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
If your resources are time critical, be sure to update or change them out periodically. Offer new ones to your readers and if you have a newsletter, offer a special download available only to sign ups. You can even do that with your blog these days with each new subscription. Find a tech savvy person to help you set up an automatic mailing, and you won’t have to think about it again until you’re ready to offer a new resource.
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?