It’s hard to believe but it’s now been a year since my first novel, The Perfect Blindside, was released. At this anniversary milestone I thought I’d share a few of the marketing lessons I’ve learned. Maybe some of my tips can help others embarking on their own exciting journey into book promotion. Before publication, I had heard that marketing a book would take a lot of time and much of it was placed on the author’s shoulders. This was a daunting thought as I’m a bit of an introvert but I wanted the book to do well and share my message with readers so I was determined to plunge into the wonderful world of marketing. Of course some things worked much better than others but through it all I learned a lot.
1 – Book store visits – Opinions on the helpfulness of bookstore visits are as varied as the types of genres found in the bookstores. Some authors feel like it’s a waste of time. Others believe it’s a necessary evil, while others thrive under the chance to meet the public. I’ve had some successes with bookstore and library visits but two events in particular stick in my mind. It’s hard to forget the time I hauled my books on a 2 hour drive to visit a bookstore for a booksigning opportunity, only to have a snowstorm hit so the usual crowd of visitors never showed up. Then there was the speed dating like event. Several authors were invited to go from table to table to share about their books with patrons. Though event had great success in the past that particular night only one person showed up. It was frustrating but actually turned out ok – all the authors shared info, marketing ideas and even bought each other’s books.
TIP – You need to do some events to get out there in order for people to know about your book. One author I met at an event shared this wise advice with me: Always bring something to work on – editing, working on a rough draft, answering emails, etc. Then if the event’s a bust it won’t be a complete waste of your time.
2- Radio Interviews – Disclaimer – so far I’ve only had two. This is something that makes me nervous so I haven’t pursued many but I did make myself get out there and try a few. The first was on a morning talk show – short, sweet and very professional. The other however felt more like the sinking of the Titanic. It was with a FM radio DJ, whose job is to be entertaining. He tried to be funny by teasing and joking with me – which may work perfectly fine for someone who can think quickly on their feet – unfortunately that is not me. It was painful (probably more so for me than the listening audience) but a learning experience nonetheless.
TIP – Interviews can be an excellent way to reach a lot of people. But before agreeing know not only your audience but also your interviewer – find out their style and interview format.
3 – School Visits – At first I was terrified at the prospect of speaking to a bunch of middle school students. What could I possibly say to this intimidating group of kids? I hated speaking in front of a class when I was in school, why would I want to relive that experience? But when an opportunity arose to share my story with a class, I forced myself to say yes. And to my complete surprise – I enjoyed it. I’ve done several school presentations now and the one thing I can count on is the unpredictability. Sometimes the kids are really interested and ask a lot of questions, other times they sit politely and say not a word. But it’s all worth it when you see that one student excited by your presentation.
TIP – Be prepared! In case no one asks any questions have some interesting facts or a funny story to share. If you’re using technology for a presentation, have a backup plan ready in case something doesn’t work. You don’t want a mass of middle schoolers getting restless.
4 – Social Media – Social media is a huge part of book marketing. I’ve been trying several different sites –Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. After chatting with some author friends I’ve found that everyone seems to have a different favorite. One friend generates a lot of visitors to her website through her Pinterest posts. Another friend has wonderfully witty comments that seem to work well on Twitter. And yet another who loves to take photos prefers Instagram. Personally, I’ve had the best results through interacting with people on Facebook.
TIP – Try several different ones for at least a year to find out what works best for you. We all have different strengths and talents so it makes sense that different media outlets will work better for different people. Following other authors to see what they post and share can generate ideas for you.
5 – Reviews – There are an incredible amount of books on the market these days which makes it very difficult to get yours noticed. Reviews are a great way to spread the word, especially on Amazon and Goodreads. Whether we like it or not Amazon is a major player in the book selling business. The more reviews your book has on Amazon the more your book will show up as a suggested read. But getting those precious reviews can be difficult. I was amazed how many good friends and family members who liked the book were nervous to write a review for some reason. Ask but don’t pressure. Another effective way to reach potential readers is through book bloggers and online reviewers. A quick internet search will lead you to a host of people willing to read your book and post a review for their readers.
TIP – Join up with other author friends to review each other’s books. If possible, before your book is released come up with a list of people who could write reviews for you on Amazon or Goodreads. If you do search online for reviewers just make sure to look for ones that like the kinds of books you write.
6 – Time Management – It’s such an exciting time when your book is finally published but suddenly you go from working on one novel to performing a complicated juggling act. If you’re writing more books your time is now split between writing, editing, and marketing. Each new book is like adding a new ball to the juggling routine because each project needs time and attention.
TIP – For me the trick has been to schedule specific time for each item – a few hours in the morning for writing, an hour in the afternoon for contacting new bookstores and bloggers, twenty minutes in the evening to post on the various social media sites, etc.
As writer’s we have a story to share. Whether we publish through a publishing company or self-publish, getting our stories out to potential readers is a crucial part of our job. However, this often is not an aspect we think much about or have a desire to work on. Most projects in our lives have a conclusion or end result but with marketing there is no end point, which can be frustrating. But don’t fight it. Once I realized it was never going away, I looked at it differently. I decided just to do a little every day and suddenly it didn’t seem as overwhelming or frustrating. We are lucky to have that incredible tool called the Internet which has an abundance of articles out there full of marketing ideas. Have fun exploring!
Roland West, Loner by Theresa Linden is a Catholic YA novel centered around the relationships between brothers and friends. This book is especially great for Middle School and High School boys. Don’t get me wrong – Roland West, Loner is an entirely engaging and well-written book that anyone would enjoy but I don’t come across very many YA novels completely from a boy’s perspective, which makes this unique and special. Linden knows boys well and writes from this perspective perfectly.
I absolutely loved the development of the friendship between Roland and his neighbor Peter. I also enjoyed the character of Caitlyn and the sweet relationships she had with both boys. Even though it’s titled Roland West, Peter had his own very interesting storyline and issues to overcome. The author fused the two boys storylines together brilliantly through an adventure they embark on together.
There is a deeply religious part of the story, about saints and relics that was brought up in a very intriguing way. This is a subject I’ve never seen addressed before in YA fiction and I think the readers will find it as interesting as I did. Linden does a wonderful job of drawing the reader into Roland’s life. At times I wanted to scream in frustration with how he was treated by his manipulative brothers.
The best news is there’s a sequel – Life-changing Love – so the reader won’t have to wait long to find out what happens next for Roland.
Roland West, Loner is a contemporary Christian story of a fourteen-year-old boy who finds himself friendless at a new school and the subject of cruel rumors. Despised by older twin brothers, he feels utterly alone but not without hope. If he can avoid his brothers while his father is away, he might have a solution to his problem.When his brothers lock him away, having a plan of their own, he gets rescued by an unlikely pair: a neighboring autistic boy and his brother. Struggling to trust his new friends, secrets, rumors, lies, and an unusual inheritance put him on a journey that just might have the power to change the life of this loner.
Angelhood by AJ Cattapan is a captivating YA novel that tackles an extremely difficult subject while putting an intriguing and heartfelt twist to it. Cattapan is a talented writer who has effortlessly created a story about teen suicide which is moving, positive, and uplifting. This hard to put down book encourages readers to think about the good in their lives and how much they’d miss it if they did the unthinkable and gave it up. The lead character is completely relatable and likeable, as readers we empathize with the despair she feels in her life as well as the painful realization of the damage her decisions have on others. The novel’s intriguing premises and subplots are the perfect elements to generate great discussions. I only wish I had known someone else who had read it because I had so much I wanted to debate and talk about. This is a truly exceptional novel.
Seventeen-year-old theater geek Nanette believes her life is headed toward stardom on Broadway. But when her dream theater college rejects her and her best friend dies in a terrible accident, Nanette decides the world would be better off without her. Unfortunately, the afterlife offers something less than a heavenly situation. Trapped between alternating periods of utter darkness and light, Nanette is stuck following a high school freshman around. Soon, she learns she’s a guardian angel, and the only way she can earn her wings is to keep her young charge, Vera, from committing the same sin she did—taking her own life. Unfortunately, Nanette is missing more than just her wings. She has no tangible body or voice, either. Frustrated by her inability to reach out to Vera and haunted by memories of her old life, Nanette wants to give up, but then she sees what happens when another Guardian at the high school turns his back on his charge. The shock is enough to supercharge Nanette’s determination. She’s going to find peace in the afterlife…as soon as she can convince Vera that living is what life is all about.
Ten Steps to Girlfriend Status is actually the second book in Cynthia Toney’s Birdface series, but you don’t have to read the first book to enjoy this wonderful YA novel. I actually read this one first but found the characters so intriguing I had to pick up the first book, 8 Notes to a Nobody, to find out more about the characters. I loved that this novel was about a regular girl who faces real issues – misunderstandings with friends, complexities of blended families, difficulties with aging loved ones and complicated feelings of a new relationship. Toney expertly blends all of this around an intriguing family mystery which makes the story even more compelling. This is the kind of book so many parents search for – a thoroughly enjoyable wholesome story with issues that teen readers can relate to.
A Cajun family secret, two very different boys, and a fight to keep a grandmother’s love—who would’ve guessed that looking through old photo albums could get Wendy into so much trouble?
Wendy Robichaud is on schedule to have everything she wants at the start of high school: two loyal best friends, a complete and happy family, and a hunky boyfriend she’s had a crush on since eighth grade—until she and Mrs. Villaturo look at old photo albums together. That’s when Mrs. V sees her dead husband and hints at a 1960s family scandal down in Cajun country. Faster than you can say “crawdad,” Wendy digs into the scandal and into trouble. She risks losing boyfriend David by befriending Mrs. V’s deaf grandson, alienates stepsister Alice by having a boyfriend in the first place, and upsets her friend Gayle without knowing why. Will Wendy be able to prevent Mrs. V from being taken thousands of miles away? And will she lose all the friends she’s fought so hard to gain?
This story uses humor and hope to address issues of adapting to a blended family, having a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s, and struggling through that first innocent romantic relationship.
Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks–until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even the best friend she always counted on, Jennifer, is hiding something and pulling away. But the spring program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don’t leave much time to play detective. And the more Wendy discovers about the people around her, the more there is to learn.When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer after eighth grade, who will be around to support her as high school starts in the fall?
This Christian YA novel by Cynthia Toney, is about the difficulties of the middle school years. It’s a beautiful story that deals honestly with many difficult subjects such a low self-esteem, depression and other serious issues. Toney does an incredible job of tackling these hard topics in a hopeful and empowering way. I love how the main character finds the strength to take charge and change things for herself by following her 5 step plan to making friends. This is such a great proactive idea that all teens could try. My favorite part of the story was seeing how things changed for the main character over the summer as she prepared for high school. It was so wonderful to see that even though heartache and tragedies occurred things could change and get better, leaving this deep book ending on a wonderfully positive note. This is a great book for any middle school student. And you’ll be thrilled to know there is a sequel!
Excited to share the new book trailer for The Perfect Blindside.
Enjoy and share!
March Special – chance to win a copy of The Perfect Blindside.
Share with friends who may be interested!
On the anniversary of the plane crash that took the life of her beloved grandmother and threw her own mother into a deep depression, 16-year-old Katelyn Roberts discovers a single bead from her grandmother’s rosary – a rosary lost in the crash
A chance encounter with a stranger, who tells Katelyn that a similar bead saved her friend’s life, launches Katelyn and her family on a quest to find the other missing beads.
Their mysterious journey, filled with glimmers of hope, mystical events and unexplained graces takes them further into the unknown. Katelyn turns to the Rosary for answers and soon finds that family, prayer and the help of others may be the key to restoring what was lost.
A Single Bead by Stephanie Engelman, is a beautiful young adult novel that centers around a family in need and a special rosary that affects the lives around them.
This engaging story touches on very real and difficult issues such as loss and depression while focusing on the power of prayer and the importance of family.
I was intrigued with the main character, Katelyn, and how she was influenced not only by the crisis of faith in her own personal family but also the very strong beliefs held by her large extended family. The journey that Katelyn is drawn into surrounding her grandmother’s rosary is mysterious, thought-provoking and moving. What a joyful message for anyone that our prayers can be so powerful and life-changing.
A Single Bead would make a wonderful Confirmation gift.
A friend recently asked me what my writing time looked like. She was genuinely curious about how I managed my time. I’m not really sure what I answered in that moment but lately I’ve been thinking about her question and am reminded of a cruise my family took a few years back.
During one of the days at sea two of the entertainers, very accomplished jugglers, held a little seminar to teach passengers the art of juggling. We joined our kids who were eager to learn this new skill. The performers started everyone out with one ball, to practice tossing it in a perfect arch. When that was mastered a second ball was added. They told the rapt audience that only after perfecting two balls could a third be added.
Well, that is kind of how my life as a writer feels lately – like I’m juggling multiple things.
When I first began my writing journey, The Perfect Blindside was my only focus – the only sphere I had to worry about. I spent years writing, editing, re-writing, sending it out, collecting rejection letters, etc.
Eventually when the novel was picked up by Pauline Books and Media and the long editing process began, I started to write a second book – adding a second item to my juggling act. I admit there were a few times when I had trouble tossing around the two projects. Once during the revision process my editor sent back one of the new scenes she had asked me to write and questioned who the new characters were. I couldn’t believe I had used the character names from my second book in this new scene for the first book.
But for the most part controlling the two writing spheres was not too overwhelming.
This past summer when The Perfect Blindside was being printed, I put the finishing touches on my second book and actually began a third novel. Even then I had no idea how challenging the juggling would become.
Even thought The Perfect Blindside is a finished book and printed, the work doesn’t end. The never-ending marketing aspect has begun, for if no one knows of the book, no one can buy it.
So now I find my writing time split three ways. First, I’m constantly trying to find ways to market The Perfect Blindside, set up school visits, contact bloggers, etc. Second, I’m trying to secure a home for my second book, which can be a very time consuming process full of query letters and researching publishers. And third, my new writing projects need quite a bit of my time and attention to get written and edited.
This new stage is exciting because I enjoy having so many projects but it’s more challenging than I would have imagined. If I focus too much attention on one – the others fall. I just wish I had it figured out and could juggle it with the ease of those entertainers on the cruise ship.
We all juggle different parts of our lives and struggle to keep them all in motion. Lenten season seems to be the perfect time to remember that we must rely on God and let Him help us when we’re weary from managing it all. Our loving Father will always be there to help us keep everything perfectly orbited.