By Carrie Fancett Pagels
RWA’s magazine, RWR, recently featured an excellent article on marketing. One of the points they made, besides the obvious point that you must write the very best book that you can, is to link up with other authors and cross promote. As a blogger for many years, I’ve had the privilege of promoting many bestselling Christian authors’ work. The article mentioned how authors who don’t engage with their readers may find themselves without buyers for their books in the future. Readers today want to know the author and be able to interact with them. That’s a tad hard to do if you are hiding in your writing cave. Again-the writing must get done, but so must engaging the reader.
Often I see authors promoting their own work (I’m guilty of this, too) but not ever promoting anyone else’s writing. That’s just plain sad. For one thing, if they’ve been reading their comparable novels, as they should, then there should be a number of fellow authors whose books they can suggest to their readers. One idea suggested was to bring other authors’ books to your book signing events to recommend them as being someone whose work the reader might also enjoy. I love that notion of “sharing the love” of reading and promoting!
I’m a Joyce Meyer fan and I love “The Robot” who goes “What about me-e-e, what about me-e-e?” and too often that’s how I see Christian authors “engaging” on social media sites. They pop in and promote their own books on a Facebook page and then scram. And I’m guilty of doing that with blog promo, too. But we all need to make an effort to think of others. I believe the day of thinking you can write a book, put it out there, and people will just buy it is gone. And I think the day of just slapping up publicity for yourself may be winding down. Personally, I love doing cross promoting because I enjoy engaging with other authors and also seeing reader friends find another author’s wonderful books to read. I won’t recommend someone whose writing I don’t enjoy. So that’s the flip side of the coin-you’re not going to be trustworthy if you simply promote everybody in your particular group, including those whose writing isn’t something that delights you.
A number of marketing articles focus on the sales numbers-how to get your book out there and how to track sales. I’ve seen very little in the Christian market about reciprocity amongst authors and cross promotion. I’m blessed to be in a group of eight authors right now in the Christian Traditions Series, with “The Fruitcake Challenge” as book #3. There’s comfort in fellowship and we have a wonderful promotional group of readers who’ve encouraged us all as we cross promote.
Question: Have you ever promoted other authors? Have you received reciprocity or not? How did you feel when the favor wasn’t ever returned?
Carrie Fancett Pagels Author of Amazon bestsellers The Fruitcake Challenge (2014) and Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance (2013). “Snowed In” appears in Guidepost Books’ A Christmas Cup of Cheer (2013). Honorable mention 2014 Maggie Awards for Excellence, Winner – Historical Genre Family Fiction’s “The Story Contest 2014”.
Wonderful post, Carrie – thank you!!
I’m not an author, but do share/promo for many Christian fiction authors. Although there are many gifted Christian fiction authors, I always feel a special connection with those who enjoy contact with their readers and take the time to respond to, and interact, with them. As you said, readers do want to connect with, and learn more about, the authors whose books they read. As wonderful as their books may be – personal connection with, and the godliness and sincerity of, authors – play a part in the books I choose to read.
Seeing authors help in the promo of other author’s books speaks volumes to me, also. There are many wonderful books on the market from which readers may choose to read for entertainment, inspiration and/or knowledge. It is my feeling that every minute authors spend interacting with, and showing appreciation for their readers, pays eventual dividends to them.
You are always gracious in doing these things, Carrie – I loved “The Fruitcake Challenge” and enjoy interacting with authors as a member of The Christmas Tradition Series promo team!!
Great article, Carrie. You’ve certainly got a much better handle on the marketing side of this than I do! I’m learning as much as I can watching you go 🙂
Yes, yes, Carrie, I totally agree! I, too, love cross-promoting, and frequently promote other Christian authors on my blog and sharing their faceebook posts. And creating Fabebook posts, too, to promote their titles. I also have been promoting a favorite author and blogger in each of my new newsletters The Caryler. The generosity and support and encouragement I’ve discovered in the Christian author community i truly overwhelming, and I’m tickled green to be a part of it 🙂 (Green vs. Pink having nothing to do with envy or jealously–non-existent as my experience has been in this group–but because GREEN is my WAY favorite color AND trying to be a lil’ creative on the old cliche ‘pink’ shade 🙂 HUGS and BLESSINGS!
I also agree about not promoting writing that you don’t think is enjoyable or when its content isn’t inline with your personal beliefs (like I could never promote vampires, witches, or wizards, books with magic, or for instance new age, homosexuality, and the like)
GREAT article, Carrie, and a very important one, too. As Christ followers, it seems to me that in the CBA market, we should be seeing this cross promotion all over the place, and there is a fair amount of it going on. For instance, the ladies of OWG are pretty incredible at this, to the point of it being an anointed ministry, in my opinion.
I personally love to cross promote, but I know time is factor, too, along with FB presence, for all authors. But if everyone did just a little bit, I truly believe blessings would abound all around. 🙂
Yes I have helped to promote several authors.
I have received gifts from the majority for the work that I had put into promoting their books. I do feel like I was burned by one though. Didn’t receive anything for all of my work.
I totally agree on thr cross promoting
I love the fact of sharing the promoting, helping others
God bless you
BONNIE – Your comment is totally in line with the RWR article and also with what I’ve experienced as a reader, myself. That author-reader connection can really make a difference. On the other hand, a horrid novel or story can’t be overcome by social interaction. TY, Bonnie, for your kind words and all your help. So glad to have you on the OWG blog now!!!
JENNIFER – I was a psychologist for 25 years. I love people and helping others. So it is natural to me to want to connect with readers. Instead of thinking of it as marketing I see promo as a chance to connect with other like-minded people. And by cross promoting our fave authors we are sowing relational seeds both for the author and the other readers.
CARYL – Hey, that is not clich? that is correct lol – PINK is a great color 😉 but I know you love your green! Watching you I see you’ve taken cross promotion to a whole new level and I love that! When I was a psychologist I always referred out to providers who offered something I could not or who, for whatever reason, might be the best fit. We kept business cards for other mental health providers for instance.
Sweet JULIE, I agree and I’ve had to “work” on my shoulds by trying to let them go. I figure this article might be one way to get that word out there but I think I am preaching to the choir with all you wonderful cross promoters! I totally agree with you about if everyone would just take a few minutes every week to promote their fave authors it would be amazing. As far as the OWG ladies, yes we believe this is an anointed ministry. They are all readers and I am the only author on the blog at this time–so they aren’t really cross promoting as they aren’t authors but the ladies do a fantastic job of reviewing and recommending great books and I totally respect their opinions! One reason that I do some of the reviews is for the express purpose of cross promoting great authors–like you!
CHERYL – There seem to be people who think that any help they get from others is their just due. I’ve encountered this repeatedly in our Christian writing community and I can’t say where that attitude comes from. I really don’t know other than writing tends to be a solitary activity and if you get too self-focused you may become too self-centered or narcissistic if you will. Your comment of being burned is consistent with how people feel when they are taken for granted and their good graces abused or misused–angry. And what usually follows there is a termination in that author-author or author-reader relationship. Big hugs and thanks for all your support and encouragement!
Great article! Thanks for posting. I wholeheartedly agree.
Great discussion! I’m part of two different groups of authors who promote each other through social media when we have a new release or a special deal. The one drawback of cross promotion is that if we’re posting for a dozen or more different authors, our Twitter feeds and Facebook pages can quickly start to feel like a billboard, which can be as much of a turn-off for readers as the author who only posts about me, me, me. I think the secret is to intersperse promotional posts heavily with friendly, just-for-fun posts that don’t have any sort of “BUY THIS” message at the end.
Another way I like to promote my writer friends is in the “What I’m Reading” section of my quarterly e-newsletter. The few times I’ve dared to leave out that column, I hear from more readers than ever! They tell me they use that column to decide what to read next. I actually expanded the space for that feature recently because I got so many requests. But even blurbing 4 or 5 books in each issue, that’s still less than 20 books a year I’m able to feature.
As Carrie and Caryl mentioned, I need to know the authors and trust that the books I’m promoting are the kind of books my readers are looking for, and especially that they won’t be offensive to the readership I’m recommending them to.
CYNTHIA – TY for putting together the Christmas Traditions Series with Gina! The two of you are SO busy yet you’ve taken time to work together on a team and this series! Thanks for your kind words!
DEB – You are right, for sure! Slapping up a “buy my friend’s book” post every few hours isn’t a smart way to cross promote! There has to be a balance. TY for your kind comments. I love that idea you have for your newsletter! Caryl McAdoo is doing something similar and I think that is super. Blessings!