Marketing Part One: Naked Nightmares!


Oxford, MS Courthouse
  • In 2009, I landed an agent, published two children’s books, and started writing a novel.
  • In 2010, I signed a contract with a major publisher for not one women’s fiction release, but two!
  • In 2011, I worked through edits in preparation for the publication of my debut novel.

Life was good. Life was Great! Life was SPECTACULAR! Until… the last two months, when I was hit with the reality of marketing that first novel, Into the Free. Slowly but surely, the dream of a living a posh life as an American novelist has been sanded down with these myth-busting realities:

1. I’d rather hang naked by my toenails from my town’s clock tower than ask for help in any way (and believe me, that would be ugly). Yet, I’ve had to ask for support more times than I can even count. It’s never easy, and I’m certain the clock tower gig would be more fun. But, I’m finding that most people, even really successful authors who could blow me off completely, are genuinely happy to help. “We’ve all been there,” is what I keep hearing. Those kind words sure have inspired me not to throw in the towel just yet.

2. There’s an itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-yellow-polka-dotted line between sharing interesting facts about life on facebook, twitter, youtube, etc….and becoming a self-absorbed egomaniac. The line is blurry at times. Invisible at others. And there are no real rules to this game. I try to just embrace the conversation and let it go where it goes. If I don’t have time for it, I don’t do it. Real life comes first.

3. Speaking of social media. At times it feels like a ravenous beast. It is always hungry. The more I give, the more it takes. It can be maddening, and yet…it can be SO much fun! I’m trying to focus on the positive and enjoy the chats. I’ve always loved meeting new people and hearing new stories, and the net is an amazing channel for making such connections.

4. Everyone offers different advice. I repeat. Everyone offers different advice. Some say, “You must have a Fanpage.” Others will insist, “Tweet. Three times a day. Tweet.” More encourage me to “Post a video link,” or “Record a podcast.” The list goes on and on. Daily, I remind myself, all I really have to do is WRITE THE DARN BOOK! (Right? Confirmation needed, please.)

I’m new at this publishing thing…but most author friends agree. It’s easy to forget that our primary role is to write. We do have to pull our share of the load with the marketing and publicity, but we aren’t the only ones with that assignment. Ultimately we need a solid manuscript, or all the facebooking in the world won’t make a difference.

Agree? Disagree? Wondering who the heck Julie Cantrell is and why she thinks she knows anything? (I understand.) Feel free to share your writing or marketing tips with other readers below. Happy writing! 


27 thoughts on “Marketing Part One: Naked Nightmares!

  1. Pingback: How To Market Your Book | Rachelle Gardner

  2. I know the place you are writing about: I have 4 published children’s books series about my real live bunnies The last one will be officially released on October 11, 2011. When I wrote the first book, I did not have a clue. I did not have the big picture. I did not know about the marketing. It’s tough! I’m on Facebook and Twitter. I have book trailers on Youtube for 3 of my books. I’ve had interviews, and advertised in newspapers and on television. I’m not hearing the cash register sound yet Thanks for your post. I am encouraged to keep on, keeping on.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Patsy. I think we all learn by the Sink or Swim method :) Sound like you’re doing a great job staying above water. I look forward to checking out your bunny books…we used to raise rabbits, too. Cheers, j

  3. I decided to time block my tasks. Good idea, yes, but not if you stuff so many things in those time blocks that you get discouraged after one day. Which I did. I had the “tyranny of the urgent” virus. My antidote included moving my office to a quiet section of the house; limiting my time in online discussions; examining my priorities daily; and praying about all things. The last one being the most important. I’m still in treatment, but feeling better. Thanks for your honesty. It helps makes the rest of us feel less lonely and more normal.

  4. So glad to find your blog off of Rachel’s page. This is magnificent. I am just starting the query process which is nerve racking. However, I just finished a job where I handled all the social media and website for a lady, so I enjoy that part. You are RIGHT though – real life comes first. Have fun, live, write and blog or FB or tweet in between. :)

    • Abby, sounds like that last job gave you tons of insight into the whole process. You’re already steps ahead of most! Best of luck with the query, and I hope to see your book on shelves soon! j

  5. HI Julie!

    I got here from Rachelle’s blog and love the “parade” you gals are doing! So helpful to say the least! I too have started off in the world of children’s publication (except I self-published), and am now looking into the realm of big girl novels. So much information out there to say the least but posts like these DEFINITELY help!

    Blessings and Congrats on your soon-to-be-released publication.

    Jenny Lee Sulpizio

    • Thanks for sharing, Jenny Lee. I can’t wait to look up your books. Lots of folks taking that self-pub route these days. It’s interesting to watch the industry changing in so many ways due to technology. I wish you tremendous success! j

    • ha! well, i admit the part about me hanging naked is awfully scary, but the rest is just reality. just take the glass is half-full approach and it’s all a lot of fun. cheers, j

  6. Julie,

    Great post. I love your sense of humor! Looking forward to seeing more— I mean, not from the clock tower though.

  7. Did you hear that huge sigh? That was me, relieved that I’m not the only writer who thinks, “But if I spend all my time online doing social networking, when am I going to get the damn book written?” There are so many ways in which our attention and time get fractured and pieced-out. Suddenly, the day is over and not a word has been written for the book itself. I’ve learned that I have to prioritize and write first, then market afterward. Having been published traditionally as well as self-published, I’m learning how strenuous (and frustrating) self-promo can be. But particularly now, with all the changes happening in publishing (and so many book stores closing), we have to look to ourselves (and each other) to get the word out. Thanks for a terrific blog!

    • Hi Melissa…I also am glad to know I’m not alone. I always wish I had 40 hours a day instead of 24. And I probably still wouldn’t have enough time to do all I want to do. Thanks for reaching out. Looks like you’ve got some really unique and well-written books from the sound of your reviews. Best wishes, j

  8. Amen, Sister! I have a children’s book coming out on August 23, 2011. (I will not mention the name herein, unless you permit me to, since I will not assume to advertise for free on your blog.)

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I not only wrote and illustrated my book, but I also did the animated 15-second commercial spot and recorded the audiobook. When I finally finished and came out of hibernation into the sun, I exhaled a huge sigh of relief while prying open my stiff, exhausted claw-of-a-hand.

    Revelling in the satisfaction of a completed project, I then received an e-mail from the publisher informing me of my responsibilities in promoting the book on the local level. . . . promoting the book on a local level. Wow! It was at that moment, reading about what was expected of me, that my hair stood on end and I was willing to quit this foray into professional writing altogether. It is just not my talent to promote me. And I’m PAINFULLY private.

    But, I’ve limped onward despite my level of discomfort. I’ll keep you abreast of the fruit as I reap it . . . :-[]

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience, Julie.

    • Hi Wynne, Oh I’m so proud of you! I wish I had the talent to illustrate and animate! What fun! That said, I’m also glad you can relate to the icky-ness of self-promotion (and you’re more than welcome to say the name of your book here…please do!). I’ve asked myself more than once if this writing gig is even worth it. Why do we do it? Sometimes I have an answer. Other times I just have more questions. I still love to write, but the marketing part leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Best wishes to you!

  9. I found you through a link on Rachelle Garner’s blog. Thank you for the information and your humor.

    As I obsess and repeatedly edit (even as I’m sending out my query, synopsis and sample work), I find I need a few solid laughs to keep me sane. In the evening, after I get my daughter to sleep, it’s a relief to sit on my patio with the party lights plugged in and get back to the actual writing– where it’s just between me and the page. Oh, pleasant, invigorating, simple joy.

    I will most definitely return for your further insights and levity.

    Thank you!

  10. Hey Julie,

    Speakin’ my language. :)

    After lots of prayer, conference attending and soaking up information any/everywhere, as well as taking courses, writing coach, etc. – we decided to take the plunge and *truly* self-pub my debut middle grade novel – May on the Way: How I Become a K9 Spy, available It’s actually for animal lovers 8 and up. (There’s even a bunny, though wild… and – Thanks for letting us know it was ok to do a wee bit of promotion here.)

    It came out at the tail end of June, so I’m in the process of marketing now. It’s an entirely new aspect to the business, as I knew it would be. The learning curve has been steep in each phase, but oh so fun.

    I don’t tweet, and was glad to read something earlier today that tweeting was at the bottom of that person’s list. May the K9 Spy does have a fan page on Facebook (we’ve worked hard and have 485 fans thus far) and of course the website, working on email list there… And working on various shops carrying the book and Mini-May (coordinating plush Schnauzer, complete with sunglasses!), etc.

    We’re partnering with a pet treat company, and we’re helping each other market too.

    Appreciate the wise words shared here, and the comraderie.
    It does help to know we’re not Lone Rangers!!!!!!!!!!

    Wishing you much continued success, Julie, and I’m welcoming ANY comments/critiques/feedback on our presence online and the various strategies.


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