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.
I’d like to see them in a row,
my bestsellers on Borders’ shelves,
earning me a pile of dough
as they leap off and sell themselves
while I am on a Tuscan tour,
give interviews upon the telly,
as the Noveliste du Jour,
and go out riding with Bocelli.
I’ll check back with my broker
from time to time, see my wealth rise,
the lose some in a game of poker
with Leo DiCaprio and the guys,
and when I tire of this will deign
to lift my pen and write again.
BAHAHAHAHA! Yes, Andrew!!
Pam, I’m delighted this gave you a laugh!
Thanks for the chuckle, Andrew. Praying for you.
Cindy, I’m so glad you enjoyed this.
And the prayers are really needed. Going on is hard; it took 90 minutes to compose the sonnet.
Say “ciao” for me to dear Andre,
I’ll come for tea another day.
Right now, I hold by fingernails
My hopes to see my novel’s sales
Increase—or should I say “to rise?”
—Or even just materialize.
(I know this doesn’t scan so hot,
I’m reaching for the coffee pot.)
Karen, I’ll hand Andrea the cell phone and have him sing a few bars.
And hey, have you ever tried Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee? Pricey, but worth it.
Jamaica me crazy, bro! I’m strictly decaf! 😬 In fact, big secret, I don’t even drink coffee. At all! Caffeine and me is like kerosene on raging inferno. No bueno!
Karen, I can’t drink coffee anymore. I miss it!
But on De Island theme, I did find a way to make Jamaican Jerk Chicken in the microwave for Barb.
Too spicy for me, but I know how to crisp the skin, and she’ll love it.
Well, I hope.
Dear Jane, your helpful hints are very much appreciated! It’s wonderful when someone takes the time to share with rookies what works, it gives us hope that we to might be able to achieve something like your success. Congratulations and best wishes from a fellow southerner.
Great advice ~ thank you!
Jane, I appreciate the practicality and encouragement of the tips you shared. I believe humility and grit are key ingredients to success in any field. Congratulations on your new book! I look forward to reading it and connecting with you online 🙂 Your Southern sister, Dawn
Jane, thank you for taking the time to write this post for us. I learned several things and plan to save the information for future use. Thanks again.
Veronica Marilyn Ogilvie
Every bit of advice helps when you’re just getting started.
Thanks for your advice, Jane. There are some applicable tips here I will start using.
Just a side note … ‘Sirius XM Southern’ doesn’t mean anything to people outside the US. In fact, the last time I came across an author who described her novels as ‘southern,’ I had to ask an American friend what on earth that meant. When they say ‘Sirius’ I think of Harry Potter. XM looks like a clothing size, though the mind boggles 🙂 Not meaning to be nitpicky – I know the US is a very large market – but ‘twould be good if the Laube agency could help a DownUnderite out 🙂