Reading and Exercise

Hope y’all have a Merry Christmas full of love, joy, peace, and hope!

(And of course, reading) 🙂

Click to tweet: Reading and exercise. Can the two go together? It depends on how you look at it.  #amreading #Christmas

Writing Prompt:

Take the photo below and write a flash fiction story (under 1000 words) of what comes to mind.

Book Release and YOU

By Jennifer Hallmark

Have you enjoyed our month of discussing all things book release? Here’s a quick overview in case you missed any of our posts:

To me, what’s most important about a book release is that you enjoy yourself. Yes, be serious and do the work but don’t get so busy and stressed, that you miss the fun. For it is filled with fun.  And kind words. And sales. And meeting and talking to people.

So enjoy yourself. And make sure to stop by in December as we share cool memes and writing quotes. No articles?

Not in December. But those informative posts on writing will be back in January. Until then, have a blessed holiday season…

The Most Important Book Release Marketing Secret

by Karen Sargent

When I signed my first publishing contract, I was elated…and petrified. My forever dream of seeing my name on a book cover was coming true!

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!)

Now that you’ve identified your five people, let’s see who they are.

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.

Click to Tweet: “Give without expecting anything in return. When relationship comes first, book sales follow.” ~ Karen Sargent @Inspired Prompt #writetip #marketing

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.

LINKS:
Website: http://www.karensargentbooks.com
Blog: http://www.karensargentbooks.com/blog/
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/KarenSargentAuthor
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KarenSargentBks

Marketing Ideas for Your Book Release

By Jennifer Hallmark

June 17th, 2019.

The time had arrived. My debut novel, Jessie’s Hope, would be released into the world. A book baby that was years in the making. Was I totally prepared for the marketing that would follow?

Uh, no.

Now before you say anything negative, I had prepared somewhat. But when it’s a brand-new, never-done-before, kind of something, preparation is scattered at best.

What do I mean?

Marketing seems to change every day. One day, an idea may help, the next day, it may not. I thought I’d share five resources/ideas I tried and my thoughts on how they helped me.

(1) Blog tour-I started with a two-week blog tour on release day, then two months later had a week-long review tour set up by Paige Boggs. I’m also planning a one-week tour the first week of December to hopefully add Christmas sales.

  • My thoughts: It helped my sales somewhat, but being on seventeen blogs in fourteen days was too many. I survived, but emerged worn out. The review tour was helpful in that it reached a lot of different people.

(2) Facebook party-I shared a Facebook party (set up by Paige Boggs) with another Lighthouse author Hope Bolinger a week after the release. Hope and I both enjoyed it and I sold several books, mostly e-books. Plus made some new friends…

  • My thoughts: I would definitely do this again.  It was a high-energy, fun party. And sharing it with Hope made it even more fun…

(3) Jessie’s Hope Book Launch Celebration-I held a celebration at our church fellowship hall and invited all my friends and family to share the joy with me.

  • My thoughts: I really had a blast. Over fifty people dropped by, and I sold quite a few paperback books. Worth every penny I spent on it for the encouragement I received that day.

(4) Book signings and speaking engagements-I had a library book signing, spoke at two book clubs, and addressed a women’s church group. I also had a book signing at Coldwater Books during the Helen Keller Festival. I have another bookstore signing planned in a few weeks.

  • My thoughts: Speaking is nerve-wracking, but I made it through okay. I sold over forty books at these events and it was a good experience.

(5) Ads-I purchased Book Bub ads and Facebook ads. I also tried Goodreads ads.

  • My thoughts: I had a lot of looks on Book Bub and really moved my book when it was offered for free for a week. I would have done better if I’d had another book to sell with it. I had several clicks on my ad on Facebook and sold a few. Goodreads had a lot of views, but no clicks. They’re in the process of redoing their ads so maybe it will be for the better. I changed my ad often as an experiment and moved more books with a quote from my book than with the tagline.

I would suggest you try all of these (maybe in moderation) and see what you think. I’m learning new things every day about marketing and tweaking my social media and email newsletter also. Spending money on an email newsletter has been a good investment for me also. I’d highly suggest it before your book finds its way into the world. Try some of these ideas and see your book release go to another level…

Click to tweet: Marketing ideas for your book release. Are you ready to launch a book? #marketing #bookrelease

Writing Prompt: Go to Pinterest and check out book release party ideas. There are so many. Here’s my board.

The Craft of Writing: Resources for the Journey

By Jennifer Hallmark

Learning the craft, or making our work readable, is one of the more important ways to sell books, gain a readership, and be taken seriously in the writing world. But how do we do that?

College, online courses, or conferences can be a great place to start. But maybe they’re not in your budget or timeframe at the moment. Where else can we find resources for our author journey?

I’m so glad you asked. 🙂 The Crew and I want to share our personal favorites:

 Gail Johnson

Bonita Y. McCoy

Tammy Trail

Kristy Robinson Horine

  • Anything by KM Weiland is useful. Not only is there a blog, and books, she has a podcast that she transcribes so readers can listen or read.

    Brandilyn Collins has some great books out on characters, plot twists, why stories work, etc.  Steven James has a podcast called The Story Blender. It’s pretty good.

Jennifer Hallmark: I’ve read tons of books on craft in the past, but now I tend to read more blogs and listen to podcasts. Here are some of the best (IMHO):

And don’t forget about Inspired Prompt and our resources. Here are three links:

We want to see you become the best writer that you possibly can be. There’s no magic formula. As you study, learn, read, and write, your voice will emerge and your skills will increase. It has worked for our Inspired Prompt Crew and it will work for you.

Click to tweet: Learning the craft, or making our work readable, is one of the more important ways to sell books, gain a readership, and be taken seriously in the #writing world.  #pubtip

Writing Prompt: Commit to either reading a writing craft book, one blog post a week, or listen to a podcast a week to strengthen your writing.