Since my brief experience working at the United Methodist Publishing House between college and my first teaching job, I have always known I wanted to write for children. Even though my writing was put on hold for many years, I retired to follow my dream three years ago.
By this time my vision for my writing embraced the concept of Bible literacy for children and their parents. I planned to write children’s Bible storybooks and illustrate them with appliqued quilt blocks. I also envisioned children with Bible quilts with many pictures of Bible stories on them so the children would be encouraged to ask to hear them again.
I self-published my first book The Creation in 2011. After receiving a glowing (as in very complimentary) rejection letter from Eerdman’s Publishing on my first book, I chose self-publishing due to my age and the scope of my vision. I feared my vision would be both compromised and delayed if I depended on publishing houses to purchase my manuscripts as well as promote the concept of Bible quilts for children.
I found good counsel and was able to get my first book printed without taking too much out of my pitiful retirement savings, published my book, and excitedly began to sell them with the idea that the income from these books would pay for printing my second book. But I had 2200 books to sell. After I sold books to all my willing friends, I realized that the great majority of my books were still in the shipping boxes.
I can’t help but wonder how many self-published authors are feeling this pinch, maybe even worse than me. I was able to save a lot of money by doing my own illustrations and layout so my costs were less than a quarter of what most would have paid to have this number of hardcover books available for sale.
Marketing is a challenge every author faces. Even those published by main stream publishing companies have to market their books if they have any hope of getting a second book published. Publishing houses are in the business of printing books that sell, not books that sit in boxes.
People who don’t know you aren’t interested in your book. Publishing your book doesn’t make you instantly famous. People have to be passionate about what you are passionate about before they will read your book, or they won’t buy it. People have to be persuaded to buy it. The competition is marketing their books and you will have to do the same. Marketing costs money and/or lots of time.
Because I don’t have more money to invest in marketing, I have to think smarter and work harder. It is imperative that I figure out how to focus on and reach my target audience. Who will read and/or share my book with others?
I’m not writing this to say I have the answers. I hope others will share some pointers with me on marketing my book. I know that if my vision is truly from God, he will also supply the vision on how to market my books as well. With pockets as shallow as mine, my writing and publishing success will have to be a God thing.
PS My second book The First Christmas will be published soon through a print on demand printer. Quilting ideas and fabrics are already available to complement the book.