So you finished your novel! Maybe it was traditionally published or perhaps you self-published. It doesn’t matter. The box of books has arrived in the post and holding your finished product is akin to holding your first newborn. It is exhilarating, a moment you will never forget. However, that feeling of fear you pushed down when it was time to take your infant home from the hospital is stirred up again. What now? What should you do? Aside from calling your family and friends who all want a copy, you need to have a plan. It is called a marketing strategy. Whether you have a publisher or have self-published you will find that promoting your work is up to you.
It can be overwhelming. And whenever I am overwhelmed, I like to break down the problem at hand. Instead of being weighed down by the heavy task before me, I like to section it out. As an alternative to choking while viewing the large job, I nibble around the edges. For example, when it is time to address a very messy room, I don’t look at it and break into a cold sweat while feeling overpowered. I find that things go faster and smoother if I break it down to one little chore at a time. So I break the job of cleaning into little chores. I tell myself to “put everything away.” Then I tell myself to “throw away any debris.” Looking around, I then dust the now cleared surfaces. I decide it would be perfect if only I vacuumed the rug. I’ve broken my large job into four little jobs. It is done before I know it and I find cleaning the room so much easier if I address each little problem as I go. It is the same when you are faced with the daunting task called marketing. In the coming weeks, I will share with you the various things I have learned about marketing. We will break down the process so it is less scary.
Writers are writers because they are hard-working, self-motivated people. They use logic and planning. If you weren’t such a person you would have never had the discipline to finish, edit and perfect your book. The hard part is over. Let’s make marketing fun! In the coming weeks, we will tackle marketing step by step. For now, I want you to remember the saying that is attributed to St. Ignatius, “pray as if everything depends on God, work as if everything depends on you.“ So don’t forget to pray first. God can open up doors that you never anticipated. He can also help you handle the rejection and pain of being dismissed by those you approach.
I initially found marketing hard because, as a cradle Catholic, I was always taught to humble myself and stay in the background. I was not a speaker, nor a salesperson. I found it embarrassing to promote myself or my book. I thought it smacked of conceit or pride. I had to completely change my approach and fight my natural inclinations. After I wrote my book, I quickly started writing my second. I didn’t take the time to promote the first book. I continued this behavior as I progressed to my third book. It was at one of our CWG conferences that Ellen Gable Hrkach spoke to me and told me to “stop writing and start marketing.” I never told her but her advice hit me right between the eyes. I couldn’t deny the truth that God was speaking to me through Ellen. It was fear, not humility, which was making me shy away from marketing. I felt comfortable with writing. I loved using my imagination as I hid behind my laptop.
What good was writing if no one ever read my work? I had to step out of fear and remember that “perfect love cast out fear.” (1 John, 4: 18) How does this verse apply? I had to pray about why I was writing. One night God spoke to my heart and asked me why I was making my work all about me? Huh? That’s when I realized that my writing was for His glory – not mine. My work was for the reader – not my personal success. I realized that if I loved God’s people, I would be more concerned with using my gift to help and love them. I had to love them more then I feared. Ah! So that is what is meant by perfect love casting out all fear. Before you start to market, ask God for the gift of loving your readership more then you fear rejection, notice or being misunderstood. In our next blog we will start our marketing by learning how to use the biggest book distributer in the world – Amazon.