Writing as Marketing (a guest blog)
November 1, 2013 | Written by Chip MacGregor
When I put my mind to marketing, something I have noticed is that things feed in to each other. As I am not outgoing by nature, ‘putting myself out there’ has not worked well for me, but a strategy that has succeeded and suits the person I am, is to keep writing. After a while it seems one becomes somehow established just by having enough writing published. I write (paid or unpaid) in every magazine or journal that gives me an opportunity, and I keep plugging away at writing my own books. People who have read one thing I’ve written seek out another, so the writing itself becomes a marketing tool. Only this last week a friend on the other side of the world wrote to say she has suspended a simple-living pledge, to pre-order a copy of a Lent book I have coming out with Monarch. She knew about the book because she came to my blog and saw it. She came to the blog because she, like other semi-regular readers, was attracted by the post on The Breath of Peace, my new book in The Hawk & the Dove series, and discovered on Facebook where I posted the link.
Meanwhile the editor of a magazine, where I write a regular column, has allowed me to make my new book the focus of this month’s column, and to supply three copies of The Breath of Peace and three of the initial trilogy of the series, as give-aways. Sure, it cost me quite a bit to supply the free copies – but I’m thinking of it as sowing seeds.
My blog and Facebook are my main sales stalls. The blog is a way of offering freebie writing to people, because I blog on what I think and believe, not promotional material. If I do have a new book out, I write an article about it that has something to interest and intrigue rather than just making a sales pitch. When The Breath of Peace came out, my blog page views (which stand at about 10,000 a month if I keep writing faithfully) spiked to over 19,000. No one can land on my blog without seeing all covers of my books prominently displayed with Amazon links; so a circle is created whereby the books advertize the blog and the blog advertizes the books.
At the present time, I am happy to say that I am able to make a living from my writing. I do have other sources of income, which I think is wise, but I do not rely on them. I have recently discovered Roy H. Williams’ books on marketing, and I thoroughly recommend them. His approach suits the writer’s mind.
Venturing into self-publishing has been interesting. A make or break moment was when a large Christian community in the UK wanted a bulk order of The Breath of Peace for their bookshop and communities. Of course they are used to approaching the publisher and being given a substantial discretionary discount for their bulk order – and this I was not able to do. They wrote back to me saying in that case they would do a bulk order from Amazon, reselling the books with no profit to themselves in their bookshops; so what I anticipated would disadvantage me, did not. But that’s partly because the books I write are authentic spirituality – they do not ride a band-wagon; this means that sales are steady, the books sell themselves, and the people who want them really want them, for the content. There is no hype and no bullshit.
Something else I have appreciated about self-publishing is having control over the book. With traditional publishers I have most often found errors have been introduced and corrections overlooked after I submitted corrected proofs. I do believe this is the first entirely clean text that has ever come through – and that is partly because right up to the last moment Amanda Luedeke patiently worked with me, tweaking the content to get it right – there was no stage beyond which I could not check. Control over the cover has been a boon, too. I have not liked every cover traditional publishers have assigned to me, and the input they allowed me has varied. This time, having control entirely over the cover, I am delighted with it. So far, from readers, I have had overwhelmingly positive responses to the cover. Before I submitted it, I ran it past a publisher’s cover designer who, to use an old Yorkshire phrase, ‘thought nowt of it at all’. His lack of enthusiasm gave me pause for thought. I and the artist tried various other things; he is, after all, the expert. But I had a strong gut instinct that this was the perfect cover, and because I am self-publishing I had the freedom to follow that instinct. And my readers love it.
Thank you so much, Chip and Holly and Amanda, for all your help with this latest book. I hope it does well for us; so far the signs are good!