Build Your Platform and Expand Your Reach… with FaithHappenings.com

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Building a platform is essential for writers today. Publishers are busier than ever, and they have less resources to devote to helping authors spread the word about their books, speaking events, and tours. Even more difficult, agents and publishers are often unwilling to take on new writers who don’t already have an established platform, social media presence, and dedicated followers. So what’s a writer to do?

FaithHappenings.com has the answer.

FaithHappenings.com is an online Christian resource with 454 local websites serving more than 31,000 cities and towns. It offers tailored, faith-enriching content for members. Along with a few dozen other benefits—both locally and nationally—it connects people of faith to information about books, blogs, speaking events, and other resources that interest them most. As a writer or speaker, it will allow you to connect with people specifically interested in your genre, subject, or brand!

Just what can FaithHappenings.com offer you?

On FaithHappenings.com You Can…

  1. List yourself as a speaker both locally and regionally, for free! FaithHappenings allows you to highlight your speaking in the local areas where you have upcoming events, targeting people who live there through requested emails. We also link to your author website, driving people back to your site.
  2. Announce upcoming book signings in your local area for free! Information about book signings and other author events are emailed out to members who have requested to be notified of new book releases and book signings near them. Emails go out weekly, and members will also find your events by going to their local FaithHappenings page and checking out the Events Calendar.
  3. List your books—both traditionally and self-published—in up to five genre categories. These book listings will then be promoted to members across the country who have requested to hear about new books in your genre.
  4. Announce special e-book promotions the day they happen. E-book promos are sent out to our members via email and listed on the site daily! The more people who hear about your e-book deal, the more sales you’re likely to see.
  5. Build your blog traffic by posting your blog on FaithHappenings.com. You can then be listed as a “Featured Blogger” on our Home Page.
  6. Post a Top-10 List from your book! If you can create it, FH Daily—our page of daily inspiration, humor, encouragement, and current events—will post the content and link to your book (and it stays on our site forever). Content is king when it comes to generating buzz for your book, and posts on FH Daily are easily shareable via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more.
  7. Be a highlighted “Author Interview.” FH Daily runs author interviews several times a week. Readers can learn more about you, and links will connect them to your website and your book’s buy page. Just email fhdaily@faithhappenings.com to see if you qualify.
  8. Create more awareness for your book with advertising! An ad on the global site or on FH Daily is affordable for any author.
  9. As a free member yourself, you can receive e-mail announcements for any book in more than 70 genres.

What are you waiting for? Get started today by signing up in your local area to become a member at www.faithhappenings.com.

For more information about the benefits of FaithHappenings.com for writers and speakers, click here.

 

Marketing a New Novel

Thanks to the WordServe Water Cooler for the opportunity to post about marketing efforts. I’ll touch on group marketing. My caveat to the readers: how you promote is highly personal. I was a psychologist for 25 years and many business professional principles apply to writing, e.g., you must do excellent work to continue to get referrals, or purchases in this case.

fruitcake-challenge-cover-jpgThis post is tailored to budget conscious, hybrid, and newer authors with a few releases already out. One of the advantages of having recently Indie published my novella, The Fruitcake Challenge, was that I got to see what seemed to work for me and what didn’t.

I recently posted on ACFW’s blog about cross promotional marketing and why that’s a good idea. Cross promoting should be built into your own marketing efforts. For instance, in a group publishing effort, include links to the other authors’ books in the series.

I’ve also posted about marketing for three different types of ventures including group.

Set up blog tours: Why I believe this is important (and I’d direct you to read the recent RWA RWR article about promotion.)

  1. You want to create a buzz.
  2. Readers will see if their favorite bloggers are picking up your book to read.
  3. Keeps your name in front of potential readers.
  4. May help you get on the Hot New Releases list for Amazon, which can be important.

    Blog tours also let your reading audience ENGAGE with you, which can be important. So suit up, show up, promote, and respond to commenters! If you have your own blogs  (I’m blessed to have two group blogs OvercomingwithGod.com and www.ColonialQuills.org) don’t overschedule yourself when your book launches. One to two blog visits a week works for me, for three to four months and tapering off after that. Giveaways usually help drive traffic so be prepared to give away a copy at each blog stop.

Set up a promo group: This has been the most beneficial thing I’ve been blessed with. But you have to have engaged with enough wonderful readers, reviewers, and influencers that they’d want to participate. Writing is often a lonely life. The benefits of these groups go WELL beyond any promotional efforts. These people believe in your writing and want to help you continue to do God’s work. How wonderful and humbling is that? I’ve been a member of such groups in the past for different authors and I’m grateful to now have my own bunch of pals supporting my writing efforts. Cautionary note for groups: Be fair to your fellow participants and be sure to bring in your own reader/reviewers to the group promotional page. Also, if you use Facebook, be sure to set controls so only you can approve new members.

Facebook Parties: These are a lot of FUN and help you engage with readers. You may not get you an immediate bunch of sales, but could. Don’t do this unless you can get into the spirit of things!

Radio interviews: I’m not keen on this. I can’t ever be sure, with my arthritis, how I’ll be feeling at a particular time. But if you’re able to get some spots, radio allows readers to hear your voice and your personality.

Book Signings: Another thing I dread for same reason as radio. Multi-author events do better. I do two a year—one near Christmas and another in the summer.  Paired with an event at your book’s location, this can be a blast! Last summer, I was able to do a signing at Tahquamenon Lumber Museum’s Lumberjack Festival. My “Snowed In” story in Guidepost Books, A Cup of Christmas Cheer (2013), was set in my great-grandparents log cabin, located at the museum!

Set up a private Facebook Page for the group authors. This way things that your influencers don’t really need to be bothered with are posted there.

Newsletters: These can be highly effective and reach your own primary readers to inform them of your new releases. I think a multi-author newsletter release could be amazing. Coordinating it might be a nightmare, though!

Ads: Spirit Filled Kindle is very affordable and good to use for early promotion. Book Bub is the one most hybrid authors like to use because they have an excellent rate of return, in general, but you have to do a sale in order to get the lowest price possible for their promotion. Ereader News Today is another great place for advertising with a good return on investment and with multiple options for ads.

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Carrie pro headshot B&W pm Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D. served as a psychologist for twenty-five years. She is the author of the forthcoming publications Saving the Marquise’s Granddaughter (White Rose, 2015) and The Lumberjack Ball (April, 2015). Carrie was the 2014 Family Fiction winner for short story in the Historical Genre. The Quilting Contest is now published in an anthology. The Fruitcake Challenge and Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance were Amazon bestselling novels. Carrie also authored the short story “Snowed In” (Guidepost Books, 2013) in A Cup of Christmas Cheer. God’s Provision in Tough Times (Lighthouse of the Carolinas, July 2013) was a Selah award finalist. Carrie gives back to the writing community by serving as blog administrator for www.OvercomingWithGod.com and www.ColonialQuills.com. You can connect with Carrie via her website at www.carriefancettpagels.com.

 

Authorship Is A Lesson In Humility

The pain was almost unbearable as I read my book doctor’s lengthy and critical evaluation of my first manuscript. I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest. Without significant additional help, not to mention hundreds of hours of work and a lot of money for surgery, my manuscript wasn’t going to live. It was my first lesson in humility as a would-be author.

Thankfully, my book doctor was funny and tactful as he delivered his prognosis. He told me he could teach me how to resuscitate my baby if I was willing to pay the $80 per hour co-pay.

As if my deficiencies as a writer weren’t a big enough blow to my ego, I was also told I had to wait three months before he could carve out time for my writing lessons. Come on, man! Three months? Really?

The harsh truth was no matter how much authority and respect I garnered in my day job as a physician, in the world of book-writing and publishing, I was a vulnerable, inexperienced nobody. I couldn’t even get a writing coach’s quick attention when I was paying.

Fast forward a year, and thanks to my book doctor’s worth-the-wait teaching, plus my own endurance through repeated rejections and humiliation, I produced a much-improved manuscript and ultimately went on to secure Greg Johnson as my agent and a publishing contract with Zondervan for The Eden Diet.

Woo-hoo! I got an amazing agent and a book contract! I thought that meant, “No more begging for people’s time and attention regarding my book.” Wrong! I hadn’t yet even begun to market. I didn’t know yet how humiliating book signings can be, “Please, Mrs. Bookstore Patron, may I interrupt your shopping agenda and tell you about my book?” Many stopped and listened, politely, but some walked right by, as if they didn’t hear me talking.

Compare that to my life at the office. In my doctor-world, I have actual authority and garner near-immediate respect from people who don’t even know me.

Fast forward again and now I have a contract with Strang/Charisma House for a book that can help even more people. Will I risk rejection again as I hold book signings and market for this second book? Absolutely. I counted the cost, and it’s worth the price. My message can bring countless readers into physical, mental and spiritual wholeness. Isn’t their profound healing worth a little momentary discomfort on my part?

Besides, any tiny shred of humiliation I endure along the way to help other people is infinitesimally small compared to the humiliation my Lord suffered when He was hung on the cross. Actually, now that I think about His humiliation for the greater good, I don’t even have the right to talk about humility.

Lessons from a Lonely Book Signing

Photo of a Man Sleeping on Books

© Vitaly Raduntsev | Dreamstime.com

When I began writing I embraced a fantasy.

It went something like this:

I was going to write a knock-em-dead suspense novel that would rocket to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Once my novel topped the charts, I would then be besieged by a host of publishers wanting to sign me and offering outrageously large advances. After this, I would ride a huge wave of popularity, turn out a bestseller every few years, and have book signings where people lined up around the block just to have the privilege of meeting me.

As you probably already have figured out, none of that happened.

Oh, I wrote my novel. And a publisher picked it up. But the book signing?

That was another matter.

I arranged with my local Hastings to have a table and display and plenty of books. I didn’t want someone to walk away disappointed because I’d sold out.

When the day arrived, I positioned myself behind my author’s table, a stack of books at my right hand, ready for the hordes of eager readers who would soon rush through the door. Unfortunately, the reality didn’t match my expectations.

A few friends stopped by, but they didn’t buy books. And although some people stopped by my table, most of the other customers went out of their way to avoid me. I was positioned near the front door, and as people came in, they took a circular path away from my table. I began to wonder if they thought I had an infectious disease.

As I recall, I didn’t sell a single book that night. But I did begin to learn an important lesson.

It’s not about me.

Writing isn’t about fame and fortune. It’s not about big advances, awesome reviews, or people lining up at midnight to buy my book. It’s not about feeding my ego or bolstering my pride. It’s not about living at the top of the bestseller lists.

I’ve been writing professionally since 2000. I’ve had nine books published. I’ve never had a big seller. My name’s not on any bookstore marquis.

But over the years, I’ve gotten notes and e-mails from people who have read, and been touched, by my words. I’ve heard from people who were struggling with God’s goodness in personal tragedy. They’ve thanked me for telling a story that helped them in their trials.

Last week, a lady told me that my book, More God (about a young man who overcame a traumatic brain injury) helped her understand what her sister, who has brain cancer, is going through.

A writer’s success cannot be measured in bestseller lists, outrageous advances, and standing-room-only book signings.

There’s nothing wrong with those things.

But true success is measured by how your words impact your readers for good.

I began learning that lesson at a lonely book signing. Ten years and nine books later, I’m still learning it.

And every day I thank God that He’s letting me live my dream. And then I pray that somehow, somewhere, He’ll use my words in someone’s life.

What dreams of yours have been realized through a kind e-mail or note from someone who read your writing? What is your “book signing” desire–has it come to fruition, or have you realized that dream through another avenue? 

Have you ever worn the same outfit on your book jacket that you wore to your first book signing?