A 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.
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.