By Joan Stewart
If you’re an author in today’s cut-throat competitive marketplace, you need every advantage to convince readers that they should spend their time and money with you versus the millions of other authors.
One of the best ways to do that is by becoming an expert in one or more topics that tie into your book, and then promoting that expertise everywhere. This remains one of the biggest missed opportunities I see among those who write fiction or nonfiction.
Last month, I offered consulting sessions for several authors who registered for the Nonfiction Writers Conference, hosted by Stephanie Chandler. Each had expertise in at least one topic. But you’d never know that by looking at their marketing materials, book covers or websites.
Most looked like just another author who had written a book. I saw little that separated them from their competitors. Smart authors view their books as calling cards. They snag readers, bring them into a sales funnel, then razzle dazzle them with knowledge and sell more to them later.
If all you want to do, however, is write and sell books and you’re content to be a tiny fish in an ocean of competition, you can stop reading now. Go back to writing your book.
But If you’re up to the challenge, it’s time to learn what you must do to become an expert.
The 5 Levels of Expertise
Many authors dislike the idea of promoting themselves as experts because they’re introverts. Or they fear that someone will accuse them of being a phony or ask, “What makes you think you’re an expert?”
Expertise has several levels. Here’s how I identify them, from lowest to highest:
1. A Perceived Authority
The fact that you’ve written a book gives you a head start in this category. Most authors do mountains of research, even fiction authors who must verify the historical accuracy of their novels. A perceived authority knows more than most other people about a specific topic and can answer questions extemporaneously. Many nonfiction authors have life experience in their area of expertise. Others create content such as articles, blogs, newsletters, videos and White Papers.
2. A Teacher/Educator
This includes authors who are on the speaking circuit either as keynoters or workshop presenters, or those who teach classes at colleges and universities or for local adult ed programs.
You don’t have to be in front of huge audiences, however. Some authors spend most of their times speaking and selling books at library events. If you host webinars, teleseminars or Facebook Live events, you too are a teacher or educator. Ditto if you create your own products other than books.
3. A Star in a Niche or Industry
Stars are sought after by others. Meeting planners invite them to do keynote presentations before industry groups. The media contact them for comments on the news of the day. Podcasters invite them for interviews.
Most stars have large platforms online, including thousands of followers on social media. Some hold copyrights, trademarks and patents. Others are leaders in their trade associations.
4. A Counselor/Mentor
These authors know their topics so well that they can take others under their wings, either as private coaching clients one-on-one or in group coaching. They often host their own training events and meet most of the criteria listed in the first three categories above.
Counselors and mentors frequently get clients through referrals from other professionals who trust them. This is one of the best ways to make money: introduce yourself to readers via your book, share your knowledge and let them know you’re available when they need help.
5. An Influencer/Thought Leader
These are the go-to people in their fields of expertise. Most have a strong personal brand that their followers can identify easily. They are passionate about their topic and never satisfied that they “know it all.” Many have had their own mentors. They network frequently with and learn from other thought leaders.
As the five levels above show, expertise isn’t only about what you know. More importantly, it’s about what you do. A PhD who has done nothing with his degree isn’t as impressive an expert as a college drop-out who has started her own business and become so successful that she now mentors others who want to follow in her footsteps.
How to Promote Your Expertise
You’ll be happy to hear that promoting your expertise isn’t nearly as difficult as acquiring it. In fact, many of these ideas are simple to implement. Here are 15 ways to promote your expertise:
1. On your website
Is the word “expert” or “expertise” on the home page? Here’s my headline and blurb that explains who I am and what I do. I’ve added the yellow highlighter only for this article.
Also use “expert” or “expertise” on pages that discuss your consulting, and coaching and mentor programs.
2. In your marketing materials
These include all the pieces in your author media kit, including your bio.
3. In your 15-second elevator pitch or introduction
When you’re attending an event and you hear people introducing themselves, pay attention to how many refer to themselves as experts. Almost no one!
4. On your nametag
They might not remember your name, but if they see the words “Privacy Expert,” they’ll certainly remember what you do.
5. On the back and inside covers of your book
Sure, you write sizzling Civil War novels. But won’t readers be more impressed if they know you’re an expert in Civil War clothing, weapons or courtship?
6. In your email signature
Think of all the people who you email in only one week. Don’t miss a chance to let them know about your expertise.
7. On your social media
This can include your social media profiles, as well as banners on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, and your LinkedIn headline.
8. In author resource boxes
This super-short copy appears at the end of articles and guest blog posts you write.
9. In your speaker introductions you write for public speaking engagements
My introduction begins, “Publicity expert Joan Stewart…” Never let a meeting planner or the person who is introducing you write your introduction or it will be a disaster. Write your own and ask your introducer to practice it.
10. In content you share
Use the words “expert” and “expertise” in video titles, tags and descriptions for YouTube videos. That’s what I did in this testimonial video at my YouTube channel.
Also use it in YouTube playlist titles and in “Click to tweet” reminders.
11. In press releases
These include releases for your book launch and anything else you write about yourself. (See my “Press Release Masterclass: How to Write Releases That Get Publicity, Build Your Brand and Sell More Books.”)
12. On Amazon and other book review and book recommendation sites
Include it in your Amazon book description and your Author Central profile. When you write book reviews, follow this example: “As an expert in identity theft, I was impressed with the author’s clear explanation of….”
13. During media interviews
The media seek experts to interview. So don’t be shy about asking them to refer to you as a “[fill in the blank] expert.”
14. In pop-up boxes
The Rev. Misty Tyme mentions it when she asks visitors to join her email list and receive free tips.
15. In written or video testimonials you offer to others
It gives your testimonials added weight.
Other authors would love to hear what you’re doing to become an expert in your topic, or how you’re promoting your expertise. The Comments section awaits…