6 Ways To Use Storytelling To Market Your Non-Fiction Book

What’s the difference between a memorable versus a not so memorable non-fiction book?

A memorable non-fiction book always tells a really great story”

When you wrap relatable stories around the content you are trying to teach in your non-fiction book…

This is a powerful tool to help your readers retain content that you are sharing including: your book, sales offers, social media posts, blogging, and so on.

According to Entrepreneur.com’s article “How to Sell Anything to Anyone by Telling Great Stories”

Storytelling is arguably the most powerful tool in your selling toolbox.”

Therefore, I’m going to talk to you today, in this article, about how you can use this tool of storytelling, as an entrepreneur, to market your non-fiction book…

Landing An airbnb Sale

Let me tell you the power that storytelling has when it comes to selling, based on our recent experiences with finding a place to live.

My wife, Lorrie, and our two girls, Eirun and Halle left Newfoundland, Canada in early 2015 when we set it out to long-term travel across Canada.

Fast forward to today, we currently find ourselves in British Columbia, Canada about 10,000 km’s from where we started our journey.

We are currently staying in an airbnb for the month, however, our host, after 10 days, came downstairs and asked us to stay for 3 months outside of airbnb, and sign a lease.

If you know anything about long-term travellers, we don’t sign leases!

So, we looked for a new place…

We found one, and the host asked us to sign a lease, and provide a deposit, and we said yes.

Why did we say yes to this host versus our current host?

Because the new host invited us into the suite we are renting and they talked to us for over an hour.

Within that time we all got to know each other, and realized we where kindred spirits.

This is because we shared our life stories…

Then it was an easy sell for them, and a no-brainer for us.

Stories are the primordial connecting points for humans.

If you use storytelling to sell, like our short term rental host did, then you are going to make the sale.

So, how do we use this powerful tool to market your non-fiction book?

Just as our host did?

I’m going to show you 6 ways that can use the tool of storytelling to write, and market a non-fiction book as a marketing strategy for your business:

  • 1.Understanding The Origins Of Storytelling
  • 2.How Storytelling Is Good For Business
  • 3.Avoiding The Mistake Of Non-Fiction Authors
  • 4.Focus On “How” Not “Why”
  • 5.9 Mental Triggers For Effective Storytelling
  • 6.Common Stories That Sell

1. Understanding The Origins Of Storytelling

Everyone has a story, and everyone wants to be the the hero of their own story.

According to Joseph Campbell, a world renowned author, and professor of literature, and cultural icon…

“there is only one kind of story: a hero’s story”

Your Heroic Story

Joseph Campbell also went on to write a book about the power of the ‘Heroes Journey’ in his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”.

Where he mentions that every event that transpires in your life is a universal motif of adventure and transformation.

Where the hero, which is us, or humans, or individuals, always experience a life of adversity, triumph, and only then, transformation.

In this Heroes Journey as Joseph Campbell describes, the key to influencing others is by telling stories so that others can picture theme-selves as the hero of that story.”

If you keep reading, I’ll be describing exactly how you can get your audience involved in their own ‘Heroes Journey’ with your book, and through your book marketing.

Power Of Story

Of course, with fiction authors, the focus is storytelling but how can take those same principles of storytelling and apply them to the content that your teaching your audience in your non-fiction book?

Till this day, fiction still sells more, globally, then non-fiction books, in book stores, online, and especially on Amazon.

Stories sell!

Have a look at the top bestsellers of 2016 on Amazon according to Business Insider’s article “These are the 20 best-selling books of the year”…

The #1 bestseller is Harry Potter…

Then, as you move through the list, you’ll see that over 15 of the top 20 bestsellers are fiction.

Which proves, once again, that story’s sell.

However, if you are like a client of mine, and you are a real estate investor first, and a non-fiction author second…

You aren’t going to be the next superstar non-fiction author like Robert T. Kiyosaki, or Stephen R. Covey.

You just want to teach what you know in your industry, leverage your personal brand or business, and generate leads, or sell products.

However, writing a book with the sole intent to share valuable content and presenting only the content, isn’t going to do the job.

You have to relate your story to them about your brand, so it’s their story, and you give them an elegant solution to their problem with your products, or services.

Make Your Stories Relatable

You need to relate the content of your book to your audience by telling them stories that are relatable to their perspective, i.e; their view on the world.

For example, if you are teaching time management to an audience filled with parents, you know they don’t have a lot of time because they have kids!

Telling a story to this audience about how you mastered time management because you are also a parent who has little time for themselves is a powerful way to relate to your audience.

This will hook them into the content that you have to present and it will make it memorable for them.

“That’s great” you might be thinking but how is that good for marketing my non-fiction book and for my business?

2. How Storytelling Is Good For Business

We’ve all probably read a non-fiction book that was obviously written by someone who was going to give you a cheesy sales pitch at the end of the book.

The reality of self-publishing, since the advent of the inter-webs, is that you are going to get books that are going to be complete crap.”

This is because the barrier-to-entry to publish books has been completely eliminated.

20 years ago you had to land a book deal, now you just jump on Amazon with a manuscript and a book cover and you have a published book.

Let’s be honest.

There are many inexperienced non-fiction authors who may be experienced and successful entrepreneurs who aren’t going to write the next “7 Habits Of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.

In fact, in most cases, the books that are written by non-fiction author entrepreneurs, who have little experience with writing…


Those books are going to stink!

These books are going to stink even though the information in these books maybe invaluable to a particular market, or industry!

The big question, you are wondering now is “why” are these books going to stink?

3.Avoiding The Mistake Of Non-Fiction Authors

The big mistake I see with non-fiction authors who are using their book as strategy to market their business is that they don’t tell stories.

This is why their book will stink!

If the content in your book is not relatable to your audience then it’s not going to be memorable, and you are going to lose readers, or you won’t hook them at all.

When people are finished the book they are going to forget the information almost immediately…

They can’t see how the content you are teaching is relevant to their lives.

This is the big mistake of non-fiction authors.

In-fact it’s also the biggest mistake of online publishers as well. It’s still about “them” and “their” brand, on their blogs, or social media posts.

Have you ever seen an annoying LinkedIn video of someone pushing their brand but they aren’t giving you a relatable story.

They are just hitting us with their brand messages every second that they talk.

There is a no barrier-to-entry for users to sign up and have a LinkedIn profile, which is why this kind of thing happens.

Opening up your membership to anyone who wants to join is good, and this is also bad.

I’ve had success with direct selling through chatting on LinkedIn.

Direct selling is still a profitable marketing method for LinkedIn users which is the good part of an open membership.

However, what this means for the direct sellers who are doing well on LinkedIn, they have to dedicate more time to crafty storytelling methods on social media to stand out from a competitive market.

It’s also competitive on Amazon, and it’s imperative that you tell a relatable story in your non-fiction book to hook them in.

Which is why a book, a LinkedIn profile, email, or client list is such a powerful marketing tool.

Essentially, content marketing is the ability to tell your story and broadcast it to interested followers who are willing to listen, and will eventually buy your products.

As an example, I was on LinkedIn the other day and I watched a video of an entrepreneur and influencer who’s an authority on time management.”

He was recording a little video right before he got on stage to give his speech to hundred’s of folks at a marketing conference in Idaho.

Initially, what caught my attention was the reverence at which this man spoke about his topic.

He was an excellent speaker!

4. Focus On “How” Not “Why”

However, after the two minute mark of this video I started losing touch with what this guy was saying because he was focused on the “how” of time management.

Meaning he was talking about how you can achieve better time management versus why you should achieve time management.

The difference, is that the content he’s teaching to his audience, is relevant to them, however, it’s about “his” information versus about his audiences pain.

I always say, it’s not about you it’s about them.

Meaning, once again, as I mentioned earlier in the article, you need to teach content by making it relatable to the audience through storytelling.

Simple, right?

That story is what make’s the information relatable to them.

There’s an old sales adage that says “sell them what they want, give them what they need.”

In other words, get to know your audience, and what they like, and what their pain points are.

What are they challenged with day to day?

Then offer them an elegant solution with your books, social media profiles, and YouTube videos.”

However, the question is, why is storytelling still relevant today as it was since the dawn of humanity?

Well, this is the oldest form of communication that we’ve exercised as humans.

We’ve been passing on our stories since humanity has existed.”

Around camp fires and now in modern day coffee shops.

It’s obvious why social media had exploded.

We don’t want to talk about brands, and products, we want to tell stories about our lives.

This is the audience that social media has also captured.

Essentially, Facebook is a timeline that captures your experiences and tells an ongoing story about your life.”

You can tell your life story to your “friends”, I use the term friends lightly because no one has 23,473,971 friends , like Donald J. Trump’s Facebook profile, at the time of this writing.

Overall business marketing strategies for books of all genres need to present an opportunity for their readers to be the “hero” of their own stories.

A marketing mentor of mine, whom I’ve followed over the years, Jeff Walker, was one of the first people to introduce me to the idea behind using storytelling as a way to market your business.

First off, there are specific mental triggers that you need to follow to draw people toward an idea, person, business, or a brand.

These triggers, that hook us in can be easily represented with a story.

5. 9 Mental Triggers Of Storytelling

Jeff breaks down what inspires people by 9 mental triggers:

  • Authority
  • Reciprocity
  • Trust
  • Anticipation
  • Likability
  • Events/rituals
  • Community
  • Scarcity
  • Social Proof

The key with using these mental triggers for writing your non-fiction book is sprinkling them throughout your book based on your content.

For example, sharing a story about how you helped a well known client, who has millions of followers, with the same strategies you are teaching them in the book…

This story, for example, would build Trust, Authority, and Social Proof. Do you get the picture?

Now, let me share with you more about the types of stories that you can tell based on Joseph Campbell’s ideas on the Heroes Journey.

6. Common Stories That Sell

Campfire songs and stories

There are certain stories that resonate with people based on the Heroes Journey of adventure, adversity, and transformation.

A really good story structure that captures people that I’ve seen being used by sellers who move millions of books, and inspire millions, is the following:

  • Call to Adventure: The business recognizes the problem and takes steps to fix it.
  • Meeting the Mentor: The consultant arrives and identifies the problem.
  • The Ordeal: The business uses what the mentor has taught, and fights for its life. The company faces its enemies: stagnation, low morale, stiff competition, and so on.
  • Resurrection: Victory! Although it’s a short time in a case study, this can take months and years. But it means the company has repaired itself and is on its way to recovery and getting back to normal.

The key to great storytelling is by painting a picture that is specific to your audience, and their worldview, or their perspective.

However, just as Joseph Campbell mentions, every powerful story that’s told has a hero.

Make your audience, and reader of your book the hero of your non-fiction book.


In marketing your current non-fiction book, or writing your next, consider these 6 ways on how you can use storytelling to promote your business with a non-fiction book:

  • 1.Understanding The Origins Of Storytelling
  • 2.How Storytelling Is Good For Business
  • 3.Avoiding The Mistake Of Non-Fiction Authors
  • 4.Focus On “How” Not “Why”
  • 5.9 Mental Triggers For Effective Storytelling
  • 6.Common Stories That Sell

As entrepreneurs and authors, in many markets, writing a non-fiction book that uses storytelling, can be one of the most effective methods to market and differentiate your business amongst other businesses in your industry.

Also, consider the 9 mental triggers, I mentioned, when considering the writing, and marketing of your current or next non-fiction book.

Cheers and happy book marketing…