I once encountered a fellow author online who was struggling to sell her book. She was asking in an author group I was part of if we had any tips or suggestions to help her make her some sales because she really needed the money.
Truth be told, I encounter authors like this almost daily, so why do I remember this one so vividly?
It’s because her book was on book marketing. The very thing she had written a book about, she didn’t know how to do.
Sadly, her story isn’t an uncommon one.
In the author community, you often find the blind leading the blind, because the leaders don’t tell you they have only published one book and it isn’t selling. Or, you know someone who has published a book, so you ask them for help, and they were just thankful they made it through the first time.
We Are All In This Together
I am a firm believer that we are all on this journey together, but I also believe that just because you have published a book, doesn’t mean you should publish a book on on publishing.
Amazon is flooded with books for authors.
Right now, I believe we are at a point where we need fewer new, shiny resources. We just need to slow down and figure out which resources are actually worth our time and money.
After being in the publishing industry for over a decade, my goal is to help you figure out which tools and resources are best for you. I have helped thousands of authors publish and market their books, and I would be honored to help you, too.
In fact, my main goal is to help you succeed because I am tired of seeing others take advantage of authors.
With that in mind, I want you to know my story…
My Journey As An Author
First and foremost you need to know that…
I Am Not That Different.
Believe it or not, I’m probably a lot more like you than you realize.
I didn’t get my first book published because I had the right connections at the right publishing house. I’m not the neighbor of a best-selling author. I don’t have an extravagant publishing or marketing budget. I’m just your average girl-next-door who works hard day-in and day-out.
I have a husband, four teenagers, and three kooky cats that I have to take care of along with a pile of bills to pay each month.
But we should probably start at the beginning…
I Love Writing.
I always have. Even before I learned to read and write, I would pretend to write stories by making squiggly lines on pieces of paper.
In high school, I took an independent writing class–even won a few writing contests and got a few poems published–and I wrote all the time just for fun.
I wrote everything.
From stories to songs, journals to news articles. You name it, I tried my hand at writing it.
Even with being published at 17 and knowing I wanted to be an author, I learned early on that it was one of those taboo professions. “Unrealistic,” I believe is what they called it. Yes, I was allowed to take the classes I wanted, it was cool that I was published, but I shouldn’t plan on pursuing a career in that field.
I felt like I was a football player being told I should play football for the school team, but not to expect to ever play in the NFL. So I moved on to more ‘realistic’ pursuits.
In December 2007 something happened that changed my life–forever: I gave birth to twin girls.
I had four kids five and under at home and became a stay-at-home mom.
In my free time, I wrote stories for fun and started volunteering for a couple of online ministries in 2008 just to feel like I was still contributing to society.
Then, in 2009, two of the ministries sort of overlapped. One of the moms in the online moms’ group that I led asked about devotionals for teen girls–it just so happened that I also volunteered for a teen girls ministry led by Shelley Hitz (FindYourTrueBeauty.com), but she didn’t have any devotionals that I knew of.
So I asked.
I got an email back saying she didn’t, but it would be a great addition to her ministry and she wanted to know if I could help get it started.
She wanted me to write!
I was beyond giddy and started right away. It took a while to get everything up and going, but our first devotional book (a book with my name right there on the cover) was published in 2010.
But that was just the start–I had a lot to learn, and I do me a lot.
A Book Marketing Blunder
One day I was at the grocery store with my husband and we ran into our pastor’s wife. We got to talking and it turns out that daughter was on a mission’s trip to help teens–she wanted to go into teen ministry. Of course, my husband spoke up proudly that I was involved with a ministry for teens and had even written this book…
I quickly said it was nothing important and turned the conversation away from me. Needless to say, I didn’t sell any books that day. And sadly, this wasn’t a one-time thing. I proudly presented my book to my mom when she came to visit… almost a year after it came out.
Tell her over the phone? No way.
Announce it on Facebook? Not a chance.
Write part two in secret? Absolutely.
Because I wrote this book with Shelley for her ministry, we did have a following already. I assumed that she was going to take care of everything and forbid myself to ever brag about it.
I had convinced myself that humility was important. And, while that might be true, this was beyond humility–it was a fear of book marketing. I just didn’t catch that until over a year later.
An Important Mind Shift
I was looking at book marketing all wrong. I didn’t want to trick people into spending their money on something they didn’t need.
My book was for Christian teen girls, so why would I tell anyone else about it? That was my mindset.
The problem with that mindset is that the right people have to hear about it from somebody, and many of the people I didn’t tell about my book were involved in youth ministry, had teen girls, or knew 20 people who fit in one of those two categories–in other words, these were people who were interested, I just had to tell them.
In 2011, Shelley brought me on to help with a website she had started for authors, and I helped her with a book launch for one of her other books. This is when my mindset really started shifting towards marketing. With what I was learning from her, reading in the author interviews I helped her with, and just being in an atmosphere where I was surrounded by people marketing their books, everything slowly sank in.
We tweaked a few of the things we were doing in her teen girls ministry to make more sense from a marketing standpoint–adding links to the book in emails, and other little things like that–and you’ll never guess what happened!
The book started selling.
And not just selling, that book is now an internationally best-selling book that we get consistent royalties on every single month–even over ten years later. It was the first book in a series and has even won an award.
It was amazing what a few small changes could do. In essence, we already had the foundation, we just needed to act on it.
So I Started Helping Other Authors
Because I was running Shelley’s affiliate program and answering the majority of the questions that authors submitted to her website about publishing and marketing, what I didn’t already know, I learned pretty quickly. I started doing freelance work helping other authors with publishing and marketing, and in 2012 I put my knowledge into the first book that I wrote all on my own, Book Marketing 101.
The best part?
I was finally making an income doing what I loved, and I got to help other authors see their dreams come true. I loved it. But I still had more to learn.
Overloaded and Overwhelmed…
The most important thing I have learned is that I just can’t do it all. I can’t help every single author I come in contact with publishing and marketing their books (at least not directly). Don’t think I didn’t try though. I drove myself and my family nearly crazy while I did freelance work, helped Shelley with her website, and tried to publish and market my own books.
I was being pulled in a thousand different directions trying to make everyone happy. It was just too much.
I gave up freelancing for a while, but I picked up other things and eventually was right back where I didn’t want to be. I helped found a weekly women’s Bible study at my church and FindYourTrueStrength.com, a brother ministry to Shelley’s ministry for teen girls.
Shelley and I started a new website together where we helped authors successfully publish and market their books.
I was actually making more money as an author than I ever had working outside the home.
But I was overloaded and overwhelmed, and my family was suffering. I was suffering. I barely had time to write, I was always at my desk, and while I loved my job, I wasn’t happy. I knew I needed to slow down and breathe deeper. It was clear that something needed to give.
I Had A Decision To Make.
The last thing I wanted to do was become another marketing guru who never published their own books. I didn’t want to make my living by taking the money of hardworking authors and living off the success of my past books. But what it really came down to for me, is that I am a writer through and through. If I don’t write, I get more stressed out. I have trouble thinking clearly.
Writing is my passion.
I’ll always be a writer, and even if I gave up on my own publishing goals, I would still write–it’s part of who I am. I knew that needed to be my focus.
So, I stepped back.
…and it was a good thing I did.
Chronic Pain & Writing
About a year and a half after stepping back, I came down with the worst migraine you could ever imagine… and it never went away.
It’s called Status Migrainosus.
My head always hurts.
I have good days (think, days you have a headache you just can’t shake), and bad days (when I lay in bed and cry). I try to get some writing done on the good days.
There is definitely an ebb and flow.
I do what I can when I can. Nothing more.
There’s a lot of grace.
I’m holding out hope that someday my head will stop hurting. Until then, I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
What I’m Up To Today
So just what am I doing (when I can do it)?
I took over as the ministry director of FindYourTrueBeauty.com. I am working on publishing the next book of devotions for teen girls. It’s taking longer than I hoped, but it is a work in progress.
I founded an online women’s ministry, CandidlyChristian.com (I’m thankful to have a wonderful group of women who help keep that site up and running when I can’t function.) We are currently putting together an anthology called Faith Talk: Christian Women and The Gospel. You can learn more about it here.
I work as an author mentor for the Christian Book Academy.
Altogether, I have written and contributed to over two dozen books since I started writing. You can find them on Amazon here.
Finally, I started this website to help other authors find the tools and resources they need to do what they love.
Long story short, God has given me a heart for helping other authors, and I couldn’t ask for a better job. The best part is that I get to do it all for the glory of God.
Here’s to your success,
Internationally best-selling and award-winning author.