Five Marketing Myths
By Sarah Brandt
“Self-Promotion is Against the Bible” and 4 Other Myths I Believed About Marketing
If you’re anything like me, you’ve had to come to terms with the whole idea of marketing your own book. You have put in the blood, sweat and tears over your project. Countless hours of writing, re-writing, organizing, developing, and praying over a dream turned into a well-planned book. You heard your publisher tell you that marketing would be a joint effort. That self-promoting your book would be partly your responsibility and that it would be up to you, the author, to find avenues to “sell it.” This “sell it” approach probably left you feeling shy, worried, and doubting you had what it takes. Or maybe you cringed at the idea of self-promotion, labelling it showy and vain. You resign to believing that the message would take off if it were meant to be, and that somehow the marketing stuff would be taken care of on its own as the book popularity soured the minute your book was released. And then…crickets. You have been handed a bundle of books are left staring at your computer screen wondering where to start. Knowing your story is worth reading, but unsure how to get it in the hands of the world.
My book, Blossom Like Eden, was released one year ago. It was two days before my launch party when Covid began to creep its way into Central Canada where I am from. The bookstore where the party was to be held called me and asked if I would like to postpone due to the few cases found inside our province at that time. I thought about it but declined. There was too much work that had been done and too much excitement to let it go. Then, the following day the bookstore made the call. The launch was cancelled. Now, left with hundreds of desserts, a cancelled band, and a disappointed heart, I had to figure out how to market the book despite a physical launch as a starting board. Faced with this, I began a year-long trudge to figure out the lies I was believing about marketing and gain some ground. Here are the 5 myths I believed about marketing and what God taught me in their place.
As a Jesus follower, the self-promotion phenomena can feel like a brick wall of guilt. Taught to not show off and to be humble, how could any proper Christian highlight their own work with a spotlight? This myth had me saying things to people like, “If God wanted this book out, He would open the doors.” Or “If it’s meant to be it will happen.” This was all good until I realized one morning that God hadn’t given me the resource of a book for me to hide it. Like the passage in Matthew 5:15 (TPT), Who would light a lamp and then hide it in an obscure place? Instead, it’s placed where everyone can benefit from its light. Jesus goes on in the next verse encouraging us who love Him, to shine brightly before others so that our works will point to the Father. When we boldly tell others about our book, our story of how God has impacted our lives and made us new, how then are we showing off? It’s about the heart, and I needed to walk in that reassurance. I was not out for personal gain; I was out to make Him known. I had to take some leaps in order to do that.
I get it. Everyone probably would benefit a tiny bit from hearing our stories. There wouldn’t be any harm to it if every single person read what we wrote. The thing is, God wanted to gently teach me that though my story was truth-filled, it was meant for hearts that were ready to hear it. That not everyone was going to want to read it, but that there were people in the world that were prepared for the story and those areas were where I needed to focus most. I had to quiet my need to get it to the entire world and listen to the Spirit’s whispers of where He wanted to take it. The passage in Matthew 7:6 (TPT) illustrates this perfectly, Who would hang earrings on a dog’s ear or throw pearls in front of wild pigs? They’ll only trample them under their feet and then turn around and tear you to pieces. Jesus teaches us here that offering wisdom to ears that can’t hear or hearts that just are not ready is a waste of time. I had to go back and think of my audience. Who exactly was I talking to in my story? What age and demographic did I draft the story for? THAT was my sweet spot. I began to focus on women who were where I was before I heard the truth I share inside Blossom Like Eden.
The physical book was the product, but the story inside was of me. It was of a real human being who despite her brokenness, found healing. I had to realize that I was a piece of this equation. I had a role to play. I couldn’t sit behind my computer screen and tell people to buy the book. I had to be seen. I began to share online. With videos and pictures. Part of getting the word out was to stand up and stand out. As hard as it was, the more I put myself and my words out there, the easier it got. The videos gained the momentum I was looking for that led to further connection to the readers and traction in the online world. I was important for the story. The human me. Not just the words on the paper. I started small with pre-recorded videos posted on Facebook and then, a website, podcast and YouTube channel. God was whispering to me, “_Be bold and courageous_.” Stepping out in this way certainly was! I had to condense what my target demographic was and all of my resources into one place to get it! Now blossomlikeeden.com is the platform that is used by my audience for all things Blossom Like Eden, including book study resources, chapter videos, the link to my blog and podcast, prayer support, an avenue to purchase a copy, plus fun extras. The book was a book, yes, but there were ways to engage the material and story inside that I had to produce to partner with it.
No matter what anyone says, when a door closes, it can sting. It’s hard enough to reach out and put yourself out there, but when the answer is a “no” it can make you doubt that you have what it takes. I would have rather stayed in my corner and hoped the prospects to share would come to me. But that soon left me feeling like I was sitting with gifts and nowhere to give them. God had to teach me to get in the habit of reaching out. I began to email women’s groups and offer my study to them. I emailed various stores in and around my community and asked them to house my book on their shelves. I reached out to my local library to ask them to take Blossom Like Eden. Most of these avenues were met with a yes, but the few ones who rejected my proposal stung. I am human and as an author, it’s hard not to be personally connected with the book and receive rejection as a wound. Did I regret reaching out? No. God wants good for me and He wants it for you too. Your book is a special gift. I have to keep stepping forward believing that the tool of my book is here for a reason. That there are hearts ready to receive my story and transform by the truth inside the pages. A few no’s have been well worth the yes’s I have received and the doors I have been able to walk through as a result of me stepping out and putting myself and my project out there. So, I welcome the no as it keeps me pressing on and into new opportunities and places to reach out. This author life is an opportunity to grow as a person and in the very faith I am out to share with the world.
I thought no one else would want to be bothered. That it was my book and my job to carry it. The fact was, I had friends and family who were more than willing to stand with me for the message and my journey to share it. I reached out to a small group of people who I could trust and asked them to be my “team.” I send out regular emails with updates. These emails are filled with setbacks I encounter, doors I am praying will open and personal pieces of myself that I am needing support with. My team prays for me and stands with me in my ongoing desire to meet people with the book and engage them in the truth. They care about me and they want victory for others too. This is a key part of the author’s walk. It can feel like you are a one-man show, but God has placed people around you to lift you up and pray with you and for you and your dreams. Most importantly, you have a Father in Heaven who wants to partner with you and bring your book to those who are ready. He is in charge and He notices your effort and pure motives. He is there with you every moment. In the highs of the author life and the lows. In the yes moments and in the rejection. Your book was a dream fulfilled and He is your biggest fan.
I leave you with this; as authors and ultimately as humans, we think this adventure is supposed to feel a certain way. That we are going to know when we have made it big or that we are doing it right. Ultimately, if our heart and motives are for the Lord, then we have already made it big. Our prize is eternal. We often can’t see where our story is impacting people, and if we are waiting for a high of recognition, we aren’t going to find it. Christ recognizes you. He says you are worthy because you are His kid. That’s the only recognition I need.
Inspired to work on promoting your book? See Sarah's follow-up blog with practical advice, here.
About this Contributor:
Sarah Brandt is a wife and a homeschooling mom to three daughters. Her passion for writing, fused with her message of identity, has opened doors for her to minister to women through her blog and various other writing projects.
Visit Sarah’s website, blossomlikeeden.com.
Subscribe to her podcast.
Watch an interview with Sarah, here.