Each month, the Nonfiction Authors Association asks a burning publishing question of our experienced members. Here’s what they have to say in January!
NFAA: Which was harder: writing your book or marketing your book?
JENNY LEVINE FINKE
Writing a book is hard work, and it took forever to get it right; however, marketing is where the hard work begins. Even with a large platform and engaged community, I find it hard to promote my book. Experts say to get featured in articles and podcasts, and to speak at events. All of these strategies are easier said than done. Writing a book is hard, but marketing it day-in and day-out is much harder.
Jenny Levine Finke
Certified Integrative Nutrition Coach, Good For You Gluten Free
Author of Dear Gluten, It’s Not Me, It’s You – available on Amazon
It was like rearing my children. Hard to do, but easy to brag about when they turned out. There’s no manual for rearing great kids and too many for writing a great book for a first-time author. Where do I start and who do I trust? I didn’t appreciate the value of good editors.
Some days I felt like Shakespeare, other days like a first-grader. To have your work examined and scrutinized is an exercise in tolerance, patience, humility and trust. That was hard.
Now that the book is complete, I am still inspired by my reasons for writing it. It may not be perfect, but it’s my creation with generous help and tough-love support. Though I have never considered myself a marketer, I find it natural to talk about the book and why I wrote it. This is no different than the joy I got seeing my children reach orbit, stay there, and do wonderful things as caring human beings. It’s hard to rear kids and write a book. It’s easier to brag about both when they exceed your expectations.
Donald G. James
Author: Manners Will Take You Where Brains and Money Won’t: Wisdom from Momma and 35 years at NASA. Release date: February 2, 2021
Pre-orders now available Click here.
SHELLY L. FRANCIS
Book marketing is harder because we can’t control the world the message is going into. Resilient Threads, a memoir by a physician about well-being and burnout, came out just as COVID hit. The key audience needed it but was busy saving lives. Speaking engagements dried up. Online events and social media became more important. Engaging in an ongoing, authentic conversation seems the trick to discoverability. We trust readers will find the book over time.
Shelly L. Francis
Publisher of Resilient Threads
I literally wrote the content of my book, Finding Life In Between, over the course of 30 days. When the writing flowed, it was magical and incredibly simple. The secondary writing, however, (meaning the editing and, ultimately, rework) was exhausting. The whole process of getting to the launch date, was not necessarily difficult, yet it was a long and heartfelt journey of learning and new experiences. Once there, the climax of the launch date is nothing more than a premature milestone where the next phase of work, the marketing, kicks into high gear.
The marketing, I believe, is more difficult than the writing. There are tricks of the trade that first-time authors like me don’t necessarily know about or even know to ask. For example, keywords, site-building, SEO, lead magnets and category rankings all play a unique role and fit into a comprehensive marketing strategy that requires a broader skill set than that of writing alone. Further, assuming you want your book to hang out on the charts for a long time, marketing efforts need to match that expectation. In effect, because the product is evergreen, so must be the marketing. I choose to look at my book as an entry point for potential clients into my business model—an introduction to my overall brand. With that in mind, leveraging it now as a marketing tool will always be a part of my business journey—at least until I write the next book.
Finding Life In Between is the story of one woman who took to heart that when nothing was certain, anything was possible. As Candy dealt with the pain and shame of career loss, divorce, and recovery from a major surgery, she decided to take a road trip and gain perspective, to reclaim balance and purpose in her life.
This book is an invitation for all women to take that long journey home…to ourselves.
Writing and marketing both are hard, but since it took me eight hours a day for ten solid years to write two memoirs, I would say without question, writing is harder. As a memoirist, it’s necessary to get into the head of my younger self and relive what I’ve experienced in order to write a compelling story. It can be painful but there’s also joy in it.
At first, I thought of marketing as gift wrap around a package. This reminds me of the way I viewed writing in the beginning. You write a short story and tell yourself, “Well, what do you know. I’m pretty good at this writing thing.” Then you attend your first writing workshop and discover every sentence, every paragraph, every scene seems to have a problem. You realize you’re not only not good, but you really stink at it. I’ve only recently started marketing my book since it will be out this summer, but I can already see that it’s not easy. It takes planning, consistency, and thinking creatively. Instead of looking back, you look to the future. When it’s all over, hopefully it’s the connection you’ve made with your readers that makes the hard work of writing and marketing worthwhile.
Kim Fairley is a storyteller and memoirist, fascinated by family stories. In addition to her upcoming book, Shooting Out the Lights, she is the author of Boreal Ties: Photographs and Two Diaries of the 1901 Peary Relief Expedition, which chronicled her great grandfather’s Arctic expedition. She attended the University of Southern California and holds an MFA in Mixed Media from the University of Michigan. Kim lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Author of Shooting Out the Lights: A Memoir
She Writes Press, Available July 27, 2021
Pre-order on Kindle now at amazon.com
If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Author Toolkit on writing nonfiction books. It includes checklists, templates, worksheets and more. Check it out!