Know Your Market, and Play Well With Others! By Alice J. Wisler

As many of us know, deciding to independently publish a book takes lots of thought and planning. You might get a brilliant idea in the shower about a book but, often, by the time you get to your desk, some of the zeal has faded. Many ideas lose their fizzle because they are:

  1. Already written about by countless others,
  2. are not appealing enough to a sizable audience,
  3. and are too large and broad, lost without focus

However, by spending some time in our “think tank”, we can come up with ideas that will work.

When I got ready to embark on my third cookbook of memories, I made a list of what needed to be done and my goal for this new cookbook. To make this book different from my other two cookbooks, I opened it up for anyone who had lost a loved one to contribute. (My other two–Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisles—both hold only the memories of children who have died.) I kept a notebook with thoughts, cover-design ideas, and ways to get the word out.

Getting the word out in the compiling stage was key because, like my other two memorial cookbooks, this one would need recipes and memories from others. I wanted to give others a platform in which to share the treasured food-related stories about their loved ones. Slowly, the recipes and memories began to fill my e-box.

It might sound simple, but taking time to respond to each contributor, and making sure that their recipe was “cookable”, took care and tenacity. Some had sent recipes in without measurements and others had forgotten to include ingredients, bake temperatures, as well as bake times.

The next questions I dealt with were: How many copies did I expect to sell? How many books should I have printed? Should I make the book available in e-format? Where was my market (besides the grief and loss community)? What cover should I use?

I picked a cover with butterflies on it. Why? Ever since the death of my own son, I’ve learned that the bereavement community finds comfort in the butterfly as a symbol of new life.

I decided to have a pre-order special.

Within two weeks of the boxes of Memories Around the Table arriving at my doorstep, I had sold enough to cover all my costs! How did I do this? I credit this to:

  1. Knowing my market,
  2. posting often on my blog,
  3. keeping in constant contact with my contributors,
  4. and advertising on social media sites

Playing well with others helps, too!

Alice J. Wisler is the award-winning author of five traditionally-published southern novels, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache—-a devotional on grief and loss—-and three independently-published cookbooks. The newest cookbook is Memories Around the Table. Read more at her website: At her Patchwork Quilt Blog, see pictures of food and recipes from her cookbook: