat them like numbers rather than living, breathing people.

It’s not all about numbers. That’s the philosophy behind spamming, and if you want quality of life, be authentic and connect with real people. For a variety of reasons, deep connection is getting rarer on an everyday level, and so from a market standpoint, the value is going up on integrity.

Sweat Equity to Generate Quality Quantity

Gary V is a good example of a guy who is able to produce a tremendous amount of content, giving it away for free. In the early days, he utilized search.twitter to acquire relevant leads. In other words, he actually listened to real people and gave them some suggestions about wine. It’s a nice way to conduct business, and it’s about the law of reciprocity and the social norm that we basically would rather give money to our friends than to an anonymous business.

Gary V is able to produce content because he is passionate about the topic. He seems pretty knowledgable, but–you know what? It could certainly be that he’s not the most knowledgable person in the world. That doesn’t stop him, and it shouldn’t, because he loves what he does, and he wants to make enough money to become the owner of the NY Jets. Fine. He gives away content for free, and that builds a huge base of fans, and he earns his multi-book seven figure book deal.

And by the way, just check out this landing page for his book. It’s a great landing page– everything you could want is there. The video is soothingly low-fi and he’s totally authentic and enthused. (I haven’t read the book, but let me know if you recommend it by leaving a comment below.)


And then of course there’s luck. When it works in your favor, we’re predisposed to call it genius. But really, it’s the magic that comes from being true to your disposition. The real key for the future of marketing is greater authenticity, transparency, and basing your “brand” on your name.

And it’s not over till it’s over.

For as long as you live, you’ll continue to have new goals based on your interests and the best you can do is trust that doors will open for you. Where there’s authentic “sweat equity” (Gary V’s term), doors will open.

These doors simply do not exist from any other vantage point other than the one you get by being your authentic self.

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Stephen Lloyd Webber

Stephen Lloyd Webber

Stephen Lloyd Webber lives off-grid in a many-windowed earth-sheltered house in Northern California.

The property was purchased with the generous donations of friends and family and follows the model of a gift economy. It is strictly small scale, an invitation-only retreat center for writers, artists and yoga practitioners to practice and collaborate and contribute.
Stephen Lloyd Webber
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