Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Marketing Self-Published Books: More Advice From Joy Wooderson

Last week, we talked with Joy about her self-publishing journey for her memoir, Finding Joy. If you are struggling with whether or not to invest in self-publishing, her interview might give you some answers you've been looking for.

In this segment, Joy discusses how she is marketing Finding Joy: One Woman's Journey Back to Faith. As we all know whether you self-publish your book or publish at a small or large house, the marketing falls on the author. So, grab a cup of tea, and take a few minutes to learn some tips from Joy.

Margo: Welcome back to The Muffin, Joy. We learned a lot from you last week about self-publishing and the choices you made. Today, we're exploring marketing your self-published book. What types of marketing are you doing for Finding Joy?

Joy: It had become increasingly clear to me that authors are now pretty much on their own when it comes to marketing their books, whether they are self-published or not. So I began by creating postcards on my computer, showing the cover, and “I’m pleased to announce . . .” on the front with distributor and contact information on the back. I mailed these to friends and other parties whom I felt might be interested. I also e-mailed the information to everyone on my contact lists.

I had compiled a list of people to whom I wanted to send a copy of the book in addition to close friends, relatives, and those individuals who had played a major part in the development of the book. My hope is that these people will be willing to read it and share their comments.

I also created bookmarks on my computer, showing the cover, a brief synopsis, distributors, and contact information on the front. On the back, I listed excerpts from two or three reviews. I included several copies of the bookmark as handouts with each sale.

A neighbor organized a community book-signing which was not only enjoyable but highly successful. I also participated in the Author Open House at the library. I joined Facebook, SheWrites, Women On Writing, and other social networking websites in order to spread the word through these avenues.

I contacted two independent bookstores and placed copies on consignment in each.
My package with BookSurge included a review by Kirkus Discoveries, which was forwarded to their distribution listings. Regrettably, most newspapers will not review self-published books.

Margo: WOW! You gave us a lot of great tips here. I like how you've tried many different types of marketing ideas, and you are getting out there and meeting people. You're not waiting for people to come to you! What are you finding to work the best?

Joy: What I knew would be the best avenue for Finding Joy: word of mouth. My top sales have come from people who know me and who, in turn, have purchased copies for others. I knew going into this project it would not be a speedy process, given the nature of the book. However, I feel I have planted seeds and now wait for them to germinate and grow.

I am grateful for the excellent review on A Book A Week Blog, for this interview opportunity, and the positive comments I continue to receive from readers.

Margo: Your attitude is so awesome! I love how you are being patient, as hard as that is (I'm sure), and continuing to pass the message on about your book. What are future marketing ideas you have or would like to try?

Joy: I’m feeling my way in this new venture and am open to any and all suggestions. I am exploring meeting with small church groups, donating to the local library district, setting up additional book signings, and taking advantage of whatever opportunities may arise.

Margo: Those all sound like great ideas. Hey, maybe a church group could even Skype you into discuss your book with them! I've heard of some authors using Skype to visit with book groups and school groups that are reading their book hundreds of miles away. So, update us: besides marketing Finding Joy, what are your current projects you are working on?

Joy: At the end of the section on “Self” in Finding Joy, I write: “My daily prayer for wisdom led me to the inescapable conclusion that, like it or not, I was going to have to delve into my emotional and psychological background, to examine the developmental rings of my own ‘tree.’ I had no idea at the time that this exploration would be so wide-ranging it could fill another book.”

I’ve decided to complete the manuscript for Recovering Joy: One Woman’s Journey to Personhood and Place.

Margo: A sequel of sorts! That's great. Good luck to you while you market your current book and work on another.

Here's more information about Joy Wooderson and her book, Finding Joy.

Ladies, if you have any questions for Joy, please feel free to leave them here. We hope you have some new ideas and/or inspiration for marketing your work. Also, if you have a great marketing tip for us, please leave it in the comments below.

Margo Dill

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Thursday, January 07, 2010


Self-Publish or Not? Advice From Joy Wooderson

Many writers have this goal on their 2010 list: "Find an agent or publisher for my novel." Joy had this same goal one year after working on her memoir for eight years. As you'll hear in her own words, she'll tell you why she decided to self-publish: Finding Joy: One Woman's Journey Back to Faith. And let me tell you, this is a well-written, excellent book--full of ideas, situations, and questions that will make you think about your own life. Here's a brief synopsis:

Finding Joy: One Woman’s Journey Back to Faith is an
irational book offering a strategy to lead the reader toward building an authentic, living relationship with the invisible God. Drilled in rigid religious beliefs from childhood, Joy Wooderson found herself trapped in a state of confusion, held hostage to the expectations of others. Sitting atop awe-inspiring Mount Sinai on a vacation trip, she wondered what it might be like to have an unhindered, one-on-one connection with God. Finding Joy tracks the quest triggered by a desperate desire to break out of her mental and emotional prison. The book explores the Biblical design for balanced living and offers pointers for the spiritual journey. Joy discovers that God’s desire is that we experience a life of joy and security in relationship with Him.

Margo: Hi, Joy. Thanks for talking to The Muffin readers about self-publishing. Why did you decide to self-publish Finding Joy?

Joy: I went the usual route of contacting publishers and agents who might be interested in an inspirational book. In most cases, the editors said I had a fascinating story, and my writing was good—but I was a “nobody.” I had no speaking or media platform, and the competition was too fierce (think Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert). No agent expressed interest in battling this level of competition. I realized I had hit a brick wall. But I could not bring myself to give up after eight years of thinking, learning, planning, writing, and editing. I had a worthwhile book that I wanted to get “out there.” I had also become increasingly wary of some young editor getting hold of my story and tearing it apart.

At the urging of my cousin in Spain, I began exploring the idea of electronic publishing, specifically getting the book on Amazon’s Kindle. I researched several publishing options, and determined that Amazon’s Print-On-Demand division, BookSurge (now part of CreateSpace), offered what I wanted.

Margo: I think it's great that you went for it, and you have a beautiful book now! What did you look at when you were deciding who to self-publish with?

Joy: I liked the fact that BookSurge expected me to take an active role in the publication process. Several things were nonnegotiable: total control over the manuscript, input on the cover design, flexibility of custom interior design, including page header layout, sub-headings, and font variations. Cost was an important consideration, and BookSurge offered a cafeteria menu of services and a range of prices. Since I am very computer literate, I was able to do much of the manuscript and file preparation myself. This made the cost of the BookSurge package I chose affordable. I also wanted technical support and advice from the company with whom I worked, and BookSurge provided this throughout the process. Further, they handled the transfer of the files to Amazon and sent me a converted file which I uploaded to Kindle. I particularly liked their royalty rate of 35% on Amazon sales.

Margo: Sounds great, and of course, you made very smart business decisions. It is so important to know your nonnegotiable points, too! Who did you use as an editor and why?

Joy: I had been fortunate to meet Amy Harke-Moore of The Write Helper at Saturday Writers in O’Fallon, MO several years ago. She not only provided excellent editing, but also gave invaluable guidance through the development process. A crucial element in working with Amy was her ability to edit, offer suggestions, keep the pace moving, and still allow my “South African voice” to remain intact. BookSurge required that manuscripts be professionally edited, either by one of their editors or an outside service, so I was ahead of the game in having utilized Amy’s expertise.

Margo: Amy is a great editor, and it shows in your book. And like you said, your South African voice comes through! Explain to us how you got such a wonderful cover.

Joy: Coming up with a cover design was daunting as I am not artistically creative. One day, as I reflected on the story and my life experiences, the concept of an awakening came to mind—perhaps a lovely flower emerging out of snow or ice. I spent hours looking at pictures on the Internet and trying to visualize what the cover could look like.

When I forwarded my suggestion to the design folks at BookSurge, they pointed out that snow and ice would never show up as an online cover. However, they captured and modified my concept, and the daisy emerging from parched ground was the result. I had the cover I wanted—one that “speaks.”

Margo: Thanks, Joy, for sharing your self-publishing journey with us. If you have any questions for Joy about self-publishing, feel free to leave them here.

Interview by Margo Dill

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