We are so pleased to have Carol Ferguson, author and long-time InScribe member, join us as our Guest Blogger today.
I recently heard the statement, “An idea without a plan is only a wish.” That thought has simmered in my mind ever since. It describes my marketing skills through the years as I wrote short stories, articles, poems, devotionals and books. Yes, books. I have six finished books gracing my shelves plus numerous poems and devotionals. We’re coming into a new year and I’m making a change.
I love to write and have no problem coming up with something to write about. My big problem was that I had no plans for what I was writing. Oh, I poured over the Christian Writer’s Market Guide, stuck little colored dots by the publishers that looked hopeful and sent my manuscripts off, hit or miss.
My first book was a biography about missionary, Hazel Page, who lived in grass huts as she reduced languages to writing, all by hand until electronics caught up to her. I love missionary biographies but they’re not so popular anymore. Niche market, I figured, so I self-published. I was happy with the outcome and sold the book to everyone who knew Hazel. Then I wrote two Biblical fiction books. Niche market, right? I self-published again. My marketing strategy was limited to listing my books in my e-mail signature but I couldn’t afford to self-publish forever.
Moose Jaw, where I now live, is home to the annual Festival of Words. I had never attended until this past summer and it was exciting to meet and listen to successful Canadian authors. I bought books to encourage the authors (I’m a book junkie) and came away determined to write more: an idea without a plan because I had no concrete idea of what to do with what I was churning out.
Another statement that had simmered in my mind for years came from a great musician, Ken Dosso. When he was beginning to write music he was harshly critiqued at a music festival. “This song might mean a lot to you,” the judge told him, “but it means nothing to anyone else.” Harsh? Perhaps, but Ken said that critique changed his life. He went on to write music that stirs everyone’s heart, not just his own.
In one Festival workshop the subject of self-publishing came up. I listened in horror as everyone in the room ranted about how ‘legitimate’ publishers and authors hate self-publishing. I shriveled into myself as they went on and on (not everyone agrees with that point of view), but that was a wake-up call for me. I seriously began to look at my lack of a marketing strategy.
Blogging was a good place to start. I took my list of books off my e-mail signature and replaced it with my blog spot. I found the Christian Manuscript Submission Services online and learned how to write a book proposal. Who ever said to keep it short? All my proposals had been short and as a result didn’t contain much worthwhile information. Part of my learning process was to describe the psycho-graphics and demographics of my primary, secondary and tertiary audiences. Come again! What on earth was that? I had to go to the dictionary to find out. My grandson, who has a marketing degree, said to me, “Welcome to the world of marketing, Grandma.”
I finished my book proposal, submitted it and for six months my book is being recommended by the CMSS for publishers to check out. It’s a start. No more hit and miss for me. New Year, new marketing strategy!
Visit Great Canadian Authors for more information about Carol and the books she's had published.