by Karen Sargent
What could be more exciting for a wanna-be author? The answer is easy. Nothing!
And what could be more terrifying? That answer is easy, too. What if no one buys my book? After all, why would they? I’m an invisible, no-name, insignificant author.
Then, two weeks after I signed my contract, I accidentally discovered the most important book marketing secret. I’m going to share it with you, but before I do, I must ask a few questions.
Let’s pretend your new book releases tomorrow. Who will buy it? Think of five people who will—without a doubt—pay money to read your book. Write down their names, or at least say their names aloud. This is important, so take a few seconds. I’ll wait…
(Don’t read on until you have your list!)
Is your mom on the list? How about your dad? Cross them off.
Did Grandma and Grandpa make the list? An aunt or an uncle? Cross them off, too.
How about your brother or sister or son or daughter or cousin? Yep. They have to go. In fact, let’s remove anyone related to you.
Mark off your best friend, your neighbor, and your co-worker. Delete anyone in your church or your writing group or your community.
Is anyone left? Do they know you by your first name? Then take them off the list, too.
And now your list is blank. But don’t worry. We’re getting to the good stuff.
Why are you certain those five people will purchase your new release? What is the common denominator?
Those people care about you. They have a connection with you, and they’d be happy to buy your book—even if it’s a bad book.
So here’s the important secret. Book marketing is not about selling books. It’s about building a relationship. Remember the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams? “If you build it, they will come.” If you build a relationship with readers, book sales will come. It’s a 100% guaranteed book marketing strategy. Here’s how I know.
When it was time to query agents, my online presence was lacking. I felt unqualified to start an author website or a writing blog. But, I had two decades of mom experience, and the target audience for my book included moms, so I started a mom blog instead.
By the time I signed my book contract, I’d been blogging for three months and had about 100 followers (who had no idea I had written a book). I couldn’t wait to share my news, so I made a video and posted it to my blog.
My blog followers went CRAZY! By the next day, the video had 1,500 views, my blog followers tripled, and I couldn’t keep up with Facebook friend requests.
What if I hadn’t started that mom blog three months before my contract offer? Who would have cared that a publisher wanted my book? (My mom, my husband, my best friend…) Instead, my publishing journey was crowded with friends who couldn’t wait for Waiting for Butterflies.
There’s more. I revealed my book cover the same day my book was available for pre-order on Amazon, and guess what? More CRAZY. That day is still my second highest book sale day. Once the book released, Facebook friends posted pictures with their copy of Butterflies, along with their reactions once they finished reading, and I hadn’t even asked them to! With each post, I watched Amazon sales increase.
Relationship. If you build it, sales will come. So how do you build it?
Obviously, my Mom blog was a serendipitous beginning (thanks to my severe case of imposter syndrome) that turned out to be a smart accident. If you’re thinking about starting a writing blog or a book review blog, is there a different approach that would target your audience more directly?
Blogging isn’t the only way to build relationships. I cherish the friends I’ve made by interacting on others’ websites, in Facebook groups, and on book launch teams. So if you’re in the habit of stalking those communities, introduce yourself. We’ve been waiting for you!
If building relationships is the most important secret about book marketing, here’s the most important secret about how to do it. You must be genuine. If you have an ulterior motive, it will show.
A rewarding relationship with readers is built just like every other meaningful relationship you have: Give more than is expected. Give without expecting anything in return. When the relationship comes first, book sales follow.
Writing Prompt: Bree didn’t hear him walk up behind her, but she knew he was there.
Karen Sargent is an award-winning author whose debut novel, WAITING FOR BUTTERFLIES, was the 2017 IAN Book of the Year. She writes “stories that stir the soul” with characters whose imperfect faith collides with real-life conflicts. She also blogs at The MOM Journey, where moms aren’t perfect and that’s perfectly okay. Her writing has been featured in Guidepost’s Angels on Earth magazine and Chicken Soup for the Soul, as well as online at Writer’s Digest. A newly retired English teacher, Karen gets her “teaching fix” by coaching and encouraging new writers and presenting workshops at writer’s guilds and conferences. She is a member of ACFW, WFWA, the Missouri Writers’ Guild, and the SEMO Writers’ Guild. Visit her at KarenSargentBooks.com.
Waiting for Butterflies
Longing for her family after her sudden death, Maggie becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family’s downward spiral in the aftermath of her passing. Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she caused her mother’s death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence. Although limited by their grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and save her family before her second chance runs out. A tender portrait of a mother whose love reaches beyond possible, Waiting for Butterflies will embrace your heart and not let go.