How to Market Yourself & Maintain your Sanity

In his book titled Sell Your Book like Wildfire, Rob Eager writes:

Authors who write books as an avocation just to have fun or tell people they’re published rarely succeed. Authors who write books as a vocation and take their work seriously usually achieve their goals.

Let me start with a confession:

Balance is not my forte.

All too often, when it comes to success in the publishing world, I find myself migrating toward the teeter-totter.

On one side sits Thing One.

Thing One is all frantic energy. Do, do, do. Go, go, go. Try harder. Try more. Don’t stop. She obsesses over missed opportunities and Amazon rank and how in the world can she improve her sales?

On the other side sits Thing Two.

Thing Two is chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool (Fresh Prince of Bel Air style) while humming the melody of Que Sera, Sera. Because God will multiply what He plans to multiply. Thing Two wants to give up on the rat race altogether.

Some days, Thing One owns the teeter totter.

Other days, Thing Two is in control.

But here’s the thing.

Neither are correct. Both are extremes.

God calls us to work hard AND trust Him with the harvest of that work.

Jesus asks us to bring our five loaves and two fish before He does the multiplying.

The key is figuring out which is which. What constitutes our part (bringing the loaves and fish) and what constitutes God’s (multiplying)? And how can we do our part and let the rest go?

I’m not entirely sure, but I do have some tips.

1. Write down 1-2 monthly goals

Examples of helpful goals:

  • Spread the word locally
  • Add (insert number here) subscriptions to my email list

Examples of an unhelpful goal:

  • Improve my Amazon rank (unless you plan to buy a bunch of your own books off Amazon)

2. Write down the steps you need to take in order to accomplish your goals

For example, here are some steps that would help me reach the two goals above:

  • To spread the word locally, I will donate a copy of my book to every retirement center in the area. I will also visit local bookstores and see if the manager would like me to sign copies in stock.
  • To build my email list, I will include a “call to action” at the end of each blog post inviting readers to sign up. I will also create a freebie to send to each subscriber.

3. Evaluate at the month’s end and write 1-2 more goals.

Don’t try to do everything. Don’t overwhelm yourself with ten goals that each encompass five action steps. Remember that for the vast majority of authors, building a readership is a marathon, not a sprint. So pace yourself.

Hard work doesn’t guarantee results, but results are rarely seen without hard work.

So work hard. Write down a couple goals. Follow through with your action plan. And let go of the rest.

Let’s ban Thing One and Thing Two from teeter-totters everywhere.

Let’s Talk: Which Thing do you tend to gravitate toward? How do you stay balanced? 

Hey! Now that I’m at it, I’d love to send you a welcome packet if I haven’t already. To sign-up, just click on the sign-up button at the top of the page. 

If you’re looking for a story that will help restore the hope you have lost in the midst of hardship, please check out the first three chapters of my debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter

23 thoughts on “How to Market Yourself & Maintain your Sanity

  1. Oh, wow, Katie, I can so identify. My 1st book released 6 weeks ago. I think I’m already insane, but I need to stop the downhill slide. I’m a goal setter. You’re goals seem manageable. I’ve got to get some organization. I don’t like spending days that all I do is social media or promotion & no writing & that’s happened way too many times latesly. Thanks for your post.

  2. The speaker at our women’s retreat, Miss America 2008 Kirsten Haglund, addressed this using the story of Mary and Martha. The enemy is perfectionism, feeling we must do everything and do it well. Blessings on your mission, Katie!

  3. I really needed this today! I’m so tired and weary of the journey yet I am making progress. I get discouraged and want to give up yet I know I’m called. Thanks for this!

  4. Great topic, Katie. Thanks for providing a forum for sharing about this. I’m riding/have ridden/will continue to ride that teeter totter too. I suppose life is never balanced, not completely. But it does FEEL more balanced when we have peace with God about what we’re doing. I love Betsy’s comments about staying in prayer. I sometimes forget to take EVERYTHING to Him, especially when my mind is working so fast. . . one of the dangers of Thing One. Praying that God blesses all of us with His wisdom.

  5. Well I’m going to be ridiculously honest here and bleed all over your website for a minute. 🙂

    I’m personally sick of balancing my life really well but not my faith. Oh my faith is there. It always exists. But try telling that to my teeter totter crazy kid emotions. I have a struggle in my life and hand it to God then emotionally snatch it back faster than a 3 year old with the last remaining package of sour Gummi Worms. Up down, up down. I trust you, just kidding, I trust you, just kidding.


    I’ve been taking that desire to bail the teeter totters of the world seriously by reading books like Resolution for Women (from movie Courageous) and letting God lead me through the tough time I’m experiencing right now. REALLY lead me. And He’s making me take action. Like, praying-Scripture-outloud-on-the-bedroom-floor-in-middle-of-night action. He’s not just giving me a “trust me” happy bubble, but He’s making me do the hard stuff and you know what? I’m SO HAPPY HE IS because it’s going to stick this time. 🙂

    But I’m still wobbly some days.

    Thanks for the post girl. I’d like to request a prayer date at ACFW in the prayer room 🙂

  6. Katie, you’ve struck a very common and frustrating chord with me! I’ve been doing better about small manageable goals–daily, weekly, monthly. It makes all the difference! Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I love that I’m going to have the Fresh Prince theme song stuck in my head all day. Seriously! =) I really enjoyed this article, Katie.

  8. AAAAHHHH!!!!

    Seriously? I needed to read this today!

    Actually, I needed to read it two weeks ago, or even earlier in the week when you posted it, but I’m royally behind on blog reading!

    Thing one and thing two are definitely present and accounted for at my house!!!! Although I’m currently more Thing One leaning at the moment!

    I’m finding that the “fear of failure” is the biggest driver of Thing One for me. Everytime that stupid dad gum amazon sales ranking that I KNOW I should not be reading, climbs over 100k, I start hyperventilating and frantically thinking, “WHAT AM I DOING WRONG? HOW CAN I SELL MORE BOOKS RIGHT NOW?”

    It’s bad. Very bad.

    I know, I know. I shouldn’t look at it daily (er, uh, hourly…) It’s like an addiction. it’s my chocolate. *sigh*

    Balance. THAT is what I need to find!

  9. I think we’re more alike than we’re different, Katie. I teeter-totter between the Thing One and Thing Two in my writing. I’m all for the ban. Thanks for the tips.

  10. Katie, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost pulled out what hair I have left as I read other people’s emails, blog posts, and other communications about how they’re able to market themselves. I feel like I need to be the guy who jumps on his horse and rides off in all directions, just to keep up with them.
    Another author told me her agent suggested she pick the things with which she was most comfortable, do those, and try to ignore the others. That’s worked for me–most of the time. At other times, I find myself teeter-tottering again.
    Thanks for a great post.

    1. Richard, that author’s agent is very wise! I’ve been receiving business counseling and have recently been told the same thing. Focus on what I do WELL and that which brings in the most profit. Once profit is increased, hire someone to do the things I don’t do well. Sounds like a good plan to me!

  11. I had a good talk with a mentor this weekend, and she said she sees me striving so hard and not surrendering my plans to God. I’m not sure how to balance that, since hard work is necessary. Thanks for this post…it gets me thinking. I definitely gravitate toward Thing One…a lot.

    1. Honey. What might work is just pretending you lost EVERYTHING you’ve written. Pretend you had to start from “once upon a time…”.
      How would you start? Would you panic? Or would you realize that God just shook all the money out of your pockets and is asking you to trust Him with your talents.
      Step back. Breathe. Start again.

  12. Great tips. I’ve found myself on that same teeter-totter.

  13. Well, I would like to announce that I am better than ALL of you!!! HAHAHAHA!!!
    Because I stand ON the teeter-totter, smack in the middle, so I can panic and fall apart without even leaving the teeter-totter. That way, I can concentrate on getting squat done while barely balancing anything. Take THAT Beth Moore!
    So, for real now…I am a bit of “5 balls in the air” kinda gal who learned to focus on one or two and do them half decently.

    For me, the BEST way to stay balanced is to know has His plans for me, know what my gifts are and use them and to learn the word “NO”.

  14. Wow, this is so incredibly good, Katie. Seriously think I need to print it out.

    Like you, I definitely fluctuate between Thing 1 and Thing 2. I want to find the balanced, sane middle ground. I’ve actually been thinking a lot about “hard work” this summer. There’s such value in working hard…and I think God honors and blesses that. But hard work becomes a totally futile pursuit when we lose sight of who we’re working for and the truth that nothing I do can compare to what He’s already done.

    Love this post!!

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Love all your thoughts, ladies!

  15. This is exactly what I needed today! I’m sick of riding the teeter-totter up and down. The loaves and fishes are perfect examples. Thanks for the reminder that God multiplies the things we bring, but we havta bring ’em!

    1. Katie Ganshert

      I’m so glad it was helpful for you Jennifer! Thanks for visiting my blog. 🙂

  16. Katie, I agree with Barb – great visual. I also agree finding balance isn’t always easy. For me, I’m learning that when I keep my eyes on God, I am more likely to stay balanced. Like you said, God is in control of the multiplication, but we need to be continually seeking His counsel as to our part and then be obedient. I’m also realizing His multiplication doesn’t always look like we might want it to, or the world tells us it should. But I believe God evaluates our success from the perspective of obedience. If we’re obeying Him, then we’re successful. As long as I remember that, I’m less likely to become frazzled.

  17. I’m an all in woman. But I like this–this sense of focus. That’s key. Great point, Katie.

    And I know all the lyrics to FPoBA. “West Philadelphia born and raised, on the playground is where I spent most of my days…” Proud of me?
    ~ Wendy

  18. Ha! Thing One/Thing Two on a teeter-totter is a great visual. I think balance is hard for most of us, and in itself is a goal we should strive for in life. I appreciate when a seasoned author shares what worked for her, so thanks—especially pointing out how to distinguish a tangible goal from an abstract goal (Amazon rankings). Totally helpful to me!

  19. Katie, having taken a ride on the book release teeter-totter recently, I can so relate to the ups and downs experienced as Thing One and Thing Two fight to stay on top. Finding balance is tough, but you’ve offered some practical tips that can help. Thanks!


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