Fishing for Sales

WestBow Press author Leon R. HayduchokA few years ago, when I was first researching options for publishing my book, I saw warning signs posted all over the internet: Danger! Shark-infested waters!

If trying to get a book published is like swimming with sharks, then promoting a book is like going out to sea on a fishing expedition. For those writers able to get onboard with a major publishing outfit, the fishing is good. The big boats have expensive equipment that locate the fish, and they drop enormous nets, scooping up fish by the ton. It’s an impressive operation. Now I realize fishing on these big boats isn’t necessarily easy—the hours can get long, the waters can get rough, and the stink can get to you—but the fishing is usually good, really good.

For those of us who don’t climb onto a commercial boat, we step into our dinghies—alone—with a few rods and a tackle box. We don’t have expensive equipment to locate the fish, and we don’t cast a $30,000 marketing net to catch tons of sales. We just set our lines and wait, catching one fish at a time.

But what if we don’t catch many fish? What if we scarcely get a nibble? What then are we supposed to do?

Here’s what I did.

Adjust Your Lines

When you’re not catching fish, adjust your lines. It can be as simple as dropping your line a little deeper or giving the lure a little tug.

When I started my blog www.dyingtocontrol.com I was getting a decent amount of traffic—the fish were swimming by, attracted to my online offering—but they weren’t biting. So I looked into my blog statistics to examine the source of my hits, which led me to an online Christian community called Faith Village www.FaithVillage.com. I reached out to the Faith and Culture Editor at FV, telling him about my blog and how I thought some of my posts might be a good fit for their site. Two weeks later, FV published one of my posts, and over the next few months, FV picked up a couple more of my pieces.

As my relationship with FV developed, I asked the editor if it would be possible to have someone at FV review my book. That’s when I connected with Tor Constantino; he reviewed my book for FV and also interviewed me for his blog, The Daily Retort.

Later, when FV opened its on-line bookstore, Dying to Control was the first book they featured in their Culture Lab, and it’s still one of the books highlighted on their Christian Life page.

With one little tug, I reached out to a Faith Village editor, and I’ve been reeling in fish on that line ever since.

Drop In More Lines

If you want to increase your chances of catching more fish, drop in more lines.

In June I dropped in another line by attending the International Christian Retail Show in St. Louis. I set up a booth on Author Avenue and fished from that spot for two days. I had a lot of nibbles, but I didn’t sell a single book. However, I wasn’t at the show merely to lure potential buyers; I wanted to check out the operation of some of the big boats and meet their captains. Long fishing story short, I connected with a few captains and my book is currently being reviewed by acquisition teams for two major outfits.

Two weeks ago I dropped in another line—book signings. The event was scheduled for two hours at a Barnes & Noble store in The Woodlands, Texas. The fishing was good, so the store manager was accommodating (and grateful) when I asked if I could stay longer. At the end of the day, I sold every book the store had ordered for the signing and the next day, when I followed-up with the store’s Community Relations Manager, he offered to serve as a reference for other stores.

I hope to be reeling in fish on the book-signing line for months to come.

Test Different Waters

If adjusting your lines and dropping in more lines doesn’t help you catch fish, test different waters.

This summer I tested waters around the country by booking speaking engagements at churches in Tacoma, Wash. and Big Timber, Mont. I had personal contacts in both locations that were happy to help me schedule the events, and the congregants were eager for something new, which, if you will, stirred a bit of a feeding frenzy around my book. Further, by engaging with audiences in different regions of the country, I was able to see who most connects with my message, which is helpful data when charting a course for future fishing expeditions.

Testing different water also helped me land a speaking engagement with Cypress Bible Church. I will be the guest preacher at this church for the entire month of September! We’ll see what that line brings in.

In the end, whether you’re on a big boat or a dinghy, the raw truth is that there are days that the fishing is brutal and you scarcely get a nibble. But be encouraged and don’t give up because every true fisherman knows that a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work.

 

Leon R. Hayduchok is a provocative writer who dwells in the gardens of literary nonfiction. With his eclectic interests in theology, culture and creative writing, Leon takes readers on a journey from the ivory towers of higher education to a world outside, where human beings live, play, work, laugh, cry and die. No, the world outside isn’t as safe as the ivory tower, but it’s where we have to go to experience the fullness of life in a world dying to control.

Based on the story of Adam and Eve, Dying to Control, is a commentary on human nature, American culture and interpersonal relationships. Written in the genre of literary nonfiction, the book weaves the author’s personal stories with observations about 21st century culture and the biblical account of Adam and Even. In the end, Dying to Control addresses heavy theological topics in a deeply personal way, making the subject matter relevant and accessible to a wide array of readers – from layperson to scholar, from religious to agnostic.

29 Responses to “Fishing for Sales”

  1. eric says:

    Interesting info to a soon to be author. I’m hoping my 20+ years of marketing and sales experience proves to be useful. I’m doing my last re-write waiting on the editorial assessment to come back. It seems I always want the book to be better. Add something new and alive, scrap what I perceive as sortta good but not par excellent. So we’ll see. All I know for sure is 2 things: first, I’ve poured my heart in to this 13 year adventure-secondly, I am a great story-teller. We’ll see. I don’t think of this as a new career rather a new calling.

    • Eric, you seem to have good self-confidence which will stand you in good stead with people. I know what you mean by re-writing parts of your manuscript over and over; sometimes I wondered if I’d ever be done. But my writer’s group leader said there comes a point when you have to say, “I’m done.” Could it have been made better? Probably, yes. But if we never move on, we can become so paralyzed by perfectionism that it never gets published. The worst critic is the one inside our head. 🙂

      My second children’s book is much better than the first, and I expect this third one will prove to be better than my second one. That’s just the way it is. Another hurdle I had to overcome was the thought, “What if nobody likes my book? After all, who wants to read what I wrote?” But like you, I know I am called to write; I sure didn’t do it to make money! The most important thing to me is that I obey what God told me to do. My prayer is that lives are changed by the power of Jesus and families are helped.

      • eric says:

        Elaine~

        Thank you so much for that reply. I’ve been paralyzed by my own subjectivity and perfectionism. Hard to let go. Your words were God-sent here. REALLY! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Hoping your next work blesses others as I’m sure it will. Eric

        • Elaine Beachy says:

          Eric,

          You are most welcome, and I am humbled that my words could be a blessing to you. Thanks for your kind comments and well-wishes for my next work.

          Elaine

    • Leon Hayduchok says:

      Eric, as Elaine said, “It will never be perfect;” at some point you’ll have to decide when enough editing is enough. However, let me just say that YOU have to be comfortable with when enough in enough. As a perfectionist with OCD, I understand working and re-working paragraphs, sentences, even words, for endless hours. But in the end, you have to be able to say…For where I am now in my life journey, this work, as it currently is, is an honest and fair reflection of where I am. That really is the best you can do.

      Leon

      • eric says:

        Thank you Leon~

        This is new ground for me. I appreciate the input. I was hoping some of you would take a look at the post with the excerpt from my book. Does it resonate? Is it impacting, or do you associate with the hidden truths in the story? Does it bring a sense of hopefulness?

        Eric

      • Dave says:

        That is so true!!! There is so much you can do with the editing part. However, I have seen books that have run-on sentences and then some that have a comma after there is a lot of reading.

    • Eric says:

      I did it! I finallyyyyyyy submitted my book! Yeah!

  2. I am a newbie, trying to find my way in the world of writing and publishing and social media. This article was exactly where I am at-the beginning. Liked the info.

    • Sherry, I wish you the best in finding your way, and if at times you feel like you’re all alone, I just want you to know that’s normal–we all feel that way at times. One words of advice, don’t get stuck trying to follow a formula. There’s a lot of advice out there on what you HAVE to do and how you HAVE to do it. To use the fishing metaphor, there are lots of techniques and many different types of lures. Based on your personality and skills, you need to discover which ones work best for you. Happy fishing!

  3. Thank you so much for this article, Mr. Hayduchok. I’m an author of 2 published children’s books, and I’m writing a third to finish the trilogy. The website listed above is for my second book. I have a different website for my first book: http://www.elaineandfriends.com, and also write a blog about home and family at http://www.elaine-beachy.blogspot.com. I’m sure I’ll be referring to your article more than once to help with marketing!

    May I ask your opinion? Should it be a priority of mine to pursue a major publisher for my children’s books?

    Thank you,

    Elaine Beachy

    • Elaine, one thing you should know about me is that I’m not a believer in following 5-step formulas. I think life and faith are more complicated than that. So, without knowing your story, your calling, your skills, your ambitions, etc. I’m unwilling to give you a simple “yes” or “no” answer about whether or not you should pursue a major publisher. I am, however, happy to engage your question and hopefully provide you with some helpful thoughts.

      As you might know, children’s books is a brutally difficult market to break into. So, if you’re not famous or don’t have an agent, an inside contact, or a platform where you can show a publisher that you have 5,000 book sales guaranteed, you will have a hard time getting a major publisher to even look at your book, let alone give it serious consideration. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a shot – throw in some lines, but I probably wouldn’t recommend investing most of your time trying to land a major publisher.

      My suggestion would be to fish the spots you’re most familiar with, and use the lines and lures that you’re most comfortable with. With children’s books I think personal rapport is very important, so I would suggest asking family and friends to introduce you to people who work with children or in a children’s context that might be interested in your book. I would suggest tying to make as many personal contacts as possible and get involved in the community by schedule readings at public libraries and anyplace else you can expose an audience of adults and children to your book.

      I hope that was at least helpful.

      • Elaine Beachy says:

        Thank you, Leon! Your comments were most helpful. They put my heart at rest; marketing is hard enough on a local scale. 🙂

        And yes, I have been doing a lot of local stuff, and family and friends do help get the word out, for which I am grateful.

        Thank you too for your blog post; I don’t feel nearly so alone anymore! God bless you!

  4. Teri Rader says:

    I’ve been published a few times but have been out of the loop for several years due to my career. I picked up some good tips from this article. Thank you so much! Now if I can just figure out how to set my blog site up!

    • Elaine Beachy says:

      Teri, you can create a free blog by going to http://www.blogger.com. I have my blog with them, and find it easy to use. You can choose your own background, and they walk you through it. Not hard at all. My blog address is http://www.elaine-beachy.blogspot.com. I’ve been blogging since October of 2011.

      All the best to you, and God bless!

      • eric says:

        Elaine~

        An excerpt from the chapter on woundedness. Be blessed! Eric

        Exposing Our Wounds
        So what are your wounds?
        God knows.
        I love the story of the man who was healed of the withered hand. But this story is one of more than just restoring health physically to a man’s crippled hand! I always picture this unnamed man like Napoleon. One hand free, the other slipped under his cloak and hidden from everyone’s sight. That droopy, gnarled, withered up, lifeless hand held close to his lower chest under his garments like a crippled wing of a bird. It’s more than a medical problem; it’s mental and emotional as well. Was the wound the result of an unwelcome birth defect or some mindless accident? I imagine the latter. Working at the local mill, he glances away as he trudges through another nine to five monotonous drudgery of ripping an almost completed piece of timber only to hear a loud snap and to find pain racing from his wrist to his brain. He lets out a horrid scream to his co-workers as he futilely tries to free his wrist from the timber that has clamped his right hand and wrist in a vice – like grip. Minutes later he’s free but not until the circulation has stopped and his hand grows blue. The first thought through his mind was how stupid of me? Self-flagellation continues day after day as he beats himself to a pulp! How will I make it? How will I provide for my wife and child? Man, I’m just stupid! I can escape the looks from the townspeople and friends and family, but the day and night feeling of this self-induced accident is hanging here in my head like this pathetic, dried up, useless hand from my body. All I have is my left hand and arm – not enough to do the required work that are the demands of a mill worker.
        That particular Sabbath was driven more by curiosity than faith. He had heard of Jesus. It was rumored that he was in the area and, as his custom was, he would show up at the Temple. But dare he let hope slip from his heart? He shrugged yesterday’s daydreaming thoughts turned to a half-hearted prayer off as he struggled with his garb. The usual, yes, the usual cloak he slipped on last that gave him a sense of comfort – more than covering his maimed hand under its looseness – but more so, the out-of-sight-out-of-mind false mental comfort. He hated this merging of emotions as he stepped out into the rising sun unto the street headed for the Temple. The false sense of solace that he had by covering the wound that dangled lifelessly under his clothes mixed with the stupidity that had caused it.
        As he entered the gate to the Temple, he noticed a heightened buzzing atmosphere where the usual Pharisee and Sadducee spirit collided. Strangely, this time the two sides were side by side in the apparent coalition against a common foe. As he entered the Temple, never had he seen such a sight nor felt such a hair-raising climate, except for the day on Lake Galilee when he was fishing and the hair stood straight up on both forearms during the lighting and thunderstorm.
        He slipped unnoticed into his corner leaning against the wall. Instantly, he figured it out.
        “Oh,” he thought as he muttered smiling, “This is Jesus.” Bantering went back and forth about “the law of Moses” with the livid looks on the local temple leaders he knew so well. Questions started to pop up in his mind like bubbles in an overheated pot. “Why are our teachers so red-faced? All I’ve heard about Jesus are that His miracles of kindness and that His down to earth teachings seem to make our traditions come alive!” What he did know for sure – amidst all the questions – was that there was a strange flow of life from Jesus in contrast to the usually deadness he felt here on these Sabbath days. The subject today was about observing the holy days. He slipped down the wall to avoid attracting any more attention form the smirk on his face as Jesus continued to stifle the leaders with his pragmatic teachings that the Temple leaders couldn’t refute. He put his head down between his legs to hide the chuckle he just couldn’t hold in. Suddenly, as he stood and straightened his back, Jesus called him over. What now? he thought as he timidly ambled towards Jesus. It was Jesus’ eyes of tenderness that impacted him first. The eyes spoke before he heard the words. What they said coursed into his crippled mind and emotions. It was if they were speaking to a deeper wound that contrasted to the deadened, lame hand. “It wasn’t your fault! It wasn’t your fault!” Then again, one last time, “It wasn’t your fault!” This was the cry of David he now understood from the Psalms, “Deep cries to deep.” A deep sigh released an unnecessary load of guilt. Finally, forgiveness. Someone understood. Then Jesus spoke, “Show me your withered hand!” He wanted to extend his left hand, the whole one. But Jesus’ eyes dropped to the one under his cloak. A hush had settled around them. An occasional low gasp could be heard as he withdrew the lame hand. Could it be? As he drew his hand out of his robe, he felt the scratch of the wool cloth against the back of his hand. A tender smile creased his face as he lifted his eyes and head upward towards Jesus. Both smiled. First, it was awe, total, awestruck wonder. He looked at his fingers as he straightened them, then back at Jesus in awe and wonder. Which felt more exhilarating? The hand with life coursing through it or the lightness on his shoulders from the release of guilt from his years of self-condemnation?
        Eldridge says it so eloquently, “Our grief validates us, it tells us our wound mattered.”
        The debate had ended with an object lesson – no more words – but this demonstration of love and power. So much for the decades of empty debate about the resurrection of the dead, the existence of angels, the observance of the Sabbath and miracles! Here stood the Lord of the Sabbath. Here stood the Creator of life and angels! And here he stood, the miracle! The wounds – both of them – healed!
        Gary Weins expresses this dilemma so clearly in Bridal Intercession.
        “Frankly, I look at my life and most of the suffering I have endured in my life is not because of noble sacrifice, but because I have been stupid…but the Word of God becomes even more startling when we realize that not only does He count the noble suffering in that kind of way, He also takes the stupid suffering – the suffering we bring on ourselves by our own sinful choices – and translates even that into the power of the Gospel.”

        He continues by bringing to life the story of Israel in Hosea 2. The Bride he has rescued from her waywardness again and again who has become the seducer prostituting herself with idolatry, “being deserted by her lovers in her shame with her dress pulled up over her head, fully exposed in her dishonor and devastation.” Her lovers turn their noses up at her and say with disdain, “Oh…I am not interested in you anymore.”
        And here is what so touched my heart as Weins practically applies a centuries old story to our lives.
        “And they walk away and abandon her and in that place, then the Lord comes. He says, ‘Now I will allure you. Even as you stand in the results of your own foolish, stupid sin, I will draw you. I will take you to the wilderness and speak tenderly to you and give you what you need to reinterpret your story. Your place of trouble will give a doorway of hope for the nations. And in the end you will not call Me ‘my master’ anymore. You will call me ‘my Husband.’ …Jesus takes the foolish sin that we can perhaps identify with, more than noble suffering. He takes the suffering we have brought on ourselves, the suffering that results in living in a broken condition and He says, ‘If you will entrust it to me, if you will account this the way I account it, I will enable you to see that this too, is about redemption. I will give you a story of rescue. I will give you a prophetic history of a God who loves you! You will declare it and it will become a doorway of hope to countless others just like you.’ ”

        • Elaine Beachy says:

          Eric, that is just beautiful! You paint wonderful word pictures of how the scene could have been, and relate with so much feeling the love and redemption of our Lord. Beautiful indeed!

          Have you ever thought about writing a devotional for men? It seems most are written for women… You have a gift for touching the heart.

          God bless your writing,

          Elaine

          • Eric says:

            Elaine~

            Thank you for your kind words! Honestly, I needed that as all writers admit to “subjectivity disease” (too close to it to be objective).

            So, I will continue to share MY HEART! Not just my head. It’s a package deal-2 for 1!!!

            Thank you again.

            In regard to a devotional, I think I have a better idea. It’s a book about one of the doors to prayer that’s been in my heart. It has a catchy title. (NOT TELLING) And will change our hearts to be more after God’s!

            Eric

          • Eric says:

            Elaine~

            A couple questions?

            #1. Can I use your comment/s for my book endorsement?

            #2. I fopund myself crying at the end of your story on your blog re: carwash. Can I use that as an every day story in my workbook as a “world-changer?”

            Please let me know! Really close to the finish line!

            Thanks.

            Eric

            • Elaine Beachy says:

              Hello Eric,

              I just got your message in my e-mail this morning, Oct 1.

              You certainly may use my car wash story in your workbook provided you give credit, giving my blog site address and my name. Is that acceptable to you? If there’s somehow a problem giving my blog address in your workbook format, please let me know and we’ll work something out.

              I’d be happy to have you use my comments as an endorsement of your book provided it meets my criteria. Although I haven’t read the whole book, I think I have a good flavor for your beliefs from what I’ve read. I don’t want to endorse any book that portrays God as putting or allowing sickness, disaster, or trials/temptations on people. I believe God certainly can turn these things to good in our life (including our own sin) if we turn to Him. I endorse writing that rightly divides the word of Truth: namely, that Satan is the one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but that Jesus came to give life and that more abundantly.

              If your book meets these criteria, I’d be honored and most happy for you to use my endorsement!

              If you have any questions, please contact me again. 🙂 God bless you!

          • Eric says:

            Thank you for the comment. Can I use this as an endorsement?

            Tell me how you would want it to read? Your contact info?
            Author of…?

            Thanks, Eric

          • eric says:

            Elaine,

            Can I use your comment here for an endorsement?

            Eric

            My email is ewhitaker955@gmail.com

  5. Timothy Tron says:

    I only had time to read the first couple of paragraphs before I was hooked (pun not intended..ok maybe). I will be looking into your suggestions and rethinking my efforts toward promoting my book through my blog. You can also reach my blog at http://timothywtron.dreamhosters.com/ I often post Faith related posts in various forms.

    I have found my experience in marketing my book “Bruecke to Heaven” exactly as you said, like being the lone fisherman in the dingy. I’ve found that once the fish try my bait, they love it and want more. The problem is they aren’t telling the other fish as readily as I would like. Perhaps this takes time, but then again, I realize using a foreign language in the title of my book hasn’t helped either.

    I remind myself daily that this is God’s work and in God’s time things will happen; then I read posts like yours and it wakes me up to other options (God leading me). So, with faith and other fellow Christians like yourself, I know we will succeed.

    Thanks and many Blessings,
    -Timothy W. Tron
    twtron@live.com
    http://www.TimothyWTron.com
    http://www.BruecketoHeaven.com

    • Elaine Beachy says:

      Mr. Tron, you have a beautiful website, and your artwork is stunning! Your book looks fascinating! My son-in-law would love that book; he’s so into genealogies with his own and our family. I may have to get it for him for Christmas!

      I too find myself in a “dingy” and I’ll share with you what I do. I carry book marks or book cards (with a picture of my books, info on the back)with me all the time. I end up usually giving at least one or several to people as I run errands, go shopping, whatever. Folks are glad to meet an author, for some reason. 🙂

      I went on ManassasPatch.com and announced my books there, which resulted in a few contacts. I understand that most cities in the U.S. have a patch.com for local news. A local newspaper carried two stories on my books.

      I’ve held some book signings, and through Facebook received an invitation to bring my books to an apple festival in October; cost of a table is $20. The festival also sells ads to put in their keepsake booklet for each attendee. I’ll probably take out an ad for that too.

      When I pay my bills, I insert a book card or bookmark with the payment.

      My last book was published by WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson, and they offered (for a fee) 50 book stubs for a display at a Women of Faith Conference. I chose the one in Washington, D.C.

      I am encouraged by the increase in traffic to my book websites.

      God bless you, Mr. Tron.

      Elaine Beachy, Author
      8908 Weems Road
      Manassas, VA 20110
      Phone: 703-369-5587
      Email: elainesplace4@verizon.net
      Website: http://elaineandfriends.com
      Website: http://elainewrites4kids.com
      Blog: http://elaine-beachy.blogspot.com
      Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/author.elaine.beachy

      Turning Hearts toward Home

    • Leon Hayduchok says:

      Timothy, I honestly struggle with the same predicament: God’s work and God’s timing vs. my effort in promoting. As we know, it’s not either/or but rather both/and. What’s helped me has been to reflect on what degree I’m waiting on God and what degree I’m AFRAID of being rejected or disappointed. Waiting on God out of faithfulness is great! Waiting on God out of fear, is faithlessness. Don’t let fear of rejection or the unknown stand in the way of doing what God is calling you to BE and do. Trust God and follow after him. (That’s easier said than then done…I know. Trust me, I know).

      • eric says:

        Leon~

        Your advise here for Timothy regarding trust is right on. Recently God taught me a lesson about the DIFFERENCE of FAITH VS Trust. In as much He said to me with faith we believe in our heart…with trust we step out into the unknown, the non-sensical. The counterintuitive is the PLATFORM FOR MIRACLES so God gets the glory-it’s not our own rational rather His glory He seeks!!!

        Eric

      • LInda says:

        Dear Leon….your words spoke to me. I am a new writer with a book on its way to the printer as I write. Yes sir…I wonder exactly how I will go about promoting the book…do I jump in with both feet…hire a publisher OR…see if a get a few nibbles from family and friends?

        These are questions I shall pray about…and hopefully I will not find myself faithless and ‘waiting in fear of rejection’ but faithful and waiting on God’s timing.!!!

        Yes…you made everything quite clear and simple today…thank you.
        Linda

  6. Eric says:

    Elaine,

    Hello!

    Couple of questions:

    Can I use your comments regarding my book as an endorsement?

    Can I use your car wash story in my workbook?

    Eric

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