An Intro to Human-Centered Marketing

I have been assessing what I create and how I can focus my energy to better help writers reach their readers. Looking back on this year, I have shared more than 40 essays on marketing, author platform, and book launches, as well as 35+ interviews with writers and creators. All of it aligns to what I refer to as Human-Centered Marketing — sharing your writing in a way that feels meaningful and fulfilling.

This was also my 10-year anniversary of working full-time with writers every single day. As I reviewed what I have created this year, here are some highlights:

An Introduction to Human-Centered Marketing

Book Marketing Case Studies

Author Platform Advice:

I have also had the absolute pleasure to interview dozens of writers and creators this year as well:

 

You can access all of the interviews here, or just search for “The Creative Shift with Dan Blank” on your favorite podcast player.

My most recent episode features Gigi Pandian. She is the author of 10 books, and shared the the reality of her creative shift to becoming an author. Some highlights:

  • She left her PhD program to enroll in art classes and begin writing her first novel. She concluded: “Because I was finally following my passion, everything fell into place.”
  • She used NaNoWriMo to finish the draft, and it won a competition from Malice Domestic, a mystery book convention. She hoped the book would sell to a publisher quickly, but after a few years, that hadn’t happened.
  • She decided to self-publish the book and it sold well. When I asked why, she said: “It was the community. After I got that initial grant to attend that first mystery convention, I realized how important the community of readers was. I didn’t want to be an author with my head down writing, I wanted to be out there talking to readers. Several years before I was published, I started to attend more mystery conventions. I got to know how that whole world works. I got to know independent booksellers, I got to know avid mystery readers. I was able to get my advanced reader copies into the hands of people who could write reviews.”
  • When she got book deals for two separate series, she took a sabbatical from her job to meet the deadlines. Having the entire day to write, she learned something interesting about her creative process: “It taught me that without any structure of a day job, it is very hard to get things done right away. I wasn’t actually much more productive than I was when working a full time job. I learned that if I have to start work at 12:30 in the afternoon, I will get more writing done that morning leading up to 12:30 than I would if I had the whole day free. I learned the tricks of how I work best. “

You can listen to my entire interview with Gigi here.

Midway through 2020 I wrote how I was in transition, and I concluded:

I am in transition. We are always in transition. And with that comes responsibility and opportunity. To wake up each day and create.

That transition continues.

 

In reviewing what I have been creating, I am also creating a roadmap for the habits I want to develop, the experiences I want to have, and what I want to create moving forward.

If you have any feedback on how I can best help you, and what you would like to see from me, please let me know!

-Dan

Leaving social media

Imagine having 39,000 followers on Instagram, and then saying goodbye to it. Walking away from your profile and thousands of likes and dozens of comments you receive each day.

That is what one artist did this week.

Today I want to revisit the idea of whether you need to be on social media in order to develop your author platform, grow your readership, and have a career as a writer. I will discuss leaving social media, the dangers of social media, whether social media is saturated, and a discussion of what social media does well.

Let’s dig in…

Why Leave Social Media?

The artist I mentioned above is Kelly Rae Roberts. This was her post announcing the decision:

 

She calculated where her time would better be spent and concluded:

“Creating more deep down presence in my life. Creating more art. Creating energetic s p a c e. Creating psychic s p a c e. Creating more TRUST that I can do what I love (my art and my art biz) without feeling tethered to social media.”

This is one of the many aspects of being a writer or creator that I love: you get to choose your path. In what you create, how you create, how you publish, share, and connect.

Kelly Rae is making the decision that is inherently right for her.

But I also don’t rush to the conclusion that “social media isn’t necessary to develop one’s platform and grow a readership.”

Later in her announcement, she shared the ways that you can engage with her and her work outside of social media:

  • MY BLOG! My intention is to show up in that space MUCH more.
  • ART DATES WITH KELLY RAE: My monthly subscription which is loaded with videos and fun!
  • MY NEWSLETTER: I send it out once a week, sometimes twice a week!
  • IN PERSON RETREATS: When it’s safe to gather, I’ll be leading retreats again
  • MARIGOLD & TRUE: My new little shoppe will continue its Instagram/Facebook presence

This is someone deeply committed to engaging with her audience. Each of these things are deeply social. She is not just giving up social media to focus 100% on creating art, she is going to be spending more time engaging in other connection points with readers.

Kelly Rae touches upon a trend that I wrote about a year ago, people returning to blogging.

What I see here is someone doubling-down on connecting with her audience. But doing so in ways that are more closely aligned not just to her own personal needs, but also to what better supports her business.

The five items listed above (blog, newsletter and services) may have fewer overall audience members, but I imagine these people are more likely to be fully engaged with her, and more likely to buy from her.

So that not only makes good business sense, I’ll bet it’s fulfilling too — to see people not just clicking “like” on a post, but engaging directly with your art and what you teach.

In marketing there is a concept called “the marketing funnel,” which is a metaphor for how someone goes from first learning about what you create to buying it, and then creating word-of-mouth marketing for it.

The items Kelly Rae listed above are all much further down the marketing funnel. Even though this may not be the reason she is leaving Instagram and Facebook, one outcome may be that by making these the only way to engage with her, she could create more customers for her work. Why? Her decision to not show up where you may expect — Instagram and Facebook — means that people may have to make a bigger commitment to be a part of the channels where she does.

So if you are reading this and jumping for joy saying “Ah ha! I knew it! I knew I didn’t have to bother with social media in order to build my author platform!”, then consider how else you will be able to connect with colleagues and readers.

Kelly Rae’s first post on Instagram was 2011. Since then she shared 6,231 images on her main feed, plus countless images/videos in Instagram Stories.She has spent years dedicated to building her audience.

Something I am seeing here is an artist evolving how she shares and connects. That is a process that began long ago, and will continue to evolve long into the future.

There is also value in making a bold statement as she is — a sudden abandonment of social media channels that you are known for gets a lot of attention. There are many comments on her announcement of how brave and authentic people feel this decision is, which reinforces why they follow her to begin with.

If she ever chooses to return to Instagram and Facebook, she would likely have a similar announcement that would re-engage her audience in new ways.

As I was looking at Kelly Rae’s feed this week, I wished I had more time to do a full case study about her career. Sadly, I don’t have that time right now. But I can say it was more than just a decision to be on social media or not.

I saw a post like this one from 2013 where she was collaborating with Brené Brown and Oprah, and wondered what lead to it, and what happened from there:

 

After a lot of scrolling, I finally made it to the bottom of Kelly Rae’s Instagram feed, and found what I always do. Someone starting off with a tiny audience. Her first post from 2011 had 6 likes. Her 4th post had 2 likes. Her 6th post had 1 like. Day by day, year by year, she kept posting. Slowly, that audience developed.

 

Kelly Rae put in the work. She shared often and deeply. To me, her pivot now away from social media to other channels is actually a new commitment on engaging with her audience.

The Social Dilemma

Lots of people have asked me recently if I saw the new documentary on Netflix called The Social Dilemma.

It featured interviews with technology insiders about the dangers of social media, mixed with dramatic recreations of how social media negatively affects our daily lives. It’s a compelling documentary, presenting the case for how social media manipulates us in ways that are exponentially more dangerous than anything that has come before.

It’s the type of documentary that can open your eyes to the bigger machine behind something that seems simple. I remember seeing documentaries about the food industry that had a similar effect.

I said this above, and I think it is worth repeating here. What I appreciate about social media is that we each get to choose if and how we engage with it.

Twice I have interviewed artist Marc Johns who doesn’t carry a smartphone. When I saw he joined Instagram and amassed 36,000 followers, I asked how he did that without a smartphone. He described how he bought an older iPod Touch and only connects it to wi-fi when he posts and image. It then gets shut down.

In other words, he has made an intentional choice about where he puts his creative energy. And only you can decide how to do that for yourself.

Is Social Media Saturated?

I recently recorded an interview as the guest on the podcast Fix Yourself with Shannon Connery, PhD. That episode is not yet published, but I wanted to share one item we discussed: is social media saturated?

I imagine she asked me this because it is easy for someone to feel overwhelmed by the firehose of content that comes out of our feeds. It’s easy to feel as though there are so many voices yelling for attention, that yours may not matter.

I shared two answers to her, both concluding that social media is not saturated. The first is that this is not a zero sum game. Just as in life, there is room for everyone’s voice. I think I gave an example of how, even though my small town has 5 pizza places, if a new one opened, it would still get adoring customers.

In some ways, every market could be considered “saturated” because there are so many options. But we each get to choose where we put our attention, and who we engage with. And in that manner, it can’t be saturated.

Just because there are billions of “friends” in the world, that doesn’t diminish the value that your best friend has in your life. I think the real question becomes, how do you use social media in a manner that is meaningful to you.

The second answer I gave her is that social media offers opportunities to people who may have few others. I talked about the young writer or artist who was just starting out, and perhaps felt misunderstood at home. Perhaps their family didn’t appreciate their art. Maybe no one else in their community did either. They felt they had no way to advance their craft or connect with like-minded creators where they live.

In that situation, social media offers an opportunity to feel understood. To create and share. To connect with people who share your appreciation for writing and art. As I said, this isn’t a zero sum game, there is room for every new voice. That always inspires me.

Do You Need Social Media? Nope.

Last year I wrote an essay asking if you truly needed social media in order to grow an online author platform? The easy answer was: no.

But I then outlined all of other options, and how much work they are. Social media is not the only answer for how to grow your platform and connect with readers. In 2017 I wrote a similar piece with different examples. You can read both of them here:

This week I had several conversations with people about what social media does well that are difficult — if not impossible — to recreate. Some of what we discussed is how social media provides:

  • A sense of spontaneity. To be surprised by something you see, to find yourself engaged with it, to immediately comment back to the author, and share with a friend.
  • A sense of authenticity of feeling as though you are in the moment with someone you follow, or sharing that for yourself. That is different in other channels: blogs, newsletters, online courses, and events where the content may be more pre-planned and published long after it was created.
  • An easy way to share interests that reflect who you are in an informal manner. So much of what we share is what we experience each day, be it our pets, our home life, what we see, or what we feel. That often creates unexpected opportunities because one may never realize how much their cat can become a powerful part of their author platform. Also, many people are skeptical of marketing that always feels pre-planned. The informality of social media is why it has reshaped how much of marketing happens.
  • An immediacy and scalability where something can quickly get engagement, immediately spread, and give you a real-time sense as to what engages people.
  • Access to people would you otherwise not have. This works in terms of being able to engage with those who inspire you — perhaps that is well-known authors. But it also means that you can engage with readers, something that authors rarely had the chance to do before social media.

Nothing Happens if You Are on the Sidelines

I want to end with a powerful conversation that I had this week with author Elizabeth Bailey. We were discussing the connection between her previous career in film and as a music video director, with her current work as an author and patient advocate.

She had just finished reading my book, Be the Gateway, and was explaining how it helped demystify how she can live her mission as a writer and engage online. She explained it this way:

“The process is figuring out a life to lead, not a platform to have. You are not your author platform. You are only authentic if you are pursuing what is meaningful to you and making a difference to other people. Be the Gateway shows how this happens beyond your book itself.”

She went on:

“You have to start living your life to make something happen — you have to create. “

She talked about how this is what she used do in the 1980s and 1990s when she directed music videos. Here she is while working on a video for Keith Richards:

 

This is a photo of her with Lady Miss Kier when they were making the Deee-Lite video for “Groove is in the Heart.”

 

Here she is on a film set in New York City:

 

She described how the process of film was to be fully engaged. She said, “nothing happens if you are on the sidelines.”

Back then, the creative work happened in the streets. Today that happens online. It provides the immediacy of living in a similar way.

Whether or not you use social media — how you use social media — is entirely up to you. I simply want to encourage you to consider that question with intention. And if you choose to engage, consider how you can do so in ways that feel authentic to who you are, and can engage others in meaningful ways.

Thanks!

-Dan

Is anyone listening?

I speak to a lot of writers and creators, and I often hear them talk about how difficult it is to get people’s attention. Sometimes this applies to a book launch, and other times to subscribers, followers, and events.

With so much going on in the world, it is easy to consider what you create and share and think, “Is anyone listening?”

That can be demotivating. It can cause you to create less. To share less.

Well, today, I would like to make a compelling case for you to create more. To share more. To engage with more people. Right now is the golden age for you to share your voice and have meaningful and fulfilling experiences with others around your writing. Let’s dig in…

I want to frame this all with one clear example, featuring authors John and Hank Green.

Each are novelists, but they are also known for their extensive work online. In 2007 they started a YouTube channel called Vlogbrothers that has driven much of their work.

Earlier this week, John shared a video called “The Golden Age of Vlogbrothers,” and he considered the question of popularity vs personal fulfillment.

He explains it this way: “For several years, almost every video we made ended up on the Trending page of YouTube.”

That no longer happens. John and Hank continue making their videos each week, but their success with video is no longer “news” and “trending.” Many others have taken that spotlight, as have creators on other platforms such as TikTok.

John and Hank have more than 3 million subscribers on YouTube, an astounding number. But their growth has slowed, and many other newer creators have zoomed past this subscriber number: 5, 10, 20+ million subscribers.

In reflecting on what he considers the golden age of their channel, John recognizes the value of metrics like these, but he’s not beholden to them. He describes how it feels good to see your numbers of subscribers grow, and that when you are trending, it introduces a lot of new people to to your work.

But he says: “What is easy to measure is not always what is important.”

Early in their career on YouTube, John got sick and Hank asked their viewers to cheer him up by sending in photos of themselves with something on their heads. John describes how at the time, their videos got around 300 views each, and about 200 people sent in photos. This is back before smartphones, when sending a photo on the internet was not easy.

John had an amazing conclusion as he reflected on this: “Over half our viewers participated in a community project. That is when I realized we weren’t making videos for an audience, we were making videos with an audience.”

That insight alone can make you reconsider what it means to promote your book. To try to gain subscribers to your newsletter. To try to grow your engagement on social media. To create an amazing Zoom event for your book launch.

You are not doing these “to” an audience, you are doing them “with” other people. If you have read my work for any length of time, you may know I have this phrase of Human-Centered Marketing to describe how I encourage you to find success and fulfillment with how you share what you create. The entire idea is that each individual person matters, and that you are not selling something to them, but engaging with them.

I love how John describes his insight and their experience with this.

He continues on to make another important point: “A couple years ago, we stopped trying to maximize views on the YouTube channel.”

What does that mean? That they stopped creating titles to their videos and thumbnails meant to entice people to click. What does that look like? Well, here are some video names and thumbnails from an immensely popular creator, David Dobrik. Everything is meant to entice you to click with something surprising:

 

And here are some of John and Hank’s recent videos, where all of the titles are (inexplicably) lines from a 1999 song from the band Smash Mouth:

 

At the height of their popularity, John describes the downsides as well: “We had to live with a constant influx of really vile comments [on YouTube], which decreased the sense of community and connectedness for me. I started to feel like even though our viewership was growing really fast, our community was actually shrinking.”

Which leads me back to what John considers their golden age:

“For me, the golden age is now. I’ve needed this space in 2020, more than ever.”

That is another huge insight. If you worry that the world is so full of noise, so busy, so filled with important things being discussed that there may be no room for people to engage with you and what you create, then consider what John says.

When things are crowded and noisy and complex, that is exactly when people want true engagement with other people. Smaller spaces to come together. To listen. To create. To share. To collaborate. To connect with other people in meaningful ways.

John and Hank have many ways that they engage with their community, and charity work is a cornerstone of what they do. Reflecting on the distinction between growth and popularity vs engaging his core audience, John summed it up this way:

“We have raised more money for charity in the last 12 months than any other year, by over a million dollars.”

If you worry whether anyone is listening — if you feel like your voice may not have a place in the world — I want to encourage you to consider sharing it anyway. To create more. To share more. To connect with people one at a time. Amazing things can happen. Not the least of which is the sense of personal fulfillment and connection to other people who inspire you.

Recently I shared my Clarity Card process in my newsletter, a simple system to prioritize what matters most in what you create and where you spend your energy. I consider this an essential part of marketing because it focuses on creating experiences and moments that truly matter. If you want to know where to start, that is a good place.

Thanks.

-Dan

A book marketing case study, with Amanda Montell

Today I want to share an extraordinary book marketing case study. This features the work I did recently with author Amanda Montell, focusing on the paperback release of one book this summer, and preparing for the launch of her next book in mid 2021. First, let’s look at some of the results:

  • From May to July her Instagram followers grew from 8,200 to 13,000 (plus: she continues that momentum today, with 14,300 followers)
  • She experienced an increase in the level of engagement from her followers. Amanda described it as “high-quality, super-engaged followers, who comment, like, DM, and post about my book every day. My engagement rate is a high 6%!”
  • 450 more Goodreads ratings in three months through the paperback release. She directly attributed the social media engagement to sales of the book.

Below is an overview of some of the work we did, and how you can apply these lessons to your own platform and launches:

Clarified Her Mission and Message

When I first began working with Amanda, she had a big following, loads of experience and an amazing online presence. Yet, we still took a good hard look at how what she shared online may not fully line up to how she wants to be known as a writer.

We got really clear on her ideal audiences too. She saw the work I did with Leigh Stein around audience personas and wanted to be sure we put her ideal readers at the center of our work. It’s worth noting that Leigh published a novel and Amanda’s books are nonfiction, these strategies apply to both.

Created a Series of Focused Social Media Campaigns

What followed was a series of specific campaigns that we developed. Too often, writers approach marketing on social media as an unending treadmill of posts. “I’ll just keep posting about my core message, keep being generous, keep showing up.”

Now, that is great to develop and grow your author platform. But it is different from the idea of a marketing campaign — a specific idea that has a beginning and end, that centers your audience’s attention, and has specific goals around engagement, growth, or promotion.

From the spring into the summer, Amanda launched several different programs:

Campaign #1: Amanda University.

She posted a video every weekday for a month. The tagline was “Amanda University: where you will earn your PhD in owning your voice.” Every day she teaches a useful and oftentimes surprising lesson. You can see them here. Throughout these videos, she featured her book, Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language, as assigned reading and the source material for many of the lessons.

Some of the video topics:

Why “literally” doesn’t mean “literally” anymore.
What “quarantine” REALLY means.
The linguistics of “like.”
The truth about “filler words.”

Here are some examples of the videos:

Campaign #2: Smash the Standard: An Amanda University Summer Intensive.

Amanda wanted to continue the success of the initial program, but with a less labor-intensive schedule and a new focus. The framework of this series: “every Tuesday we’ll debunk a linguistic myth or unpack a confusing question.” It started with this video.

She also added something important to each video, “featuring the work of a brilliant intersectional feminist scholar you should definitely follow.” So in the latter part of the video, she would recommend an author or scholar and talk a bit about their work. Focusing her attention on others in these video was another way that Amanda was using her engagement to expand the conversation in new ways.

Campaign #3: The Down Fall: An Amanda University Autumnal Interview Series.

This new campaign launched in September with this post.

Here she is taking the same basic concepts that have been working well for her, but then extending them in bold new ways. With marketing, you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel, just keep making improvements and finding new ways to find joy and conversation in the process.

Having campaigns means that you get breaks too. You can see the break between the end of May when the initial Amanda University ended, and end of June when the Smash the Standard summer intensive started, plus a similar break before The Down Fall launched.

Steady — Engaged — Growth

The campaigns listed above resulted in steady growth in terms of new followers. She received between 200-600 new followers per week. That is noteworthy, because sometimes you hear about a “great marketing example that results in huge follower growth” but it is a one-time spike that can’t be sustained or replicated. Amanda hit upon something that continues to be sustainable for her, the growth continues to this day.

It’s worth noting that the campaigns listed above were in addition to her regular posting of showing up, sharing her message, and being generous to others. Amanda is always working to engage her audience in multiple ways. These stand out compared to the longer videos — they are easy to immediately understand, like, and share.

But there is more. She had also created a series of images/memes under the title “Own Your Voice.” Plus she created merch not only for her book, but her message. What is merch? Merchandise! T-shirts, sweatshirts, tote bags. Her message connects with her readers on a personal level, and she identified phrases that someone would want to wear to represent this.

I mean, think about that. Someone literally wearing your mission as their identity. It’s inspiring, and such a great metaphor for how an author’s platform can engage with readers in a human-centered manner.

Developing a Yearlong Book Launch Strategy

Something I can’t share much of anything about is the work we did to prepare for her next book launch, which happens in the middle of 2021.

We developed a yearlong marketing plan that includes multiple phases. The result was a 15 page marketing deck that outlined the work she has done, the work planned, and exact timing. It covers the specific campaigns and the bridge she is creating from one book to the next in terms of themes.

She is sharing this with her publisher in order to communicate with them what she is doing, and create a starting point for conversations on how to amplify this work. The document starts with this phrase:

“[The] marketing and publicity plan will implement a three-pronged strategy, rolled out in four phases.”

This is Amanda setting the stage for her own career as a writer. For involving others in a deeply collaborative way. Creating multiple ways for her message to have a meaningful impact with others. Yes, this is all centered on the books, but it also grows beyond them.

It’s funny, because with everything I shared above, I’m not able to talk about maybe 1/3 of the work Amanda and I did, because it focused so much on the launch of her next book, and that work isn’t out there yet. So, stay tuned.

How You Can Use This For Your Own Work

Perhaps you are reading this and wondering, ‘But how does this relate to book sales?’ Well, here is a collage of some of the people who have been reading Amanda’s book and then sharing it with their followers on Instagram. It’s worth noting that the first image on the left is from Emily Ratajkowski, who has 26 million followers:

Which of the marketing tactics listed above directly lead to book sales? We don’t know. And that is the thing about marketing that is worth understanding, you don’t always know which tactic worked, which didn’t, and which leads to a sale.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a weekly Mastermind call with my friend Jennie Nash. In the past couple years we have developed an expression for how to find fulfillment and success in our endeavors:

“No one know what works, but we know that doing things works.”

This is how we remind each other to not get frozen with inaction, but instead to keep creating and keep sharing.

For Amanda, everything listed above is in addition to other publicity work that she had gotten for herself or through her publisher.

She is incredible at forging connections with people, and turning an idea into action.

I bring this up because undoubtedly someone is reading this trying to find the hack. Trying to identify the single most powerful thing Amanda did that they can copy, thereby getting most of the value with the least amount of effort.

But it doesn’t always work that way.

What you don’t see here is the changes and adjustments that we made along the way. The ideas we developed which were later ditched. The total shift to the title/branding of some of the campaigns listed above.

This work is a creative process in itself. One focused on the core reason we create and how that connects with another human being in a way that truly matters.

Amanda shows up to this work. She knows her mission and believes in it fully. She isn’t half-baking anything here. In fact, I feel like she is successful not only because she’s a great writer and incredibly smart and creative, but because she is clearly all-in with her mission.

Amanda is invested in collaboration. She is not only filled with ideas, but is an amazing listener with those she connects with, and those who follow her. That is one of the many reasons her work feels as though it is filled with energy — this living thing that others get to be a part of. You can find Amanda on Instagram and her website.

Thanks!
-Dan

When your book keeps reaching new readers

In working with writers every day, something I always think about is the commitment they are making to their craft, and how that leads to powerful transitions in their life.

To me, that is the heart of not just why we create, but why we share. It’s why I focus so much on what I call Human-Centered Marketing — that moment when your work connects in a meaningful way to someone else’s life.

Malcolm LemmonsThis week I published my interview with author Malcolm Lemmons. This is how he described his creative shift from being a professional basketball player to becoming an author and entrepreneur:

“People asked me if I had ever thought about writing a book. It was something that never crossed my mind before. Writing was always something that came naturally to me, but being an author wasn’t something I aspired to be. But then I thought how I would be doing an injustice to other athletes who needed to hear my story, to understand what it takes. That was the beginning of my transition. Once my first book was published, that was the door that opened up other opportunities, and the beginning of me seeing myself as being more than an athlete.”

This is a powerful moment. The idea that our work can truly help others. And how can even change how we see ourselves and what we create.

As Malcolm considered shifting his career away from basketball, he describes how he struggled to find a new purpose. What gave him a clear path? Writing and storytelling.

In my latest podcast episode, we talk about that creative shift. There is so much in this episode that directly applies to the work that writers and artists face each day. You can listen here.

But of course, the work of an author doesn’t stop there. The life of a book extends far beyond the day it launches. While a lot of attention gets paid to publication, bestseller lists, and sales ranks, the truth is, you have years to connect your writing to the hearts and minds of those who will appreciate it.

Beth Ricanati, M.D.Nearly two years ago I shared a book launch case study with author Beth Ricanati, MD. (You can listen to that episode of my podcast here.) At the time, she shared how she had gotten her first book deal, but then the marketing department at the publisher said: “She has no social media presence. We are killing the deal.”

Beth described that moment: “It was heartbreaking. I was so upset, I put it away for two years. That was that.”

But of course, she didn’t stop there. She pursued other ways to publish the book.

In the meantime, she focused on her social media presence, growing her Instagram to nearly 6,000 followers. When the book came out, she totally flipped how many authors view marketing. Instead of worrying about being seen as pushy in sharing her book, she mailed copies of it to friends, supporters and those in her network as “gifts.” She said she was at the post office every other day, just constantly mailing out gifted copies.

Much like Malcolm, she saw her book as a way to help and serve others.

She set up 20 events around the book launch, and made them fun and interactive. How did she get these speaking events? She started with her existing network, by reaching out to friends.

She described how this pushed her outside of her comfort zone: “The whole public speaking thing was terrifying. I had to really work on that. I was not comfortable public speaking, but now I’m more comfortable with it.”

In January of 2019, I asked her how she thinks about the book promotion four months after publication, and she said, “I think it is just getting going. I feel like it’s a snowball going down a hill, and it’s gaining momentum. It’s super exciting.

Turns out, she was right. A couple weeks ago, I recorded a second podcast episode with Beth about how she is continuing to promote her book and ensure it reaches new readers.

She had been doing more and more events around the book, but then the pandemic hit. At the time, she thought: “There goes all of my spring events, and my business just stopped. But then a week later I shifted to online events, and it just started this whole new business!”

She has been doing online events every week since April. She describes the experience this way: “[I am meeting] with people all over the country, with people I never would have thought to connect to. It’s a constantly growing community. To feel so connected right now, it’s feeding me. It’s been this upward trajectory of more and more. I have found the more I reach out and connect with people, the more people reach out and connect with me. It’s this wonderful virtuous cycle that just keeps growing.”

These events helped her understand who her readers actually are, and how many more potential readers exist than she originally thought. She said, ”I’m continuing to learn.” Learn about her audience, her own book, and even her next book. The conversations she is having with readers are leading her to what her next book will be about. What’s more, she talked about how this set her next book up for success. “I have my people, my team.”

You can listen to my second interview with Beth here.

-Dan