April 5, 2021 - 6:23 PM
All is going well. The Gatherers and the Illness of the Isle is still on track for its release sometime in either May, June, or July. I’m thinking I’ll still be able to make it sometime in the latter half of May. As soon as I have a concrete date, of course I'll announce it and begin promoting it.
I’m working through my final edits now, and it’s a bit slow-going, but I’m making progress every day toward finishing the book and declaring it done. After I finish this edit, I’ll be able to confidently say that I know this book inside and out. This will be perhaps the third or fourth time I’ve read through it, and it’s a 515-page, 140,000-word monster of a tale, so I’m hopeful that all my efforts will prove to have been a good use of my time. Truthfully, I’ve enjoyed spending so much time with my characters and their story, but I’m ready to take a bit of a break (probably around a month or two) before returning to them for the sequel.
Later this month, I’ll begin working with Sam White to really start fleshing out the final cover art for my book. We’ve been talking for a bit now, but we’ll actually start putting together thumbnails and fleshing out the finished piece this month, and I could not be more excited.
Sam White is a fantastic artist (he’s done work for Magic: The Gathering and Nord Games!) and an exceptional person and business professional. I have nothing but positive things to say about my experience with Sam so far, and I’m confident that his unique blend of original fantasy themes and his incredible compositional skills will really help the art on my debut novel to fit in alongside the great cover art done by fantasy giants like Michael Whelan and Bob Eggleton.
All I know is, I fell in love with Sam’s art the first time I spotted it, and I cannot imagine having a different artist help me bring this story to life in a grand way.
As for the writing itself, I’m making great progress with my beta readers. I have one beta reader (the wonderful, exceptional, and heroic Aaron Kosik) who, so far, has gone above and beyond and provided a lot of detailed feedback (on a chapter-by-chapter basis, no less).
From what I have heard, everyone is on track to giving me some solid feedback in a timely manner. Unlike the last time I had beta readers check out my novel, I’ll be asking my beta readers a lengthy list of questions to better understand any pain points they might’ve experienced, and I think it will only help my novel shine a little brighter in the end.
I’ve started attempting to drive some traffic to my website to get engagement with my book’s four-chapter excerpt and the free short story I’ve released. My efforts have not been incredibly intensive (mostly because my book is not out yet), but they’ve worked to some degree.
A wonderful upside to my marketing efforts can be summarized by a simple statement that a marketing professional and colleague once told me: “Sales and marketing is nothing more than building relationships.” That advice really resonated with me in a big, big way.
It told me that every interaction with a stranger doesn’t have to be me starting out by saying, “Hello! I have a novel and I’m trying to get people to buy it. Do you want to buy it?” Nobody likes doing that. And the people who do engage in marketing tactics like that are rarely successful, anyway.
I’ve been approaching it like this: I don’t even mention my novel or my book or my writing unless somebody shows some interest. I go into each conversation with zero expectation that I’ll make a sale or get an email address or get anything more from the other person than that which they are willing to share for free without infringing on their privacy or their wallet.
I go into each conversation with one goal: to find out more about the other person and their story. If my novel has no place in their story, then I don’t bring it up, and I don’t do anything other than listen to their story and offer what help I can. I feel that this way burns perhaps a lot more time than other methods, but it is vastly more efficient to build relationships with people than it is to get your link in front of people who could not possibly care less about you or your website or your book.
People. People are the lifeblood of our world. Even if one writes the greatest book in history, they will have no success without other people to engage with that book. Michael Scott from The Office said it best: “People, Ryan… people will never go out of business.” Everything in life and art and work revolves around one’s ability to resonate with others. That’s why every vacuous attempt at “marketing” is shunned and ultimately fails. People want to interact with genuine people, and I’m learning this in a grand way, and I really love it. Even if I don’t get a sale from a conversation, I might get something vastly more valuable: a story and a chance to help somebody else make a little more sense of his or her troubles.
As I go forward into the world, I’ll hold my book in one hand, but my other hand will be empty, and it is this hand with which I will reach out to hug those who have no use for my product. I feel that my marketing journey can be one that benefits myself, my family, and the world. I feel that I can show God’s love in so many ways, and every time I interact with a stranger, I get the precious opportunity to do so and to do it well.
If my book appears in one of those conversations, so be it. If not, that’s fine, too.
Sometimes, it’s better.