Rooted Marketing: Preplanning Your Marketing as You Write Your Novel

Today’s guest post is from author Dineen Miller, who shares great insights into how novelists can use marketing approaches nonfiction authors are familiar with, to build up early interest in their novel before it comes out. 

Nothing like a book contract to make you aware of what everyone else is doing. And you want to know what works best, right? The problem is, we’re looking for one formula in an industry that’s basically at the whim and whimsy of personal preference and word of mouth.

When I started writing seriously in 2004, my focus lay completely in fiction. I’d written devotionals and snippets of life pieces in the past, but they served my own need for expression, then resided silently in a folder on my computer. Fiction was my passion.

Then something unexpected happened. In 2006 I was given the opportunity to write as part of a team on a blog on a topic that hit home for me. I jumped in because I wanted to help other women avoid some of the heartache I’d experienced to reach a place of thriving in my faith and my marriage.

Readership for our blog grew, which led to a book (Winning Him without Words: 10 Keys to Thriving in Your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage) about how to thrive in a spiritually challenging marriage, and a booming Facebook presence. We suddenly found ourselves reaching readers in ways we hadn’t thought possible at the beginning. Our main site (www.SpirituallyUnequalMarriage.com) even started showing up as a resource on other ministry and church websites.

So when my novel The Soul Saver was finally picked up by a publisher, I began studying what had worked so well for our nonfiction book and looked for ways to apply it to marketing my novel. What I discovered has now lead to a concept I and my writing partner call Rooted Marketing.

Plant Those Seeds Early

Like it sounds, rooted marketing is like planting seeds in your stories to be sown right before, during, and after as marketing tools. As you’re writing your story, you are literally building in settings, hobbies, causes, interests, and anything unique that you can use to promote your book.

From these ideas you can write nonfiction articles for submission to magazines, blog,s and other sources looking for special interest pieces.

1. Identify need and niche seeds. As authors, we pretty much get the message today that we have to do more than just market our book. People want more. Common trends have set a pattern of having take away value. So, identify a need or niche you can fill.

For example, a budding author I know recently shared with me that she loved writing home and hearth stories because this had been a big area of enjoyment in her own life. Suddenly we realized she had unlimited opportunities to write into her stories traditions and celebrations that had meant so much to her and her family and would give her readers step-by-step planning instructions to do that same kind of events and traditions in their own homes. She had not only pulled a theme from the stories she felt so passionate about, she’d created a brand she wanted to continue throughout her books.

2. Grow and Harvest Resources. Experience has a way of opening doors to serve a specific market with the goal of being a resource. That was always our purpose—how did we assist others in finding the help they needed in a difficult marriage? What could people take away and apply to their lives and marriages?

We not only used our book but also created a dozen free downloads with tips and suggestions from everything to praying for your unbelieving spouse to putting romance back into your marriage, along with short teaching videos and a relevant monthly newsletter.

I recently read about an author who turned the historical research she used for her novel into a series of articles for her local newspaper. Another author I know built in a common theme of a quilt pattern through her book series and included the pattern (one she designed herself) at the back of each book. The potential here is only as limited as your thinking, so think big and have fun!

3. Be an Intentional and Current Farmer. It’s unrealistic to think we can “do it all,” and planning ahead goes a long way in fighting off the overwhelming menu of media and marketing choices. Once you identify and figure out what potential marketing seeds you can plant in your work-in-progress, imagine ways you can market and interconnect them between your website and favorite social media sites so you can reap an effective harvest. Even consider speaking to local groups in your area if your subject matter is applicable to library or other groups.

If your resources are time-critical, be sure to update or change them out periodically. Offer new ones to your readers and if you have a newsletter, offer a special download available only to sign-ups. You can even do that with your blog these days with each new subscription. Find a tech-savvy person to help you set up an automatic mailing, and you won’t have to think about it again until you’re ready to offer a new resource.

There are so many different ways to market today that we have to be intentional about what we choose. Thinking ahead is like preparing the soil for those seeds so when your book comes out, you’re ready to reap a harvest.

 Start Thinking before You Start Writing

Rooted Marketing isn’t necessarily “new.” Authors are pulling aspects from their novels all the time to reach more readers and sell more books through online promotions and even speaking. But why not start thinking it through before you even start writing your next story?

What can you build into that budding novel that can be a handy marketing tool? Can you even produce articles or downloads while you’re writing it? Imagine finishing your next contracted novel and already having several marketing tools harvested from your marketing garden, ready to use to promote that book when it releases.

 

Dineen Miller has won several prestigious awards for her fiction, and is the author of The Soul Saver and the novella, A Love Meant To Be, part of the Central Park Rendezvous Collection. She is the coauthor of Winning Him without Words: 10 Keys to Thriving in Your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage, which received the award for Nonfiction Book of 2011 from the San Diego Christian Writers Guild. Check out Dineen’s blog here, and you can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

20 Responses to “Rooted Marketing: Preplanning Your Marketing as You Write Your Novel”

  1. Jessica Baverstock April 29, 2013 at 1:08 am #

    I’m loving all these creative ways of marketing books!

    I shall have to get my farmer hat on and start looking for places to plant my seeds. 🙂

    • Dineen Miller April 29, 2013 at 8:57 am #

      Happy harvesting, Jessica!

    • Lindsey Cassidy May 19, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

      I had the pleasure of hearing you speak at the womans retreat at Rancho. Amazing!!! I have an amazing story but I dont know where to begin to start putting them in writing to truly help otheres realize they are not alone. Please contact me when you can. Thanks Linzi

  2. Ron Estrada April 29, 2013 at 1:53 am #

    Great post, Dineen. It’s a struggle for me to find interests that my (future) readers may be interested in. But once I sat back and took a look at my own Pinterest board, I could easily see connections with people who otherwise would never cross paths with me. Things like my newfound interest in heirloom vegetable gardening can easily be incorporated into any novel. I also use my location as a point of discussion. In southeast Michigan, it’s atumotive history. I learn a lot from my basic research and it would all make interesting blog posts. Just yesterday I watched a video on the history of the Michigan State Police. I could make a new blog off that topic alone. Thanks again for the post, D!

    • Dineen Miller April 29, 2013 at 8:57 am #

      Exactly, Ron! Great idea to use Pinterest to help you identify areas. You’re definitely thinking ahead! Great to hear from you too!

    • Sapling Publishing April 29, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

      Ron, seek out blogs as well. They are a great way to begin to do some niche marketing.

  3. Malama Katulwende April 29, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    I am a published writer from Zambia, who have published at least 3 books, two of which were published by am American publisher, Mondial, in New York ( (“Bitterness” and “The Fire At The Core”. )I am writing my fourth book, a novel about Zambian art. I have also written over 60 articles for http://www.ukzambians.co.uk.

    I find your article interesting and could use some insights. I am normally too cagey about what I write until its reached a certain level of perfection. But, perhaps, getting the word out would build that needed audience for sales. Thanx!!

    • Dineen Miller April 29, 2013 at 11:07 am #

      Malama, created your materials to use in conjunction with your book release if you prefer and to continue to build interest in the first month after the release. Maybe your current readership could get a small taste of what’s coming a few weeks before the release too. That helps build reader loyalty as well.

  4. Philippa Rees April 29, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    Excellent ideas, and lateral thinking.

  5. Karalee Greer April 29, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Thanks for this timely post. I am part of a very serious writing group and we are aware of marketing needs so we challenged ourselves to write a new manuscript with new setting/characters/genre or combo of these and started blogging about it. http://5writers5novels5months.com/
    In addition I could also use a theme to promote my book as I write. Great ideas. Thanks

    • Dineen Miller April 29, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

      Hi Karalee, what an amazing group you five are! What an undertaking! Great to see you all supporting each other. I am so grateful for my crit partners who are now my best friends and treasures in this writing journey. Wishing you all the best of success and an complete PASS for all of you by September 5th. 🙂

  6. Trisha Proud April 30, 2013 at 6:14 am #

    Dineen- A great blog with some great tips – thank you. …….I am just about to start my second novel so will certainly take your advice on board! I see that you have written “The soul saver”…….which sounds interesting……..I must follow you on Twitter………

    Your materials sounds very much like the genre I enjoy…….. novel “Soulmate” which is about love, lust and psychology! “Soulmate” gets into the mind of the main character as she details the highs and lows of life, when trying to find one’s “Soulmate” and all that this teaches us; Lessons on false flattery, betrayal, injustice, deceit and the hardest lesson of all, the lesson of love; Was Pluto right do we only ever have one “Soulmate”?

    Thanks again for the brilliant tips!
    Trisha Proud
    https://twitter.com/SoulmateNovel

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=trisha+proud

    • Dineen Miller April 30, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

      Hi Trisha! I really liked your post about humility. So glad the tips were helpful. The possibilities are unlimited. I followed you on Twitter. My twitter handles are @dineenmiller and @sumarriage. Happy marketing! 🙂

  7. Sylvie Nickels May 2, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    Thanks for some great ideas. My newest novel has addiction as a theme and there should be plenty of ideas for pre-publication promotion. Thanks.

  8. Darlene Matule May 3, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    I viewed your Facebook page with interest as I did this post. It seems you have the right idea and are doing well with it.

    I have written two books (historical novels, one a sequel) and am working on a historical novel that is combined with a contemporary “happening”.

    I love writing and have been given kudos galore from those who have read my books (indie published) but I do not have the knack for marketing. I would really appreciate some guidance about where you blog and how you got/get started. I have developed a (very professional if I do say so myself) website. For 38 weeks I posted a new chapter (1500 to 1800 words each)every week of a memoir of my trip to Croatia where I got the idea for my first historical book on my e-mail and once a month added 4/5 chapters to my website section called Darlene’s Diary. I had rave reviews. But it had not stimulated sales like I would have liked. I also do a once-a-month “Flitter” that is about random ideas (May was about my four years living/working in Louisville and combining it with the Kentucky Derby.

    Do you have any suggestions for me? I would appreciate any/all advice.

    • Dineen Miller May 5, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

      Hi Darlene,
      Are you seeing your numbers increase for traffic on your website? Sounds like you’re growing your audience. That takes time to build and is worth the effort. Consider turning your diary into a blog and write more often, 2 to 3 times a week. My private blog isn’t as active as my ministry blog. We write there 4 times a week constantly and we’ve linked this to our Facebook page and Twitter. It’s about building a community.

      One thing I did for my novel was created a similar “package” as you have, all about the making of the book. Character interviews, what a movie cast would look like, my setting research, and some stories behind the stories. In the back I had an interview with me and the past page announced my next book. This was a free e-book download for anyone who signed up for my newsletter. My list doubled. Still small in number but it was effective. Maybe change up what you’re offering your readers.

      Also, try to figure out how to engage your audience to include them in your “journey.” Do they have stories to share? Can you do a reader feature once a month? Do a contest. Just make sure that all that you’re putting out there isn’t just about you.

      Sounds like you have lots to work with. It’s just figuring out how to best use it. I hope this will inspire you and get you thinking! 🙂

      • ISOKARI FRANCIS OLOLO May 6, 2013 at 1:11 am #

        A good piece of work and information.

  9. Lacy February 27, 2014 at 12:35 am #

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on
    a daily basis. It will always be helpful to read through content from other writers and practice something from their websites.

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