Writing is a career in which the work never ends—especially if the
author works other jobs. I know that all too well as an author who also
teaches graduate courses at a university, practices law, takes classes,
and homeschools my four kiddos.
A couple nights ago my
husband and I were talking about how drained I felt. The merry-go-round
of teaching, taking classes, marketing, homeschooling, etc., had worn
me down. When you’re an author by night, you snag moments here and
there for writing, marketing, and more. You write articles at 10:30 PM,
because that’s when the household quiets down. This year I’m working on
a MBA in addition to everything else—don't ask!—and the merry-go-round
spins even faster.
When Shadowed by Grace released
in January, I knew promotion would be a big piece of my spring. We had
an initial round when the book released, a second round as George
Clooney’s Monuments Men movie released, and now we’re on a third push.
God keeps extending the marketing window for this book. For example,
literally months after my publicist, Jeane Wynn, first (notice that
word first) approached an editor at FIRST for Women, the magazine gave Shadowed by Grace
a great boost when it published a review in their Books We’re Reading
spread at the end of May. The timing couldn’t have been better, since
readers were beginning to think about vacation reads. That month the
book and I were also featured in Bill and Gloria Gaither’s Homecoming magazine.
It’s been an amazing journey. But last week it got even better.
God knew I was worn out after another round of final exams. He also knew my publisher had planned a fresh promotion for Shadowed by Grace.
B&H has offered promotions, and I’ve felt very supported by their
efforts. Still I wondered if this one would be different from the
First, I asked God if I could hit the top twenty on one of
Amazon’s lists. It spent a week on several lists in the #1 and #2
slots. Then I realized (I’m not always super-quick!) I’d also hit a
number on the overall list that had me crying. My ten-year-old told me
I should ask God for #1 of all books. I wanted to remind him there are
lots of authors I know on that list. So instead, I asked if I could
crack the top 100 Kindle books. As I watched that night, the numbers
crept higher, and I wondered if I slept if I might just miss the blip.
God woke me at 5:30 AM, long enough for me to snap a couple
screen shots to show it had cracked the top eighty. Through this God
has reminded me that He sees me and those secret desires I hesitate to
Still, marketing is often a tedious process in which we
don’t see the effects so directly. Here are some marketing tips to help
as you balance being an author by night.
1. Be flexible. When you’re publicist calls with a
twenty-four-hour turnaround, jump on it. Become that author she can
rely on to fill gaps and turn in a quality article when needed. You
never know when it’s going to be a call that could lead to a great
publication or radio show.
2. Think creatively. Right now I’m running what I call Operation Libraries on my Website to encourage readers to ask their libraries to add Shadowed by Grace
to their collections. I’ve added a great giveaway and incentive, but
this was a new idea and attempt to engage readers and sell books. A
friend is adapting the idea and suggested this could be an on-going
idea. I love that!
3. Partner with other authors: part 1. I love doing
blog tours. It’s a great way to pool and share audiences among authors.
Recently I participated in a ten-author tour in honor of the seventieth
anniversary of D-Day. It was wonderful to come together with other
authors and friends and share why we wrote our stories. I love the
Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunts. These are a great way to meet new
readers while filling your blog with great content.
4. Partner with other authors: part 2. I’m also in a
couple of author groups in which we agree to share promotional
information with our Twitter and Facebook audiences. These are all
authors whose books I love, so I gladly spread the word on their books.
It also gives me great content to share and a ready vehicle for sharing
my book news widely, too. You can also join blogs that are run by a
group of authors. Love those, too!
5. Use tools to help fill your social media outlets.
I love bufferapp.com and Klout. Buffer lets me preschedule up to ten
posts per account for free. Klout allows me to gauge the effectiveness
of my social media efforts—and now has a scheduling component as well.
You can use Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, etc. Find a tool that works for you
to ease the burden of marketing.
6. Pay attention to what your audience interacts with.
For me, my friends and followers love Bible verses, quotes, and useful
information. I used Klout to help me fine-tune the messages I posted.
On Facebook I use lots of graphics that can be shared. I try to
remember to pin my blog posts on different Pinterest boards. I have
Twitter feed to several sites, and my blog to even more. All of this
multiplies the reach of one post or one tweet.
God has used Shadowed by Grace and
my other books time and again to remind me that these are truly His
stories. Let me tell you—that is pretty humbling as I watch Him open
doors I could never force open. In a couple days, I might stop
compulsively watching the Amazon numbers, but as I watched them last
week, I witnessed God do something new and introduce this book to
audiences that might not otherwise have discovered this story about the
search for our heavenly Father. He is my greatest marketer.
And all I can do is clap from the sidelines and whisper,
“Thank You, Abba Daddy!” And pray that this serves as encouragement for
those who feel overwhelmed by all that is expected of us as we write.