Authenticity as a form of marketing?

I love that time when the end of a book is in sight, and the final plot points and conclusion are already mapped out in my head. If I push myself past my daily word limit, I’m confident I can finish the first draft of SHADES OF DOUBT this week.

Which will bring me back to a dilemma I’ve kept on the backburner for the last few months: do I stay indie or attempt to query? I considered querying for my last two books, only to get excited and impatient when my cover designer showed me images she just “threw together” that convinced me no traditional publisher could do it better. While being my own creative boss is great, ultimately the decision the stay indie has been about my lack of patience. I could sign a contract with an agent this week and not see my book in print until the end of next year. That’s pretty typical in the traditional publishing world.

What motivates me to reconsider staying indie this time has more to do with my first-ever strategic marketing plan: something I never thought about as thoroughly as I should have with previous releases (and every author, regardless of how they are published, needs a solid marketing plan to build a buzz and sell books). Some topics are just difficult to make attractive to people, and I’m stubborn about tackling darker stuff like spiritual abuse and rape. How do you dress those up and make them look appealing?

You can’t. That was my mistake before: those are subjects that can’t be dressed up and packaged neatly. To reach the audience I want to reach, I have to present the grittiness in a realistic way that may be triggering for some readers, who will probably avoid my book if there’s a risk of traumatization. That’s fine. But for other readers, they may see a story that resonates with their own and feel understood, perhaps even comforted. I hesitate to call this group my “targeted market” because it’s not just about getting them to open their wallets and purchase my work. Rape culture is an issue I care about deeply, which is why I want those readers to participate in my “marketing strategy.”

What do I mean by that? Starting in the spring (hopefully) I want to open my blogging platform to abuse survivors to share their stories about not being believed. The stories can be shared with names and links to their own social media pages, or anonymously, if preferred. Bottom line: I want to get people talking about something that is not talked about enough, or is talked about in ways that degrade and dehumanize the victims. For every person who’s heard an abuse story that sounded “unbelievable,” I want to have honest discussions about why that is. All of this is relevant to the themes of the book, which I hope is entertaining as it is compelling.

If you are interested in sharing your story, please fill out the box on my Contact page.


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