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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Marketing can be joyful--really!

First, I'm thankful to be a new addition to the Novel Journey Team. A huge thanks to Gina for asking me to participate monthly.

As a guest poster on Michael Hyatt's blog, I recently did a lot of soul searching about who I am and who my tribe is, which means I've had to say no to several things. I'm no longer the owner of The Writers View 1 & 2. I'm discontinuing So You Wannabe Published. Although I know these decisions are right for me, a small part still wanted to impart to the writing community. A once a month Novel Journey column gives me that chance. So, thank you!

All my searching of late has brought me to this statement:

I craft and communicate stories in such an authentic way that strugglers find healing and no longer feel alone. 

This encompasses both my fiction and nonfiction, but more importantly, it defines my readers--folks who chase healing, who need community, who resonate with authenticity. They are my tribe.

We hear a lot about novelists and the expectations publishers have for us to market our books. My contention is that it's not about the methods you use as much as what it is behind your promotion that really drives your marketing. It's the why. It's about motivation. It's about the deep stuff.

I truly believe that what is inside our hearts spills out onto the page. And it also spills out into our marketing efforts. What I regret about my novel journey is that I didn't think long and deep about me, about who I was, about my unique message. I simply pursued publication, and sometimes a bit willy nilly.

In terms of marketing, I felt the weight of my own insecurity. In retrospect, I see that my insecurity  caused me to run like my dog Pippin from one compelling thing to the next, smelling out the next great marketing cause. I was not purposeful. I hadn't thought through the why.

So, now, finally, with nine books published in five years, I've come to a better place. It's my desire to spare you my journey so you can start strong today. If I were to do it over again, I would've asked these questions first:
  1. What is unique about me that benefits others?
  2. When folks email me a thanks for something I wrote, what are the common themes?
  3. If I could deliver one message only, what would I say to my audience? Why?
  4. What sets my stories apart from other novelists' stories? 
  5. Why do I write?
Answering these questions will help you know you. Don't answer them the way you think your friends want you to answer, or your publisher, or agent, or critique group. Give yourself permission to be honest, to say it like it is. Once you've come to understand your heart, you'll be better equipped to think about marketing in terms of who you are and what invigorates you.

Then think about who the folks are who most resonate with you and your message. That will be your tribe. (For a better understanding of tribes, read Tribes by Seth Godin). 

Then marketing doesn't have to come down so much to method, or how many facebook friends you are or how many times you tweet and blog. Your marketing becomes a joy, a natural extension of who you are. Give yourself permission to be joyful as you market. Picture the people in your tribe, how they'll be changed or entertained or moved because of your words. Here's my unscientific formula:

Embracing who you are + Blesssing those who follow = Joyful Marketing

For those of you who aren't yet published, this is even more important and compelling. You have the opportunity now to really venture forward with strategy and joy. And for those of us who are plugging away as novelists, it's a time to reconnect with our readers and re-orient our hearts.

Mary DeMuth is the author of nine books, the most recent release being Life in Defiance, the third novel in the Defiance, Texas trilogy. She has three kids, two pets and one husband and lives in Texas, y'all. She blogs often about life, passion, and healing here.


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21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I actually took notes from your blog this morning as I try to gain some focus for what the Lord would have me to do with my writing. Great thoughts for getting focused. Thank you.
Rachel Latham

Mary DeMuth said...

I'm so thankful you took notes! I pray you find your focus.

Merri Lewis said...

I should take notes! Not that I am anywhere near writing a book, but I am trying to blog snippets that may one day become a book. It is good to think about the focus of what we are doing, and how to do things in such a way that would further the kingdom of God, rather than the temporary approval of pleasing publishers, friends, etc.

Karen Rabbitt said...

"Picture the people in your tribe, how they'll be changed or entertained or moved because of your words."

I'm too focused on my own inadequcies in communication, or thinking, or faith. That sentence reminds me: It's not about me and my inabilities, it's about God and his abilities. About what he wants to do through me with the people he will bring for me to lead.

Thanks for the reminder.

Patrick E. Craig said...

Thanks Mary,
I went right over and got your book.
Very helpful insights.

Teri Dawn Smith said...

Since I'm going to a "Polish"conference next week (which includes marketing) with Susan May Warren, Chip MacGregor and Jim Rubart, this is timely. Before I go, I'm going to do some serious soul searching and answer those five questions.

Thanks for sharing your heart and wisdom to help smooth the way for the rest of us!

Best of blessings on your tribe!

ed cyzewski said...

You've nailed it. There is a huge difference between publishing from your passion and writing to get published. I've hit some rough bumps along the way in learning that lesson. Learning to write from an authentic place for a specific audience is quite difficult to learn, and I'm sure it's an ongoing learning process. Thanks for sharing your lessons from this journey.

Messy mommy said...

Great post. I will be printing out these questions--perhaps reading them each time I set out to write. Very helpful!

Merely Here said...

Hey, this was a great post! Having been in the sales industry for the last twelve years, I've started thinking that someday, when I am blessed enough to get something published, the easy part if it would be the marketing!!! When I first started writing, I was writing for a secular market- when I became hung up on different aspects of different stories, I started praying. I figured out that the Christian market is what I needed to focus my skills toward, and that's what I'm doing. Thanks for the affirmations!

Mel said...

Great post, Mary. I need to figure out who is my tribe . . . in my spare time. :)

Mary DeMuth said...

Hey all! As I tweeted, I said I was feeling insecure about the lack of comments, so I'm thankful you took the time to chat.

Merri, writing a blog is a good first step. And you'll get to know yourself during that process.

Karen, so true. It's all about His abilities.

Patrick, thank you!

Teri, at first I thought you were going to a conference in Poland! I'm clearly too tired.

Ed, yes, this is an ongoing process. I'm still in it.

Messy, I hope the questions help!

Merely, well, that's so good you have a step up on marketing. I have had to learn this on my own. Usually the hard way.

Mary DeMuth said...

Mel, that's the hard part. Making time.

Gina Holmes said...

You're such a talented teacher that knows how to get to the heart of the matter. So proud to have you as part of the Novel Journey team. Quite a dream team we're becoming :)

Marti Pieper said...

Mary,

When I received the newsletter that contained your new brand statement, I thought, "Well, of course." It seemed obvious. And apparently it was--to everyone except you. That's a lesson in itself, as you've noted.

It blesses me that God's allowed you to narrow your focus and define your writing identity. It encourages me that you've created some wise boundaries. But as I was pondering these things, I realized that your season of tilting at windmills has blessed and benefited many. You've impacted the writing community in huge ways. Because of The Writers View, SoYouWannaBePublished, and more, we know who you are. We trust you. And we want to receive your wise counsel.

All this to say I'm grateful. Grateful to have joined you in this part of your journey. Grateful for the many times I lurked, learned, and occasionally commented or sent an email. Grateful Gina has provided an avenue through which we can continue to receive, learn, and grow from the unique, gracious, loving, healing woman God has created in Mary DeMuth. And grateful my life and my writing have intersected yours, albeit from afar.

Huge Blessings in Jesus to you and yours. Take joy!

Mary DeMuth said...

Ah shucks, thanks Gina.

Marti, I so appreciate your kind, encouraging words. Thank you.

ellehasuly said...

I'm going to have to re-read this a few times to let all of the nuggets get down into my spirit. Thanks for writing such an insightful and yet accessible piece for Novel Journey. I find my self saying, "Yeah! I feel that way!" after reading every sentence.

Cup o'joy and a fresh taste of the bread of heaven to you...

Lynne

shellie said...

Thank you, Mary, for writing such a poignant and timely blog. I lived in the dispassionate, technical writer's world for far too long. It's a completely different experience to write about what touches your heart. A lot harder if you ask me, but so much sweeter! What a blessing to watch you walk through that journey. Thank you for sharing.

Shellie

Jennifer Lyn King said...

Hi Mary,

Great blog--and a wonderful breakthrough you verbalize, on making one of the usually unnatural sides of writing into something enjoyable. I love what you said: "Your marketing becomes a joy, a natural extension of who you are. Give yourself permission to be joyful as you market."

Yes, fantastic thoughts. Thank you for sharing them. Life is too short to have great writers like yourself drudging through connecting with others.

Glad you're enjoying the writing journey,

Jennifer King

Chris Pedersen said...

Thanks you for your soul-searching, insightful wisdom. It struck an emotional cord with me. I want my writing to resonate with the reader and help them move forward in becoming a new creation.

Lyndieb said...

Hi Mary, It is no surprise to me that the Novel Journey with your post went to my junk mail. Even though I had gotten previous blogs from the site. I went looking for it when I saw your post on facebook/twitter, These are critical questions that you have posed, both for writing and then marketing one's self. I hope I can come up with some answers. I've been meaning to tell you, I am not sure how much you have limited your tribe. Seems to me that most everyone on the planet thinks they are alone... I had a dog named Pippin, too. She was my favorite dog and was a gift from God. When you write about yours, it makes me miss mine.

Mary DeMuth said...

Lynne, I'm glad it resonated.

You're sweet, Shellie, thanks.

Thanks Jennifer, it is becoming joyful.

Chris, I pray that your writing accomplishes that.

Lyndie, Wow, we have twin dogs! And yes, you're right, so many people feel alone....