Wednesday, January 14, 2015

How Hobbits Learn to Market Their Stories by Lori Roeleveld

Today, author Lori Roeleveld gives us a picture of her view of marketing books. Are you using the storytelling method of promoting your work? -- Sandy

Lori: When I realized that being a published author involved marketing, I had flashbacks to elementary school when my parents had to purchase all the stationary and wrapping paper from my school fundraiser kit. As a salesperson, I was a failure. If writing were only about me, I would have walked away at that point.

My drive to write, however, has to do with communicating truth about God, furthering His kingdom on earth, and drawing people into the adventure of Jesus Christ. If learning about marketing is necessary to do that, I knew God would teach me. So, I launched into intensive independent study on marketing books.

I was excited to learn that marketing is really storytelling. It occurred to me that marketing could be as easy as telling the story of why I’ve written this book and why I believe there are readers who need the message contained within its pages. I’m not selling myself, I’m communicating the message God’s given me to write.

The hardest work of marketing was wrestling through with God and a trusted advisor who knows my writing, exactly what the message is I have to tell. This wrestling resulted in my tagline, “Disturber of Hobbits.” In those three words, I’m able to convey that my writing is about reaching people who are comfortable where they are, people who like their meals on time and books by the fire but who may be sensing a restless need for adventure if someone would just knock on their door. My book is that knock on their door, that invitation to the open road with Jesus.

Once I knew my message, it was vital that I also prayed about who my reader might be. This was, again, something I discussed with God and my advisor (a coach versed in marketing and writing). Besides that, I surveyed my blog readers (easy using Survey Monkey) and asked them to tell me about themselves. I requested basic demographic information (age, gender, location) but also asked questions about their spiritual lives. How long had they been Christian? What did they feel were their primary needs from books or blogs? I used that information to create a specific fictional primary reader named Karen and a secondary reader, her pastor, Don. I aim everything I write specifically at Karen and Don.

Personalizing my readers motivates me to overcome my self-consciousness about marketing and be about the business of spreading the message God’s given me to spread. It was through prayer that God led me to write my book. I pray for all who will read my book – specifically that He’ll put it into the right hands at the right times. Moreover, I pray for creativity and courage in marketing.

That’s how a failed sales girl finds the boldness to market. 

How about you? Where and how do you find the courage to spread your story?


Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored a disturbing blog since 2009; a pursuit that eventually resulted in her first book, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus). Lori’s blog has a modest but faithful daily readership and yet, in the past year, one post was viewed over 1.7 million times and another was shared over 275,000 times on Facebook. Lori has published newspaper and magazine articles, poetry, and plays. Her novels, short stories, and Bible studies have won several awards. Besides degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies, Lori earned her Masters in Motherhood homeschooling her two children through graduation. Now, she draws energy from helping writers find their voice and see God’s vision for their work. In her day job, Lori writes the stories of real families in crisis so others see their strengths and values, not just their problems. You’ll find Lori at her website or on her front porch writing. If not, know she’s somewhere slaying dragons.