Where Should I Spend My Book Marketing Dollars?

By Jennifer Hallmark

Hmm. That’s an interesting question. For the past 12 years, I’ve worked on perfecting the craft of writing, making connections, growing my blogs, and finishing my novel. The time for marketing is drawing near. My debut novel will release in June of 2019, so marketing is foremost on my mind at this time. (Besides my edits)

How should I invest money for the greatest return? Here’s a few of my ideas:

(1) Talk to my already-published author friends, especially those in my genre. People that have been there, done that, can share expertise to help me make decisions. Here’s what three authors have already told me . . .

Betty Thomason OwensOne way I will use to market a new release is through a paid blog tour. By paying for the service, the heavy work is already handled for you. The blogs will be scheduled and you’ll have help when the time comes for the tour.

  • What you get for your money: (1) A blog tour to generate publicity for your newly-released book. (2) Guaranteed reviews, though the reviews are honest, and not always positive.
  • What it requires from you: This is a 14-day tour, so it requires a lot of planning and work. You’ll need to supply books up front for the reviews, either Ebooks, or print, as specified by the bloggers. Total cost can run several hundred dollars, weighed against whatever sales are generated by the blog tours. For more information, contact: Celebratelit  
  • I also seek out venues like conferences, craft fairs, and other functions in the area. There is usually a cost to rent a table or booth, but the personal exposure is well worth the money. I almost always earn the cost back in sales. One thing to remember about these, always have takeaways, like business cards, postcards and/or bookmarks, and chocolate.

Suzy Parish-My favorite way to spend marketing dollars involves little to zero investment dollar-wise. Research charities to see if one has a mission that falls within the parameters of the theme of your novel. Develop a relationship with the CEOs of that charity, send them a cover letter explaining how your novel dovetails with their mission statement. Offer to promote their charity alongside your book, after sending them an ARC for their approval, of course! This can develop into a beautifully mutual relationship with Christ, the ultimate benefactor. Sales might benefit also!

Janie Winsell-There are wonderful marketing ideas for authors, but narrowing it down to my favorite is hard. I had to ponder this question and really look at all of my marketing research to come up with an answer, but I have finally come to the conclusion that giveaways are the best way to get attention for your book. You can give away a five-dollar Starbucks card or even a fifty-dollar Amazon card. You dictate how little or how much you spend, which is great. People respond better to marketing that gets them something for free.

Let’s say you want twenty people to like and share your post with the link to your new release, what better way to achieve your goal than by promising a giveaway of your book once you reach your target. Then, you have twenty people see your book, share your book, and twenty more of their friends do the same. Selling books is all about visibility. People have to see it to want to buy it!

(2) Read multiple blog posts and listen to podcasts. There are great sources of information out there. Here are three of my favorites:
(3) Make a plan. I’ll take the ideas I think I can work with, the ones that feel right and put together a strategy.  What do you think of these?
  • Local launch party
  • Blog tour
  • Book signings
  • Conferences
  • A social media blitz
  • Giveaways
  • Research charities
(4) Follow through. When the time comes, I’ll schedule my plan into my calendar and see what works. I’ll save all my information of how each marketing idea worked or didn’t so I’ll have it for my next book launch. It’s never too early to plan ahead.

Click to tweet: Where should I spend my book marketing dollars? Here’s a few ideas. #marketing #amwriting

Writing prompt: Please share (in the comment section) what your favorite way to spend marketing dollars, the one that works best for you.

Research: The Inspired Prompt Way

Research. We’ve spent the month of March dissecting this topic from all angles. From how to start, to research on the road, and current events research, a way to gather information should be coming clear.

I’ve asked the Crew to share their go-to source when it comes to research. Here’s what they said:

Harriet Michael: As a Christian nonfiction writer who writes a lot of Biblical pieces—devotions and essays to a Biblical theme, my go-to resource is Bible Gateway where I can look up passages, do word searches, find commentaries, and find passages in all translations. Here is their link: https://www.biblegateway.com/

Jennifer Hallmark: Sometimes when I write, I just can’t think of the right word so I use an online thesaurus. Even if I don’t find what I need, it often gets my creativity flowing so I can move forward in my writing. Their link is http://www.thesaurus.com/

Kristy Horine: I find the Blue Letter Bible www.blueletterbible.org to be a great resource due to its interlinear concordance, cross references, language explanations, and access to commentaries. It has an app that is free that can be downloaded to your phone.  In addition, www.biblestudytools.com is helpful in the commentary area.

Another source is www.thoughtco.com. This is not a Christian-based resource, but it sure is fun for those strange and unusual questions like if brain cells regenerate, or the difference between racism and prejudice. It is based on the idea that we should be lifelong learners and seeks to teach just that. Plus, it has a really neat daily email you can sign up for. And, for numbers: www.barna.com and www.pewresearch.org

Betty Thomason Owens: I attended a class on researching at the Mid South Conference. The instructor gave us the Library of Congress website. It’s huge. You can find articles, photos, and lots of other interesting studies and stories and books. https://www.loc.gov/  I also love History.com  https://www.history.com/ and the Smithsonian.com https://www.smithsonianmag.com/.

Gail Johnson: I use the Bible, Webster’s dictionary, and the Strong’s Concordance. Also Bible Gateway and the online versions of the dictionary and thesaurus.

Bonita McCoy: I love  Biblehub.com because it gives you the verse in several translations. I use it for my Beautiful Pieces of Grace blog. Also the good old library for articles for the Inspired Prompt site and my Courageous Writers blog.

Fay Lamb: My research varies on what the subject happens to be. If it is medical, I will look up medical research on various sites, but I also look for journals of people who have undergone medical procedures. I also use slang dictionaries for slang for certain times. I even have a surfers’ slang dictionary.

Tammy Trail:  I tend to look for historical societies. There is a blog I like to catch up with too, Colonial Quills. Lots of historical information there for me. I use the Colonial Williamsburg website also. For writing related information, I love Seekerville.

Carlton Hughes:  Like others, my research varies depending on the subject. I’m mostly writing devotionals now, so usually I’m searching for a specific scripture on Bible Gateway. Blogs like Novel Rocket are good for general advice on fiction writing.

Shirley Crowder:  I use Blue Letter Bible — lots of commentaries, words studies, etc. https://www.blueletterbible.org/

Karen Jurgens: I use Google for whatever I need to know when I’m writing about Paris and other parts of the world. I study maps of the city, and I use reference books I’ve purchased while visiting. For example, I bought lots of historical books and maps of Cayman Island when I vacationed there a couple years ago. I always write about settings I know personally or have visited.

Cammi Woodall: Started in September of 1998, Google is the world’s largest search engine. You know how I know that? I googled it! When you can use your search engine name as a verb, you know you are doing something right. I love other sites like AskJeeves.com or Yahoo.com, but I always come back to Google. In one research session, l learned that the world’s oldest church is the Dura-Europos house church in Syria, arsenic poison will still show up in your fingernails 6 to 12 months after ingestion, and a ten-gallon hat really only holds three-quarters of a gallon. Who knew? Google did! And now I do, too.

Thank you, Inspired Prompt Crew! As you can see, there are research sites galore for the fiction and non-fiction writer. Do you have a go-to site that’s not listed above? In lieu of a writing prompt, we’re asking you to share that in the comments below…

Click to tweet: The Inspired Prompt Crew shares their go-to source when it comes to research for writers. #research #Google

Research on the Road – the Hideout Guest Ranch in Shell, Wyoming

By June Foster

My husband and I have traveled in our RV off and on for the last fifteen years. Beginning in 2010, I sensed the Lord calling me to write Christian fiction. I soon discovered traveling and writing fiction are best buddies. Every destination offers a setting for a book—one where I’ve actually walked the streets or roamed the countryside.

Last summer, I had the privilege of experiencing the most intriguing research on the road ever. We parked at Shell Campground in Wyoming at the base of the Big Horn Mountains for the entire summer. And most exciting, a very expensive, upscale guest ranch only a few miles away provided ample information.

So, the setting of my WIP is a Wyoming ranch I call Sunlight Peaks. The book, A Home For Fritz, will be out in May.

The owner of the exclusive guest ranch, The Hideout, was congenial and took me around the entire ranch in his open-air Jeep. (I’m glad I didn’t have to pay for a week’s stay at $3500.) I saw fields where his horses grazed, the barns and corral, the main complex that housed the elegant dining room and ranch offices, and guest quarters. He graciously showed me inside one of the guest rooms where, of course, my heroine stays during her visit.

But my research didn’t end there. I asked permission to interview the wranglers, which the owner granted. Since my hero is a wrangler, the chats were invaluable. I asked questions like: what do you like the most about your job? The least? Does management allow you to fraternize with the guests? Can you have a dog? Lots of others that related to the story.

Really exhilarating was the opportunity to visit the Big Horn Mountains. The entrance was only a five mile drive from the campground. In one of the mountain ranges is what the locals call the eye of the needle. It’s an opening in the rock which if you are at the pull-off on the mountain road at sunset, you have an exquisite view. Thus, I called my guest ranch Sunlight Peaks Guest Ranch. My hero and heroine fall in love as they witness the eye at sunset.

While in Wyoming, we attended a church in Greybull and got to know many of the locals. This was research in the sense that I based some of the characters on these delightful people. Not to mention the owners of the Shell Campground where we stayed.

The bottom line is: research on the road is the best, most effective type for an author. I lived the Wyoming life for three amazing months in 2017.

Click to tweet: June Foster: I soon discovered traveling and writing fiction are best buddies. #research #romance

Writing Prompt: Jed kicked at the dirt clod by his boot. Crazy woman. She’d be his or…


An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. Her characters find themselves in tough situations but overcome through God’s power and the Word.

She writes edgy topics wrapped in a good story. To date, she’s seen sixteen contemporary romances and several short stories published. Find June online at junefoster.com.


June’s newest novel, A Home For Fritz, won’t release until May so she agreed to share with us a few of her newer books. 🙂

Letting Go

When Pastor Zack Lawrence loses his wife and unborn child, he can’t find the motivation to minister at his church in Oak Mountain, Alabama. Though Ell Russell has loved Zack since they were kids, she must abandon any hope for a life with him. Can Zack find love again or will he shred Ella’s heart once more?

Buy link: http://tinyurl.com/ybqmnc2v

 

Prescription for Romance

Though Scott Townsend made a commitment to the Lord, he can’t relinquish bitterness toward his younger brother after he squanders their parents’ money. When a beautiful, young pharmacist seeks affirmation and challenges Scott’s values, he must uphold his upbringing.   

Buy link:  http://tinyurl.com/y8jtqvuw 

Is it Possible for a Writer to Organize Their Research?

By Jennifer Hallmark

As a writer, one of the pesky problems I deal with is how to organize everything to do with writing, especially research. Whether it’s short stories, novels, articles, or blog posts, groundwork is involved and I need somewhere to store quotes, answered questions, photos, and fact-finding. Is it even possible to keep up with it all?

Yes.

The Inspired Prompt Crew has shared their thoughts this month on how to get started, historical research, current events research, TV and movie research, Biblical story retelling, and character research.

Now that you know how to research for your writing, you need ways to organize. I say ways because there are quite a few options and you need to experiment to find which one works for you. At the moment, I’m using a combination of the methods below. I’m working on the second book in my first series (Book one will release in June of 2019) and book series groundwork is a headache. But I am making my way down this overgrown trail…

(1) Microsoft Word files and documents. I do all my writing in Microsoft Word. I found it easiest to make a main file for my series, then sub-files for each book, and more sub-files within each book such as character birthdays, job information, research I’m keeping though I may not use it in the story, etc. All my groundwork is in separate sub-files that I can easily find. 

(2) Binders. I’m also experimenting with a binder containing only research. That way if I’m tired of sitting at the computer, I can take my binder with me and study, add or subtract notes, and keep the story fresh in my mind.

(3) Hanging folders. I haven’t tried this but my desk has a drawer equipped for hanging folders. This could be a good way to separate research you use in stories, novels, articles, etc.

(4) Scrivener. Scrivener is a word-processing program and outliner designed for authors. Scrivener provides a management system for documents, notes and metadata. I’ve actually bought this program but haven’t figured it out yet. I’m a visual learner so I’ll probably have to sit down with someone and learn hands-on. Many of my friends, especially the novelists, use it and say they wouldn’t keep up with research any other way.

(5) Evernote.  When you go to this site, it says, “Meet Evernote, your second brain. Capture, organize, and share notes from anywhere. Your best ideas are always with you and always in sync.” You can use it with your tablet or smartphone and it keeps up with everything. Again, this is something I’ve signed up for but haven’t used yet.

I hope these ideas will give you a place to start. A lot of my research starts here …

I write longhand in notebooks, run off facts, and pile information until I finally take a day, go through it all, and put it where it needs to go. 🙂

Whatever works for you. That’s the way you need to organize your research.

Click to tweetWhether it’s short stories, novels, articles, or blog posts, groundwork is involved and you need somewhere to store quotes, answered questions, photos, and fact-finding. Is it even possible to keep up with it all? #research #organize

Writing prompt: Instead of a prompt, take one step this week to better organize your research. Download software, buy a binder, or try hanging folders.

What Is So Historical About Research?

By Tammy Trail

When I began to write my first novel, I knew it would be a historical. I love history. I love the idea of our nation being shaped by hardworking men and women who sacrificed to live in an untamed country. I chose Frontier/American Revolution because that’s what I like to read.

I began of course with WHO, WHAT, WHERE, and WHEN. I was given advice from a writer friend to research everything for accuracy and keep notes on where I found that information. I may need it later to educate or confirm my research.

If you just google Historical Research, you will find a plethora of options. Historical research involves examining past events to draw conclusions about the future. That is one definition I found. Instead of drawing conclusions about the future, we who write historical fiction pour our definition of past events and how they might have affected our characters onto the page.

Some material that may help in your research are newspapers, diaries, letters, speeches, or interview a person with firsthand knowledge. Museums, historical societies, and old pictures are helpful too. I would really love to take a “research” trip one of these days. Williamsburg Virginia has been calling my name for years.

Other information you may need to research.

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Trades
  • Politics
  • Travel
  • Weapons

In my American Revolutionary story, politics plays a huge role because it set the social and economic climate for that period. I read about some of the lesser known places and heroes that played a part in our winning independence from Great Britain.  I also asked myself what roles would a woman have played during the American Revolution? How does life go on when your men are away from home?

I have even read novels from other authors who write in my chosen time to get a feel for that era. I stay away from books that have a plot like my own. Some authors write blogs about their extensive research to share with others. Something as simple as shoes were totally different over 200 years ago. Beware of doing so much research that your story becomes bogged down with just facts, and not enough story. You can do too much research and never introduce your character to the world.

I have used Pinterest to keep pictures of my character’s lives. I can look at them and imagine what the interior of a home would look like, how my heroine may have dressed for chores, or how she may have dressed for a party.

I also dabbled in writing a western set in Wyoming territory in the early 1800s.  My heroine is a Chinese national who arrives in San Francisco on a ship. During my research for that story, I found a ship that sailed from China to that port in 1854. Now some of the other facts in my story had to be changed to fit that timeline. And that’s OK. It adds authenticity. I also needed to learn about the US Calvary, Indian tribes who were indigenous to that part of the country, and what obstacles my heroine might encounter because she was not born in the United States.

When you have all your questions answered and you begin to write, chances are you will find you have more questions. Keep researching or seek out an experienced author. I find that someone is always happy to help.

Writing Prompt: In what year did the following events take place?

  • Senator Daniel Webster endorses a bill as a measure to avert a possible civil war.
  • Millard Fillmore is sworn into office as President of the United States.
  • California is admitted as the 31st state.
  • P.T. Barnum introduces Swedish Nightingale, Jenny Lind to an American audience.

Click to Tweet: What Is So Historical About Research @InspiredPrompts #writetip #amwriting