It seems odd that just about 7 months ago, I announced the publication and availability of my first-ever book. As with many things, it seems like that lay-it-all-out-there announcement was both just a few days ago and sometime in the 20-teens.
My biggest cheerleaders have been incredibly kind to periodically ask, “How’s your book doing??” For the longest time – and still to some degree – my best, most honest answer has been, “I have no idea.”
The truth is, I haven’t been sure how to measure success in putting my heart and life in book form and releasing it to the world.
Sure, there are metrics. So many metrics. Like over 300 copies are currently circulating about, over 95% of which have been in paper form (I guess e-books aren’t as big a thing as I thought?). I can legitimately claim to be an international author due to one smashing sale in the UK in November. At one point in early December, my book was the 5th “Best Selling Book in Chronic Pain” on Amazon (today it is #67 - easy come, easy go). I ordered a second batch of business cards in October. An adorable local bookstore is carrying my book on its shelves. And 14 very kind folks have taken the time to leave supportive reviews of “I’m FINE.” on Amazon.
|Yes, a cruel irony that a book about|
chronic pain is on the bottom shelf.
The owner said she would be
reorganizing the display.
But, having never published a book before, I have no idea what these numbers really mean. In the scheme of a New York Times Bestseller (not my goal), I know I have a loooooonnnngggg way to go, baby. But in the scheme of my actual goal of trying to get my book in the hands of people it might help, those numbers feel encouraging for just 7 months. Especially since I’m pretty much a lone ranger in trying to market it.
Ah, yes. Marketing. I have some experience with marketing concepts from eons ago, and I have access to a retired marketing guru (albeit for ketchup and pudding). I contacted two local newspapers when my book first came out. Both were incredibly kind to write feature stories about me and my mission to help others navigating chronic pain.
|Super excited to be in the local paper!|
And super amused (eventually) to have my
last name totally mangled. Toni Willard?!?
Several months later, I aborted a foray into the surprisingly murky waters of Amazon Ads when it became clear three weeks later – after digging into the cleverly buried sales data – that I was losing money on every ad-generated sale. But that’s about it in terms of my Traditional Marketing Efforts. Every time I think about trying to promote my book – and myself – it feels fake. Cheesy. Spot-lighty. And totally not me.
Instead, Rob helped me immensely several months ago when he suggested I consider my marketing plan to be Opportunistic. Instead of cold-calling offices and sending out press releases and cultivating vaguely relevant daily content for my book’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, Rob wisely suggested I instead just keep my eyes open for opportunities to share my book with people. Organic, natural, authentic, heart-led opportunities, not ones constructed and forced. That feels much more like me.
I will admit, being a data-loving numbers person, I got a bit sidelined by all the metrics that are supposed to measure my book’s success and impact. I found my mood rising and falling on book sales and rankings and reviews.
But then…THEN…I would get an email or a phone call or a second-hand comment that would reel me back in. Back to the real point of writing my book, the real purpose of determinedly surviving the aching vulnerability, the real point of, well, everything: helping people.
My heart sings and my spirit bursts with joy every single time someone tells me my book helped them. Whether it’s a new perspective, a new habit, a new way of describing their life with chronic pain, more confidently navigating a surgery, or truly realizing they aren’t alone – each “thank you” from people who have read my book has meant the world to me.
And the people I have met! I have had coffee and phone chats and email conversations with new friends who were so brave to use the email address I offer at the end of my book. Sure, including that email has produced some interesting offers of business partnerships, but I am so thankful I gulped and included that email despite my fears of making myself so very available. But that, after all, was the whole point.
So, when I focus on what really, truly matters, I am thrilled to report that my book is doing AMAZING!