In addition to writing for Spiritually Unequal Marriage, Dineen Miller has won several prestigious awards for her fiction. She’s also a C.L.A.S.S. Communicator and has been featured on the Moody Radio Network, Family Life and Focus on the Family Radio. Married for 24 years to a guy who keeps her young, she lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two adult daughters, who surprise her daily with their own creativity.
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Preplanning Your Marketing as You Write Your Novel
When I started writing seriously in 2004, my focus lay completely in fiction. I’d written devotionals and snippets of life pieces in the past, but they served my own need for expression, then resided silently in a folder on my computer. Fiction was my passion.
Then something unexpected happened. In 2006, God presented me with the opportunity to write as part of a team on a blog for the spiritually mismatched. I jumped in because I wanted to help other women avoid some of the heartache I’d experienced to reach a place of thriving in my faith and my marriage.
From this blog a ministry was born. Readership grew as did our perspective and understanding of the need we’d tapped into. This led to a book (Winning Him Without Words: 10 Keys to Thriving in Your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage) about how to thrive in this type of challenging marriage (aren’t all types challenging?) and a booming Facebook presence. We suddenly found ourselves reaching readers in ways we hadn’t thought possible at the beginning. Our main site, www.SpirituallyUnequalMarriage.com, even started showing up as a resource on other ministry and church websites.
So when God opened the door for my first novel, The Soul Saver (Barbour), I began studying what had worked so well for our nonfiction book and looked for ways to apply it to marketing my novel. What I discovered has now led to a concept we* are calling Rooted Marketing.
1. Identify need and niche seeds. As authors, we pretty much get the message today that we have to do more than just market our book. People want more. Common trends have set a pattern of having take away value. So, identify a need or niche you can fill. For example, a budding author I know recently shared with me that she loved writing home and hearth stories because this had been a big area of enjoyment in her own life. Suddenly we realized she had unlimited opportunities to write into her stories traditions and celebrations that had meant so much to her and her family and would give her readers step by step planning instructions to do that same kind of events and traditions in their own homes. She had not only pulled a theme from the stories she felt so passionate about, she’d created a brand she wanted to continue throughout her books. Whether it’s a need or a niche, consider approaching what you’re offering as a way of serving others like a ministry. Even Jesus used stories to make His truth real and vivid in the minds and hearts of those He spoke to.
2. Grow and Harvest Resources. Experience has a way of opening doors to serve a specific market with the goal of being a resource. That was always our purpose—how did we assist others in finding the help they needed in a difficult marriage? What could people take away and apply to their lives and marriages? We not only used our book but also created a dozen free downloads with tips and suggestions from everything to praying for your unbelieving spouse to putting romance back into your marriage, along with short teaching videos and a relevant monthly newsletter. I recently read about an author who turned the historical research she used for her novel into a series of articles for her local newspaper. Another author I know built in a common theme of a quilt pattern through her book series and included the pattern (one she designed herself) at the back of each book. The potential here is only as limited as your thinking, so think big and have fun!
3. Be an Intentional and Current Farmer. It’s unrealistic to think we can “do it all,” and planning ahead goes a long way in fighting off the overwhelming menu of media and marketing choices. Once you identify and figure out what potential marketing seeds you can plant in your work in progress, imagine ways you can market and interconnect them between your website and favorite social media sites so you can reap an effective harvest. Even consider speaking to local groups in your area if your subject matter is applicable to library groups, women’s ministry programs and Bible study groups.
As I said, there are so many different ways to market today that we have to be intentional about what we choose. Thinking ahead is like preparing the soil for those seeds so when your book comes out, you’re ready to reap a harvest.
*Find out more at our ACFW Conference Continuing Education class, “How to Market Your Fiction Like a Non-fiction Pro” by Rachelle Gardner, Kathi Lipp, Dineen Miller and Jim Rubart.
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Dineen's debut fiction novel, The Soul Saver, is available now!
Lexie Baltimore is in the supernatural battle of her life. In obedience to God’s calling, Lexie uses her dreams and sculpting to help others. But will she have enough courage to help herself when she becomes torn between her atheist husband and a godly man? As events unfold, Lexie becomes entangled in a twisted plot. Will she unmask the evil before it’s too late?