By Felicia Ferguson @Felicia_writer
1: Marketing a book is more than hosting a launch party.
From guest blogs, to book reviews, to social media posts and ads, the author must be 70% marketer and 30% writer. Yes, I know. Most of us writers didn’t major in PR or Marketing in college. If you’re like me, you have nightmares that book marketing means doing our own impersonation of those late-night informercials or QVC spots. But I’m sorry to say, we just have to suck it up and do it. Well, maybe not the infomercial or QVC, just everything else.
I reached out to book reviewers, spent several hours with Canva and Unsplash, and talked with writer friends who needed guest bloggers. Social media posts were scheduled months ahead of the release date. Months after the book launch, I sent my email list a missing chapter from the book. I’ve also tied the book’s topics to national holidays, posted in Facebook groups (not about the book but about topics in the book), and even joined giveaways.
It got old. I worried followers were tired of seeing my posts. But marketing isn’t just a party. It’s a commitment.
2: Social media does not sell books.
There, I said it. I don’t know if it’s because multi-level marketing companies inoculated people against sales posts, but I’ve seen more engagement with my hiking posts in the mountains than I have with nearly anything about my book after the initial launch. (Unless it was about an award. Then we partied!) Which means the author should not only write a book that engages hearts and minds but also focus on building authentic relationships with followers. That way it’s an easy yes for the reader to buy and promote it.
3: Readers will find errors and details that bug them. And they’re happy to tell you.
You have to give credit to those errors that have the tenacity to survive three rounds of professional edits—not to mention all of the times you read and reread the manuscript. Grammar is one thing, but then there are those oops moments that happened during developmental editing. In my case, one character is reading a book when three sentences earlier that object was a magazine. It’s frustrating. But at this point, the book is published. It’s done. If someone comments about it, let it go and move on.If you’re like me, you have nightmares that book marketing means doing our own impersonation of those late-night informercials or QVC spots. But I’m sorry to say, we just have to suck it up and do it. Well, maybe not the infomercial or… Click To Tweet
4: Just because your book is selling well and reviews are positive, it doesn’t guarantee another contract with your publisher.
I’ve written three more women’s fiction books since The Choices She Made went under contract. Only one was contracted. (It releases in 2024). Now, for full disclosure none of the three are sequels to Choices, so that would have made some difference. However, Christian publishing is a business. If your next book(s) don’t fit the publisher’s needs at the time, or are too similar to ones they’ve already contracted, they can be beautifully written but not be a good fit and the publisher will pass on them. I didn’t take it personally. Instead, I said thank you for considering this book and moved on. It’s important to keep all doors open and all bridges intact. Publishing is a small world and the Christian publishing world is even smaller.
5: Why do I write what I write?
Lastly, I learned I don’t write just to entertain readers. My overall goal for writing is to have kingdom impact. Yes, I would love to be a New York Times or Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author, win a Carol Award, and even have a shelf of books with my name on them. But those achievements would be meaningless to me if I didn’t know that my readers’ lives and faith walks were changed or deepened because they read one of my books.
Felicia Ferguson achieved master’s degrees in Healthcare Administration and Speech-Language Pathology, but has written since childhood. An award-winning freelance writer, she has previously published devotions with Christian Devotions and Inkspirations, written articles for VIE magazine, and guest blogged on multiple websites. But her greatest writing love is contemporary Southern women’s fiction.