Getting Your Feet Wet

This past month, my family and I spent a week camping in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. We enjoyed the cool temperatures and the awesome beauty there and spent several days hiking the many trails that stretched just yonder before us. One such day led me to unknown waters–or rather, an unknown way to cross a certain mountain stream, without getting my feet wet. [BTW, I failed miserably. If interested, you can read about the disaster here.]

Sometimes, we just have to get our feet wet–if not our legs, arms, and ears. When it came to marketing and promoting my first book with Zondervan in 2009, I knew I needed to jump in with both feet.

Having read various marketing blogs and having studied the ideas of many ACFW authors, I had a good idea of what I wanted. I planned to schedule book signings, visit bookstores, create bookmarks, etc. But having this knowledge and knowing what to do with it (when you have a marketing budget) are two different things.

Once I received my advance, I had actual money to work with. Yay! So, I began with a budget. Oh, but wait! After reading through all my notes and research, there seemed to be a LOT of controversy on how much to allot toward marketing. Some authors put all of their advances toward marketing, while others spent hardly any, depending solely on their publishers. If my husband had his say in the matter, a very low percentage of mine would be given to marketing. LOL. After all, if God wanted my book to sell, He’d provide a way. Right?

After much deliberation, calculation, and prayer, my husband and I came up with a percentage of the advance we thought would work, budgeting out certain amounts for things I deemed necessary and leaving room for items that were a bit more extravagant. For learning purposes, my budget had the following items:

  • High Speed Internet and Updated Computer
  • Author Website
  • Publicity Photo
  • Book Trailer
  • Book Launch
  • Promotional Items (bookmarks, pens, etc.)
  • Book Signings (travel, meals, etc.)
  • Conferences/ICRS

Did I stay within my budget? I’m happy to report that I did. Next month, I’ll share my plans for creating an author website–what I wanted in the beginning, what I settled for, and how it all turned out. Until then, enjoy the moments AND don’t be afraid to get your feet wet.

41 Replies to “Getting Your Feet Wet”

  1. I enjoyed reading how your marketing plan is a joint effort – to one person or entity alone. I loved how you sat down with your husband, worked out a budget, prioritized the most important “to do’s”, and then stuck to it. I look forward to your next post. Thanks!

  2. You speak the truth, Deb. You do have to jump in, and boy that water can be a cold shock. Thanks for the thoughtful advice on what to tackle first–your list looked spot on. I look forward to hearing of your thoughts on building a website.

  3. I’m not at this point yet so I can still think about marketing strategies without the pressure, which is very nice. The biggest issue for me is still that feeling I get when I think about promoting myself. I have always been fine with being the one behind the scenes and never wanted to be the life of the party, so to speak, so this just feels weird! I’m reviewing a book by Richard Furtick, SUN STAND STILL, on my blog for the next 4 weeks and sent an email to my Sunday School class inviting them to visit and join in the discussion. Even though it’s right on topic with what we’ve been studying – THAT felt a little uncomfortable.

    Does that ever go away or will I just need to learn to live with it? (And hope that it will be an issue someday!! 🙂 ) Thank you for the great ideas.

  4. Marketing strategy…..ah, yes. This is exactly where I’m at right now, Deborah! And slightly (okay, big time) out of my element. A market, I am not. So yes, these feet need to get a little wet.

  5. Hi Donna, When I received my contract with Zondervan, it was the first time in our marriage for me to put money into the “pot.” So, not only was I going to contribute money to the family, our family life was going to change considerably because of the book contract, ie. book signings, author retreats, MORE TIME WRITING, etc. I definitely wanted my husband’s input on this beginning step–not only for his advice, but also as an eye-opener for him to see what we were in for.

  6. Megan and Patricia, thanks for stopping by to leave a comment. Yes, it’s quite a transition going from unpublished to published, and even more, learning marketing strategies.

  7. Sherri, A LOT of writers are introverts (including myself), so I have to really push myself to be outgoing and step out of my comfort zone. But it DOES get easier with practice. A smile and a caring disposition goes a long way in breaking the ice with people. Best wishes with your blog project!

  8. Hi Katie, You’re going to do fine with marketing and promotion! Thanks for stopping in to say hello!

  9. I am glad there are so many options available to us with marketing, but I think the trick is knowing which are well worth the time and which things are just a waste of time. I am still learning all this, and still figuring out where money is best spent. I’ve found that after the initial launch and blog tours, the difficulty is keeping up the interest in my book, and trying to get it into circles that might not yet know about it. All I can say is, the internet is my biggest blessing – I’d be lost without it!!

    1. Hi Cathy! Yes, there are so many options out there, and if you are on a limited budget, you can only do so much with your marketing dollars. It’s important to put that money to its best use. I hope to go over some of the things I learned, mistakes made, etc. in the months ahead. FREE is always best!

  10. I’m not anywhere close to being ready to market a book yet,but I sure appreciate your insight, Deborah. Like Donna Pyle, I love how you sought your husband’s input in determining a good budget for marketing. I find my husband has perspectives and insights that I haven’t considered. I also appreciate the other things you shared about what you put into your budget.

  11. I loved reading your posts on the CAN blog, so when I signed my first contract and knew I needed to create a promotions budget, I followed your advice. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. Jumping in with both feet allows us to be submerged in the joy of writing and we’re never alone.

    1. Hi Lisa, I’m glad you enjoyed the CAN blog posts. I plan to spiff of some of those posts with updated lessons I’ve learned, and hopefully it will help our readers here. And YES, we are never alone. What should have been stated FIRST in the blog post, was that a LOT of prayer went into this decision, that God would allow us insight on how to budget the money.

  12. This is a great post. I hadn’t ever thought about it, but that is the perfect use for an advance. I’ll be sending this to my husband so that when the time comes (I say WHEN because I believe in positive thinking!), we’ll already be on it together.

  13. There are so many options for marketing–some that cost $$$ (author website, anyone?) and some that don’t–but do cost time (FB, Twitter). For me, it’s a question of jumping in–but not jumping in the deep end and drowning. How much is not enough and how much is too much? I learned with my non-fiction book that some of the stuff I did was just “flash,” i.e. not worth my time or money. With my novel, I’m being more careful and using the expertise of others like you, Deborah. The money and the time only goes so far.

    1. Hi Beth, As I mentioned to Cathy above, I hope to share some of the lessons I learned about promotion and marketing in the months ahead because you’re right–everything needs to be evaluated concerning time, dollars, effort, and whether it was worth it. Tune in for some of those lessons…

    1. Thanks, Erin. Yes, just like any money we receive, we need to be responsible for how it is spent. 🙂

  14. Thanks for sharing your list with us — honestly, I’ve never thought about how I would spend an advance, should I ever get one! But to put at least part of it toward marketing efforts sounds like an excellent idea.

    I am looking forward to your next post a lot — very curious about how to build an author website!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Michelle. I look forward to visiting with you next time about websites. 😉

  15. Thank you for sharing your experiences and expertise in promoting and marketing, Deborah. Very helpful info for a future time when I might need it. Looking to read more later from you.

  16. Great tips, Deborah. This is the stage I’m in… deciding where best to spend my money. This is a good list for me to think about. Strong work!!

  17. Some writers cringe at the thought of marketing their own work. As for me, I’m finding it difficult to hold myself back–and my first book hasn’t even been published! With no advance to spend, I’m doing all I can do now (for free) to get things in place–including an author website, blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I love the whole process! Thanks for your tips and encouragement.

    1. Some writers cringe at the thought of marketing their own work. As for me, I’m finding it difficult to hold myself back–and my first book hasn’t even been published! With no advance to spend, I’m doing all I can do now (for free) to get things in place–including an author website, blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I love the whole process! Thanks for your tips and encouragement.

  18. Thanks for commenting, Pat and Jordyn! It’s never too soon to make plans for the day you’re published. Better to be prepared vs taken by surprise and overwhelmed.

    Clarice, I’m glad you’re taking advantage of all the free aspects out there to promote your new work. Blessings to you on your journey!

  19. You’re so right, and by making a budget and sticking to it, I become more focused with my marketing. I can’t do it all, but I can do some.

    Looking forward to your next post. 🙂

  20. I enjoyed you post. As an unpublished author I feel I need to learn anything I can. I am looking forward to your next post when you tell us what you did. It is difficult to know exactly what to do when we are not prepared. Thank you so much.

  21. Thanks Ladies, for stopping by. I hope this post and those in the future will be of some help to you. Blessings!

  22. Really great and practical advice here, Deb–thank you! I think of these future book-marketing-budget decisions like I might with a home redecorating budget/idea file. Right now, there are things I can do to improve my house for free or almost free. Then there are things that must be done, though they cost a bit more than I’d like to spend. Finally, there are the “would love to haves”–not absolutely essential but could make a huge difference in the overall impact of my home decor. Looking ahead to having an advance someday, I’m bookmarking other authors’ book trailers, keeping notes and photos of each marketing idea that appeals to me, and noting author websites that seem to succeed with readers. When my day comes, I hope to have a nice file of great ideas to use as a springboard for my own marketing efforts.

    1. Great comparison, Katy! Oh wouldn’t it be nice to be able to afford some of those “love to haves!”

  23. Thanks for the information. I just signed my first book contract, and even though I have a strong marketing background, marketing myself seems strangely odd to wrap my hands around. Looking forward to your next blog on author website.

  24. Great post!!!! I hadn’t thought about “what” to do with my someday advance or how much to spend on marketing. Hrm… I guess much of it depends on how much it is! ha!

  25. Hi J. Michael and Krista! Thanks for commenting. No matter how much your advance is, you’ll still need to be careful how to spend it. 🙂 Happy marketing, people!

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