How Authors Can Participate in Marketing Even When They Don't Like Selling

I struggle with the thought of marketing my books. I’m not a pushy person. I have a hard time selling things. In fact, the couple of times I’ve had garage sales, I end up reducing the already-low prices or just giving stuff away.

But now with the release of The Preacher’s Bride less than three months away, it’s time for me to vamp up my efforts and join in the selling process. As terrible as I might be at making a sale, I’ve had to accept the fact that marketing is indeed part of the writer’s job and that I have to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Fortunately, I don’t have to shoulder the job alone. My publisher, Bethany House, has a fantastic sales and marketing team and they’ve already been hard at work. Several months ago they sent me a marketing binder that looks like this:

It contains all kinds of helpful information including an Author Timeline which details a month-by-month outline for what marketing efforts I should be making. It also has a list of special services Bethany House provides for their authors along with suggestions for how I can promote my book.

About a week ago, the Fiction Marketing Manager sent me a “Marketing Plan Overview.” It was a detailed outline of all the marketing possibilities including: promotional items (bookmarks, postcards, etc.); trade and consumer publicity (key publications for advertisements); broadcast publicity (book-focused and community radio programs for potential interviews); internet marketing (giveaways and interviews with popular web sites); sales efforts (retailers and bookstores that will carry the book).

As you can see, Bethany House takes their marketing efforts seriously. They aren’t leaving their authors floundering or having to carry the burden of the work themselves. In fact, compared to what they’re doing, my contribution seems rather insignificant.

However, I want to do whatever I can to join in the marketing process. I might not be a natural-born sales-person, but in today’s crowded book market, why wouldn’t I want to do whatever I possibly can to help my book stand out?

Here are several things I’m trying to do, things that all of us can do to participate in marketing:

1. Focus on our strengths. Whether public speaking, planning parties, writing newsletters, mingling with important community members, or developing a relevant blog—we’re all unique and need to learn where our strengths lie. We can’t do everything and instead should put our greatest energy toward those things at which we excel. Others will sense our confidence and enjoyment—which goes a long way to more positive and effective marketing.

2. Step out of our comfort zones. It’s true, we should focus on our strengths. But we’ll need to try new things too. It might be fairly easy for me to write up blog posts or speak to groups, but I don’t have the knack for planning a themed launch party. In fact the thought of having a party that’s centered completely on me and my book doesn’t really appeal to me. But I’m going to step out of my comfort zone and give it a try.

3. Start forming relationships early. The glue that holds all our marketing efforts together is the friendship factor. We need to get our feet planted firmly within writing communities, build those genuine connections, be approachable and real, and seek ways we can give to others. Later, those are the people who will get most excited with and for us. Their word of mouth will be one of our most effective marketing tools. We all know promotion is better when it comes from someone other than ourselves.

Are you a natural sales person? Will marketing be easy or hard for you? Have you thought about what your strengths are and are you focusing on them? And likewise, what will be challenging for you, requiring you to step out of your comfort zone?

*Thank you to everyone in the last post who volunteered to be an Influencer! I'm so grateful for your outpouring of love and support!

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