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Promotional block - boy is it a doozie

Updated: Mar 15, 2022

Writer's block is a common term we hear in the author world. When you're trying to get somewhere in your story but you just can't seem to find the words. It's incredibly frustrating and can make you re-think your entire storyline. Maybe if I just hit the reset button and try again it'll come to me. Maybe my story doesn't flow as well as I thought it did; or maybe there's another angle I need to come up with in order to get the creativity flowing again. It's a tough part of the process, and it happens to the best of us.

Once I got through writing my first children's book "Weeping and Willow Stand Up to Bullies", I thought "phew! the hard part is over!" Boy, was I wrong. What I really should have been thinking was "dang! the fun part is over!" I thought writing would be the most challenging part of the process and to be honest, I hadn't thought much about the promotional/marketing end of things while I was in the middle of writing. I was so focused on putting pen to paper that I hadn't come up for air to look at the bigger picture. Here's the real tip: books do not sell themselves. Even if you think you have a masterpiece on your hands, someone (aka the author, aka YOU) has to get the book into the hands of readers! I was not prepared for this. I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a Major in Communications. The whole time I was in University I was working on this children's book, do you think I had the foresight to use my brain and think, "hey, maybe I should throw in a marketing or publishing course or two seeing as how I'm currently working on writing a book and this might be helpful once I'm done...?" Nope. Of course not. Of course I wouldn't think about what happens AFTER I write the book... I know I really have no one to blame but myself, but.. NO ONE PREPARED ME FOR THIS!

The first thing I realized is, I have to figure out what type of sales person I want to be. One thing I have come to know about myself over the years is, I am not a sales person. So that's just great, you can see we're off to a good start. I have had a number of different jobs over the years, one of which involved selling lawn and garden tractors for a short period of time (I grew up in the prairies, what can I say). It's not that I didn't do well at it, I actually rocked it (I'll eat some humble pie after this post), but I just... hated it. The only time I enjoyed being in sales was when I knew someone REALLY needed that thing I was selling. So, I did my homework. I compared our lawn and garden tractors to other brands and models. I knew I had to really believe we were selling the best product for the best price if I was to be any kind of good at that job. One thing I knew forsure, was the kind of sales person I did NOT want to be. I still cringe walking into car dealerships and some clothing stores, or really anywhere they stalk you until you open your wallet. Feeling that hot breath on your neck while you're trying to make a good decision about a big purchase like a vehicle is not my cup of tea.

This leads me to the next thing I needed to figure out, which was... who are my customers, and what do they need from me? I've seen two kinds of customers in sales situations, fight or flight. Let's go back to the car dealership scenario. Some people lean into the cringeworthy hot breath and take it on as a challenge. They get the biggest bang for their buck, always end up getting the lowest rate, usually interest free and sometimes a set of snow tires get thrown in! What the... because they push for it. They don't back down, instead they choose to fight. They know what they want, they know what their value is as a customer, and they refuse to walk away with anything less than a killer deal. Then there's the other type of customer... those who flee from too much intense eye contact, heavy breathing and numbers being shouted at them while they try to do the math in their head to figure out if they can make the bi-weekly payments but then realize they're terrible at math and why did Mr. Friesen focus so much on trigonometry and isosceles triangles when all we really needed to know was how to make a mother flippen' car payment while also not falling behind on their student loan payments and rent and utilities and they need a phone because they have to use the calculator and can someone just get this person AN EJECT BUTTON!!! You can probably guess which one I am...

Okay, just breathe...

Because selling garden tractors was my only experience in a promotional/sales role, I had to fall back on the things I learned there while preparing to market my book. Book sales are different than lawn and garden tractors, obviously, but the principal is the same. I have to believe in my product in order to promote it. I also knew what type of sales person I did not want to be (aka heavy breather with intense eye contact). So, now that I knew these things about myself, I had to figure out how to get my book seen, while remaining true to myself....

Oh... that last paragraph made it sound like I've figured it out and managed to sell hundreds or thousands of copies... sorry for misleading you... hah! The truth is, I am still figuring out how to navigate all of this. I decided to build a website (the one you are currently on) so I would have somewhere to point people when they asked how to purchase a copy. Sending them the direct amazon link seemed a little unprofessional... but you know what wasn't unprofessional? Recruiting my dad to go into all of the local coffee shops in our small town and sell my book to people he knew had grandkids. Also all of the schools and libraries and basically anywhere he could use his seniority and connections in the community to sell sell sell! That's just good business!

Social media, as we know, is the way of the world these days. Especially when it comes to getting exposure. So, I've started an instagram account for my book promotions, don't even get me started on my first attempt with instagram to set up a business account and be legit about it. What. A. Night. Mare. Once I got my second PERSONAL IG account (suck it instagram) set up, I knew I didn't want this platform to be solely about promoting my book. Personally, I wouldn't even want to follow someone that was only making sales pitches (pitches are for b*tches). So, I had to figure out how to build a more diverse platform. I've always loved travelling, and recently have started some very amateur photography. I purchased a rather expensive camera in an act of covid rebellion during one of the many lockdowns this last year. No one's gonna tell me I can't SHOP and do whatever I WANT (while staying indoors and only leaving my house for essential reasons, obvi. I'm a rule breaker but I'm no dummy). I have zero regrets. Although my credit card carried that balance for a good few months... of which my new financial advisor knows nothing about... I decided to utilize this new IG account to show the travel/adventure side of me with a few book promo's thrown in. I got set up with the preview app, which I love! So I can strategize my content and post things in a visually appealing way. It's actually so satisfying to play around on. However, even posting on social media is hard sometimes. To come up with creative ways to expand your audience while remaining true to yourself, not pushing your book but reminding people of its existence, it's not an easy balance!

As you can tell, this has been an educational and enlightening journey... I love to write. I am passionate about creating stories that have depth, and meaning, but are also fun and whimsical. I am especially passionate about anti-bullying and helping as many children navigate this difficult topic as I can. I know from personal experience how life changing words can be. How impactful childhood is, and how important kindness is. This post wasn't to discourage anyone from writing a book, however I do wish I had known some of these things prior to getting started just so I could be more prepared.

Thank you for letting me get this all out! Now I need to go back to the drawing board and work on some marketing ideas. Let's get creative!


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