You see, Amber was about 17 years old when she left a comment on a blog interview of mine, telling me how much she loved A Passion Most Pure, except for one major problem she had with it ...
“5 Tips for Spreading the Word and Surviving in the Online World”
by Amber Stokes
1. Friends ~ Friends are so important! And by “friends” I’m not talking about the number of people who follow you on Twitter or the number of people who “like” your Facebook page or the number of followers you have on your blog. The numbers do have their place, for sure! But numbers aren’t going to fall in love with your stories or recommend you to their friends or encourage you to keep the vision alive.
2. Freebies ~ Ah, freebies. I’m not really in a position to say whether the free Kindle e-books actually boost sales for an author or not. I can cite a couple of personal examples where a free or cheap e-book gave me the practically risk-free opportunity to sample an author’s work – and I became a big fan. (Clockwise by Elle Strauss, which is still free for Kindle, and The Language of Souls by Lena Goldfinch, which I got for $.99 but is currently $2.99.)
3. Flexibility ~ I know you’ve got to be careful about this one. Each author has his or her own voice and his or her own interests. Breaking your standards or selling your soul shouldn’t be necessary in order to be published. (There are so many publishing options nowadays!) At the same time, if you want to actually sell your books or your services, you have to consider things from the reader’s or client’s perspective.
An author friend of mine recently asked me if I’d like her to share some suggestions for me regarding my editing website. What she had to say was super helpful, even though it took a few subsequent e-mails to find the right balance between my “image” and a clearer to understand/prettier to look at website. I realized that I had to be willing to be flexible – there was a right balance somewhere in there, and if I wanted people to understand what services I’m offering and to be able to use my website easily, I had to make some changes. I love how my website looks now, and I’m very grateful to that author for speaking up and helping me to see what wasn’t working! I imagine that as time goes by and the online world continues to change, I’m going to have to keep being willing to change, as well (as long as I’m not compromising who I am!).
4. Fighting Spirit ~ I’m not really a physical person. I was the one who got on the elementary school basketball team because our school was so small that we didn’t have tryouts. And I was also the one who would duck whenever the basketball came too close to my head. Interestingly enough, I have a black belt in Jujitsu. I basically contribute this to two things (three if you count the fact that my parents paid for my lessons and encouraged me to keep going!): the age in my life when I realized that I was one of the few girls in a place full of guys, and the desire to not give up after investing so much of my life into those classes.
The latter reason is what authors and small-business owners need when times get tough. (Too bad there aren’t also lots of single men in this business to give us females some motivation, as well, LOL!) I’ve invested enough financially, time-wise, and from the heart to want to keep fighting for my business. You and I know that times are tough now. It’s hard to get noticed among all the voices clamoring for attention. It’s hard to get people to purchase something from you when hardly anybody has a lot of extra cash lying around. It’s hard to sit down and actually write, or edit, or whatever it is you need to do. So you’ve got to want it bad enough to fight for it – and then you’ve got to fight.
5. Faith ~ What if your fighting spirit isn’t enough? What if the freebies and the help of friends and the flexibility don’t cut it? It can be hard to imagine what life would look like beyond our own current dreams. We might not be at the place to know what’s coming down the road, and we can’t make choices now that we won’t know about until later on. But what if, someday, the time comes when you realize that the plans you’ve been making aren’t the right plans for right now?
These are questions I have to ponder myself. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about starting a business, it’s that the process involves a lot of waiting and a lot of investment. I haven’t really seen any little green shoots poke their heads out of the soil. I keep watering and waiting and watering and waiting – and what if this business doesn’t take off the way I want it to?
I’ve got to keep moving forward one step at a time. And I’ve got to cling to the faith that there is more beyond me and more beyond this business. I know God can bring something good out of it, but I want to trust that, when all is said and done, God will provide. He will provide a purpose for my heart, a place where I can live for Him, and the power I need to follow Him.
Conclusion: Whether you’re an author or a small-business owner, I offer these tips to you from this early season of my own experience: make friends, be willing to invest and to make changes when necessary, fight hard for your goals, and ultimately, find rest in perspective.
What season of your “business” are you in right now? What have you learned about spreading the word and surviving in this crazy online world? Leave a comment and we'll toss your name in the hat for a $10 Amazon.com gift card.
Editing Through the Seasons – and she is currently offering a special discount on proofreading services for those who are getting ready to self-publish their books.
You can find Amber on Mondays at The Borrowed Book blog, and all the time at her personal blog, Seasons of Humility.