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.

3 Questions Wednesday with Phee Paradise

Happy Wednesday! Today the Inspired Prompt welcomes author, Phee Paradise. We’re so happy you could join us. First question:

Who is your favorite author?

Phee: What reader can answer that easily? Of course, it depends on the genre and my stage in life. But my all-time favorite since I was a child is Rudyard Kipling. He’s a master story teller and the way he uses words always delights me. The only one of his writings I didn’t like was The Light that Failed because it has a very disappointing ending. When I read it, I wanted to break up with him, but . . . his words delight me.

Wonderful author! I enjoy a good classic.  Next question…

 If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

Phee: Now that I have a taste of writing biography, I would love to write about my mother. She was the most influential person in my life, and I can honestly say no one knew me like she did. But that’s not enough to make an interesting story for someone else. She also had a fascinating life. She was raised in China as a missionary kid and lived most of her adult life in Guatemala as a missionary. Lots of drama, lots of love and lots of character. But I don’t know if I have enough material sources to do her life justice. Maybe a novel or a memoir . . .

She sounds like a wonderful and influential person. 🙂 Last question:

If you could spend time with a character from your book or another book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Phee:  My book is a biography of my grandfather, whom I didn’t know very well. While reading his letters researching for the book, I fell in love with him. So I would spend a day with him in China, where he served as a missionary for 25 years. I’d ride a bike with him out to one of the villages where he had a church and let him tell me stories about China, the people he loved and the experiences he had. He had a great sense of humor and I think we would laugh a lot and maybe cry a bit too.

What a great way to spend a day. Thanks so much for dropping by!

Click to tweet: Author Phee Paradise talks about writing and a giveaway.  #amwriting #AuthorsLife

Phee is offering a print copy of her book to one blessed reader. Please leave a comment to be entered…


A Sincere Heart: One Mission-Minded Man Serving His Utmost in China

You don’t know John Bickford. He’s one of the thousands of Christians you also don’t know, who gave their lives to missions in the twentieth century. The ones who learned new languages made friends of foreigners and raised their families in remote places so strangers could know the truth about their Savior. John took his pregnant wife to China in 1920 and came back to America for good in 1948, leaving a tiny grave in an obscure town in a Communist country. He oversaw five growing churches in little villages with pride in his Chinese colleagues while agonizing over his own shortcomings. His family often fled political unrest and civil war, but they always returned to the people he loved.

During the World War, he spent two years under Japanese confinement, patiently trusting God while he longed to be with his beloved wife and children who escaped to America. He cheerfully accepted his own physical suffering, but his heart broke over his son’s looming blindness. He was an ordinary missionary and this is his story, the story of God at work through a man with a sincere heart.


Phee Paradise was blessed to be a missionary kid and loves to share that experience in her writing. In Miracles at Midnight, I edited her father’s stories about his years on the mission field where he saw God change lives for the Kingdom. Her latest book, A Sincere Heart, is a biography of her grandfather who was a missionary in China. Phee has also contributed to several books, including A Ruby Christmas, A Dozen Apologies, Unlikely Merger and Trials and Triumphs. She prays that God will use her work to His glory.

Writing for Magazines

By Harriet Michael

When I was a little girl, I loved fishing with my dad. We lived in Nigeria then, so we didn’t have access to many of the fun things people in America had. We didn’t even have swimming pools without traveling at least an hour’s drive from my home. But we had a man-made water reservoir where I could fish. I learned to cast my line out into murky waters, wait in anticipation to feel that tug on my line and then try and reel it in without letting the fish get away.

girls fishing

Maybe that’s why I like freelance writing. I cast pieces—articles, devotions, short stories—out into the murky waters of cyberspace and wait hopefully. Sometimes I feel that tug and sometimes I even reel in a great catch in the form of a contract for a submitted piece.

Of all the publications for which I write, magazines are among my favorite. I get to write on topics of interest to me because I choose the type of magazine I wish to submit to, they pay (some better than others) so I have a flow of cash coming in all year long, and they help build my platform because they are viewed by people I otherwise would not be able to reach.

Here are some tips for anyone hoping to break into the magazine-writing market:

  • Search engines are your best friends. You can find any magazine you think you might like to write for by searching that magazine’s name and the words, “writers’ guidelines.” Ex: “The War Cry writers’ guidelines” You can search types of magazines this way too. Ex: “parenting magazines writers’ guidelines” or “cooking magazines writers’ guidelines” Any magazine that takes freelance submissions will show up if you search by topic.
  • Read the writers’ guidelines, taking note of a few things:

a] What rights do they buy? I avoid magazines that buy all rights or exclusive rights. See the article on this blog about a writer’s rights if you do not understand this.

b] How much and when do they pay? Do they pay on acceptance of your submitted piece or when the article is published? This is merely a guide to me so I will know when to expect a payment, but both are fine.

c] What word count do they want? Stick to their requested word count to the best of your ability. Usually, it’s okay to be over or under by less than 10 words but some online submission sites will cut you off at their maximum count, so I prefer to err on the “under” side of things.

d] Do they have a theme list? Do they want a particular type of article?

  • Write and submit according to the guidelines. Follow the guidelines as closely as you can … and then wait to feel that tug on your line.

A question I often get when teaching workshops on freelancing or magazine writing, is should a person write from inspiration or according to a theme requested by the magazine.

My answer: “Both.”

Writing according to the magazines’ wishes, whether that is a theme or a type of article (like a “how-to”, essay, or story) brings greater success. If they are looking for something specific and you give them what they are looking for, they are more likely to buy it. However, there have been times when something has happened in my life that I simply wanted to write down. This happens often but sometimes these pieces sit on my computer for a long time until a theme or magazine where the piece might fit pops up.

One example of this is an article I had published in a gardening magazine last spring about a humorous experience that occurred many years ago. When it happened, my youngest son was in elementary school. I laughed about what happened all day at the time, so knew I wanted to write it before I forgot, but I had nowhere to send it. When I finally found a magazine where this piece fit, my son was in college. Still, they did take it, people enjoyed reading it, and I received a check for it, even though it was more than a dozen years from the time I wrote it to the time it was published.

Click-to-Tweet:  You’ll never catch a fish if you don’t throw a line in the water and you’ll never have an article published in a magazine if you don’t try your hand at writing and submitting one.

magazines

Writing Prompt / Exercise: Look up the writers’ guidelines for a magazine that you enjoy reading and begin writing an article for submission to that magazine. *Hint: Christian magazines get fewer submissions than secular ones, so the chances of getting published in them are higher.

Four Tips on Landing and Working with a Traditional Publisher

By Jennifer Hallmark

I stared at the typed manuscript on my desk. It represented over a year of work. Traditional publishing or Indie publishing? Or vanity press? Though I was a newbie, I needed to make a decision. I knew very little about the publishing business. No, scratch that. I knew nothing at all.

I’d been writing my first novel and loving every minute of it. It sang, it soared, it was perfect. (Yes, I can hear you laughing from here)

A person from a vanity press approached me and offered to publish my wonderful 100,000 word work in progress which had no genre, no edits, and no formatting whatsoever. I’d been praying ever since I started writing for God to show me what to do. I was clueless and not ignorant of that fact.

So, when this opportunity presented itself, I went back to prayer. The only words that seemed to resonate inside of me were “Follow the traditional road.” I was a bit sad at the time. I mean, look at what the world was missing by me not putting my novel out there.

*Shaking head.*

What did I know about traditional publishing? Nada. I began to study all the types of publishing, taking online courses, reading writing craft books, and attending writing workshops, groups, and conferences. It didn’t take me long to figure out what a mistake I’d almost made. I kept following the traditional road the best I could and here I am, thirteen years later, about to release my debut, traditionally published novel.

Click to tweet: Four tips on landing and working with a traditional publisher. #publishing #amwriting @Inspiredprompt

If the traditional road is one you’d like to follow, don’t despair. It shouldn’t take you as long as it did me. Let me share four tips that will make a difference in your journey:

  1. Know the publisher. When I first started, I just sent my novels to publisher’s names I liked and gave little thought to what they wanted. I did get some helpful criticism back from several publishers but nothing else. When I finished my novel, Jessie’s Hope, I diligently studied the publisher I had set my sights on, Firefly Southern Fiction. I studied their guidelines until I could say them in my sleep. And I read several books by Firefly.
  2. Get your manuscript edited. Whether you hire a freelance editor, join a critique group, or find a critique partner, get another set of eyes on your work. I ran Jessie’s Hope through a critique group first, then had an editor friend give it a once over. I wanted it to be as polished as I could make it.
  3. Meet said editor or publisher. One way you can meet them is online. You can visit their site, read all their blog posts, and comment until they recognize you. I found out that the Firefly editor, Eva Marie Everson, was going to be at a conference near me and I made plans to go. I made an appointment to meet with her and also took all of her classes. I needed to learn what she was looking for in a more personal way.
  4. Submit your work. Finally, at the conference, I showed her a bit of my work and also explained the trouble I was experiencing in learning deep POV. She ripped my first pages to shreds as she taught me first-hand about deep POV both in our meeting and during class. She asked for a longer submission to be sent to her email and two months later told me the story intrigued her. But I had to first take a chance and submit or I would have never known it had potential.

After the good news, I started snoopy dancing. But then she had one of her beta readers read the full manuscript and tell me all the problems it had. I worked hard over the next two years and resubmitted it in 2017. She accepted the manuscript and on June 17, my dream of being a traditionally published author will come true.

Eleven and a half years after I made the decision to follow this road. I’m sure glad I didn’t know in the beginning how long it would take or I’d have probably given up.

Now which road should you take? Indie publishing has come a long way since I started writing. I believe God understood my lack of patience and desire to see my work in print and the fact that I would regret publishing too soon. He pointed to the traditional road and for me, it was the right one.

I suggest you prayerfully look into both ways of getting your work into print. (I purposely left out the third way. Don’t use a vanity press.) Do some research into both methods. Use my four tips with a publishing house that you feel a connection to and see what happens. You never know until you take that step.

In leiu of a writing prompt:

Question time. Ask me a question in the comments and I’ll try to answer it or find an answer for you.