Last updated on January 9, 2023
A few years ago, at the Florida Christian Writers Conference, I took Randy Ingermanson’s marketing class. If you ever have an opportunity to do so, take advantage of it because he is thorough, honest, and entertaining. Now that’s not something you can say about most physicists! At the time he was working on one of his many books and made the comment that his goal was to hit number one on Amazon when it was released.
Of course, being the newbie that I was, I didn’t know exactly what he meant, but it sure sounded impressive. I had no idea how one would even begin to accomplish such a feat.
I have found many authors are pretty much like me when I took that marketing class. And while they may be on Facebook, they don’t know how to use it very well (or how to make a fan page). Most groan when you mention Twitter, struggle with uploading a .jpeg, don’t know how to resize one (you’ve seen those monstrosities that take up a whole blog page), don’t know how to use widgets—the first time I heard the word, I thought it was a wizard—or make a video, use an URL shortener, or follow someone’s blog (where is the button), or the importance of even having followers.
Authors know how to do one thing—they know how to write. That is what they are passionate about. I would also rather write than do marketing. I would pay someone to do it—except I am too poor. But I don’t want to take my baby (my book) that I gave birth to and present it to another writer’s conference and have no one look at it.
When an agent and an editor told me to “Come back and see me when you have a thousand on your opt-in list (I had twenty-six at the time), ” I thought, you just wait. I was challenged to do something that two people at the conference made me feel like I couldn’t do, and I wanted to prove them wrong.
I set about doing all the things writers do to begin marketing when they don’t know what they are doing—except I had just taken Randy’s marketing class, which ran for four days, and I learned A LOT.
And then the reality set in. Have you ever tried to get a thousand followers on an email opt-in list? Even though it’s easier now than before with the growth of Facebook and Twitter, it still takes time and effort.
Recently I went into the hospital to have an outpatient procedure done (one of those rites of passage when you turn fifty). The pre-op stuff was a lot less fun than the actual procedure itself, but unless I did the pre-op, the doctor wouldn’t have been able to see what he was looking for. It’s the same with a book launch. You must do all the steps I have discussed up to this point to have a successful launch.
One of my goals with the John 3:16 Marketing Network has been to help authors who come into the network who can’t do the above things. I am surprised at the number of authors who join who are still using a 54K dial-up modem. An author will be at a huge disadvantage if she doesn’t upgrade to something faster. I can’t imagine being handicapped to that degree and being successful at marketing, though anything is possible. But I would recommend a person have a cable modem or a fast connection, much faster than dial-up.
When I took a class, “How to Launch a Best-Seller,” I was told that people would be more than willing to help. That has not been true for me. Most people never respond to my emails unless they know me personally. Getting reviews is not always easy (many don’t know how when you ask them or are too intimidated to post anything on Amazon). Getting someone to read my book is hard (authors who like to read books and write reviews are already over-committed, including myself). I have sent several copies of my book to people and never heard back from them. Sometimes I think those are the books that show up later on Amazon for a bargain price that you don’t get a cut of. I found it to be a lot harder to get partners than I ever thought it would be.
That is when the idea of the John 3:16 Marketing Network was born. If we had authors who were willing to come together and help each other, who understood the process, and who cared about others in the network, it would be a dream come true not only for me but for others as well. There are far too many authors like me with good books waiting to be read and no way to effectively market them.
Out of my need for a way, God laid it on my heart to form the John 3:16 Marketing Network for Christian authors. I thought about what impact we could have, changing the landscape of book marketing and publishing with sheer numbers and personal commitment, pushing Christian books higher in sales to best-seller status, and impacting what kids and adults read with a Christian worldview.
That leads to the question, “What is a book launch anyway?” A book launch is a 24-hour event. You tell everybody in your little world (or big world) about your incredible, awesome, one-of-a-kind book, and then you get all of those people to tell everybody in their little world (or big world) about your incredible, awesome, one-of-a-kind book—and, as a result of the amazing world of mass media, everybody will hear about your book, and able to receive all the unique, one-time free e-gifts that will be offered if he buys your book on “launch day.” The other key factor is all the sales must go to one specific location; i.e., Amazon. The book sales over that period will surge, enabling you to hit best-seller status in one or more categories. Again, to incentivize people to buy your book on your launch day, you offer free e-gifts that are immediately downloadable but only on launch day. Then the e-gifts go away.
We have over 125 authors as of this writing in the John 3:16 Marketing Network. (Please note: the John 3:16 Network is no longer active). Some are beginners, and some are pros, but we are all Christians. We are individuals blessed with a passion for writing. We help each other with book launches, blog postings, and book reviews, following each other on social networking sites, and on and on.
I am reminded of Hebrews 12:1 from the New Testament in the Bible: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the AUTHOR and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
When the big day arrives, what happens? Your partners will send out Facebook and Twitter announcements. Those with big opt-in lists will announce your book to their subscribers. Some of your partners (friends) will feature you on their blog, host an interview by you or post some of your articles. Hopefully glowing reviews on Amazon and other sites will entice the public to push that “buy” button, and you will have some fabulous bonus gifts for your buyers—free downloadable e-gifts available right after the buyer receives his confirmation email—available nowhere else!
What is a good launch? At the John 3:16 Marketing Network, we look at rankings. If we hit best-seller status in a category, we are thrilled. If our rankings get pretty low in terms of book sales, we are happy.
It’s important to note. Whether you reach best-seller status or not, you are gaining exposure. Others are tweeting, Facebooking, and sharing your book with their social networking contacts. It’s all about exposure. Oftentimes, people have to hear a name many times before it starts to register, “I need to watch that movie” or “I need to buy that book.” We tell our authors not to get discouraged if they don’t sell as many books as they had hoped. Remember, it’s all about the process, not the outcome.