Marketing for Authors – With Meghan Weyerbacher

I met Meghan Weyerbacher in a writing-related group and was instantly impressed with her energy and enthusiasm for others. She interviewed me on her blog and wrote an endorsement for the movie. Then when she found out we were doing movie screenings, she invites us to come to her church. Getting to meet her in person was truly a treat, and I’m excited to share her marketing wisdom. 

Marketing for Authors What is your writing background?

I have been writing as long as I was able to hold a pen and form a squiggly line. I’ll never forget when I wrote my first fiction story at the age of seven. Illustrations were added for the perfect touch, I stapled the pages together and felt like I could fly. Many of my stories were stored away, and I went on to help out in our homeschool co-op’s monthly newsletter.

At the age of twelve, I was honored to have three poems published by the American Poets Society. My aunt purchased a copy of the gorgeous anthology, but sadly — years later, our storage unit was broken into and I no longer have a copy or have been able to track one down. During this time, I won a contest held by the DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution. My essay on an important historical figure was published in our town’s local newspaper.

Over the years I kept journaling, going through notebooks galore, and when I was nineteen I attended a creative writing class at NOVA, Northern Virginia Community College. Deep down, I struggled to believe I had what it took to pursue writing, but the desire and conviction remained. I even bought a thick Writer’s Marketplace guide, back before these things were available online.

I set writing aside for a time and pursued business at Madisonville Community College, but I knew it was not the entirety of my path. After going through a dark period in my life, I began blogging full time. I was able to partner with one of my favorite authors in the launch of her second book, and I became hooked on helping others through the gift of words. This led me to meet a community of creatives called, Five Minute Friday, who welcomed anyone with open arms, and I attended my first writing conference with them the summer of 2017.

I was recently able to attend the Festival of Faith & Writing. Here, I met Jen Hatmaker among other wonderful writers and editors whom I had already been connecting with online. In the Spring of 2018, I became a member of both Hope Writers and author Jerry Jenkins Writer’s Guild. This year, I also became a contributor at the Blogger Voices Network.

I continue to help with book launches and book reviews while writing my own stories and working on the craft of writing. My debut novel is set to release September 27, 2018. It’s a gripping, clean contemporary romance story with all the feels, sprinkled with humor throughout.

What was the inspiration for The Blogging Writer and Tea and Word Tuesday?

My blog has gone through phases of growth. When I first started writing full time, my blog was Cook Wipe Sweep. I shared from my heart the struggles and victories of being a wife and mom homeschooling three young children. The desire to write about other facets of my life grew, and I pulled back on writing about my family to focus on sharing spiritual truths.

It was then I renamed my blog, Faith Adventures. During this time, my natural inclination was to encourage writers who read my posts each week. I wanted them to know, no matter how few pageviews they had — God saw them, and their words mattered. It became like medicine to my bones, to uplift others. Out of this, a tagline was birthed: “refreshing the writers.” I based it off of Proverbs 11:25 and made a logo in a single day.

With a lengthy full name, I opted to pay for both my name as a website but also www.thebloggingwriter.com so I could promote the latter since it would be easier to remember. I chose The Blogging Writer out of my desire to keep pursuing both blogging and writing. I could never make up my mind which was more important. The gurus were divided in their advice and I felt led to stop trying to do all the things and just follow the path in front of me.

I’d always felt led to learn about both self-publishing and traditional publishing alike. I am a questioner at heart. A deep thinker. The artist in me wants to experiment and try many things. I’ve always been this way, so it’s no surprise my blog matches my personality! Speaking of experimenting, that’s where the next endeavor came in.

Tea and Word Tuesday is a weekly link up where other bloggers can come and link up their family-friendly blog posts or articles. This is just one way writers can share their words, and encourage someone else, knowing they too will be lifted up.

In a world of rushing about and ‘too busy’ for others, it’s refreshing to know you can come each week and expect to find good things to refresh your soul. We all work hard. We pour our hearts onto the page in hopes we can help even one person out in the world.

I thrive reminding people they are doing good work, and to keep up the faith while finding their way — whatever that may look like; because our journeys are unique. This is what #TeaAndWord is about. It’s for writers of all stages, all audience sizes. It’s about community and leaving people better than they came. This was something my mom taught me growing up. It’s my life mantra.

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing new authors?

Taking on too much. As a leader in the church, a wife, mom, and full-time writer, I will be the first to admit, we can’t always take our hats off. We learn to juggle the balls well until one drops and shatters across the floor. I can always tell when I am taking on too much. I became irritable and no good to anyone.

If there’s a way we can learn ourselves, we must. This has been a lifelong lesson for me, so much in fact that I wrote a Margin Guide. I know all too well how easy it is to say yes to all the things. They say many older children feel responsible for those under them. It is a good thing to have a compassion heart, but the enemy wants to use it against us.

Don’t freak out though!  We just need to remember to implement self-care, feed our souls with words of truth, and take time to have fun. Yes, fun. When we get so engrossed in our awesome work, we can become pushy and burn out fast.

I wrote a blog post years ago asking women to write down their top three daily priorities and focus on those, only going further if time allowed without sacrificing rest and fun. No, life won’t be perfect, but we can learn good habits that will benefit us and those around us. A favorite book I recommend to women in all walks of life is Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman by Anne Ortlund.

You’ve been a part of a number of book launches. Explain to us how a book launch team works.

A book launch team has one goal in mind: To help promote the author’s book so people will become readers and spread the word themselves.

Someone once said, a good book promotes itself. This is so true. Many good reads are spread merely by word of mouth, but what better way to get a book off the ground and into the hands of those who need it most, than by creating a launch team?

A launch team is a group of supporters the author can count on to stand behind their message. Who show up when they are needed, to share relatable or designated images on social media, tag the authors in posts, write blurbs with hashtags which help to categorize and funnel related topics, so readers can find the links, and more.

A launch team can vary in size, flow and style. Some people have large ones, planned out months in advance. Some create small ones and focus on utilizing ads and newsletter swaps. Some head the team up alone while others are financially able to hire a virtual assistant, or have a friend lead the way.

No matter how your team may look, the foundation remains the same: you need to communicate that you have a message to share and get a readable version into people’s hands, so they can start talking about it and asking questions. Methods can vary greatly while some prefer to use a launch template. Find these resources below.

For a book launch, you would typically send out weekly or bi-weekly emails to remind your team of the upcoming events and what is expected. If you have planned it months out, no need to infiltrate their inboxes. Breathe easy. If you have waited until the month of the launch, you may have to push a little harder to get your manuscript into your helpers’ hands on time.

Your team will need to be able to read your book, whether an e-version or print format. How you do this is entirely up to you, unless you are traditionally published. Many things vary in a book launch depending on if you are self-published or not. If you are self-publishing, you have control over everything. You can choose the timeframe, length, and book distribution method for your early readers. For instance, a self-published author may want to use www.bookfunnel.com. They may want to simply send the PDF version of their manuscript to the readers rather than using a tool like this. This is okay!

As the date draws closer, more people encourage their followers, friends and fellow bookworms to pre-order a copy. Pre-ordering and book reviews are two of the most important reasons for launch teams, aside from just having an awesome gang of people who love you and want to help.
Pre-ordering goes like this: All the people who purchase your book before it is technically released on Amazon or other outlets, will count toward sales the first day it releases. This acts as a booster. They see those sales and say, “Wow, people like this!”

Book reviews are important too, but my own belief is that too many authors nowadays are getting caught up trying to perfect these things. While pre-order sales and reviews are wonderful and useful, we cannot let them determine our books success.

I have met many authors who are successful but not famous, who are making a living from their books, but not all their buyers/readers stop to drop a review afterward. With the traditionally published method, the company is taking a risk by taking on your book, so they want to pump as much goof fluid into this things as they can so they can get their money back, and so hopefully you will get paid.

If you are going to be traditionally published, you will have your own team to walk you through this book launch process, and you will just need to follow their prompts as you move along. They will take care of choosing which applications to accept or not. This will make your job easier in that aspect.

At the end of the day, a launch team needs to be curated with people who are passionate about sharing, and you will need to be ready to give them good morale. Most people want to help, but simply need reminders because life can get hectic. And let’s face it, joy is contagious! If you are stoked about something, chances are — you can get others rooting for it too. As Jeff Goins says, “You just have to find the right tribe.”

If you are a part of a book launch, don’t feel bad for not being able to participate every single second or in every giveaway, etc. Do your best. And if the author has asked you to purchase a book to be on the team, by all means — follow through with what you have said you will do.
We can learn from those who have gone before us.

Tim Grahl is an authority in all things book launch. I recommend following him and reading his work. The best thing about Tim is, he will tell you like it is. “There is no magic pill.” He even shared a story about how though he makes a living helping others to promote their work and does a hefty job at it — but his own book launch was an epic fail. To read more about this story, buy his latest book, Running Down A Dream.

My own novel is about to release, and though I have been studying how to launch correctly for two years, I have to agree with many authors: The best way to learn is to just do it. I don’t know about you, but I’m a hands-on learner. In school, I had to reread directions five times over. It could be in part because I had a brain injury when I was young, but nonetheless — I feel that through this process, I will better understand the ins and outs from a new angle very soon.

Bottom line: Try various methods and see what works for you. As author Debbie Kitterman said in 7 Insights on Writing a Book, when it comes to self-publishing versus the traditional method, “There are pluses and minuses to both.” I recommend checking out Tim’s www.booklaunch.com or Chandler Bolt’s books on Amazon: Published, and Book Launch. I enjoyed listening to his books on Audible. He is fun to listen to!

You studied business in college. Do you have any advice that you learned from college that could apply to authors?

Yes. When studying the law aspect regarding trademarks, I discovered we can use a trademark to hold a name until we can do something about it. I once had a registered trademark. I designed my own kid’s t-shirts and wanted to make sure the name was solely my own.
Using the (™) or the ( ® ) varies and you will want to learn the rules. If you make over so much money each month, you may benefit from hiring a public accountant. Crunching those numbers can be stressful.

You can check out more about all things business, trademarks, etc by visiting uspto.gov or searching business entities within TESS database. I have used both Legal Zoom in this process and Incorporate. In my opinion, they were equal in quality but I did prefer the latter as they sent my documents in a black binder that zipped on all sides.

What do you think is the best thing authors can do to get the word out about their books?

From what I have seen, helping others is the number one way. Generous people are generous, and it only feeds itself. If you are feeling sleazy about promoting your own work, find another human to help without asking for anything in return. The truth gets out about people.
Getting your book into people’s hands, however that may look, is second. It can be an email version, printed PDF version, or paperback. I have heard of authors publishing chapter by chapter to allow their readers (or subscribers) to give them feedback. Then, by the time they go to publish, they have an interested group who feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves (and the author!)

A new method I am seeing authors do with the traditional route is to ask for early readers to buy an advance copy. Then, while they wait for it to come in the mail, the author/assistant/publisher ships their free printed copy (most offer these to the team members.) But wait–there’s more! While the early reader waits on these two to slid in their mailbox, a clickable link with the online readable version is sent via email, as I stated before, to get people reading and talking about it.

It’s not to build hype. It’s to build momentum. If you don’t talk about your book at all before release day, you may find yourself blowing up balloons but hearing crickets. “Oops. Did I tell anyone?”

There are many pieces of wisdom out there for the introverts like me who would rather bite a rock than share their own work every day. Just Google it: Marketing for Introverts. I know of some successful indie authors who shake their heads at large launch teams. It overwhelms them, and they’d rather focus on utilizing their own email subscriber list to help them or make their book the best it can be.

What works for some, doesn’t work for others. I believe I am going to fall somewhere in the middle, not seeking a huge group, but a few genuinely interested folks. I have a few readers who have been around my blog since it began. They are my truest fans, as they say. I know this because they are always there, rooting me on. One of them already bought a copy of my book before my new cover has been uploaded on Amazon, and before I have said much about it!
There is no one right way to do things, as Jeff Goins says.

Many self-published authors use newsletter swaps. I am doing my first one next month. This is where authors promote each other’s books in their own newsletters. It’s a way to promote and uplift without always focusing on yourself. A win-win! One author I know gained 1,200 subscribers from someone who had a larger audience, being willing to share her book in her email to her own subscribers.

Many people prefer Instagram because the younger generation is so visual. Twitter is about using hashtags to group conversations together, so people can find them. Pinterest is a visual search engine, like Google but with photos. All these methods can help.

They say out of all the ways to communicate with your readers, email is the best. The only reason I have struggled with believing this is because I myself struggle with the desire to check email. It distracts me and sucks me into a vortex, but this is something I will have to learn to get better at with time.

I am a face to face kinda’ gal. I think in the future I am going to lean towards utilizing my own Facebook group and blog newsletter to promote my novel. It’s not to say I won’t share on my personal pages, but I want those who have offered to help me, to know they have a place where they can expect extra from me. I want to make them helping me, worth their time. Many authors, whether self-published or not, have one thing in common when it comes to book launches: They give away free stuff as incentives. Fiction writers may not do this so much, but who knows — trends happen every day!

Whatever method you use to get your book out to people, make sure it’s legal (Amazon’s policy says we can’t share direct links from within email) and easy to understand (too many directions or activities can freeze people up). Try to have a variety: Not social media only, not email only, etc. This will allow you to cast your net wide and see what worked best. And even then, the results could vary depending on the book you write.

Try to stay engaged with your helpers leading up to the point of publication date, and a little afterward. The first team I was ever on remained opened and uplifting, many of us are still friends to this day!

Extra thoughts:
Henry David Thoreau once said, “Life is all a grand experiment,” and I quickly sweep all things writing and blogging into this pile. I think you should too. While serving, giving, creating, and living — we need to realize no one had all the answers but God himself. We can learn to be humble and enjoy the process, so one way of doing it is to have mercy on yourself with a firm grip on the reality that no good thing comes easily.

Hopefully, bearing these two in mind, you will live in a mindset that speaks life to your soul and helps you keep work and play in balance. Oh, and one other thing…never give up on that deeply embedded dream. It’s there for a reason — even if you don’t know the ‘why’ today.

Marketing for AuthorsBio:
Meghan Weyerbacher is a contemporary romance author. She loves sunrooms and rain, prefers paperback over Pinterest,and loves to refresh others over on her blog, www.thebloggingwriter.com. She lives in Northwest Kentucky with her family, 2 cats and a dog who thinks she’s a human. Check out her debut novel, Organic Love. Connect with Meghan on Instagram for all things books, writer’s life, and adventures.

Social Corner:

Meghan Weyerbacher Website

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Author: Sharon Wilharm

Sharon Wilharm is a female filmmaker, blogger, and speaker with over a decade of industry experience. She and her husband, Fred, just released SUMMER OF '67, their seventh feature film. Their movies have screened in theaters, festivals, and churches around the globe as well as multiple television networks. They've accumulated dozens of festival accolades including many Best of Fest awards and 4 ICVM Crown Awards. Sharon is passionate about visual storytelling, branding, and marketing and would love to speak at your upcoming event.

6 thoughts

  1. Fresh insight and much wisdom to glean from here, Meg.

    Particularly like this, “I thrive reminding people they are doing good work, and to keep up the faith while finding their way — whatever that may look like; because our journeys are unique. This is what #TeaAndWord is about.” Yes, it is!

    Grateful for the help and your faithful link-up provided weekly for all us writers. Thank you! Continued prayers over your writing!

    Like

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