Partway through that journey, I found my writing voice. It didn't happen overnight, unless you count twelve years of solid writing overnight. Once I felt comfortable with my style and voice, I could discern better which advice to heed and which to kindly toss.
It's the same with other aspects of writing too--particularly PR and marketing. Once you start the publication journey, you'll hear a dizzying array of "shoulds." Here's a listing, in case you were wondering:
- You should have a facebook page and a connected twitter account. Oh, and LinkedIn, and Bob's social marketing bonanza, and any other ning, ping, zing that comes around.
- You must speak. And learn to speak well. Pay your dues by traveling to Bob's boathouse to talk about your maritime novel.
- Remember to hire the right publicist. And practice your radio voice, presence, pitch, and tie everything you say to to your website.
- Which brings me to websites. You ought to have one. And make sure you have a non-Wal-Mart-photstudio picture there. Be sure the site is SEO friendly. And be sure it's pretty and practical and stunning. It should look like you spent lots of money on it.
- Oh and be sure you blog. A lot. Consistently.
- You can't make a living as a writer, so create products on your site.
- Email every bookstore in the continental US and make a relationship with every single bookstore owner.
- Be sure you send chocolate (or other delectables) to your publishing house.
- Buy a magnetic book advertisements for your car.
- Send newsletters. Physical ones. Email-y ones.
- Teleseminars and webinars are your friends. Shake hands with them.
- Start creating seminars (real ones, in the flesh) utilizing your expertise.
- Comment on blogs you have affinity with.
- Guest post as much as you can. Invite high profile bloggers to guest post on your blog.
- Create or understand or formulate a brand or tagline. Who are you? How do you help others?
- Have contests.
- Build a database.
- Give books away to influential people.
- Rethink booksignings to make them less embarrassing!
- Be everything to everybody...
It's odd to me how I was able to sift through writing advice after I found my voice, but I haven't been as astute in discerning all the voices in terms of PR and marketing. Instead of thinking through each set of expectations and seeing how they fit me, my ministry, my career, I've done everything. Because I thought I had to.
I know some amazing people in PR and marketing. And I've learned so much. But I've also learned that not everything fits me. And some of it drains me. I've learned from Marcus Buckingham recently that I should concentrate more on my strengths (things that strengthen me) rather than my weaknesses (things that weaken me). In light of that, I'm dropping some of my marketing efforts. I'm farming out others. And I'm concentrating on those that strengthen me--things like blogging and social media.
What I toss out won't be what you toss out. What I do well won't be what you do well. And that's okay. The point of this rambling post is to give you permission. Be yourself. Find your marketing and PR voice. Then you'll be able to better discern the advice that comes your way.
Remember, too, that this is a fickle business. I wish I could give you "the" formula to sell your books, but there is no formula. Part sovereignty, part hard work, part writing, part serendipity, part word of mouth, part mystery, we simply can't predict how to sell our books.
Which is where I rest today. I may never be a bestseller. It may not be God's plan. But I want to do this writing journey well. I want to market in a Mary-shaped way. I want to make Jesus smile in my efforts. And I want to let the results rest in His capable hands--He who wrote the bestselling Book of all time. I'm tired of running around in circles, heeding every piece of advice. I want to write. I want to write well. And I want to rest there.
Anyone else feel that way?