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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Publicity Attempts Not Working. . . Are You Sure?

It's no big secret that the majority of the publicity effort for your books will come from you, the author. But, how do we measure the effectiveness of our efforts?

That's hard to say, and here's why. It takes something like six times for someone to be exposed to a product before they take action. So, if you placed an ad on a website and didn't see immediate results, that doesn't mean it wasn't an effective use of your resources. What you accomplished was knocking out one of the 6 exposures. Now, to work on the five others.

Each time your book title is presented to a certain prospective reader is important. Kind of like sharing the gospel, someone else might sow the seed, another water it, and so forth until the moment the person is ready to make a life commitment. Each of those encounters were necessary to the final result.

Or think about a jingle you hear on a commercial. I've heard the Red Robin Yum song at least a dozen times and still haven't been there. But I know of them at least, which is something. The other day we passed one of them and my son said, "I don't like that place."

"Why not?" I ask.

"They're really more of a burger place and I'm not really into burgers." (A negative review?)
 "Oh?" I ask, being a big fan of anything beef. "What kinds of burgers do they have?"

He went on to tell me. I still haven't been to one, but now I would consider it if I was in the mood for a good hamburger. Multiple exposure plus word of mouth equals a sale. And note that his review wasn't necessarily positive. He didn't rave about them, just knew who they would appeal to.

The other day I did a library event where I joined three other authors and spoke to maybe 10-20 locals interested in learning more about writing. I didn't sell a single book and actually lost money by going. I ended up buying a book by one of the other authors and spent money on advertising the event.

Was it worth it? Yes, I think. Here's why:

I did a favor for our local library promoter by being there. I am a go-to person for him when he needs writer talent for events. He knows I'll come through consistently even if it doesn't appear to benefit me. In return, I know I can count on him and my local library community for word of mouth about my books and future promotions on my next title.

My name was printed on hundreds of flyers and distributed around the community. One more of those six exposures knocked out.

I used the opportunity to spam my neighbors. Without the event, I would have no reason to distribute several hundred of my own flyers door to door to my neighborhood. I had my name and a big picture of my book printed on the front with the event information on the back. This cost me several hours of walking time and about $80.00. But, again, another one of those six exposures is checked off.

We are told that book signings aren't the best use of our time when we compare the reach we can have via the web vs standing around a book store for a half dozen people that may or may not buy a book. This is wrong thinking too in my opinion. Even book signings I've gone to and sold one book were well worth the trip.

In my opinion, it's not the immediate sales themselves that are the goal, but the exposure. Each signing has promotion attached to it. Mostly I'm the one doing the promoting. Each mention in the paper, each flyer, each poster, each bookmark I hand out to bookstore customers, knocks out one of those six exposures. For one signing, I can often knock out four of the six exposures. This is a great use of my time.

You may feel your efforts are wasted when you spend hours or days writing an article for a magazine and see no immediate sales increase. That's faulty thinking. You are not in it for the short term, you're looking at it from a long term career standpoint. Each exposure matters and if the book you're pushing now doesn't sell, and you've given it all you have, your efforts were not wasted. All of those folks have heard of you now. The next article you write, ad you run, or signing you do might be the tipping point to selling them a copy.

It's a lot of work, yes, but each investment of time, money, and resources is filling your bank. It feels like that bank will never be full but there will come a day when you can smash it open and reap the rewards.

That day will come if you don't grow weary.

He'd give anything to forget the one thing she can't remember.

When Eric and Kyra Yoshida first met, they thought their love would last forever. But like many marriages, theirs has gradually crumbled, one thoughtless comment and misunderstanding at a time, until the ultimate betrayal pushes them beyond reconciliation. Though Eric longs to reunite with Kyra, the only woman he has truly loved, he has no idea how to repair the damage that’s been done.

Then a car accident erases part of Kyra’s memory—including her separation from Eric—and a glimmer of hope rises from the wreckage. Is this a precious opportunity for the fresh start Eric has longed for? Does he even deserve the chance to find forgiveness and win back Kyra’s heart . . . or will the truth blow up in his face, shattering their last hope for happiness? A richly engaging story of betrayal and redemption, Dry as Rain illuminates with striking emotional intensity the surprising truth of what it means to forgive.


  1. Thanks, Gina. Some great insight and a great outlook :)

  2. Yeah, this is why I know I'm not ready for publication. Those sorts of things exhaust me just reading about them, especially thinking of what to do with my (very small) munchkins while I'm doing them. Yeah. I'll wait about ten years, I think. :-)

  3. Exhausting, maybe, Kessie, but not impossible. Dani, thanks :)

  4. Gina,

    What terrific encouragement to keep on keeping on. Thank you for this post.

    Terry Whalin
    author of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams

  5. Good points, Gina. I love your closing statement... it reminds me of Isaiah 40:31.

  6. Great insight Gina! Every opportunity to promote is a good opportunity. None are wasted efforts, and I think people that discount one method or another short-change themselves in that arena.

  7. Great Article Gina, most inspiring, thank you for posting it.

  8. Hi Gina, and thanks for the great post. I spoke at a local Christian writers' group last Saturday - some fiction writers, some non-fiction, poets, songwriters, you name it. I sold one paperback at the event, one bought it on Nook, but my presence there was definitely an investment in the future. Several others invited me to come again and bring my books (when it's not the Christmas season and money is tight). Even more rewarding for me personally? Making new friends on FB, and having one of them tell me she was "engaged" by hearing about my journey to publication and what I said about writing, and how it inspired her to pick up her own story again and plug away. That's why I do it. The Lord has many blessings for us in writing, not the least of which is the awesome honor to be able to share His love with others. Keep writing for His glory!

  9. By the time I finally get there, after following you, I'll have it down pat. :) I happen to agree. The more your name gets out there, the more books will get sold, whether this one or the next.

  10. Thank you, Gina. Very interesting article. It is hard to tell but you gave me food for thought. We just have to keep plugging along. Word of mouth is a huge way to get your book out there.

  11. Gina- Excellent article. I call it "layering". One reason TV commercials are so repetitive is because of the exposure concept.

  12. I agree, Gina. Sounds like we have the same perspective. Each time is one more check on the list of making people aware of us.

  13. Great post, Gina! I totally agree. I had my epiphany about book signings when someone explained they were more about relationship with stores than with readers. Even if I only sell 1 copy, I've chatted with store employees, and they know my name and my books. I've found store employees will often read my books after a signing - and whom do a lot of people turn to for book recommendations? If nothing else, I see it as a way to give back to bookstores - they deserve any little bit of business I can send their way.

    I have an opportunity to speak to a local secular writers group. One of the members writes for a publication I can't mention in polite company. Will they buy my books? I seriously doubt it. But maybe I can get them to see Christians and Christian fiction in a more positive light. And often one speaking engagement leads to recommendations for other speaking engagements. Either way - I'm there :)

  14. This is awesome, Gina! I'm bookmarking. I didn't know about the rule of six. You're right - it's all about exposure.

  15. Gina, thanks for this insightful and encouraging article.

  16. Gina,
    What a great post! Thanks for the reminder that as authors we're in this for the long haul and each opportunity we have to gain exposure is significant, even if we don't sell as many (if any) books as we hoped. I'm encouraged!

  17. Gina,
    I like and agree with your points in this post. Thanks for putting it together. Repetition is important in learning and in marketing also.Sometimes God has an agenda also at a book signing.

  18. Thanks for the great comments guys.

  19. Excellent article, Gina. I agree with you. It's like putting a price on baking a batch of cookies from scratch for your kids and including a wage for your time from start to finish - clean up included, instead of going out and buying a package of pre-made. Years later,the kids won't remember the store-bought cookies, but they'll remember the smell of fresh-baked cookies and maybe the warmth of a cooling one. You can't measure or even imagine the consequences of that action in your kids' lives.

    Same for readers when they see your name. You never know who they'll talk to or what action they'll take with the knowledge.

    I'm pre-pubbed, but already I've been invited to read my work at the main branch of the city library. It was a big deal since I live an hour away in a small town. But my name was on those posters and I rec'd new visitors to my blog from that exposure. Maybe they'll even buy my books some day. :)

    Thank you, Gina, for speaking out on this topic.

  20. Interesting comparison, Anita. That's it, I'm baking with the kids this week! :)

  21. Thanks for the encouragement, Gina. Great article!

  22. Good article Gina. As a promoter of books, I tell authors all the time you have to keep the book in front of the readers. Many believe they can promote one time and that's all they need. I suggest doing something new at least once of month.

  23. Thanks Dana :) LaShaunda, you're an excellent promoter so I'm sure the authors you work with get all sorts of excellent advice which they'd be wise to heed. My advice is to do something every day. And when a book is getting ready to come out or has just come out, that would be more like twenty somethings every day. Well, pitches anyway. One article or interview a day is probably what most can handle though. It's more work than writing.

  24. What an excellent post! I agree with you! Sometimes it feels like the publicity we do isn't helping- but the more people see your name or book title the better! You have a great attitude and understand that the connections you are making will be helpful in the long run. I had never heard of the 6 exposures- but I love it and think it makes sense. The more times someone is exposed to something the more familiar they become with it and the more apt they are to read, buy or try it.

    Thanks so much for sharing this encouraging post!


  25. Thanks Jess. I'm not even sure where I heard of the six exposures, but the number isn't as important as the concept.

  26. Thanks, Gina. I'll apply that thinking to the blog posts I'm doing that aren't getting much traffic yet. They are a bit of a time hog, but I'm hoping in the long run traffice and my internet prescence will increase.


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