Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to write your book.
I’m a romantic comedy and middle reader fiction author. I just assumed I’d keep writing in my given genres and life would be good, but my muse had other ideas. She refused to be inspired by anything other than the story she wanted to tell; which turned out to be my story. I wasn’t delighted by this prospect, so we stopped speaking. When I realized my inspiration had totally dried up, I decided to give my memoir a go.
What was this book about, and where did your decision to write it come from?
Motherhood Martyrdom & Costco Runs is a book about my leap into middle-aged motherhood. It covers my journey through multiple miscarriages, my challenges with postpartum depression, and the overwhelming love and devotion I have for my girls. This book is 80% humor, 20% struggle, and 100% the real deal.
How long did it take you to write the book?
When the muse is behind a project, it goes fast and furious. This book came out in 6 weeks.
Did you have a publisher or agent? If not, was it by choice?
I’ve had big New York City literary agents. As much as they’ve loved/ believed in me, they found big publishing houses weren’t interested in what I wrote; claiming the romantic comedy/ chick lit market was dead, unless you were already famous. I’m not a big fan of being told I can’t do something, so I went indie. She Sins at Midnight and The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan both hit #1 bestseller on Amazon in their category. They’ve also won multiple awards, which truly delights me. It turns out that even if the big daddy publishing companies didn’t want to take a chance on me, my books are still highly marketable.
Because of my previous indie success, I decided to go it alone with this book, as well.
Did you use anyone to help with the finished design? Editors, cover designers, etc.?
I chose the art and designed the cover, but hired someone to cobble it together. I find that by hiring out the nitty gritty, I can keep my sanity and have more time to actually write.
For my other books, I hired out contests on 99 Designs for my covers. I spent $500 on the first cover of the series, and once I had my designer spent $200 on subsequent covers.
When did you start preparing to market your book? What kind of research did you do?
I inadvertently started marketing this book before I knew I was going to write it. My life is full of humorous stories about my children, and I shared them regularly on social media. People often told me they wished I’d write a book about my life, which is something I never had any intention of doing. You can see how well that worked out.
What is the difference between your book and other books on the subject?
There are a lot of mommy memoirs out there. Many of them are really funny, but I’ve found a lot of them rely heavily on swearing to shock and entertain the reader. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a BIG fan of swearing (BIG fan)! It’s just something I consciously don’t do in front of my children. As this is a book about my children, and they will read someday, I wanted to rely on real emotion and feeling and not use words they don’t associate with me.
I would never claim my book is better than anyone else’s. We’re all on our own journeys and have our own ways to express ourselves. There’s room for all of us.
Did you use an outside publicity or marketing firm? If so, what benefits did they provide you?
I haven’t hired outside marketing. I belong to several author groups where we discuss what works and what doesn’t. In addition, I’ve taken several online classes etc. and tutorials. Hence, I’m endeavoring to do this on my own. It’s my understanding from several mainstream author friends that their experience with paid marketing has been enormously expensive and somewhat unpredictable, as in, you pay whether they get you coverage or not. I feel like no one will work as hard for me as I will, so I might as well do it myself.
Did you use any paid ads or posts? Did you use social media, guest posts, interviews or other personal marketing?
I’ve written guest blog posts and posts on my own blog. I’ve also done several interviews. I’ve used Facebook ads and Twitter as further marketing tools. I tend to throw everything against the wall never knowing what will stick. The good news is, something always sticks.
Where did you get your first reviews for the book? What places did you go to get reviews?
First, I contact author friends and bloggers to review my book. Step two is to go after the big boys. Most of the heavy hitter reviewers offer paid reviews for indie authors. Now, don’t excited. While you pay for these reviews, you are in no way guaranteed a good review or something you can even use. A lot of indies don’t want to spend the money and take the chance they might not get something usable. However, I feel they lend great credibility and are more than worth the cost.
What marketing event or plan was your most successful? How did you come up with the idea and how did you execute it?
Getting a Bookbub feature is, hands down, the most effective marketing tool any author can currently have. Discounting or giving away your most popular work will bring you new readers in droves. And while it’s counterintuitive to give away something you worked so hard on, it pays off like gangbusters.
What did you do that yielded results?
I always tell people there’s no money in writing one book. The one-hit-wonder is a thing of the past. Plan on making little to nothing on book one. Your first book is a tool to let people know you’re out there, let them get acquainted with your writing. Then write book two and making it even better than book one. Next, plan on spending a thousand dollars to give book one away to anyone and everyone who will download it. Put a teaser and a link for book two at the end of book one, then sit back and watch the magic. But don’t dilly dally too long; you need to get to work on book three!
What are your book sales like?
I have yet to meet an author who will tell you how much money they make. Authors tend to be very private about such details. I will tell you this, though, get a Bookbub. Don’t be discouraged when they reject you over and over and over again. They promote NYT bestselling authors as well as the rest of us. They don’t need you, you need them, so be persistent. But remember, don’t ever give your book away until you have another book to sell.
If you only have one book, discount it to $.99 to build your audience. There are MANY places to advertise your discounted book, like Robin Reads, E-Reader News Today, and Bargain Booksy (to name a few.) You can hire a slew of tweeters on Fiverr to tweet about your sale, as well. Get the word out there and keep working on your next book.
Your sales will multiply a hundred times over, plus.
What books influenced your writing and your book marketing?
I’ve picked up the majority of my marketing tips from writer groups I belong to online. Just know this, no one is going to give you the magic answer for what will sell your book. You have to invest a load of trial and error into your marketing plan. You have to invest money and time. Your book is its own unique entity and while you learn what works for others, you have to be prepared that your journey may be entirely different. Just DO NOT GIVE UP!
What tools do you use for marketing or writing?
I use social media, including Facebook ads, I blog, I write guest posts for other people’s blogs, I blurb other author’s books, and I regularly discount my books to build my readership. Building your mailing list can be excruciating, but having fans sign up for your mailing list is one of the best ways to guarantee sales on a new book.
What tips or suggestions would you give to someone else getting ready to publish or market a book?
The first thing you need to do is believe in your book. Know that you’ve written the best work you’re capable of and really trust that it’s great. People are not lining up to buy your book, praise you, and tell you how wonderful you are. They’re not. A handful of friends and family are going to support you and be happy for you, but the rest has to come from you.
You’re going to have to read, research, make contacts with other authors, and be prepared to help others on the way. If you go into this writing venture expecting people to give you their secrets and help you before you’ve established a long relationship, you’re going to be disappointed.
Go to conferences to network and take classes. Start a blog so people can hear what you sound like. Set up a mailing list. I use Mailchimp. Set up an author page on Facebook and Twitter. Join Instagram. Just get yourself out there.
Mostly, though, just don’t give up! Believe in yourself and don’t take “no” for an answer.