Marketing my memoir marks a significant milestone to all that has gone before: Beginning a blog, learning to know other authors, writing reviews for their books.

Then, with my own book

  • Writing drafts
  • Revising
  • Developmental Editing
  • Copyediting
  • Layout and Design
  • Publishing

Most writers dread marketing because they are introverts, fear rejection and are downright exhausted from the whole process. Though I’m an extravert (mostly), I have felt these emotions. Yet after five years of poring over the same manuscript, I am beginning to feel energized too, because soon I’ll meet my readers, if not face to face, at least in the digital world.

 

* * *

Buying a 2019 desk calendar has helped me at this stage. Because the year was half over, Staples offered me a full-year calendar at half price. I began with July and August, then flipped to September.

 

One happy day, UPS delivered an Advanced Reader Copy to my doorstep.

Opening first Advanced Reader Copy. Will I like what’s inside?

 

A first-time author, I reached out to published authors, requesting them to read and review my book, a tall order! From them I inquired, “What is your evaluation of my finished book?”  So far, I have asked 24 authors and/or journalists to review my work. Full exposure!

I was tempted to awfulize: Out of 5 stars, what if someone doesn’t like my work and rates me a “3” or even a “2” on Goodreads and Amazon? It could happen. (Well-known authors whose work soars, in my opinion, sometimes get low ratings.) Maybe the reader doesn’t like the subject matter; maybe envy is involved in these cases, I have concluded.

Readers don’t realize that reviews don’t have to be high-flown or verbose. Two or three sentences will do: “I like the book because . . . . ”  “I kept turning the pages because . . . .”

With the help of artist-in-residence, I designed enclosures requesting readers to read my book and then post a review on Goodreads and, later when the book goes live on Amazon, also post a review there.

 

Finally, the Advanced Reader Copies were ready to mail:

 

Note: Dear first time author, don’t expect immediate results. For example, the editors at Mennonite World Review replied immediately in a positive way when I sent them an inquiry, but they have yet to respond with a review. They are busy with other concerns clamoring for attention.

I must wait. Waiting requires patience. Oh, my!

 

What about the book launch? Now that’s a biggie! I have discovered that it’s rather like inviting people to a wedding reception: invitations, venue, hosting. . .  the works!

Months ago, two Southern Lady Friends, Judy and Carolyn, offered to help launch the book with a party. They would help host the event, but I had to collect names and addresses from the four winds: family, neighbors (former and new), colleagues, church friends, relatives, and more. For me, an Excel spreadsheet helped with this task, gathering invitees’ names from Facebook, email, and USPS mail.

Since then, I’ve needed to prepare a PowerPoint presentation for writers’ groups and other venues. It’s been seven years since I’ve done one of those, so I had to re-learn PowerPoint. Oh, vey! This one is entitled: Mennonite Memoir: Faith, Forgiveness, and Family Love.

 

I’m an “indie’ author. That means I’m not publishing through traditional means. I own the rights to my own book, but all phases of publishing & marketing are up to me. (With a little help from my friends, of course.) See-through gallon bags have been my way to keep track of everything.

Of course, I could have hired a publicist (and I may employ some Twitter sources in the future). I know I must up my game on social media. But right now, I believe the name Marian Longenecker may play better to my current contacts, than say, a Clarissa Capezzio from Contact Corps. Besides, hiring a publicist is very expensive.

Even traditionally published authors have confided to me that book promotion is largely up to them. After an initial “push” from the publisher, writers are on their own. Unless, of course, they are named Tara Westover or Dani Shapiro or Lee Child!

 

 

Thousands of books are published every week, millions every year. “Of the making many books there is no end,” says Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:12.

I am a new voice, a tiny voice in the wide world of books.

To all who have helped me hitherto, HUGE THANKS. You know who you are!

 

 

Time for a little levity: Quips from Invitees to My Book Signing as I Handed an Invitation

Me: “Would you like to come to my book signing on Saturday, the 14th?”

Friend: “Why, yes! That would be nice.”

(Pregnant pause)

Friend: “Will you have books to sell”?

 

  * * *

 

Me: “Would you like to come to my book signing on Saturday, the 14th?”

Another friend: “Why, yes, That would be nice.”

(Pregnant pause)

Friend: “What will I do with the book after I read it?”

 

 


What advice can you add to the tips above?

Suggestions for my next step? Thank you!

 

 

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