Marketing Madness

Marketing Schmarketing! It’s the portion of my writing life that I estimate will take a little bit of time, when in reality, it takes quite a bit. Mark B., you’ll understand soon enough, and I know Deb has walked the marketing path. And I’m fully confident all you MA-ers will be grappling with the marketing beast soon enough.

When my friends were raising support, they heard an interesting illustration. “Raising support is like hunting for the thirty or so pieces of gravel that have been painted red on the backside. Your job? Start at the beginning of a gravel driveway, and start turning over rocks until you find them all.”

That feels like marketing to me. Or at least it did.

Last summer God provided a surprising way for me to hire a marketing mentor to help me sift through my marketing efforts. It’s been enlightening. Instead of turning over thousands of rocks, he’s helping me locate the red rocks strategically, thus saving me time. And a little sanity.

Here are some things he’s helped me do:

  • Develop two brands: Turning Trials to Triumph, and Build the Christian Family You Never Had (ripped from the headlines of my second book). This covers fiction and nonfiction. The second one is conducive to speaking, which I am working on beefing up.
  • Encourage me to do a redesign on my website. Today it’s up. Hop on over to www.marydemuth.com and tell me what you think.
  • Help me develop two new products to sell on my site. One: a fifty-page tutorial on writing nonfiction book proposals, including two annotated sample proposals. Two: 150 conversation starters you can use around your table with your kids. You can find both products here. (Note: They are the last two boxed options. You don’t need a paypal account to purchase them. We’re still working out the kinks on the store. Ah, the beauty of a new website!)
  • Help me strategize places I can send articles to for free, in order to generate buzz.
  • Encourage me to send out a snail mail newsletter to potential speaking venues. I’m working on my second newsletter, slated to go out to 350 people around the United States. (If you’d like to be included, let me know).
  • Inspire me to add to my email database. I added another email newsletter, Inside Renewal, which you can sign up for on the first page of my website. This one’s about going deep with Jesus, and so far the feedback has been great. Click here for a sample of Inside reNEWal. Click here for a sample of my existing RelevantProse ezine.
  • Help me form strategic alliances with ministries who might need my books. (Missions organizations in Europe for Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, Counseling entities for my novels, and several moms ministries for my conversation starters).
  • For speaking: he’s helped me hone the way I speak, offering painful, but helpful critique on one of my speeches. I’m a much better speaker now, and hope to have a high quality recording of my speaking soon to give to potential speaking gigs. In the meantime, I have a snippet of my Family Life interview on my site here.
  • Coach me on effective radio techniques, including learning the beauty of sound bites, and tying in my topic to a giveaway on my website.
  • Remind me to put my book cover and contact information on any free article I send out. You can view samples here (10 Ways to Create a Haven in Your Home) and here (7 Insider Tips for Pioneer Parents).
  • Show me the importance of selling my books on my website. Before my new site was up, I created a paypal page on my blog to sell Authentic Parenting while the blog tour was going on. This gave us tangible numbers on the success of the tour, whereas, if we had relied on Amazon rankings, we wouldn’t really know how many we sold as a result of the tour.
  • Probably the most important thing he did was help me come up with value statements; in other words, what kind of value do I bring to my listeners and readers. Here are a few to help you wrap your mind around what I mean. (And, hey, this took me a month to get my mind around it. Not easy at all.) I help people so fully heal from tragedy that others would never know the trauma had occurred. I help parents create a haven in their home so their kids are wildly enthusiastic about coming home every day. I help people approach God in such a way that they know His reality and His direct dealings every single day.

So I’m more strategic about my gravel turning these days. All this stuff has taken me months to accomplish, and I still feel like a neophyte. Two cool things happened in the midst of all this:

  1. As I discovered what God had made me to do, and the life message He had given me, revival blew through my heart. I never thought I’d find more of Jesus in the midst of marketing. Wow.
  2. Even though I’m working hard at finding those red rocks, I see God’s sovereign hand often in the way He finds rocks for me. I may be strategic now, but He is the Great Helper when it comes to marketing. Speaking gigs only He could orchestrate have fallen into my lap. Writing opportunities, too. I have found that trying to market myself on my own would be a futile, silly endeavor. Oh how I need Jesus! And even in all of my strategies and His sovereignty, I rest in the fact that He holds my career and ministry in His hands.

This is a long post, I know. But my prayer is that something inside it will be a help to you as you market yourself or your books and articles.

***

Mary E. DeMuth helps people to turn their trials into triumphs. An expert in Pioneer Parenting, Mary enables Christian parents to navigate our changing culture when their families left no good faith examples to follow. Her parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House, 2007), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005). Mary also inspires people to face their trials through her real-to-life novels, including Watching the Tree Limbs (nominated for a Christy Award) and Wishing on Dandelions (NavPress, 2006). A pioneer parent herself, Mary and her husband, Patrick, reside in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France, where they planted a church. You can find Mary at her website: www.marydemuth.com or her blogs: www.relevantblog.blogspot.com and www.pioneerparenting.blogspot.com

The MAD marketing strategy

I’m an expert. I have six books under my writerly belt, and can throw my marketing girth out there for all to see and admire. Why can I say this? Because I received my first royalty check—which I promptly spent on socks at Wal Mart. Which is why I am starting a new marketing endeavor aimed at those illustrious folks who proudly call themselves Midlist Authors. It’s called MAD: Midlist Author Dictators.

Here’s how MAD works. We midlisters have tired of every conceivable marketing method known to computer-huggers everywhere:

  • We’ve shouted on Shoutlife.
  • We’ve given and received ridiculous gifts on FaceBook (hugs, gardens, little cyber-bits of foof).
  • We’ve blogged ‘til the cows came home, and then we took movies of the cows and hoped to start a viral revolution on You Tube.
  • We dusted off our amateur movie skills and made B-level book trailers.
  • We’ve spoken to book clubs, fielding questions about that pesky scene (that we don’t remember writing) on page 154.
  • We’ve paid handsomely for a website whose visitors consist of our grandmothers, four stalkers, and ourselves (which counts for most of our hits).
  • We’ve paid printing companies mucho bucks for business cards, bookmarks, t-shirts, auto decals, and mugs. (And we’ve cleared out a closet and a garage to hold these items.)
  • We’ve spoken to groups large (12) and small (1), and solicited email addresses for our gem of a monthly newsletter—only to have our subscribers rebel by unsubscribing and vowing to never read any of our books.
  • We’ve twittered away entire days, telling our seven followers the intricacies of our days, how much we’re writing, what we had for breakfast, and what exactly the dog ate to make him throw up those colors.
  • We’ve given away free books to people in Nigeria in exchange for 540,000 dollars. (Well, a book and also all our account information).
  • We paid handsomely for a professional picture only to discover the picture actually looks like us. (We opt for a picture taken in high school when sags and wrinkles didn’t exist). So we’ve worked hard, we midlisters. And what has all this toil brought us? Nothing. So we’re starting a revolution. We are now MAD! (Midlist Author Dictators, in case you forgot the acronym.) Here’s how MAD program works:
  • We read books about dictators (benevolent and not so benevolent) and figure out what made them tick. We take notes. We puff ourselves up. We practice on our dog, trying to make him do new tricks. Once we’ve perfected that, we go to the next step.
  • We take what we’ve learned and create an empire where we are our own dictators, forcing the general populace to buy every one of our books. This includes backlists and the books we bought for 25 cents from our publisher because they were destined for the fiery furnaces of destruction.
  • We rule benevolently (hopefully . . . There is that thing about absolute power corrupting absolutely.) And then we retire in the Cayman Islands off all those meaty royalty checks. (But we have to hire someone to decipher them because, for the life of us dictators, we can’t figure those puppies out!)

So there you have it. A new marketing method for a new generation! Midlist authors unite! Get MAD! Dust off your dormant dictator and have at it! Your very future depends on it. If you can’t sell books the old fashioned way, you may as well dictate. And if you fail? I hear Wal Mart is hiring greeters—their own micro-version of crowd-control-cart-distribution monarchy.

Bio: Mary DeMuth gets a little crazy sometimes with publishing-itis. So she writes pieces like the above to keep her sane and away from the men in white jackets. In between, she writes parenting books and novels. Her recent novel released last month: A Slow Burn. Everyone MUST buy it because she says so. She will end her bio by saying she enjoys writing about herself in the third person. You can find her Royal Craziness here: http://www.marydemuth.com. Or if you dare, you can choose to be mentored through the publishing journey at The Writing Spa: http://www.thewritingspa.com.