Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Writer's Journey Continued

Marketing. A single word that encompasses a boatload of time, energy, and yes, expense.

In these days of rampant self-publishing, I'm amazed at the number of new authors I meet who truly believe the hard work is over once the manuscript is bundled off to the printer and now it's Easy Street. Sit back and watch the sales roll in.

Many writers enter Publishing World without a clue to the vast occupation that awaits them once their book sees the light of print: phone calls, e-mails, creating brochures and flyers, business cards, establishing and maintaining a web site, blogs, visiting book stores, pitching to reviewers and media to name a few tasks.

That is, of course, if you plan to sell more than the average 75 copies self-published books chalk up.

The key to a successful book launch is to do your homework. Talk to other authors, research what works and what doesn't, visit how-to sites and author/agent blogs, ask questions, listen and implement. Establish a marketing plan and stick to it, revising along the way as necessary.

Working your day job is no excuse. If your book is important to you, you'll make it a priority with whatever time you have. Take me for example. During the four years since my first book came out, I've worked two to three days a week as an orthopedic occupational therapist and until last year, also taught piano lessons.

Last night I met the producer of the audio version of my book, The Distant Shore, and spent two hours recording original piano music to be used for credit and chapter lead-ins. I just labored for three days to mail 200 brochures to churches regarding my Grace Notes speaking ministry and two new inspirational releases, Mom Needs Chocolate (Regal) and Everyday Hope (Barbour). I'm awaiting a call from an Atlanta radio station for an interview this morning, and will leave tomorrow for north Florida to speak to a writer's group in Jacksonville Thursday night and attend a Tea Tasting & Book Signing at the Strawberry Tea Room in Starke on Saturday.

These events didn't magically happen. They are the the culmination of months of phone calls, e-mails, mailings, personal contacts - just plain hard work.

So if you're one of the brand spanking new authors who approaches me, gushing with expectations of awards, accolades and offers about to descend upon you, please forgive my bland smile. It's the smile of the tired, sweaty gardener who knows a beautiful rose garden doesn't just magically happen.