Focus on the Positive

M.J. RoseIf you read any of the statistical news about publishing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and maybe even depressed. M.J. Rose at ThrillerFest gave a couple of them saying, “There were over 3,000 mystery and suspense novels published each year.” And in the next breath she said, “And review sources have shrunk by 50% over the last five years.”  As an author, you sit and look at your single book or several books and wonder, How in the world I can cut through the haze?  You won’t unless you proactively do something to work on reaching your market. If you leave it all up to the publisher, you will regret it.  First, you have to write a terrific book which is well-crafted and aimed at a particular audience. This basic ingredient has to be there. Unfortunately there are a number of great books which never sell many copies and soon fade out of print.

After M.J. Rose began  to spiral everyone in the room toward depression with her statistics, she turned the mood with, “You can’t do everything. You have to find your thing and focus on what you can do to market your book.” During the Buzz Your Book workshop, M.J. encouraged, “Think of out of the box marketing. You have written a novel where your key characters are breast-feeding truck drivers.  There are blogs and websites for anything with hundreds of thousands of readers. You have to do some deep searching to find your particular interest.”  Then M.J. told a personal story. She had a Maltese puppy which died and she joined a listserve for people who had lost dogs (there must be one). This list had over 1,500 people on the list. She participated in the list but said nothing about being an author or her books. Instead she developed a relationship with these people about a common interest—the loss of a dog.

Each of M.J.’s emails include her signature which has a link to her website. “Even my emails to my father include my signature,” M.J. told us, “Every email has this information.”  After several weeks, someone on the list asked M.J., “What in the world is The Venus Fix which is on your emails?” She said, “Oh, that’s a novel that I wrote called The Venus Fix.” Overnight sold 400 copies of her book. She had built the relationship and her friends purchased her book. It’s a lesson that anyone can apply to their own book promotion.

I had a personal application from this story for Book Proposals That Sell.  Several weeks ago I joined a large writer’s listserve (supposedly over 7,000 on the list).  I’ve been trying to participate but most of the emails (and massive amounts of emails) are worthless responses (“You go girl.” or “Good going, John.”).  I’ve been deleting tons of emails without opening them and considered dropping out of the group (or at least going on digest version). 

Then I remembered the group moderator has been encouraging people to send emails with substance (read content). On my website for this book, I’ve got two brief excerpts. I pasted an excerpt into the email and sent it to the list. It gives people a taste of the book. For now I’ve decided to continue using my delete key and remain an active part of this list. You never know what could happen from that small effort. Here’s my point, I’ve not given up but I continue to make the effort. You can do the same.  I love the African Proverb that I heard this week connected with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” 

4 Responses to “Focus on the Positive”

  1. Todd Says:

    This is encouraging. I posted to my blog several weeks ago about things a writer could do to get the word out about their writing. Adding your website/blog to your email signature was one of a number of things I said. Hey, maybe I’m not such a newbie after all.

    If you’d like to read my blog posts on this subject the urls are:


    And on another comment to your blog, Terry, I forgot to include my sig. So, here it is:

    Todd Greene
    2 Samuel 9, Psalm 73

  2. Terry Whalin Says:

    Hello Todd,

    Thank you for the kind words about my post. If you are going to leave a URL in a comment, it’s a good idea to learn some basic HTML and add it as a “clickable” link like:

    Something else to learn,

    The Writing Life

  3. Bonnie Calhoun Says:

    That’s great advice Terry!

    Being part of groups is very important for writers. I’m presently the Director of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance which reviews christian fiction. Recent reviews include T.L.Hines, Kathryn Mackel, and Brandilynn Collins.

    And I’m a member of First Day which blogs the first chapter of a new christian fiction novel each month. Recent selections there have included Marilynn Griffith and Chris Well.

    My own WIP’s are not published so I keep them as links on my blog!

    My signature for email is:

    Phil 4:13
    Bonnie Calhoun

    Come see me at:
    Bonnie Writes
    Seek and Ye Shall Find

  4. tasra Says:

    Love the African proverb. Thanks for that and for the practical tips!

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