How to Start Heart-Centered Book Marketing by Guest @BethBarany
By the time I was ready to publish my first novel, I knew I needed to start thinking about marketing too.
But I was scared.
I felt like a young child daring to reveal her precious art to the whole world. I was small and they were huge. And their response mattered a lot.
How was I going to get the courage to move forward with my marketing when I felt petrified?
In my mind, I knew that marketing was important. I knew I needed to take steps.
But in my heart that had poured so much into my story, and in my body, that was the doer, I was frozen.
What was I to do?
The only way people would know about my first novel was if I shared it with them. That’s what marketing is: sharing your message with people who don’t already know about it, preferably to people who would be curious and potential readers.
For help, I turned to a few wise friends and teachers and learned a few things that may help you.
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Marketing Steps I Took
Firstly, I realized that my work is precious to me and close to my heart and deserves as much care and attention in marketing as I put into the writing.
I didn’t have to send my book out into the woods to face the big bad wolves; I could send it off with a support posse, plenty of food, and a sense of safety. And to start my marketing, I didn’t have to go out into a huge wood, just venture a little bit away from home, maybe across a field.
I know, I’m speaking in metaphor. Specifics would help.
Instead of thinking I had to contact hundreds of book bloggers to see if they’d like to review my book, I started with one blogger a week. By the end of 3 months, my book had appeared on about 20 blogs and received 10 reviews.
I started small, organized it so I could integrate book marketing into my daily life, like the way I’d done for writing, and made progress. That felt good.
Practicing Marketing Presence
Even today, I get overwhelmed by marketing my fiction and don’t know where to start.
The first thing I do is reassure myself that this is normal, that overwhelm is my first step in my creative process.
I sit with the overwhelm, assuring myself of my commitment to getting the word out about my books — no longer just that first book, but now two series encompassed in eight books, and soon a third series – four more books!
I remind myself that the marketing of my books can look all kinds of ways, and that I can absolutely do what’s manageable and fun.
With that pep talk, I relax a little and ask myself: “What would I like to do next to market my books?”
I have a lot to choose from, but I know I can’t do it all, at least not all at once.
I listen to my heart; I let my mind weigh in (I can’t stop her!), and watch the internal conversation — the back and forth.
My heart knows where my passion lies and that is where I focus. I’m excited (and nervous!) to share about my new science fiction mystery series I’ve worked so hard on over the last four years.
Now my doer pipes in. She so knows what to do.
Taking Marketing Action
First, we’ll brainstorm with the List of 20 tools, listing as fast as I can, in a happy frenzy, all the ideas I can think of to market the trilogy. Crazy ideas, expensive ideas, dumb ideas. All are welcome.
Second, we take a rest or a walk. Something to step away from it all and let the other parts of me, many of them unconscious, filter through the ideas, while the mind chatters on about cost, timing, why I can or can’t do the things on this list. I let that happen for an hour or a day until the time is right to figure out what to do next.
The next step can look lots of different ways, but what occurs to me now is to get clear on my goal, motivation, challenges, and strengths in getting the word out about my science fiction mystery.
So that’s my third step.
After that, I’ll make a doable plan and take action.
What does heart-centered book marketing look like to you? How can you let your mind and heart reveal their desires and talk to each other?
When we are aligned, powerful things happen. You created a wonderful story that way. And now you can market that way too!
Note: A version of this article first appeared on Writer’s Fun Zone
For more marketing and writer’s life tips, check out her blog!
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Founder of Barany School of Fiction, Beth Barany is an award-winning novelist writing magical tales of romance, adventure, and mystery. She is also an international trainer and workshop leader. Most recently, she taught her “Plan Your Novel” course (now a book!) in Saudi Arabia at Ithra.
Beth loves encouraging writers to share their stories with the world, for together we can vision our future. She specializes in helping writers experience clarity, so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers.
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Thank you for this. I have anxiety so even the thought of marketing can make me terrified. Starting out small is the best way to go and I’ll be following the tips on this article.
So wonderful, Jessica! I know you can do it!
What an interesting concept! I love the imagery of sending your book out into the the woods (a short distance from your house) with a support network in place.
What I struggle with is finding book bloggers. I’ve gone through Google searches in my genre, scheduled book tours, asked around–and I find a lot of sites willing to host a cover reveal or spotlight, but very few that are still doing book reviews. There’s got to be a better way of locating people willing to review a book!
Glad you liked the imagery of sending your book out into the the woods (a short distance from your house) with a support network in place. So that brings to mind, in your case, for your genre, where have your friends gotten reviews? Have you asked in your mailing list? What places close to home (writers community, other authors’ mailing lists) can you request reviews? Not all book bloggers have blogs. Some only post in Instagram or YouTube or Goodreads. Hope some of those ideas will inspire you to ask in new places and maybe in new ways. Here are some more resources: https://writersfunzone.com/blog/2015/11/05/how-to-get-reviews-by-beth-barany/.
What a perspective shift this is! A “support posse”–ONE book blogger (or other outlets) a week–3-step marketing plan (though an example or two of step 3 would help, I guess just asking “what do I want to happen?” is enough. Making it all manageable and keeping it our own (not a single “should” in the post! yay)–love the short, personal, workable ideas here! Thanks!
Kay, I am so glad to hear it. You’re right! An example or two of step 3 would help… Let’s see what I can do…
For my goal, motivation, challenges, and strengths in getting the word out about my science fiction mystery, book 1, that I’ll be uploading tonight to the vendors:
Goal (Inner and outer): Get the word out in fun sustainable ways so that i get get my book in the hands of readers; feel good that I’m taking action; (like: leverage my network through newsletter swaps; guest posts)
Motivation: I need to let this book have an impact and to do that I need to market it.
Conflicts/Challenges: busy brain, ungrounded, self-doubt; too busy feeling; what if no one likes the book? declaring/blocking off time to do the work of marketing
Strengths: I do believe in this book and series; I have experience marketing my fiction; there are readers out there for this book and series. “I can do this!” and I can ask for help! I can think outside the box and take risks.
Hope that helped! It was useful for me, so thanks for asking. LOL
I love this message of not doing it all, and of listening to our inner wisdom for what to pick!
So glad, Pauline! Thanks for stopping by!
I can totally relate to this. I have a vision of my books and ways to market them but sometimes the ideas just burn out or I can’t capitalize on them. But that belief and feeling in your work is something that keeps us going as writers.
Justin, so glad you can totally relate to this. I hear you about how sometimes the ideas just burn out or you can’t capitalize on them. So true. That happens sometimes to me too. Then I try something else!
Yes, that belief and feeling in our work is something that keeps us going as writers.
Good luck with everything!
This personalizes the marketing process. I can see myself referring to this again. Thank you.
So glad to hear it, Ernie!
Yes, I’d like to receive “the best publishing industry news and analysis”. Jane Friedman’s posts invariably contain something of value that I can share with other writers on Twitter.
Good luck! Thanks for stopping by, Aaron!
A reassuring post. I believe I had learnt a lot about marketing before my first book was even nearing publication. However when the time came, the enormity of the task seemed daunting. Circumstances have dictated a similar approach to what you describe here, Beth. Thanks for your encouragement to continue in the same vein.
You’re so welcome, Aaron. Overwhelm is real. I’m glad you found strategies to handle the marketing and spread the word about your book.
I like all the details. I like the metaphor even more!
Thanks, Alexandria! You’re so sweet to say that.
I would like concrete marketing advice for beginners, I really would. Review bloggers don’t usually review books unless the author already has a platform – they get hundreds of requests. My book has a dozen 4&5-star Amazon reviews, 25 on Goodreads (ave 4.5) achieved organically but not one reviewer site will look at it. They never even write back.
Your link to “Doable plan and take action” is another blog post with not one marketing idea except to say “brainstorm your marketing ideas.”
Getting a guest blog spot on a popular website is a great way to market your books, for sure. Not trying to be snarky. Writers who are selling books have a built-in audience. What about writers who are starting out?
I sense your frustration. I felt the exact same way starting out! If you read through the myriad of posts here on my site, check out my BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge (which I wrote exactly for the reasons you state), attend my free weekly #BookMarketingChat each week, look at the #NaNoProMo tab here on my site, or read my Medium posts, you’ll find a plethora of practical tips and advice you can put into place right now.
As far as connecting with book bloggers, there’s a fab piece here on my site by Girl Who Reads (Donna Huber). Read that. Also, follow @sugarbeatbc on Twitter, aka Bakerview Consulting on Facebook. She’s written BOOKS on working with book bloggers. She’s a frequent guest on my #BookMarketingChat.