Today’s guest post is by Jane Jenkins Herlong, who is a Sirius XM Southern humorist and member of the Speaker Hall of Fame. She is the author of five books. In the spring of this year, Jane’s latest book, Sweet Tea Secrets from the Deep-Fried South (Tyndale) will be available in select Cracker Barrel restaurants throughout the county. She is represented by Bob Hostetler.
I’ll never forget the depressing words I heard at my first Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: “Unless you have your own television show, podcast, and YouTube channel with tons of followers, your book will never have traction.”
But I had an idea and a passion to get my words on paper. I’m thankful I did not let that negative comment get down into my spirit. There had to be another way.
With the help of Eddie Jones, Les Stobbe, and Bob Hostetler, I was determined for my books to have traction. I learned to be teachable, seek out a trusted team of knowledgeable experts, and listen to their advice.
Here is what I had going for me—a newsletter and two published books. My newsletter is only sent to those who want to receive the bi-monthly electronic publication. I don’t add names, just because I can. My newsletter is formatted for simple reading and linked to my blog. The self-published books can become awards and giveaways. My open rates are now trending at 30%. I also stayed true to my platform—it is all Southern.
Another venue to help your book is to establish a speaking platform. Offer to share with churches, organizations, etc. Collect names at the end of your presentation by having a drawing to give away books; this way you can add names to your newsletter list.
Ads and Influencers
Running ads is more effective than having a book-launch party and other energy vampires. The pre-launch preparation and advance-reading platforms are a big help to start a buzz. Ask folks for feedback on social media; get your community involved. I asked professionals who had podcasts to interview me; some became my influencers. Since Amazon is “the Big One” with 72% of all books housed there, invest in running ads.
When your book launches, ask your team to stagger their reviews. Amazon will penalize reviews if team members who are not “verified purchasers” flood Amazon with reviews all at once.
Simple Ways to Share
I created and gave away bookmarks with QR codes for folks to scan to a web page to read a few pages of the book and order from various vendors.
I also gave away Sweet Tea tote bags with a cute saying. At Christmas I had Sweet Tea ornaments made. Did I make money? No, but I had a reason to share my book again.
Skin in the Game
Save up and help the publisher promote your book. My thought is that if my name is on the book, then I have a responsibility to help the publisher—and they love it! What happens is when you have another book in the works, it will increase interest; and you look like a rock star! You should also charge for speaking; this will feed your ad campaigns.