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
- Developmental Editing
- Layout and Design
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.
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.”
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.”
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!
(Comments will be visible after approval.)
Great work. It’s fun to read about your journey. I especially liked your friend’s comment about what to do with the book. When I am at a book signing, I ask the author to sign the book without dedicating it specifically to me or anyone. That way, if I choose to pass it on, the book is always “signed by author” without being stuck in time in any way. The answer to your friend’s question is: “Pass it on!”
Congratulations! I can’t wait to read your book. I will certainly review it for you!
I appreciate seeing your process in pictures! You’re so organized! The gallon bags are a brilliant way to keep things clustered and visible! An excel spreadsheet for addresses sounds like a valuable mechanism for marketing now and for future steps.
I too am grateful for the community of writers, including you, who generously share their experiences and support.
I just finished a SWP course on indie publishing. It’s overwhelming to think about all that is ahead.
Best wishes on your marketing and roll ou! Please don’t hesitate to call on me. Let me know where you especially want/need reviews. Congratulations again for persevering to this stage! Hurrah!!
To Audrey: Wow, I’m pumped that you want to review my book after you read it. I’ve heard that reviews are the best way to thank an author.
Yes, all the steps (including marketing) are daunting. Some days I had to fight overwhelm, but on most days I pictured myself as the Little Engine that Could, just taking it one step at a time. Other days, when I felt tired, progress was measured in baby steps. Truthfully, the only way to not win is to stop, and I sense that you, Audrey, are not a quitter. 🙂
That’s great advice, Arlene! Maybe I’ll need to ask what the read wants at the time of signing. You’ve given me cause for pause. Thanks for this and for opening our conversation today!
Good morning, Marian, and good luck on the next phase of your adventure. I think you have a story that many people are going to want to read!
Wow, Marian, what a process! Thanks for walking me through it, but it makes me want to just pass my memoir on to family and friends and leave it at that!
Books are my keepsakes, especially those written by friends. I would know exactly what to do with your book. Talk about it at book club, tell everyone how much I enjoyed reading it, blog about it, write a book review, etc.
You and Cliff are a good team! it sure helps to have someone else on board, especially an artist.
I love how you spread the joy, Elfrieda, and I thank you in advance for how you will share my book. Yes, I am fortunate to have a resident artist, one that is willing and able. Having “semi-retired” from the physical effort of doing art-music performances on the road, Cliff was up to the challenge.
Thanks for your uplifting message here! 🙂
Thanks, Merril! You have been through a similar process . . . many times. I’m guessing you could skip some of the steps, though, with books published traditionally.
I don’t really do any marketing. When the first books came out that were more likely to sell (as opposed to the more expensive reference books), I was busy with babies and work, and it was before all the social media. I suppose if I ever get a poetry book out, I’ll be trying more to promote it.
If you were busy with babies and work, you have had a long, long publishing arc because I know you daughters are grownups now. My crystal ball says you will be publishing a poetry book one day, and you already have a great platform to promote it on Facebook and your blog. 🙂
I guess it has been a long time 🙂 –12 books, I think.
I know I’ve said this before, but I am amazed at your massive oeuvre: books, poetry, not to mention you work for ETS. You are a born writer/author, that is for sure, Merril!
Thank you, Marian! I can’t wait to read your book!
I loved reading about your publication journey, Marian. I must say, you and Cliff make a fantastic team. The book release comments are hilarious! I agree about the reviews. I think many people are intimidated and think they need to write something lengthy. I still haven’t been able to do is ask for someone to write a review. I don’t know why I struggle with that. Your photos are terrific…reminds me of Santa’s workshop!
Santa’s workshop – that nails it! This weekend I’m expecting some overnight guests, and I already have figured out how to hide stuff: calendar under a dresser, piles consolidated! One day, all of this will rest peacefully in files, at least I hope so.
You have quite a following and, being traditionally published with Harlequin, with horsepower from their marketing department, I would think. Thanks, Jill!
LOL! Oh yes, I’m good at hiding those piles! 🙂 Yes, I’m blessed to writing for Harlequin, but there are still marketing expectations. Wishing you the best on Saturday. I’ll be there in spirit!
You’ll be with me in spirit, of that I am sure. Thanks for you partnership all along this journey.
You and Cliff were made for each other and for this season. Fantastic accomplishment, Marian. And don’t worry about Mennonite World Review. 🙂
I think the question about “after I read it, what will I do with it?” is a question all of us authors should enjoy, but also take seriously. Older people are not in the accumulation phase of life (as we know). Maybe our book inserts should make suggestions about creative ways to distribute the book after reading it. And when we sign, maybe we should consider Arlene’s perspective before assuming the person wants to be named.
I haven’t thought past a marketing plan, so it never occurred to me to think what happens to a book after my reader finishes reading it. I will definitely consider asking readers how they’d like their books autographed before I make an assumption.
Yes, Cliff and I have been a team. In the 1970s and early 1980s when he was venturing into graphic arts and then performance art, I was his secretary, printing out letters on a typewriter than stored a paragraph of “memory.” Then, I’d include a brochure, stamp and mail the envelope to principals and school superintendents. Now, of course, all his interactions are digital. 🙂
Congratulations on such an amazing achievement!. Wishing you much success and many blessings with your book launch. I love the idea of storage bags and will be using it for my marketing files.
Hello, Kathleen, and welcome! I like storage bags because they are see-through. Having items separated by theme – and visible – is a huge timesaver.
By the way, I left a comment on your website today. 🙂
It does sound like a massively daunting task, Marian, but I’m sure it will all be worth it. All the best on Saturday and beyond. I’ll get my copy when it’s available for e-readers. 👍❤
KDP Amazon said that my files have been uploaded and should be visible in the next day or so. By the way, the e-reader is in color whereas the print book is not (too expensive to produce.) Let me know if/when you can order a copy, Fatima!
I will. I look forward to it. 👍
You are so organized, Marian! That’s wonderful. What an operation! I also use gallon bags to aid my organization!
I wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry if someone asked what to do with a book after reading it. 😄
Like you, I saw the humor in the comment about what to do with my book, which came from a math teacher. I doubt that an English teacher would say that, although from the replies here, I think it best not to make assumptions. Thanks, L. Marie!
Everything is coming along nicely for you. All the hard work will be worth it. I have a small independent publisher who is great. But I do a lot of my own marketing and arrange my own school, store, library etc visits and presentations. Good luck with the launch! I will be thinking of you. xo
I have observed your marketing techniques, which have inspired me. After the launch on Saturday, I plan to visit a bookstore that takes books on consignment. I am told that if the book sells well, the bookseller may schedule me for a signing. I’m a debut author, so we’ll see how all this unfolds. Thanks for your inspiration and good wishes, so appreciated, Darlene!
Fascinating look into all that goes into leading up to launch day and beyond, Marian. Best wishes for the release. Your readers will love reading this story! (I did!)
Thanks, Linda, for the mini-review here, for the endorsement you wrote for the book, and for your continued support on my blog.
You inspire me every day with the reflections on your blog. 🙂
all best wishes Marian on the next leg of your journey! Whew, it’s been a long one helped much by your organisational skills and Cliff by your side. So, this Saturday – at last! Suggestions for next step? Take deep breaths and know that you’ll be great!
Deep breaths are a great suggestion. I take intentionally inhale and exhale during my Pilates class, but I think you are referring to signs of relief, perhaps with long periods of staring into space, slow breathing. Anyway, that’s how I imagine relaxing after the big push. Thanks, Susan!
Step by step by step until you did it. I remember that stairway and the bliss of the launch party. Congratulations, Marian. I just ordered my copy.
“The bliss of the launch party,” those are precious words, Elaine! Joseph Campbell says, “Follow your bliss,” so I’ll remember that maxim (and you) this Saturday.
I love donating books I’ve loved to Gift and Thrift or to any of the many Little Library boxes around town.
And I agree with Shirley: you are lucky to have Cliff for all the artistic stages of marketing! Go Cliff & Marian! I also like your idea here of the gallon plastic bags for keeping stuff together. I always use very old folders but if you have objects, the bags work nicely!
the main reason I use gallon bags is so that I can SEE the contents. Before I hit on that idea (maybe it was someone else’s!) I would waste time opening/closing folders.
I tell Cliff and don’t take him for granted, and I do realize how fortuante I have been having him restore photos and create original drawings for the book – and now graphics for marketing. I couldn’t afford all this otherwise. 😀
Thanks for posting your review on Goodreads and also on Amazon, Melodie, and enjoy your weekend with family!
Congratulations, dear Marian. I’m so glad you are doing so well and taking on the marketing without the exhaustion I experienced. By the time my book was in print, I couldn’t get it together to do any marketing. But I feel that’s okay. The big challenge for me was the writing and getting it done. I’m happy I did what I could.
Your book will always stand as a model of excellence, Joan. And it was in reading your Acknowledgements that I found Annie Turner to polish my own manuscript. Many thanks for seeing me through to this point. I can’t imagine writing and publishing without the support of authors like you who have paved the way.
I imagine I am more tired than I feel. Maybe after the book tour, I’ll become a Raggedy Ann! 🙂
Marian — I loved reading this visual description of how you’re dotted your marketing I’s and crossing your promotion T’s. Woohooooooo!
Thank you, Laurie. You are my model for social media, Twitter and Instagram, in particular. Thanks for being a guiding light along this path, both strange and wonderful! 🙂
Marian, I have felt like I was journeying with you, in the ups and downs all along and I can’t wait to purchase and dig in. I think I’ll plan a whole special day after it arrives, with tea, of course! Enjoy the little moments in the midst of the chaos. You are an encouragement!! Blessings! xoxo
Oh, I have to know what tea you will select for reading my memoir. You could choose plain or fancy. Waiting . . . with bated breath!
I’m beginning to envision the moments of fun amid the chaos, especially seeing and hearing from readers! Thanks, Jenn, for providing humor along this rocky path. 😀
I’m feeling the excitement too…wishing I were near one of your book talks. I have September 14 marked for the day to order my own copy.
I am interested in seeing it in color….so I guess I have to order the Kindle copy. At least that way it will be easier to decide about what to do after reading it. Keep it on my Kindle and read it again…after writing something on Goodreads…and giving it 5 stars.
The e-book files are not quite ready, but if you want a print book it is already available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mennonite-Daughter-Story-Plain-Girl/dp/1733585206/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Mennonite+daughter&qid=1568244226&s=books&sr=1-1
Wow, Dolores, you are willing to rate the book 5 stars before reading it. You are very sweet – and trusting – ha! I think the e-book will be ready for purchase on Friday or Saturday, if not before. Thank you, Dolores.
Marian, you and Cliff make quite the pair of experts in this business! This was an enjoyable post and a good resource for those of us who haven’t yet made it this far along the journey. Wish I could be with you on Saturday, but we have houseguests coming and I didn’t think we should run off and leave them. LOL! However, I’ll be with you in spirit!
I guess you and Bob were planning an instant, intercontinental sprint. LOL! Thanks for your camaraderie along the way, Sherrey!
I am amazed at those who are able to write, publish and market a book! I can’t imagine myself doing that! I look forward to reading your book.
Welcome, Sarah! I look forward to hearing what you think about my memoir when you’ve read it. You’ve paid me a huge compliment by reading and reply to this blog post. Thank you, thank you!
What a fabulous job Team Beaman has done preparing for the launch of your memoir, Marian. You show all the work that goes into marketing ahead of the launch. I wish you a joyful and productive time. Like I’ve said before, you’ll be in demand. Bravo my dear friend!
Thank you, Kathy, writer of TWO memoirs. I don’t know how you’ve done it. I appreciate your good wishes and Bravo to you as Just the Way He Walked publishes this fall! 🙂
Amazing to see what you have gone through to publish your book! I enjoyed seeing the pictures of your process. The best to you on your book marketing.
You’ll be surprised at finding the Beaman family mentioned in one of the last chapters. Yes, this has truly been a team effort. Your brother made the graphics within the book and now in the book marketing phase outstanding. Thanks for commenting here, Kathy!
Cliff here: Kathy, I’ll send a message to you and Joyce tomorrow morning how you can get an AUTOGRAPHED copy. We’d rather send you a personalized copy–rather than just an Amazon book order.
Marian, you’ve done an amazing job so far. And you should be feeling over the moon at the reception your book is getting so far! Imagine what will follow. So proud of you my memoir writing friend!. Welcome to the world of authordom! P.S., I’m featuring your book this Sunday for my Sunday book review, to help you get a new boost before I have your over next month. Enjoy the basking!!! 🙂 x
Thank you, thank you, dear friend, for the boost this Sunday. I’m not basking just yet. Today I’ve been in high counsel with my web guy trying to set up Buy Buttons for my website. Also, getting set up at Deerwood for the Launch Party: All “fun” things with some glitches.
As promised, next week before the tour, I want to get answers to questions for your October post. Honestly, I could never do all this without the care and support of my friends. Too many twists and turns to navigate otherwise. ((( )))
You are right in the thick of it all. Yes, it’s a lot of work, and we really couldn’t do it all without the help of our wonderful community. I’m rooting for you! And I also just posted my review on your book page now that the link is live! Congrats again! <3
Amazon takes a few hours to post reviews, but thank you in advance for swift follow-through. What a trusty friend you are!
My pleasure Marian. 🙂 x
You amaze me. You took on this project with a heave-ho enthusiastic non-stop attitude from the get-go (I’m in one of those phrase-moods) and look where you are. I’ve done a lot of the same process, but I haven’t written about all of that process because I’m so exhausted, doing it (or in some cases, feeling guilty about NOT doing it – like the marketing). YOU GO, my friend. You are AMAZING! (Oh, and so is your book!!)
In the back of my mind, I’m thinking this may be my only book, so I’m going at this full throttle. Yes, I am exhausted, but I’m also energized by meeting my readers and returning to my homeland, Lancaster County, next week.
Thanks for the plaudits, and the good wishes. You rock too, Pam!
Thank you for sharing your process, Marian – each step is such an accomplishment, and I celebrate you! Too bad I’m not close enough to be there in person on Saturday, but I hope you have a wonderful time!
British Columbia is a lovely place but far, far away from east coast Florida. I have a feeling we may meet one day, April, perhaps at a conference.
Thanks for the good wishes about the launch. As an author of multiple books, you are very, very familiar with the entire process! 🙂
You’re doing a great job, Marian, and you’ve given me ideas on how to market my father’s memoir. Have a good trip to PA!
Barbara, I couldn’t hope for more: a post that you find practical. During these past five years, I’ve followed in the footsteps of other authors, who were willing to lead me support and cheer. I’m surprised so many books are published with all the perseverance and energy required.
Thank you for your good wishes. I extend the same to you as you market your father’s memoir. 🙂
What an amazing stage in your author career! I wish you all the best!
How kind of you to notice: Thank you, Kayla Ann!
The launch happened today! How did it go? So nice to have supportive friends and family, Marian, and an area that you can all get together for the book signing!
Your writing journey and recent blog posts about marketing and other sections have been incredibly interesting, especially to me. Going “Indie” is a lot of work and requires organization skills, like a teacher. 🙂 I wish you a lot of success with the sales and the reviews. Good idea to request those in the book.
Also, I’ve heard and read multiple times that publicists are expensive and not really worth the money, since you can do everything yourself with a little bit of research and help. So, I think you and Cliff can certainly handle that, the way you are organized and focused and “wired”. 🙂
Lots of relatives, folks from the college, my church, and my Pilates class came. My son-in-law is an engineer and good with numbers, so he manned the “till.” It will be quite a while before I recoup my investment, but that’s not the point. I saw people reading my book as they munched cookies and drank coffee (or water). To me, that’s the real payoff.
Nearly two months ago I sent out advanced reader copies to authors asking them to review the book. Their response has given me some credibility in Goodreads and Amazon. I also included a page within my book requesting reviews. Because I know that reviews are an author’s best gift, I have reviewed many books over the years. It’s a good thing I like to READ!
I went “Indie” because at my age I couldn’t afford the time for acquiring a publisher (if ever). Besides, one of my close friends who’s traditionally published admitted that if she ever writes another book, she’ll go independent too.
I’m glad you have found my recent posts helpful. Hubby is lots of help with graphics – and encouragement. Without his support, I may have given up. Thanks for being interested in my journey, Liesbet, so appreciated! 🙂
There is gremlins at work today . I have sent you a couple of messages but they have not appeared on your page 🥴
Such a lot goes into becoming an author but for me to feel the weight of my book in my hand would be enough . Can not wait to read yours ,and when I have it , it will take pride of place on my bookcase next to Laurie ‘s
Oh, Cherry, there you are! When you send a reply here, I have to approve it on the other side of the screen. If am tardy (as I have been), then it looks like gremlins. No gremlins, just Marian not getting ’round to moderating your comment. I’m sorry. 🙁
The book launch has sucked out all my time and energy.
I am really chuffed (stoked in American English parlance) at sitting next to Laurie on your bookshelf. WOW – I’m honored to be in such great company. Thank you, thank you!
Had to laugh at those quotes! So happy and excited for your book!
I had to look back to see what quotes you were referring to. I’m glad you liked them, Fiona!
Great story !