Finding Champions for Your Book

Euphoric winner friends using a with a tablet

A winning team has dedicated fans. A successful candidate has loyal supporters. Artists and museums have influential patrons. No one flourishes alone. You and your book will not be exceptions to this rule. You will need champions who will promote your book within their circle of influence, open doors for interviews and speaking engagements, and remain loyal fans when you release your next book.

Let’s consider some of the qualities that make an ideal champion:

Dedicated: You will find a great champion for your book in a person who is dedicated. Publishing and marketing a book is a long process. Six months before the book is available, Amazon and other bookstores with an online presence will make the book available for pre-release order. A dedicated champion is someone whose interest in your book will last from reading an early manuscript to attending a book release party. It’s great to have all kinds of people interested in your book, even those who will only join you for part of the publishing journey. However, your inner circle as an author should be populated with people who have a reputation for following through on their commitments, finishing the projects they start, and sustaining interest in your topic for many years.

Loyal: Writing a book is an exciting process. Many people will enjoy knowing someone who is a published author. Who knows if they will appear in the book dedication, inspire a character within the story, or benefit in their chosen career from knowing an expert on the subject of your book (you)? Again, it’s great to have all kinds of people interested in your book, even those whose interest in your book may arise from dubious motivations. However, if you are to succeed as an author, you will need to sort out the loyal champions of your book from those who will be quick to jump to the next project that promises more rewards. Include everyone in your publishing process if you can, but invest in those who have demonstrated loyalty to you in the past.

Influential: A dedicated and loyal friend is a priceless treasure. However, when you search for potential champions for your book, you will need to look for someone who is influential as well. Influencers exist in many different spheres, and a person influential in one setting may not be influential in others. A person influential within his or her field who knows top leaders within an organization may lack an online presence. A person in the early stages of his or her career may have gathered a great social media following. Both the senior leader with contacts in the field but a negligible online presence and the upcoming leader with the great social media following are influencers. You need all kinds of influencers. Look for potential champions for your book at various stages of career development. Show appreciation for the young blogger along with the radio host, the conference organizer, and the bookstore owner.

How do you spot a potential champion for your book?

Risking Rejection

Why are we afraid to fail? Often because we believe rejection exposes a gap in us. It points to something we don’t want others to see. It confirms what our suspicions tell us.

We aren’t acceptable.

As writers, we risk rejection from many different sources. Projects and people alike can make us feel unacceptable, and throw us into a pit of paralyzing despair. Any one of a myriad of things have the power to make us give up on our writing dreams. If we let it.Definition of Rejection

  • Literary agents can reject us.
  • Booking agents can reject us.
  • Publishers can reject us.
  • Editors can reject us.
  • Endorsers can reject us.
  • Influencers can reject us.
  • Reviewers can reject us.
  • Media can reject us.
  • Readers can reject us.
  • And through Self-deprecation, we can reject ourselves.

So how can you empower yourself to feel acceptable when rejection says you’re not?

Author Jim Stovall

Jim Stovall’s Blindness Didn’t Hold Him Back

Challenge your own viewpoint. Take a 180 approach and look at this specific moment as your personal catalyst for change, improvement, and a call to do better work. Jim Stovall, a blind author and movie maker, knows rejection well.

You’ve GOT to watch the video on his link to see what he says about giving up. Here’s a quote to give you a hint of the amazing story you’ll want to hear. “That big dream would not have been put inside of you if you didn’t have the capacity to achieve it.”

Author John Grisham

John Grisham’s Tenacity Made the Difference

Another powerful example of tenacity in the face of rejection comes from an author most of us recognize. Internationally acclaimed novelist John Grisham. He understands what it feels like to fail in front of professionals, but he chose to learn from his mistakes, and keep on keeping on.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you of the greatest victory that came from the greatest rejection of all. A book that was denounced, fought against, and even after publication, faced efforts to utterly destroy it. But yet, the words inscribed inside changed the world, and made it a better place. The book I refer to is The Bible. Aren’t you glad God didn’t give up.

So the next time you get a rejection letter, phone call, email, or text, remember these three things.

Anita Brooks Walking Bridge Photo

Is Success Waiting Around Your Corner?

1. The capacity to make your big dream reality is already inside of you.

2. Rejection prepares us for great things in the future, and reminds us to stay humble when we arrive there.

3.  Just because a few people fight against your efforts doesn’t mean you won’t come out victorious.

Maintain a teachable attitude, then act with integrity, humility, and tenacity. This is your big dream. Take courage, and don’t let anyone convince you it’s unacceptable. Risking rejection can turn that big dream of yours into something real. But only if you don’t give up too soon.

Small Pond, Big Splash

Make a Splash!

On my recent mini book tour, I discovered how easy it is to create major buzz in a small geographical pocket.  Since Phoenix has 1 ½ million residents, I haven’t made much of a local splash for all my marketing efforts. Call me a city girl, but you can imagine how thrilled I was to create major splash in several small communities?

I chose a small Ohio town (the setting of my novel) and an Indiana Mennonite community because my characters are, yes, Mennonite. In twelve short days, I connected with hundreds of people who started a local buzz about my books. I did my part, and the rest just happened.

Imagine hundreds of rocks simultaneously tossed into water. The ripples intersect and make a major splash. The same disturbance would go unnoticed in the ocean, but is visible in a pond.

Helpful Tips for a Mini Book Tour

Establish a relationship with local influencers. They work hard on your behalf. Influencers booked my speaking engagement, organized book signings, and blogged and promoted my events. They placed newspaper notifications for me. See what I mean about easy?

Keep costs down. If you need to buy books, don’t over purchase (like I did) unless you wish to haul them around. I left unsold books with influencers. I did cover half of my expenses, and I’m sure I can do better next time.

Book at least one paid speaking event. My event had 200 + guests. I sold 40 books and gave free handouts with my contact information. It was a bonus when a newspaper reporter covered the event.

Take a guestbook to your events. I didn’t, but I will next time! A guestbook would provide a relaxing way to get name spellings, information, and jot notes for later—all while making pleasant conversation with readers. I frantically jotted notes that got shoved into my purse. Not very professional.

Attend local events, even if it’s not your event. When a book tour is the reason for your visit to a community, the topic naturally accompanies personal introductions.

Giveaways. Offering free bookmarks opens conversations with people who wouldn’t otherwise make eye contact. Book giveaways are both promo and ministry. Trust God with your offerings.

Get prayer support. I would have remained fearful and frazzled without my prayer support team. Thanks guys!

Take your vitamins. Even good stress is hard on the immune system, and I ended up going to Urgent Care two days upon my return. (Probably because I was an introvert on overload)

Benefits and Blessings

          Meeting local authors

          Opportunity to sign shelved books in local bookstores and gift shops.

–          Networking – (Got featured in summer reading group. They approached me!)

–          Media/newspaper coverage

          Unexpected opportunities – Books placed in church and school libraries

          Purchasing items for future promo.  Of course I bought a handcrafted Amish doll.

          Photographing opportunities for website, blog, and promo use

–          Research for blogging topics

          Gleaning new information about the book industry

–          Ministry – planting spiritual seeds and encouraging readers

–          Personal growth

 

Who are your influencers? Are you building relationships with them? Do you implement the small pond, big splash method for marketing your books?

Reviewers and Endorsers and Influencers, Oh My!

You didn’t really think those book reviews in the New York Times or the major newspaper in your home town just appeared on their own, did you? Publishers provide advance review copies (ARCs) of  books to the reviewers at these papers. Multiply that by hundreds of publications, from large ones such as Library Journal to smaller or specialized ones such as The Suspense Zone and you see the magnitude of the process. There’s a good bit of decision-making in sending out ARCs to reviewers. But one good review at a major site can result in the sales of hundreds of books. Each publisher has a long list of potential reviewers. It’s the job of the marketing department to match each book with appropriate sites to receive ARCs.

As for endorsers, these are the people who write one- and two-line squibs that appear on the cover or just inside book. For example, the hope is that you’re more likely to buy my novel if you look at the back cover and see that a respected author said, “Lethal Remedy is the perfect cure for boredom: a first-rate medical thriller with humor, engaging characters, and realism that only a seasoned doctor could bring to the story.”

Who lines up endorsers? It varies. Authors, agent, publishers all participate in the process, and it varies with each of them. In my case, I personally contact all my possible endorsers. I make the following stipulations: if they agree, they’ll be sent an ARC with a view to endorsement if they have the time, can read the book, and truly endorse it. So far, the only negative responders have been those with time crunches due to their own writing deadlines.
Then what is an influencer? These are people whom you hope will read the book, like it, and tell others. They’re people with large blog followings. They’re church and public librarians. They’re the heads of book clubs. The list can be huge, but again economics rears its ugly head, so distribution of ARCs to influencers must be limited. I sweat bullets over the list I turn in with each book, knowing that I’ve probably forgotten some important people.

Writing the novel is just the first step. Then you hope to get an agent and eventually a contract. After that comes the editing process. Is that all? No, now you have to think about ARCs and endorsers. The fun never stops, does it?

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Richard L. Mabry, MD, is the author of the Prescription For Trouble series of medical thrillers. His latest novel is Lethal Remedy. He also serves the ACFW as Vice-President. You can learn more about him at his website and follow him on his blog.