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

Publishing in 2019: What Do We Know?

By Jennifer Hallmark

The publishing world has changed much in the last five years and left even the experts baffled. For established writers and those just starting, the world of writing is confusing at best, impossible at times. With so much fake news and opinionated articles out there, what do we know for sure?

AMAZON is not going anywhere soon. Online shopping is growing. The writing industry has many opportunities via Amazon. From Audible to Amazon ads to Amazon’s Author Central, writers need to study and take advantage of the many opportunities offered by the largest Internet retail company in the world.

Good EDITING is crucial. Whether you are aiming to be traditionally publishing or going Indie, the competition is fiercer than ever. A well-edited article, story, or novel stands out. But Writer Beware: many who claim to be editors are either ill-equipped for their job or scammers searching for the uninformed. Check out our Monday and Friday posts on editing during the month of April for more information.

Any author, whether traditional or Indie, needs to know how to MARKET The good old days of writing books while others do the marketing for you is gone, unless you are willing to pay for it. Marketing is primarily discovering your readers and giving them a reason to buy what you’re selling. Authors need to examine social media, word of mouth, and ads, then decide how each will aid in finding an audience for their book. All three are vital for successful marketing.

The AUDIOBOOK industry is growing. More and more people listen to podcasts and audiobooks while they drive. Should your book be an audiobook and how hard is it to produce one? We’ll share the answer in a two-part in-depth article and interview about this topic at the end of the month.

WHO YOU KNOW And I don’t necessarily mean your cousin’s aunt who cleans Big Publisher X’s office. I mean, how social have you been in your pursuit of writing stardom? Each person you meet, whether a newbie, editor, reader, publisher, or the director of a writing event is a vital connection. Some will help you reach your writing goals while others will cheer you on. Or maybe you’ll cheer them on. We all need each other on this difficult journey. How you regard others makes all the difference in the world.

CHANGE is the word that most describes this year’s publishing market. Major bookstores are closing. Online stores and companies open and either succeed quickly or close. Scams and fake news abound. You can no longer believe one source. You need to research it all.

Staying in tune with the writing world is the key. No, you don’t have to know all the ins and outs of publishing. But study enough to have an overall picture in your head of what’s to come. Pick your road carefully and stay true. It makes the trip much longer if you backtrack.

Study.

Write.

Engage.

Write.

Submit.

If you persevere and grow, you’ll eventually find success. Even in this fluctuating world of print, audio, and digital…

Click to tweet: Publishing in 2019: What Do We Know? The overall picture is something you need to understand. #amwriting #publishing

Please read all of our Monday and Friday articles this month to learn more about publishing in 2019.

Writing Prompt: Kiel sat drumming his fingers on the desk. The writing course he just finished left him with more questions than answers. Where should he turn now?

Devotion Writing: Journeying to Publication

By Martin Wiles

Every writer wants their name in the publication light—and better yet, to get paid for it. I was no different.

Prior to 2009, I had written little, and published even less. Just a few poems here and there, and only one that I remember getting paid for. Then my father unexpectedly died, and things changed. What connection his death had to my seriousness about writing, I’ve never been able to determine. I only know my attitude changed. The genre I chose was devotions. Not as popular as fiction, but read by many just the same. And I had enough experiences under my belt to write them.

But merely writing them wasn’t enough. If no one else read them, what was the purpose of doing what I felt God leading me to do? I began looking for places to submit my devotions, hoping to get a few published. If I got paid a little along the way, that would be great too.

Of course, I began with what I call the little g, Google. One of the first hits was a place named Christian Devotions. They didn’t pay, but pay didn’t concern me so much. I just wanted to do what God told me to do—and see my name in print somewhere as an added bonus.

Cindy Sproles was the executive editor of Christian Devotions, and, at the time, the ministry was small and she was helping writers develop their skills. Like most inexperienced writers, I thought my devotion was perfect as written the first time. She thought differently. I recall the gist of her response: “Martin, the heart of your devotion is good, but it needs work before it’s ready for publication.”

The work entailed more than I imagined. For one, I had to stop preaching. (At the time, I was a preacher.) I also had to avoid the “that” trap and stop using so much passive voice. After several revisions—revisions I thought I’d never finish—she finally accepted my devotion.

I continued to write for Christian Devotions and also to search for other places to submit my devotions. I had a few published along the way, and was even paid for some. I also became a member of the five o’clock club—the a.m. one. Six days each week, I wrote a devotion. Before I knew it, I had several years’ worth of devotions.

I need to write a book of devotions, I thought. Unfortunately, I knew little about the publishing industry or about the scams that circulate within it. I suppose the company I settled with for three books—two devotionals and one commentary—was close to what I now know as a vanity press. Although they didn’t charge me anything to publish my books—and they did design my covers and list my books on Amazon—they didn’t edit my work or do any marketing for me. I later discovered they accept almost any manuscript sent to them and publish it as is. Since the books were so large, the price was prohibitive. Apart from those I sold to individuals, only a couple were sold on Amazon. I needed another avenue.

Shortly after this fiasco, I attended Writer’s Boot Camp (now Asheville Christian Writer’s Conference), directed by Cindy Sproles and Eddie Jones, co-founders of Christian Devotions website. Eddie had also begun a new adventure: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. His heart’s desire was to help authors get started and to produce quality books from a small publishing house.

Having met Eddie at the conferences a couple of times, I decided to send him a manuscript—365 days’ worth of devotions. By this time, my writing had improved, and, amazingly, he accepted my manuscript … with limitations. A years’ worth of devotions was too much, the book would be too large and costly, and very few would buy it. He suggested we split it up into smaller portions, perhaps as many as three books. Then, he proffered a Southern theme that became Grits, Grace, and God in 2013 and Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church in 2016.

I was excited, to say the least, because I knew he didn’t accept every manuscript sent his way. I also knew they assigned each contracted writer an editor to work with, that they designed nice covers, and that they performed a fair amount of marketing at no cost to the author.

My editor, and now a good friend, was ruthless, but kind. Together, we produced two books I was proud to put on the market.

While I’m proud of my list of publication credits—and thank God for each one—not everything I’ve written has been accepted. My rejection scroll rolls out much longer than my acceptance one does. Such as the historical novel I spent months writing and rewriting. No publisher will touch it. It now rests lovingly on one of my book shelves where it may never see the light of the publishing world.

I recently signed another devotional book contract with Ambassador International. I look forward to what God will do through this book and to the long process that will precede publication. One thing publication has taught me is patience.

Because I believe God wants us to channel His grace and mercy, I now use what I’ve learned about the writing and publication process to help other writers and authors who are just beginning the journey.

And that editor who bled all over the first devotion I sent her? I’m now her Managing Editor and helping other writers the same way she once helped me. And the CEO of the publishing company who published my first book? I’m now one of his assistant editors also. God surely works in mysterious ways.

Click to tweet: I believe God wants us to channel His grace and mercy, and now use what I’ve learned about the writing and publication process to help other writers and authors who are just beginning the journey. #devotions #amwriting


Martin Wiles lives in Greenwood, SC, and is the founder of Love Lines from God. (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). He is a freelance editor, English teacher, and author. He serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as an assistant editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is the author of five books and has been published in numerous publications.

 


Grits, Grace, and God

Grace & Grits & God offers personal insights and practical tips for dealing with life’s challenges, loses, and setbacks. As a pastor, Martin Wiles knows about tough times. He’s seen it in the faces of his parishioners—and his own. Find God’s spiritual truths in your daily challenges. Turn loses and setbacks into step-ups. Dish out blessings to others from your scraps. Show grit, love with grace, and trust God through the hard times and at all times.

Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church

If you’re struggling with the real meaning of going to church and following Christ, then Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church is for you. Martin Wiles has been in the pew or the pulpit his whole life. He has experienced the best and the worst in the church. He knows it can be a place of pain or a place of blessing.

Copywriting 101

By Cammi Woodall

Think about your day so far. Have you seen a television commercial? Listened to an ad on the radio? Picked up a brochure for a new travel destination? Looked at a billboard? Logged on to a website for the newest restaurant in town?

Did you answer yes to any of these questions? Then you already have experience with copywriting.

So, what is copywriting? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a copywriter is a writer of advertising or publicity copy. As a copywriter, you are responsible for hooking the consumer with your words. How often do you skim advertising material without a second thought? Occasionally, though, something will catch your eye. A certain phrase or slogan can pull a consumer in, and a good copywriter will keep them there by using persuasive text. You as a copywriter want to make sure that customer feels they can’t live without your product!

What does this mean for you as a freelance writer? Don’t most businesses have a staff that does this for them? Not necessarily. Business today is very different from twenty years ago. There are thousands of companies that conduct business strictly online and more small businesses than ever before. Most cannot afford to have their own advertising department. That’s where you and your unique perspective come in.Writer journaling in a book

Copywriting jobs can range in size from writing the script for a 20 second radio spot to handling all media material for a new product launch. This could include brochures, media copy, social media content, television or radio script, educational material, demonstration videos, product packaging, and more! Every piece of advertising ephemera for a campaign or product is the result of a copywriter’s work.   

How do you get one of these jobs? There are several different ways.

–                      Network. Ask your family and friends. Dear Aunt Irma might know just the person you need to know!

–                      Apply for a job at a physical business. Go to your local newspaper office, radio station, or advertising agency. This could result in freelance work, but you might also become a staff member!

–                      Online job boards – I have never used one of these boards (I am learning about copywriting along with you), so I cannot give any personal advice. The ones that came up most in my research are Problogger, Contena, All Indie Writers, Blogging Pro, and Writers Weekly. My advice is to look at each board and see which one fits your style. On most, companies post freelance positions. You probably won’t get a large job right away, but the smaller jobs are a great way to build your portfolio.

–                      Social media. Does anybody remember when getting in touch with other people meant a phone call or a letter? Twitter and Facebook are both good sources of information. Look for boards that posts jobs, but also advertise yourself.

–                      Newspaper Classifieds. Yes, there are still paper newspapers out there.

–                      Pitch directly to a business. Is there a new store or boutique opening near you? Make a friendly call. New business owners might be more interested in stocking and construction. They might not be thinking about newspaper ads, business cards, Facebook pages, radio spots, or promotional brochures.

This article only covers a small portion of the expanse of copywriting. The internet has dozens of websites and thousands of articles on how to get started, how to create effective prose, how much to expect to earn, and more. Copywriting might not have been something you’ve thought about before, but I recommend you do some research. You could create the next ‘Where’s the beef?’ campaign!

 

Prompt – She squared her shoulders and took a deep breath. This was one meeting she never wanted to attend. She opened the door and entered the room.