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!
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!
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.
This month “The Perfect Blindside” won a silver medal – just like the book’s hero Jake!
I’m very excited about this honor but must give the glory to God who placed this story on my heart and in my mind. I pray this recognition will help me further my message of finding and using your gifts from God to help others.
When I first found out my book was going to be published I was ecstatic. I had dreamt about it for years but I didn’t really think much about what would happen if my dream ever did come true.
I had heard over the years, from authors, that the marketing aspect of the profession was the tough part. It’s not that I doubted that assessment but at the time I was totally focused on actually getting published and thought – gee, stop complaining, I wish I had such problems.
Getting the word out about the book is tricky and rather time consuming but last week I was blessed with a full week of indepth marketing activities. A school visit to share my message with an 8th grade class, a radio interview, a bookstore meet and greet, and a library event with 7 other authors.
These of course are great opportunities and I was thrilled to have them but for someone who would prefer sitting on the couch wearing pajamas and being creative from the comforts of her own home – these things are terrifying.
Standing up in front a room full of people to give a speech is one of the worst things I can imagine. Thinking on my feet while being asked unknown questions for an audience is something I’m completely terrible at. The added stress of having to do this while “on air” makes me feel like hiding under the bed.
The underlying theme of my book is about using your gifts from God to help others. This is a belief I feel passionate about but I can’t help but wonder if God is chuckling a little because while I spread the message of using our gifts I am having to face my biggest fears and use skills that are definitely not among my talents.
Before each event I prayed. I asked for God to calm my racing heart, to give me the right words to say and for God to – and I’ll quote my favorite TobyMac song here – “steal my show.”
Of course God was faithful and answered my prayers. Some events went better than others but with His grace I made it through them all.
To my delight those middle school students were sweet, attentive and had a ton of great questions. The radio interview was an interesting experience which I’m not sure I care to repeat but learned a lot if there ever is a next time. At the bookstore I did sit there most of the time with no one buying the book as a snowstorm howled outside keeping the patrons away but I survived it. And in the process I met some wonderful people and came away with some great ideas for my sequel. And at my library event, I was able to connect with some other authors who shared some marketing tips and was blessed by the encouragement of several friends who came to support me.
I’m not sure I’ll ever feel comfortable with this part of my writing journey but as I told the middle school students during my presentation – we don’t always know what God’s plan is for us but if we say yes he will always lead us in amazing ways. I said “yes” to this journey when I began to write The Perfect Blindside and I guess I should take my own advice and enjoy the incredible ride.
A few weeks back I introduced you to Cassidy Klein and her incredible project through the Girl Scouts of America to create a library at the Joshua Station transitional housing facility here in Denver. The Tattered Cover bookstore collected donated books for the project and even donated one new book for every 10 books brought in.
I had the wonderful opportunity last week to attend the Grand Opening of the library. I was so honored to be there. Cassidy worked very hard to create this special place filled with books and comfy couches. The library is a beautiful space for families facing difficult times to share with their children. It was truly touching to see the joy on the faces of the children as they celebrated this event.
I’m so proud of Cassidy and the amazing work she has done. She’s truly using her gifts to help other.