|Amber and Sandra in front of Hola's Restaurant, Sunriver|
This summer I had the opportunity to meet Amber face-to-face and hear all about her wonderful job. I twisted her arm (no not really) but she generously offered to share some behind the scenes information about a traditional publisher and provide tips on marketing.
So I am delighted to bring back to Seekerville, and introduce you to my dear friend, Amber Stokes.
Amber Stokes works as a content writer in the marketing services department of Harvest House Publishers. On the side, she self-publishes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor's degree in English and to run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, this new chapter of her career takes place in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she has always considered home.
I walk into the office and sit down at my desk in the corner cubicle. What will our readers say today, I wonder? I log onto my computer. I wait impatiently for it to load. I go online. And my breath catches in my chest until I see the new emails pop up in my inbox. I hear nothing—not even the sounds of geese honking on the marsh—just the beating of my own heart.
Perhaps that description of a typical workday in the marketing department is a bit melodramatic. After all, when Meg Ryan wrote nearly identical words in You’ve Got Mail, she was falling in love.
But wouldn’t it be nice if there was a little more love involved in marketing?
That’s the basic idea behind the philosophies of experts like Bernadette Jiwa, Simon Sinek, and Seth Godin.
On the road to falling in love—and staying in love—many attest to the need for friendship. You start as friends. You continue as friends.
Authors and publishers both want readers to fall in love with their brand. But first they have to show that they truly care about the people they’re marketing to. So, what might it look like to “market among friends”?
Here are a few ideas:
~ Friends share generously.
When a friend says they need to borrow our vacuum cleaner, we don’t hesitate. When Christmas rolls around, our friends are included on our shopping list. When we’re on a baking spree, our friends are often the recipients of the treats we’ve made. In other words, friends give.
What can authors and publishers give their readers?
A recent example from Harvest House Publishers can be found on the landing page we put together for Tony Evans’s new release, Praying Through the Names of God. We created 52 visual devotions based on the book—each one including one of the names of God, its meaning, and a prayer snippet—to be delivered to subscribers’ inboxes one at a time, once a week for a year. These lovingly crafted devotions are designed to encourage and inspire readers.
Good friends give both ways, though. In return for offering gifts (such as free devotional pieces) to your readers, they might give you their attention, contact information for future marketing endeavors, and a chance to show them why they’d enjoy the stories you’re sharing with the world.
Don’t forget: The most important thing you can give readers is a reason to care. Make sure your presence, your personality, and your products are quality and genuine.
~ Friends remember special days.
Friends are the ones who remember our birthdays, the anniversaries of our losses and successes, and the little events that make up our day-to-day lives. Timing plays a part in friendships—whether it’s a card sent on the right day or a hug that’s given at just the right moment.
And timing should play a part in our marketing strategies.
Harvest House released a book titled As It Was in the Days of Noah by Jeff Kinley earlier this year. Any other season or year, and the book would likely not have captured readers’ attention quite as much as it did. Why? Because the book’s release was timed to coincide with the buzz surrounding the arrival of the new Noah movie in theaters.
If you plan on being traditionally published, you might not have a say in your book’s release date. But you do have the option to pay attention to what’s going on in the world—during both the writing and marketing processes. See what concerns are popping up in the news. Note which holidays are coming up on the calendar. Find ways to make your book relevant, to show readers you care about the special days that matter to them.
~ Friends listen to one another.
The most frustrating of “friends” are the ones who talk at us all the time instead of recognizing that we have something to say, as well. True friends give one another a voice. They feel free to talk, but they also make the effort to listen.
At Harvest House, we recently launched a new corporate blog. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter, and I currently manage one of our niche sites, AmishReader.com(created especially for our Amish fiction fans). Yes, social media sites such as these do involve a lot of talking to readers. But they also offer platforms for discussion—a chance for readers to talk to us and tell us what they enjoy through comments and “likes” and shares.
Your brand involves more than the theme running through your books or the design on your website. It also involves your personality and the distinctive way you approach marketing. Help readers fall in love with your brand by treating them—and truly seeing them—as your friends.
Question: As an author, what little or big ways do you show readers you care about them? Or if you’re primarily a reader, what gestures from authors or publishers mean the most to you?
In honor of Harvest House Publishers’ 40th anniversary, our marketing team is giving away four of our new releases—one book each to four different winners! The titles are: The Cure for the “Perfect” Life by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory, The Amish Blacksmith by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner, Choose Love by Stormie Omartian, and Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable by Valorie Burton. And I personally am giving away a Kindle copy of Bernadette Jiwa’s The Fortune Cookie Principle, which is filled with lots of fabulous marketing advice and food for thought. Be sure to let us know if you have a preference out of these books in the comments section!
Thank you Amber. What a generous offer.
Amber loves Mexican food, so I brought a Mexican buffet. Help yourself to tacos, enchiladas, taco salad, fajitas and if its early morning, we have chorizo and eggs wrapped in warm tortillas. We also have chocolate velvet coffee and hot chocolate on hand (chocolate was originally from Mexico).
Thanks again, Amber.
Amber is at work today and will join us when she can. If you have specific questions, be sure and check back.