…because you thought getting your book published meant you crossed the finish line.
I thought as I worked on the 5th draft in 7 years, “My book is good now; I can feel it.” And others read it and said, “This is it!” A publisher agreed, and I introduced my book, Less Than a Widow, to the world in the fall of 2015.
I was an Olympic athlete who had just run the biggest race of my life. I’d trained innumerable hours, had the right shoes, the right track, and my lucky hair ribbon. I’d been well coached and knew how to run the race and make it to the finish line.
Except it wasn’t really the finish line.
I found myself back in the starting blocks after the starting gun had already gone off, and all the other racers were already sprinting. I felt like I’d never run a step in my life.
I’m talking about marketing.
I was silly enough to think of writing as the marathon, when in reality it was more like running the 400-meter hurdles. I’m not belittling this race: it’s a sprint that goes on and on and on while jumping obstacles in your path. It’s not easy. Not everyone can do it.
But marketing your book is the marathon. It takes everything you have inside you and more. It can be so overwhelming that the second book you were so excited about can easily get delegated to day dream status.
Marketing is a job that takes a different set of muscles than writing your book—even if a lot of it involves writing. But you don’t have to go out and develop an exercise program—there is a plethora of ideas, materials, lessons, opportunities, and step-by-step guarantees to put you on the path to a best seller. The hard part is figuring out what to choose.
Use what you are already doing.
- I’d been blogging for a few years already, and although the number of my followers is small, they are responsive. I changed the format from a blog page to a website using Word Press. It was a challenge, but not as daunting as I thought it would be.
- I also enjoyed Facebook, so I added a separate author’s page.
- I designed, and regularly share, eye-catching business cards.
Know who you are, what your skills are, and start there.
- My work experience in interviewing, business writing, and graphic design buoyed my abilities and confidence in the public arena.
- I’m an extrovert who loves to talk to people, delve into ideas, and have a lot of fun. I set up radio interviews on local stations, spoke at local groups and club events, held book signing events, and sent out e-mails.
Make a plan, try things, and revise as needed
- After rolling my eyes and sighing loudly, I started a Twitter account. Within a few months, I was really enjoying myself and have over 250 followers without effort to grow this list on my part.
- I realized my plan was too ambitious—it overwhelmed me. So I applied the KISS method—Keep It Simple, Sweetie—and tweaked the plan to be more realistic in scope and to what I would actually be able to do.
- Prepare a marketing packet of information sheets on your book, an author biography, and speaker availability (including topics).
Use batching to multiply your results
- Blanket one community at a time: radio interviews, get your book available for sale locally, newspaper articles, speaking engagements in local service clubs, libraries, etc.
- Or focus on one group at a time. Presently I am in the final preparations to market a Bible study that uses my historical novel as supplementary reading. Offering this study as a printed booklet, a downloadable PDF, and an e-book, I am preparing an email marketing plan for local churches as well as churches in other areas where I have contacts.
- Know when to ask for help
- Aside from acting as a pre-reader and my major fan, my husband is a linear thinker married to a creative enthusiast. Add these two together and you get a pretty good marketing team that can cover the necessary bases.
- I had to be willing to ask. He had to be willing to agree.