Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Flirting, Dating, & Getting Engaged

I realize the title of this post sounds a bit risqué for a Christian author. It is, however, to the point. As writers we think of ourselves as isolated word wizards, hammering away, trying to capture the stories we see playing out in our heads. We envision handing our precious manuscripts over to a wise and caring publisher who reads every word we have written. Our dream is that our words paint such a memorable and vivid picture, the creative juices of our publishing team will pour everything they have into fashioning our great work into a book and marketing it with pizazz. Get real.

Today’s author needs to think about more than writing. Part of the author’s job is to market the book. For many, marketing means advertising, maintaining a presence on social media, arranging book signings, and speaking engagements. Todays post looks at the book itself and what you as an author can do beforethe book is published to garner the attention of your audience. 

As in any relationship, there are various stages. Put yourself in the place of the reader.
Flirting: Think about it. You pick up a book, take a look at the cover and turn the book over. You read the back cover and see if you're interested in investing in this relationship. As an author you need to give attention to the design of the book cover. Will you have total control over this? Probably not, but you willhave a say. What feel do you want your book to have? Are there colors or textures you think connect to your story? Think about the cover as you write the book. Fiction or non-fiction-both require a compelling cover.

You also need to write the copy for the back cover. This may be harder to write than your book. It is, after all, the ultimate pick-me-up line.

Another way authors flirt with their readers is by posting quotes from their books on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites. These teasers don’t give away the story, but hint at the possibilities. Begin posting these quotes about a month prior to your release date.

Dating: This is the getting-to-know-you-a-bit-better stage. Some authors do that by sending out excerpts, a first chapter, or offering potential readers a synopsis. When you do this, be sure to refer to your work by its title or as “the book” instead of “my book.” No one wants to remain in a relationship with a narcissistic author.

Since Breathing on Her Own was my debut novel, I decided to offer a sort of “blind date” to potential readers. I wrote four short pieces for the blog A Novel Creation. These stories introduced readers to my characters a month prior to the book release. To view a sample of one of these stories, click on this story about Travis and Molly.

And since viewing these stories was something of a “blind date,” I pitched in on part of the “tab.” Readers were encouraged to share the post and email me with how they did that. I drew a name each week and one lucky reader received a $5 gift card to Starbucks. I think the dating game was successful. My blog views doubled the first week and new readers subscribed. Growth continued in the following weeks. I’ve had readers of the book tell me they first met characters through the blog and one reader was trying to remember if “the McDonald’s story was part of the novel or not.”

Getting Engaged: Okay, if you are a reader, you reach a point where you're ready to commit to this relationship. You buy the book or download it on your Kindle or Nook. You need to see how this story plays out. For writers this is the moment you have dreamed of all your writing life.  You want your readers to come to you on bended knee. Or at least with your book in hand. And if he should offer a review? Break out the sparkling grape juice. This one’s a keeper. 

Hmm…maybe I should consider a romance novel. At least I have a few of the pieces in place.
The book, Breathing on Her Own, is the story of a woman coming face-to-face with her crumbling faith when she learns her adult daughter, driving under the influence, has had an accident, leaving one woman dead and another seriously injured. 

Note to Readers: 
This has been a tough week. My cousin lost her husband to COVID-19. I must admit my heart was not in my writing. I originally crafted this offering as a guest post for the Book Loft in 2014.

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