Writing and publishing a nonfiction book can be a daunting task – never mind the challenge of finding the perfect audience for your work. Many nonfiction authors have day jobs that have little to do with creative writing or marketing; however, both are crucial skills when you’re trying to get your book into the hands of those readers who will love it the most.
Enter the Nonfiction Authors Association (NFAA). Established in 2010 by author and CEO Stephanie Chandler, the organization provides educational resources and community for those who write nonfiction books. Authors longing for smart, upbeat advice delivered in a supportive manner will appreciate the NFAA’s free and paid short webinars, podcasts, handouts, and multiweek courses.
The Association also hosts the Nonfiction Book Awards and maintains a roster of NFAA members for media professionals seeking experts in a particular field.
How to participate
The NFAA makes plenty of free content available on the website. Click the tab that reads “Freebies,” and you’ll find a wealth of reports ranging from “How to Write Your Nonfiction Book Manuscript” to “How to Optimize Your Book and Boost Sales on Amazon.”
The website also offers lists of recommended resources for nonfiction writers, from ghostwriters and editors to book layout professionals. On the same site, you’ll find “100+ Best Books for Writers” and a robust blog – recent posts include “The Unexpected Benefits of Writing a First Draft Fast” by Melinda Kopp and Roger C. Parker’s “7 Tools to Help Nonfiction Authors Organize their Ideas Before Starting to Write a Book.”
The Association’s “Authority Membership” for $29 a month provides access to an enormous database of podcast recordings, the weekly Author Advisor email with media leads and professional templates, a private Facebook group made up of members and industry experts, and a monthly virtual meeting with fellow members for the purpose of networking and brainstorming.
Authority members receive half off registration to NFAA’s Nonfiction Writers Conference, as well as discounts on courses and Author Toolkits. The latter provide an abundance of materials on topics including self-publishing, traditional publishing, professional speaking, online marketing, and revenue streams for authors.
In addition, members are invited to submit themselves as potential podcast guests and contributors to the NFAA blog.
Learn from nonfiction experts
Once a year, NFAA hosts the aforementioned Nonfiction Writers Conference, where attendees can pitch their ideas to agents who represent nonfiction authors and talk with book editors and marketing consultants. A virtual networking event allows attendees around the world to participate in small group discussions in private Zoom breakout rooms. Many speakers post handouts from their presentations on the conference website free of charge; an archive includes 10 years of conference speaker presentations.
The rest of the year, NFAA hosts a weekly live interview with a professional from the publishing industry, and anyone can listen for free. Recent interviews include author Misty Megia on “How to Dazzle During Virtual Presentations” and “Understanding Publishing Industry Contracts, Agreements, and Trademarks” with literary agents Jennifer Chen Tran and Joseph Perry.
Once or twice a year, Chandler teaches multiweek courses online. One is a book publishing master course with an optional professional certification program. It’s geared toward nonfiction authors, as well as editors and designers, publicists, and other publishing industry professionals. Participants learn about cover and interior design, how to set up a publishing business and understand copyright laws, how to obtain an ISBN, and how to create e-book formats. Chandler also teaches an annual master course in book marketing with an optional professional certification program.
Network with your community
The course in book marketing gathers nonfiction writers from all over the world into one Zoom classroom to learn how to help promote their books. Jamaican author, book coach, and publisher Crystal Daye took NFAA’s book marketing course in 2021. “The practicality, examples, and resources shared definitely helped me to be intentional about my marketing efforts. Now, I’m more knowledgeable about book marketing tactics to help me sell more books,” she says. “I’ve also become more confident as a publisher to help my own clients with their book promotions and launches.”
Participants in the book marketing course receive a workbook and weekly homework to help them develop a thoughtful, actionable plan for building platform, approaching the media, and otherwise positioning themselves as experts in their field.
Chandler notes that nonfiction authors possess a powerful opportunity to establish authority in their chosen fields and build communities of readers. “Often their area of expertise is baked right into their books,” she explains. “Cultivating a loyal audience leads to increased book sales, support for new book releases, and sales of related products and services.”
She tells authors to treat their books as a business and to understand that this requires continuous marketing. “With continued efforts and a clear plan, this is how authors can rise to the top of their genres,” she explains.
Melissa Hart is the author, most recently, of the humorous middle-grade novel Daisy Woodworm Changes the World (Jolly Fish, 2022). Twitter/Instagram: @WildMelissaHart