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:
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:
- What is unique about me that benefits others?
- When folks email me a thanks for something I wrote, what are the common themes?
- If I could deliver one message only, what would I say to my audience? Why?
- What sets my stories apart from other novelists’ stories?
- 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:
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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