Tuesday Talk: Learning As I Go


Learning as we go. This is the fun part of life right? From where we stand at one point in life, we never truly know where or who we will be at another point in life. As a young adult, it’s easy for me to see how much I’ve learned as I’ve gone along in my life the past few years. This applies in my relationships, my jobs, my home, and out in the big, wide world 🙂

And so it is with writing and self-publishing, which is what I want to talk about today. It’s been about a month and a half now since I self-published In the Place of Many Zebras: Stories from Kenya on culture, courage, and change.I learned so much as I researched for this book and so much as I wrote it. Now, it’s an exciting time when I get to learn as I go about how to market and sell this book. Here are some things I’ve learned already through self-publishing:

Make a marketing plan that makes sense to you:

My “marketing plan” isn’t fancy at all. Really, it’s a list of ideas on where to sell my book. These ideas are then categorized into 3 circles: my very inner circle ( family, friends, coworkers and others I know directly), my middle circle (people in my own community and in the book’s community, which is Greeley), and the outer circle (people I don’t know at all…this is the biggest circle!). Each ideas is then marked with a number based off of how I prioritize it. Does it sound fancy? It’s really not. It’s all written in pencil in sloppy handwriting on a piece of printer paper. It doesn’t involve spread sheets or calendars. Maybe it should. But what I’ve done works well for me, so I am able to be the most efficient as I move forward. It’s easy to adjust, and I find that each idea I write down expands into days or weeks worth of work and learning.

Use your inner circle:

In starting to sell my book, I quickly realized that my inner circle is one of my most powerful tools. Not only do they offer the endless encouragement, advice, and excitement that a new writer needs, they are well-connected and can’t wait to tell everyone they know about my book! It’s awesome! People at the school where I work have come back to me to buy multiple copies of the book after reading it so they can give it to friends. Friends from college have bought the book and left encouraging messages on my Facebook posts about it. I think almost every member of my family and Alex’s family bought a copy, and a few of them have been tirelessly spreading the word and pedaling books for me!

Target your target readers, but don’t forget about everyone else!

My target reader is women. If we narrow it down some more they are at least 18 years old, mature enough to read about female circumcision. If we keep narrowing it down they are  women who are curious about the world and (even better) actively curious, which means they want to do something with new knowledge they gain. Ideally, these women are well-connected in their communities, meaning they can spread the word to more of my target readers and even non-target readers. When I think about marketing ideas for my book, I first think of the target reader, where to find them, what exactly appeals to them and why. I am also, of course, happy if men read my book. In fact, although they aren’t my target reader, I think it’s amazing when men are interested and involved in global women’s issues.

Have fun with it, and do what interests you:

This book is pretty experimental for me, and I view it as an opportunity to learn and explore something new. While I want the book to be successful in raising money for the girl’s rescue center that it benefits, I also realized that I need to market in a way that is fun to me so I stay interested and, therefore, sell more books over time! From the beginning, I was really excited about trying to sell the book to women’s book clubs, so that’s my first big project. With that, I’ve learned where to find these book clubs, how to build a quick and easy book web site for the clubs to reference, and how to write discussion questions for the book clubs.

There is so much more to learn as I go with this project, and with everything else in life! I can’t wait to see what it all brings 🙂 And, if you’d like to buy a copy of the book, you can find it here!



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