Book Marketing: And so it Begins

Book marketing is a fun subject for me. I love hearing what other authors have tried, things that have been successful, and tactics that have failed horribly. Book marketing is definitely not a science–more like an art influence by science.

As I begin my journey to release my 2nd novel, I thought many writers might like to know how I do things, learn with me. And many readers may find the process fascinating. I’ll be sharing details about marketing plans, tips and tricks I learn, and some differences between the launch of my 1st self-published novel and this 2nd traditionally published novel.



If you’re new to my blog, then you may not know about my self-publishing journey. About 18 months ago, I began to publish a whole novel broken down into 4 parts. I published the first 20,000 words in October 2015, released the parts sporadically, then combined them and released Bellanok as a whole book in October 2016.

Why did I do this? My agent and I decided that self-publishing a stand-alone novel would help to build a following, which might make me more appealing to traditional houses, which are always looking to see what kind of platform an author has, especially a debut author. (So, writers, start building your platform today!)

Ultimately, we decided to break the novel down into parts as a way to offer something new and gain more followers by continually putting my name in front of them. Did you know readers may have to see a novel from a new-to-them author up to 7 times before they’ll purchase their book? Yep.



In October 2016, along with celebrating the release of Bellanok, I also signed a contract with Elk Lake Publishing for a YA fantasy trilogy! I was so excited–you have no idea. Well if you’re a writer, you might. The trilogy is an allegorical tale based on the premise question, “What if the armor of God were real?” I won’t tell you much more than that, for now. Muahahaha …

Currently, I’m working on substantive edits. But it’s also time to get my book marketing plan started. Ideally, an author should have 3-6 months to plan and execute their marketing plan. Aletheia, the first novel in the trilogy, is due out in September, which gives me about 4 months.



I ran into my first major issue with the book marketing plan a couple of weeks ago. Quite by accident, I discovered 2 other novels by the name of Aletheia releasing this year. A supernatural suspense released in March, and a futuristic sci-fi or dystopian releases in July.

What? Are you kidding me? How dare they steal my title? Just kidding. I thought Aletheia, which is Greek for truth, would be an unusual enough title to grab a fantasy-lovers attention but not be copied. Apparently, I was wrong. Now, my publisher, agent, and I are in talks about what the new name will be. Stay tuned …


Every good marketing strategy needs a good plan. Every good plan is based on knowledge and experience. I’ll use what I learned from the Bellanok launch and the studying I’m doing to put together a snazzy plan for success. Only time will tell how smart of a plan it ends up being.

So, with each post I’ll share the goals I have for the next month.


Study Book Marketing

This is a continual process. For me, both as an author and as a social media manager, keeping up on the latest research, trends, tactics, and experiences from other authors and marketers will help me make the best choices for my book launch and for my clients.

I have about 1,000 emails in the Promotional tab of my email Inbox related to some aspect of marketing. I’ll be slowly whittling those down as I learn and apply. Also, several marketing-related books found their way onto my Kindle. Yes, I can get obsessive and one-track minded when I’m learning something new. (I did the same thing when I decided to homeschool my kids.)


Determine Marketing Budget

One of the most important parts of developing a marketing plan is to determine the budget. Budget will help me divide out which strategies I can use and which are out of my price range. I can’t very well place an ad in a magazine when the cost is $1500 and my budget is only $500.

There are a lot of “free” options for book marketing, which I fully intend to take advantage of. But there are also some great opportunities out there that may cost a bit. For instance, I want to have a graphics person develop social media images for the cover reveal and launch. I’ll be investing in book marks and maybe some cool swag.

Since I am not self-publishing this time, I don’t have the up front costs of editing and book cover design. Instead, I can invest more in my marketing strategy.


Layout Marketing Schedule

Since it’s only 4 months until the release date, I need to write out when tasks need to be accomplished–and what those tasks are! I am using Google Calendar to layout the basic schedule, and ToDoist to keep track of my to-do lists.

I need to plan out street team tasks, ARC reader deadlines, cover reveal timing, blog tour schedule … and a bunch of other stuff. Not to mention actually getting the editing done for the novel. Yikes!


Put Together my Street Team

I’ll talk more about this in another post, but, for those who may not know, a street team is a group of 15-50 people (I’ve seen different numbers), who are passionate about an author and their novels, who work together to get word out about the author’s latest project. While I don’t plan to DO anything with the group until the cover reveal, I do want to get the group in place.


Research Blogs

One of the funnest parts of the Bellanok launch was the blog tour, which was about 3 weeks long. However, one thing I quickly realized is most of the blogs involved had very similar reader circles. This meant I really wasn’t reaching new readers.

This time, I plan to research different blogs that may want to host me or do a review during the tour. In addition to author blogs, I hope to find blogs based on different aspects of my novel, like

  • homeschool blogs because my novel is a YA with strong Christian themes
  • book review blogs with a stronger following
  • Christian blogs
  • Other blogs that center around themes and topics addressed in the novel, like embracing your calling, overcoming self-doubt, challenging yourself …


And so it begins. Book marketing, done well, is an intricate plan that is as individual and unique as the author and the book itself. The more knowledge an author has, the better they can plan. I’m glad you’re on this journey with me, and I’d love to have your input along the way.

Are you a writer? Or a reader? Both? 

Do you have questions you hope I’ll address as this series comes out?


If you’re a bookworm like me, be sure you’re signed up for my newsletter! I celebrate new releases (mine and other authors), share interesting tidbits about life and writing, and indulge in other booknerd fun! Plus. on Monday, I’ll be drawing a winner from my subscriber list to win a copy of The Progeny and Firstborn by Tosca Lee!

Fab 5 Friday: Announcement Edition

14199261_1277057505661832_8474678322673298450_nWow! September is already halfway over. I can’t believe it. I’m so ready for cooler weather, colorful leaves, sweaters, boots, and all things pumpkin. Yeah, I’m the white girl in yoga pants. 🙂 I know my summer-loving friends are glaring at me right now, but I’m clickin’ my heels! As if the approach of my favorite time of year isn’t enough . . .

Homeschool got off to a good start last week. The kids and I are getting into a new routine, which takes time. But we’re all enjoying the new year so far. And there’s a field trip to a local farm later this month–another family fall favorite!

Well, I have several fabulous announcements for you today. So, let’s get to it!




Hurry over to grab Bellanok: The Paladin’s Hope while it’s free this weekend. And please share it with all your fantasy- or adventure-loving friends! Find out what happens as the demon horde is closing in . . . after all, they have the ultimate weapon. How will Brian and Fauna save the island? Will they even be able to? Guess you’ll have to read it to find out!





Earlier this week, I had my Facebook followers vote between 2 Bellanok covers the fabulous J.L. Mbewe had designed for me (not the final copies, but design plan). And–ta-da! The side graphic  is what the general look will be! I’m so excited! She did such a great job, and I love it! And yes, I’m going to use lots of exclamation points for all the love!!!!!! What do you think of the cover?



Now, I don’t usually go out of my way to say, “Hey, sign up for my newsletter!” However, I have so much coming up over the next few months–and I want you all along for the journey!

Over the next 6 weeks, there will be some information and opportunities that come up with the release in October of the full version of Bellanok in both ebook AND paperback.

Plus, I have some fun holiday plans coming up that include a couple of parties, some giveaways, and fun opportunities for everyone to participate in! Did I mention all the giveaways? Yes!

So, sign up now so you don’t miss out on any of it!


realm-makersconference-audioonly-149-99REALM MAKERS AUDIO

As many of you know, I am the Marketing Director for Realm Makers. Realm Makers is the premiere, faith-friendly conference for speculative fiction writers. And the session audio from the 2016 conference is now available!

You can download workshops from amazing teachers/speakers like Thomas Locke, Mike Duran, Steve Laube, Tosca Lee, Patrick Carr, and more. There’s over 30 HOURS of content with the full session audio.

Of course, you can purchase individual workshops as well. But, for the rest of today (9/16) only, you can get $25 off the full session audio, using a code on the webpage.

(If you’re a writer and you enjoy speculative fiction–fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, etc.–then you should like their Facebook page, even if you don’t write spec fic. You’ll still get a lot out of the posts, the fandoms, and the camaraderie!)



Now that Bellanok is just about done, I’ll be moving on to other projects. Soul Seer is a supernatural suspense that I need to revise. It’s in pretty good shape, but I need to add some layers in, deepen the plot, up the stakes. You know, the fun stuff.

I am actually planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year. If everything works out, I’ll be writing the first half of a new futuristic fantasy series that’s been on the back burner for a few years. Tentitavely titled, Cortesia’s Calling, it involves nephilim, demons, and a Joan of Arc type heroine and her band of underdogs.


There’s so much going on, and I couldn’t be more excited or more blessed. I hope you’ll join me for this journey of life and stories.

What big plans do you have coming up for the last quarter of the year?

3 K’s of Social Media for Writers

3 K'S OFSocial media has become a staple in the marketing plan for almost every business these days. More and more people are flocking to Facebook, Twitter, and all the others in an effort to connect with family and friends or network with colleagues and potential clients. Online is THE place to be these days.

And it’s no different for writers either.

We should be on social media–not to sell our books (though that is hopefully a byproduct)–to connect with our fans, to seek out new potential readers, and to learn from both sets.

If every writer is out there on social media, though, how do we get ourselves out in the spotlight? How do we get heard above the din?

Whenever I have a client looking for help in starting or growing their social media platforms, I always send them a questionnaire to fill out, which covers the 3 K’s of Social Media. (While the questionnaire and this blog post are geared toward writers, much of the information can apply to any business.)

Know Yourself: It is important to explore your own reasons, goals, and likes/dislikes when it comes to social media. Social media strategy and inspiration will develop from your answers. Who are you as a person? As a writer? Why are you on social media? What do you hope to accomplish? Time, effort, and knowledge are also factors. There’s a lot to explore inside your own mind as you develop your personal strategy!

Know Your Target Audience: Developing a target audience will help you to ascertain what kinds of information and entertainment to share on your social media profiles. Is your target reader male/female? How old? What do they do? Likes/dislikes? Being able to picture that ONE person will help to build a loyal following that will sell your books for you. Finding that sweet spot where who you are and who they are converges is what it’s all about!

Know Your Tools: While I recommend that all writers be on Facebook and Twitter at minimum, there’s a lot of other social media websites out there with target readers just waiting to be found! It’s important to know which sites to be on because you can’t run them all efficiently (at least not by yourself). Know HOW and WHEN to use them is just part of the battle. It’s better to be great at using 1-2 sites than to be ineffective on all of them.

When we combine the 3 K’s of Social Media effectively, we start to see growth in our numbers and, more importantly, our engagement. As our reach broadens, we should see a steady growth in our sales. And as our sales grow, more potential readers are being reached, which then grows our platforms just a little more. The circle of marketing.

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be expanding on these 3 steps to help writers find their spot in the social media world. I invite you to sign up for my newsletter so that you don’t miss a post!

Tea with Me: ToDoIst and Inspiration

file9951347375728It’s a bright and sunny day here with a tad too much humidity for my liking. Heat indexes over 100 are no fun! So let’s move on to something more fun while I drink some lovely iced tea.


Teddi: What’s a  tool/software/strategy that you found useful in the past week?

Me: Well, Teddi, I’m glad you asked. I found a new to-do list app/program! ToDoIst is flexible to-do list program that can be as easy or as complex as you need it to be. It has a free membership and a paid membership ($29/yr). While I probably could have “made do” with the free option, I sprung for the paid version. Now I have all sorts of options to divide up my various to-do lists (personal, writing, editing, social media, Realm Makers, KCWC, ACFW . . .). I’ve only been using it for a few days, but it’s been fantastic! I love that it integrates into all my computers/phones AND into my G-mail and Chrome. Yay!


Cindy: Best cure for insomnia?

Me: A sledgehammer.

Or, I’ve heard that having a bedtime routine and tranquil surroundings help to trigger your brain that it is “sleep” time. Develop a routine that starts 30 mins. to an hour before bedtime and get into the habit. It may take a few days or a couple of weeks, but your body should come into routine. Also, no caffeine after noon–but that would never work for me! I’d be asleep by 4.


Cindy: If you’ve tried everything the experts said to do and ROI was abysmal, whaddya do next? 

Me: I’m going to assume you’re talking social media/marketing and answer from that perspective.

The first thing I would do with a client is to go back and reevaluate who their target audience is, what their greatest need is (in relation to the service the client is offering), and what the client is doing to meet that need. 90% of issues lie in that alone. OK, I made up the percentage, but it is one of the most common mistakes.

Time is also a factor. If you try something for a week and then evaluate ROI, it’s not likely going to look like it’s working. Success in social media (and often in marketing) does not happen overnight. I would ensure the client had been trying what the experts recommend–consistently–for at least a month . . . longer if they were starting from nothing.

Personality also has an impact. Social media and marketing require a bit of “go out there and get it.” You don’t have to be a bubbly extrovert, but you do have to show passion and knowledge in your field. If you’re a writer, that means being excited about books/reading/etc. in your genre (and in general). It means being knowledgeable about topics and having a passion for themes addressed in your books. If you don’t have passion, readers/followers won’t care.

If, after the evaluation, I determine the client really was doing everything right for a good amount of time, then it’s a new ballgame! Time to the think outside of the box. It becomes a total “individual” brainstorming session that doesn’t have a list of steps yet–a lot of trial and error until we find what works!


Thanks for hanging out with me today. I’m about to go snuggle with some kiddos before I dive into my critique partners latest novel–a steampunk! Bring on the day!

Do you have any questions for me? They can be about anything–doesn’t even have to be writing or marketing related (as you can tell from Cindy’s question). These are just supposed to be fun, quirky, sometimes helpful/informative posts! Ask away!

What are your plans for the weekend? 

Tea with Me: Marketing and Muppets

boldtcastle_library2I’m so excited to bring back the Tea with Me posts. It’s so much fun getting to know people and to be able to help them where I can. Welcome to our newest round-table sit down. Grab a drink, pull up a chair, and let’s get down to business.

Cindy: Do specific marketing efforts actually do anything useful or should I just focus on writing the next story?

Ralene: This is actually a 2-part question, so you’ll get a 2-part answer. Yes, specific marketing efforts do make a difference, but which ones are a matter of knowing your target audience and yourself well enough to bring the right marketing plan into play. That right there is a whole 3-part series of blog posts, though.

But ultimately, the best marketing for you is getting your next book out there. Authors need to balance their time between writing and marketing, with a weightier balance on writing. That’s why, with marketing, you need to work smarter–not harder.

Cindy: How many Muppets does it take to change a lightbulb?

Ralene: After thorough research, I have determined that the answer is none. Either they don’t have lightbulbs in the Muppet Kingdom, or the glow from the TV screen is bright enough. (No muppets were harmed in the development of this answer.)

Robert: If you do plot arc critique, what do you do if the author isn’t receptive to your take on their work?

Ralene: Sadly, not everyone in the world agrees with me. I think life would be so much better if they did, but, alas, it is an imperfect world we live in. So . . .

Honestly, if I were to find an author who isn’t receptive to my take on their work, I don’t know that there is much that I could do. I do know that I would not argue with them. If they ask for examples of something I said, I’d be happy to point that out, but I’m not going to argue every little point just to get my way.

And if they aren’t receptive to anything that I suggested, then I would just assume we weren’t the ideal team to begin with, wish them the best, and move on.

Do you all have anything to add to my answers? Join in the discussion now!

Also, would you all like to see the Tea with Me posts once or twice a month? 

Have a great weekend!