How I Sold a Million Books – by Darlene Franklin

How I Sold a Million Books – by Darlene Franklin

This summer, my book sales reached the million-copies-sold mark. A grin forms on my face as I write the words because I’m not a marketing genius like those who have promoted New York Times best sellers. Despite that, my next book, The Tea Shoppe Mysteries: 4 Mysterious Deaths Steep in Coastal Maine, which will be released on 2/1/2021, is already currently listed in Amazon’s top hundred new Christian fiction releases. So, I must be doing something right!

I have 76 books in print under my name only, and another 50 books where I am an equal partner among four or more authors (novellas and devotionals). I have also contributed short pieces to another 28 books. Having more books on the market definitely results in more sales!

Below, I’ve listed both tried-and-true methods for book promotion, as well as ones of my own invention. I’ve worked hard, and studied the markets and, with the help of a good publisher, and by the grace of God, I’ve succeeded.

I DEVELOPED A PUBLIC PRESENCE

 Because I write under my own name, everything I post on social media is available to everyone. That caused a few stumbles but people know the genuine me, and call me sweet.

Things you can do:

  • Choose a tagline. Mine is” “Writing at the crossroads of love and grace.” Romance and real life intersect at the crossroads of faith.
  • Write and update your author bio. Include everything – from pre-published author to your latest publication.
  • Maintain an online resume with all books, stories, poems, articles, columns, organizations, teaching, experience, etc.
  • Share personal and professional information on Facebook. Personal posts about family and health garner more attention than an announcement about a new book.
  • Maintain a website. A professional PR firm created my most recent website.
  • Use a blog and/or a newsletter to keep in touch. I have written blogs on different subjects, such as my daughter’s suicide, devotionals, and going back to school.

I USE ONLY TWO SOCIAL MEDIA SITES

Instead of following all the current social media trends, I primarily focus my marketing time and energy on Facebook and Pinterest.

  • Create and join pages/groups on social media sites with a specific purpose. I created groups for personal and professional use, for my street team, and for fans. I’m also active on my publisher’s and agent’s Facebook groups. HINT: Facebook is also the go-to medium to collaborate on book projects!
  • Hold Facebook parties to celebrate a new release, a milestone, or other newsworthy events. This can be done with other authors with books in the same category. I’ve met and made many fans through parties where we interact. And, they have a chance to win prizes!
  • Pinterest is a useful tool. It’s a great place to showcase your book covers. I also include personal pictures, books I’ve read, pictures I’ve colored, and inspirational quotes.
  • Use unique and bizarre holidays to promote your books. Whatever topic your book is about, there is probably a corresponding holiday. Some holidays I’ve used are Apple Day, Flag Day, Drummer’s Day, Mitten Day, and Etiquette Week.
  • When appropriate, tie your story into a current event or an anniversary. I wrote my first mystery, Gunfight at Grace Gulch, in honor of Oklahoma’s centennial and Her Rocky Mountain Highness came out on the 20th anniversary of John Denver’s death.
  • If money is available, consider hiring a social media aide to create and schedule regular posts to your social media accounts.

I MADE USE OF EFFECTIVE NETWORKING

Through writing groups and conferences, I put myself in a position to take advantage of unique marketing opportunities.

  • Write a column. For two years, I got to write a monthly column for Book Fun Magazine, a book club outlet, before it ceased publication. That opportunity led to additional columns in several newspapers.
  • Look for bloggers seeking guest interviews and articles. I’m part of several writers groups that keep up-to-date on requests from bloggers for content.
  • Set up or join groups to exchange book reviews.
  • Give back to the writing community. I’ve served in local groups, and have taught locally and nationally. In the process, I’ve met editors, agents, and well-known writers.
  • Write for bookstore magazines. I frequently write for MTL Magazine from Munce Independent Booksellers.
  • Seek volunteers to use their names in your stories. On Facebook, I ask if anyone is interested in having their names used in a book about such and such. I use their names for secondary characters only. I’ve only used this with contemporary fiction although I recently asked if anyone wanted to have family members honored in a World War II story. These types of creative posts can garner lots of attention for your books!

I USE GIVEAWAYS

  • Use free books from the publisher as promotional giveaways, as well as to sell. Libraries usually welcome free books, too.
  • Use a graphics program to create memes and videos about your books. I’ve taught myself how to use Canva.com and Word’s video program. I then post the memes and videos on social media.
  • The memes also form the basis for postcards, bookmarks, calendars, journals, etc. from companies such as Vistaprint for giveaways to potential readers.

On a personal note, of the 156 books I’ve written and contributed to, some of my favorites were the hardest to write, such as the upcoming Buns to Die For in Tea Shoppe Mysteries. I had to rewrite it several times but, in the end, I had a rip-roaring good yarn, if my opinion counts.

Other books were a pleasure to write because of my strong personal connection with each story. Mermaid’s Song, inspired by the fairy tale, and set during the French and Indian War, had two things going for it: It was my fiftieth book, and it takes place in my favorite place in the world, the coast of Maine (as is Buns to Die For). In Her Rocky Mountain Highness, I got to write a classic prince-and-commoner romance, set in my beloved Colorado, inspired by my favorite John Denver song,

The book I’m currently working on (Marielle’s War in Librarian’s Journey, TBR fall 2021) is also personal, inspired by the family I never knew, my father’s extensive Kentucky connections. I borrowed my grandparents’ names for a story set during the WPA era pre-WWII. The hero recently told me he has a jail record. I love it when a character reveals something like that, and I get to figure out where it goes!

RELATED

As seen on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and A&E: Million-book-seller Darlene Franklin is a warrior woman who happens to live in a nursing home in Oklahoma. Her most recent books include Celebrating Women, Love Makes You Smile, and The Heart of a Midwife. She is also a candidate for a Ph.D. in Biblical Exposition from Liberty University. You can follow Darlen’s marketing activities on Facebook. And, see all of Darlene’s books, and read her blog, here: www.darlenefranklin.com

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