About the Episode
How in the world do you get a YA novel into the hands of a teenager? Today’s guest, Chantal MacDonald has really sound advice for both writing and marketing YA fiction–and no, you don’t have to dance on TikTok to do it.
**** CHECK OUT CHANTAL’S NOVEL, Hope at the Ocean’s End ✅CLICK HERE 👉 https://amzn.to/3TQYeSm
About My Guest
Chantal is a high school teacher by trade with a Master’s degree in English Lit but took a break from teaching to be a stay at home mom since 2015. She started pursuing writing just before the pandemic hit and self-published her debut novel Hope at the Ocean’s Edge in May 2022. While working on the novel’s sequel, she also wrote a children’s book which was released in November 2022. Chantal lives on the East Coast of Canada with her husband and three young children.
Chantal’s Newest Release
Click for Transcript
Chantal MacDonald: [00:00:00] My goal in terms of finances was to be able to pay myself back for the expenses that I’ve put in. So that was the number one. Mm-hmm. anything above and beyond that is bonus. And so I have done that and I feel good about that. If you are interested in making money on your books, one thing that you want to consider if you are writing YA is that series are so important. Uh, yes
it is if you look into YA books, they are almost all series, like in any genre of YA, right? Fantasy, romance, almost all of those are a series because you, when you pitch to one reader, if you have six books in your series, you are now getting that one reader hooked on all six books.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Well, I’m so excited to have you today, Chantel. I really appreciate you taking the time out to talk to us about your book, your Ya book, and then also we can talk a little bit about your book that just released Yay this week.
And I’m so [00:01:00] excited for you. Congratulations.
Chantal MacDonald: Thank you so much and I’m so excited to be here.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Yeah. So let’s just get right into the nitty gritty. You wrote a y a novel. I did, and I will tell you I have toyed with the idea of writing, um, for young adults, and I decided Gen Z kind of scares me a little bit and it’s fair.
They’re like uber critical and they kind of got their own language and I just decided, you know what, I’m probably not the right person to write for them. And so, um, I do have younger siblings who fall into this category, so sure. It might come from that like experience. But how was it for you? How did you approach writing a story for a specific audience that was age specific? That does feel like sometimes, like they have their own language. Absolutely. They kinda have their own thing.
Chantal MacDonald: Absolutely. That is a really good question. So I am a high school teacher by trade, and so I’ve been a stay-at-home mom while I’ve been having my babies. But I love, like young people, I love youth.
And my husband is [00:02:00] a youth pastor by trade and so he, his job trains and equips youth leaders across Canada and so, we’re just are really passionate about that age group and where I feel like people get hung up, which it sounds like maybe you are as well, is on the, well, I can’t speak to them because I don’t know their language.
I don’t know what their slang is and will it sound weird. And so the most important thing I think when I’m approaching, at least for me, writing inspirational fiction, is I’m not trying to be them. Mm-hmm. I’m trying to write in a way that will mentor them. Mm-hmm. And so I’m writing about a young teenage girl.
I’ve been a young teenage girl. I think that there are issues that span generations, right? Right. So it’s, yeah, there, there’s dialect that might change, but the core of identity and relationships and family, that stuff doesn’t change. Mm-hmm. And so we know those things and we can speak to [00:03:00] those things through fiction, which is really helpful in a way that will guide, in a way that will entertain, in a way that will mentor without trying to be like, I don’t even know.
I can’t even think of like a weird phrase. Right. Yeah. So it. There’s a, occasionally I’m, I will think, oh, should I say like Fit check or something? like, no, that’s not me. I wouldn’t say that. And so I’m trying to write in a way that’s a little bit more universal. Mm-hmm. , it’s accessible. And it’s just like those general themes where like any woman, yeah, it’s written for a teenage girl, but any woman could pick it up and be like, oh, I remember because that was me 20 years.
Does that make sense?
Rachel Fahrenbach: Yeah, no, that makes perfect sense. And that’s a really, that’s probably a really great way to approach it, but how do you handle the fact that, for example a friend of mine was telling me about their story that they have, that they’re writing for young in their setting.
It kind of modern times, and I think your book is kind. It today. It’s current. Yeah. Right. It’s current. [00:04:00] But yet they weren’t taking into consideration the fact that like the teens of today communicate mainly versus text. They don’t. Right. Like there’s just certain, certain nuances that are very much like particular to that generation.
So how do you, how did you approach handling things like that? Um, and being true to what a teenager would experience today, especially when your story is set in today. Right.
Chantal MacDonald: So that’s a really great point. And so I think that there’s cautions that you have to take. Um, I remember growing up reading, um, and I, I remember thinking, oh, they haven’t actually named an amount. It’s like, oh, she got her paycheck, but they didn’t actually like, name an amount. Mm-hmm. there’s like, types of writing that you leave things vague. Right? And it allows for that gap of time. So it allows a story to age better. Mm-hmm. Because you’re not going to actually say specific artists or specific movie titles or specific payment amounts.
And [00:05:00] I think that there’s something that we can do there. where we are slightly more vague, um, but also speak to what is generally considered what a teenager would be now. So for example, my character in the story, she uses FaceTime a lot. Mm-hmm. , and she’s communicating like with memes and she, like, she, the boy that she likes, like he’s sending her memes or gifs or Right. Those kinds of things. And, and so, And
Rachel Fahrenbach: that that feels authentic. Right? That feels authentic to what Exactly
Chantal MacDonald: teenagers would, to what teenagers would do, what they would be communicating like mm-hmm. but I’m not getting into the nitty gritty of like, she’s on Snapchat and she’s on TikTok. Right? Right. Uh, or they’re doing like, maybe it’s.
When I talk about, um, I, I’ll say video chat or I will say, um, FaceTime sometimes, but I’ll usually say social media or social. Mm-hmm. versus Instagram or Facebook. Right? Because when you use [00:06:00] Instagram or Facebook or TikTok, you don’t know, like Instagram could like implode tomorrow. We, we’ve seen that it’s possible.
And so if you use like Instagram in your writing, then all of a sudden you are at risk of dating yourself. Mm-hmm. if Instagram goes belly up, for example. And so I think we can talk about social media, it’s gonna be around forever, texting, phones, like those kinds of things. Right. And so you, you lean towards the generic in, in the vague
Rachel Fahrenbach: as much as possible. Yeah. Right. I like how you explain that because that way you make it, the characters relatable right. To this generation, but not, like you said, not date yourself. And so that’s good. Right. So did you have any of the youth that you work with, did you have any of them be your beta readers?
Chantal MacDonald: They weren’t beta readers, but they have been some of the first readers. Okay. So yes, absolutely. Uh, I had my most recent and I feel like I’ve made it. I, I had, I talked to a, um, a young person that, I don’t know, she’s in grade nine and she [00:07:00] used my book as a book report. I’m like, oh, I’ve made it. Oh my gosh. I’ve made it. I’ve officially like, yes, that’s it. I don’t, I check all the boxes. Right. So that’s kind of fun.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Do you consider your novel Christian? Yes. Like a Christian, because you used the term inspirational.
Chantal MacDonald: The story, the main character is her basic story. Arc is finding peace with God. Mm-hmm. And so there, there’s romance, there’s adventure, there’s coming of age, all of those things. But the main story arc is she’s got to make peace with the fact that she’s angry at God.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Okay. So she, it’s not a conversion story. No. And did you do that on purpose?
Chantal MacDonald: Yeah, I wanted it to be a little more complicated because mm-hmm. life is more complicated and I’ve read a lot of Christian romances, which I love grew up reading, and it’s sometimes like super cookie cutter. Like you’ve got a girl that, or a boy that is non-Christian and they find Jesus and that’s great. Mm-hmm. . Um, but sometimes [00:08:00] life is just a lot more complicated.
Rachel Fahrenbach: I know when I was a teen and I was reading those same, probably those same Christian novels that you’re talking about. Yeah. And there was a point in time when I stopped reading them because I thought, this doesn’t look my, like my life at all.
Yeah. I don’t really relate to this. I wanna see a character who has already gotten on the side of like, I believe in God. Mm-hmm. and now she’s struggling with that, or she’s working through that. Or how does that show up in her everyday life? And I didn’t ever really see myself in those. Mm-hmm. And I think this next generation of teens are even more astute to that.
They’re even more like Yeah. Uh, aware of how, of the complexities of the world. I think because of the fact that they have access to so many people and so many situations and so much news that they’re just really like hyper aware of how kind of messed up the world is. And so they need and more and more critical of the church and more.
Exactly. And so as they should be, they should be. And so they need writing that’s authentic and [00:09:00] talks about the faith walk just as much as mm-hmm. , anything else, you know? Yeah. So I appreciate that you did that. Thank you. So, having that all that you were very intentional about crafting this novel that would relate to the teenager, would re um, really speak to her heart, kind of mentor her.
I love that phrasing that you used. . So how do you market this book? Because, oh, that’s so good. That teenager is not the one buying the book. Yes. Let’s be honest. Listen,
Chantal MacDonald: Rachel, that is, that is the question, and I’m telling you, I feel like. This is why people are afraid of writing children’s books, writing ya books, um, because they just, they’re like, I don’t wanna dance on TikTok, right?
How am I supposed to reach these readers? How am I supposed to do it? And so what is really important is when you are writing ya and, and people forget this,- Sometimes I feel like it’s more obvious when you’re writing children’s lit, but when you’re writing children’s lit, when you’re writing ya, you have to have a primary [00:10:00] audience and you have to have a secondary audience.
Mm-hmm. . And your primary audience is the one that you write for. So you create your avatar as you do, and you think about, okay, for my avatar it’s, it’s a 16 year old girl, you know, where does she shop? What does she like to read? What does she like to do? What’s her family life look like? So that’s the person I’m thinking of when I’m writing.
Mm-hmm. and I want to for her, for her heart. Where, where are her pain points? Where is she confused? Right? And I developed that. I’m writing mm-hmm. And then once I’m done writing, I shift to my secondary audience and my secondary audience. Um, same thing. Who’s my avatar? But those are the people who are buying my books.
Mm-hmm. , because I promise you, I promise you, I promise you teenagers are not buying books. Mm-hmm. , you know, there are teens that love to read, but if they’ve got an extra 20. The likelihood of them going to a bookstore and buying it. Mm-hmm. , uh, is so rare and the likelihood of them going to a bookstore and buying your book is even more rare, especially if you’re an in indie publisher like me.
And so [00:11:00] I knew that going in, and so I’m like, I said to my husband, I’m like, this is what he does. Right. Like, there are not teens on my social media. I don’t think they would want to be there if I was there . And so if I go to TikTok, they’re probably gonna find somewhere else.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Right? Right. And so I, now, to be honest, there are some authors who can pull that off.
Yes. There are some authors who are like, they just kind of their personalities are a good fit. Yeah. For that kind of, that’s true. Like working, like talking directly to the teen, but the majority of us are not.
Chantal MacDonald: Yes. The majority of us, it’s a struggle. Mm-hmm. And so kudos. I love when those people are like, it’s phenomenal to see mm-hmm.
um, but that’s not me. Right. And so I am. Marketing my book to my secondary audience, which is the mothers and the grandmothers. And so I have a specific avatar that I think about when I’m marketing and that and what is their pain point. And you know what I’m marketing my book to the mothers and the grandmothers who desperately want to [00:12:00] see their grandchildren or their, their granddaughters, their and their daughters, um, following Jesus.
And they don’t know how to reach them. They don’t know how to encourage their faith. And so what’s an easy way in to encourage their faith and it’s like, oh, I can buy them a book that is clean, that’s wholesome, that’s entertaining, but that has a really strong message. Across Canada, I’m not sure if this would apply to the States, but there was a research project done and it was called Renegotiating Faith.
And they studied why teenagers as they enter emerging adulthood, um, why they leave the church. Mm-hmm. and specifically the, the research project was done on teens who our church teens. Right? Why do they leave the church? And, and the number one reason was because they didn’t have a mentor. And so this is a poor substitute. Like literature is a poor substitute. But if you can offer them that, like if you can offer them something like, I would love to say that, you know what, like Robin Jones gun was a mentor to me when I was a teenager.
Rachel Fahrenbach: I saw your [00:13:00] real, where you’re like showing all her books.
Chantal MacDonald: I, every, every single book she’s ever written I have on my shelf.
And so she mentored me and I mean, listen, I I became, I like my favorite verses were ones that she put into her literature and I like, had spiritual moments because of her books. And so I would love to think that that is gonna be something that I could do. So that’s when I’m marketing, I’m pitching to my secondary audience.
Rachel Fahrenbach: I, I love your approach to that. So what I’m hearing from you is that when you’re crafting the product Yes. Which is the novel mm-hmm. You’re keeping the primary audience in mind. But when you, and a little bit of the secondary as well. Yes, absolutely. Because you’re gonna create the, the novel that will meet the needs of both audiences.
Chantal MacDonald: Right. Exactly. The pain points are, they’re, you know, they’re very similar.
Rachel Fahrenbach: They, yeah. It’s like they’re, it’s kinda like this meshing of the two together. Yeah. That’s great. And then, um, but when it comes to the marketing, you’re gonna focus on that secondary Exactly. Reader and um, and person that you are trying to reach.
Mm-hmm. So [00:14:00] what kind of marketing things have you done now, you mentioned you were. Author? Yes, I am. And so, um, I would love to talk a little bit more about like that decision. Sure. How did you make that decision to go, the self-publishing route? But before we get into that, what kind of marketing things have you been able to do? Yeah. To get your book in front of that secondary reader?
Chantal MacDonald: Absolutely. So there’s a lot, like you can be as busy as you want to be. Right? So before, sometimes too busy, right? So before you even start thinking about marketing, I really advise every writer, especially indie writers, what do you hope to achieve?
Hmm. And so for me, it was not selling a million copies of my book. Right? That would be fantastic. But my goal is I want to spread hope to young women. Mm-hmm. and how can I do that? So for every book that’s sold, I know that that’s going the hands of somebody that’s gonna be encouraged, hopefully by it. And so, right.
It’s not about a number. And so it, because if sometimes, if you set a number, then that’s [00:15:00] great, it motivates you. But it can also be discouraging if, if your goals are like really, really lofty and, and you push yourself and then you feel like a failure. So setting some clear goals. and knowing like, I don’t care if I’m famous, I’m a famous, I don’t like, that.
Doesn’t, I just wanna write and I wanna spread hope.
Rachel Fahrenbach: When you’re saying goals, are you, are you picking any goals that are measurable?
Chantal MacDonald: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. You should like, you can, like, it can be measurable. Like for me, like, like it having somebody that’s done a book report on my book, like, yeah. Yeah. That’s fantastic.
Because then there are classes hearing about it, right? Mm-hmm. , so there’s something that are like just authentic spread of mm-hmm. good news. Right? Right. Um, and so you can have measurable goals. You can have like a specific number of books that you’d like to sell in a specific amount of time, and I think that that’s helpful. Um, but making sure that it’s within your realm of possibility. Right. Is gonna be really think about them. Yeah. Yeah. So that you’re not discouraged by it is, is gonna be really important. Right. So for [00:16:00] me, uh, I ha I had kind of an idea of what I wanted to accomplish and my community has been phenomenal. So, uh, I was able to do a whole bunch of local book signings.
My book has been in any bookstore that within driving range. So if you are a indie author, you can get your book into books on, uh, bookstores on consignment, which is great. And then
Rachel Fahrenbach: did you just go into each store?
Chantal MacDonald: Yep. I just went in. You did some grassroots marketing there, right? Yeah. I like, here’s my book.
And what has been phenomenal is that, uh, when you put together a really solid product mm-hmm. , like it will often sell. And so put the time and effort into, on the front end, make sure that your book, especially if it you publish it yourself, that it looks like a real quality book. Mm-hmm. Um, and then, uh, it’s done really well and all the consignment shops, I have a, I have to keep going back.
This is the only downside. Make sure you’re within driving range. Keep going back and bringing them books, and they’ve all done book signings. They’ve done really well. And then I also was able to [00:17:00] do a library tour. And I mean, it’s fantastic, right? So people would rule out libraries. Why? Because they’re like, well, I’m not gonna sell books there.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Which is the thing, or feel like, especially if you’re in the author, author like, how do I even get into the library?
Chantal MacDonald: Right. You know? And so that’s why I think it’s important. So for me, selling books was great, but also reaching my audience where they’re at was important. And that’s why when I marked out what do I hope to accomplish, I didn’t wanna rule out libraries because I wanted to be able to go to those people.
Rachel Fahrenbach: It’s a, I think, and I had read, I don’t remember where I read it, but there was a statistic put out that the majority of readers don’t purchase a book first. They read it at the library first and then they purchase it. Absolutely. Which blows my mind. Not, not that they would go to library first, cuz that’s how I mm-hmm. that I grew up doing that and I still do do that today. Mm-hmm. But the, that they would purchase it after they’ve gone to library in read it. Absolutely. And so I think sometimes we have in our mind like, oh, the library reader is going to end their relationship with you [00:18:00] after they’re done reading that book.
But that’s not necessarily true. They might pick up the book and keep it on their bookshelf. They might order it after they read it. Exactly. And love it so much. Or buy, buy it for somebody else or,
Chantal MacDonald: exactly. You know? Exactly. And so for me, when I did this library tour, and so, uh, you just have to ask really.
Um, I asked, I thought surely there’s no, my book is very overtly Christian. Right. You know, libraries are public. But they, they’re just happy to have people, libraries are offering things and so, um, they actually paid my way. They, I traveled around our province and went to a, a bunch of libraries and at each spot I got to talk with readers and share about the book, ask questions.
I was allowed to sell books at the libraries, uh, which is, I didn’t realize that I would be allowed to do that. I signed them. I sold them. Signed. Yeah, absolutely. People were there ready to buy them. Um, and then the libraries, each library I went to bought a copy of my book and put it on their shelves.
That’s awesome. And so I often this, [00:19:00] I did this today. Uh, I will check cuz you can Google your name and the library catalog and, uh, all of my books were out. And so I’m like, right now someone that I don’t know, has my book and is reading it, and so it’s really fun. That’s awesome. Yeah. So I encourage you, you have a public library use that resource.
Yeah, why not?
Rachel Fahrenbach: Yeah, there’s, um, there’s a marketing concept out there that you. I, I’ve heard it said different ways, but like the hub and spoke mm-hmm. or the gatekeeper is what they’re co kind of, so you find the hub that leads out to the different spokes. Right? Yeah. So the library is the hub that then leads out to the spokes of different individuals, Absolut. Absolutely. Or they can be, or you can consider it that they’re the gatekeeper to a new community of people. Absolutely. And so it’s, I would’ve never thought of libraries as being that, but that’s a really great point, and I’m glad you brought it up
Chantal MacDonald: and, and you don’t know who you’re gonna meet. Like what opportunities might present themselves to you because you make a connection. Mm-hmm. . So [00:20:00] just like you said, like it’s could be a spoke off. Right.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Right. Amazing. Somebody might have seen you at the library and then might invite you to come speak to another group.
Chantal MacDonald: Exactly. Right. And there is something I’m, I’m telling you, I, I listened to a speaker who encouraged you to sell your books at the back of the room.
And if you can, like, get yourself in front of a group of people and sell your books at the back of the room, like I have pushed. As many books as I’ve sold on Amazon, I’ve pushed the same amount, if not more, of my own physical copies because I’ve just hit the ground running and brought my books. Right. Yeah. And so there’s, there’s ways to share
Rachel Fahrenbach: your, your story. Did you have a certain number of copies you wanted to hit? Because it’s only been out since May,
Chantal MacDonald: right? It’s only been out since May. Yeah. I’d like to have by the end of the first year, I’d love to sell 2000.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Okay. So are you close to that goal or doing
Chantal MacDonald: I probably I’m probably about a third of the way there. Okay. If I had to guess. So it’s harder to keep track of your own copies, but [00:21:00] Yeah, but I
Rachel Fahrenbach: You have to be really like diligent with like spreadsheet, right? ? Yes, exactly. I took this many to the library. Yeah. I came home with this many.
Chantal MacDonald: Yeah. And my neighbor came over and they wanted a couple copies and so yeah.
So it’s fun, but. Honestly, the, the best stories have been, you know, you get your, you, you have these ripple circles, so you know, your family and friends, they’re gonna buy your book, they’re gonna support you. They may not even read it. My sister, I don’t think has read my book yet, so it’s fine. Uh, and then your ripples go out and then it’s the next, like, strangers are walking past chapters and they’re picking up my book and, you know, they’re gifting, those people are giving their book.
And so the ripples go out and it becomes more and more fun. And so for me great. It’s gonna be there. I can sell it. I just wanted my book out. Right? And so it’s there. That’s, and to answer your previous question,
Rachel Fahrenbach: what did I choose? Let’s pivot to that conversation right now. Yeah. Um, how did you choose to go the indie route?
Chantal MacDonald: So I didn’t, um, even see it as an [00:22:00] option. Okay. And, and this is, uh, I mean, maybe I’m like backpedaling. And so, uh, when I first wrote start like, I’m gonna write this book. I started looking at the options and like traditional publishing just seemed like a slog. I wanted my book, if I was gonna put two years, that’s what it took.
If I was gonna put two years of work into getting this, I needed a guarantee. I, I have three young kids. I was not interested in querying agents and like doing that run around. Also I, where I’m Canadian, there are no, um, like legit nationwide Christian publishing companies here.
Rachel Fahrenbach: That’s interesting. I didn’t realize that.
Chantal MacDonald: Yeah. There are some hybrids, um Okay. That are a little bit. Sketchy or, or very old fashioned. And so
Rachel Fahrenbach: they’re a little suss as the kids these days then yeah, little .
Chantal MacDonald: Uh, so I mean, I did a little bit of Google searching. I tried to see something if there was, and so [00:23:00] most. Most Canadians are buying, um, Christian Lit. They’re getting it from the states and so, okay. That’s just the way that it is. But the border, like the international thing was complicated and I didn’t even know if they would be interested in a more Canadian story. And so I just did. Then they’re saying, well, if you get somebody that will represent you, then if they are, find a publishing publish.
Like there were so many ifs, and then it was if you do get signed, it’s two years. No thank you. I just wanted, I just needed to hold my book in my hands, and that was my first goal. Like I just wanted on my own bookshelf, I don’t mm-hmm. , that’s it. And then I’m like, I just wanted to be able to share, I felt like I was a mom trapped at home, not being able to do ministry.
Mm-hmm. . And it’s like, I wanted something that’s gonna serve these people. And so those were my steps. I’m like, self-publishing just seemed like this is a guarantee. and I could be in control. I could be in the driver’s seat with the time [00:24:00] with, with the pictures, the images, the, the words, the whole thing. It was, it was my decision.
Um, and it also means that it’s my money and Right, my work, you know, feet, boots on the ground. But yeah, uh, I really was, I’ve been very happy with my decision. It’s not always the easier route, but,
Rachel Fahrenbach: Exactly like every, each route has its own hard and we have to choose what hard is exactly right for us. On this podcast, I wanna be really authentic and real about the difficulties with publishing traditionally, like I don’t want people to feel like I’m discounting it or ever No like saying like, you shouldn’t do that. But I do wanna be realistic, like you’re saying, like it is a slog and there is no guarantee. No. Whereas if you’re in the driver’s seat and you’re publishing, there is a guarantee it, the guarantee relies on you.
Yeah. At the end of the day, if that book doesn’t go out, that’s because of you. Right. Right. And you have to, you’re the one holding yourself accountable. Whereas [00:25:00] with traditional publishing, there are so many different, um, hurdles to jump mm-hmm. before you even get there. And by the end of it, you are no longer in the driver seat.
Yeah. And so you have to decide like which route you really wanna go, like mm-hmm , and, um, you know, it’s, they’re both valid, valid routes, but it is, it is helpful for us to be realistic about the situation at hand with the traditional publishing world that it is. And one of the things I really liked about what you said, um, um, about, um, just the way that you’re approaching it and your goals for your book and having those really outlined, a traditional publisher might not have had the same goals for you and where that vision of yours, like the book report, right? Yeah. Like that, that, that was like one of those things that made your heart glad.
Like that requires things like willing to go to library tours and stuff, which at the end of the day, you know, there, [00:26:00] whether or not a traditional publisher is gonna give you a marketing budget or not is all up in the air too, based off of how many sales they think they can generate from your book. Um, but I think that the way that you spoke about your desire and your goals for your, your story mm-hmm it only makes sense that you would have to go the indie route because I don’t know that a a, um, business, like a traditional publisher would have had the same sort of end goals for your book.
Chantal MacDonald: I do have another point on marketing. If you are thinking about your goals, um, and perhaps your goal is, gosh, I really would like to make money. Mm-hmm. so my. I, my goal in terms of finances was to be able to pay myself back for the expenses that I’ve put in.
So that was the number one. Mm-hmm. anything above and beyond that is bonus. And so I have done that and I feel good about that. But maybe you actually would [00:27:00] love to be able to have this as an income or maybe even a side income. Right. Uh, although side income, probably because, uh, I have heard like a very, um, seasoned professional, uh, in the editing business, say like, stick to your day job because you can’t make much money off of selling books.
So that’s a side thing. But, uh, if you are interested in making money on your books, One thing that you want to consider if you are writing ya is that series are so important. Uh, yes it is. If you look into YA books, they are almost all series, um, esp, like in any genre of ya, right? Fantasy, um, romance.
Almost all of those are a series because you, when you pitch to one reader, if you have six books in your series, you are now getting that one reader hooked on all six books. Right? Um, if you are marketing, so for Amazon ads specifically, um, you are only marketing book [00:28:00] one. So you dig hard into your first book of the series because all you need them to do is buy that first book, that first one, and then they come back for the second, third, fourth, fifth.
And so you don’t have to do an Amazon ad for every book, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Um, you are only doing Amazon ads for book one. And so you really want to consider, um, the, the framework of what you’re doing when you are starting to write. And so my book is going to be a four book series, and even my children’s book that I just released is going to be a series because I want there to be a buyback on all of my readers, and so that there is a return on the amount. So I, I’m pitching to you, Rachel, but I know that you are coming back and Right when, when you look at the reviews, even on children’s books, when you look at the reviews, it’s like, oh, I love Mo Willems. I, he’s my favorite author.
Yeah. I wanna come back for every one of his books. Right. And [00:29:00] I’m so excited that there’s a new book from Mo Willems and so you want to create that buzz around you. And so that’s like, gosh, I love Robin Jones Gunn’s books. I have them all. I I can’t wait for another one. And so people are hooked on you and they’re watching to see what’s coming next.
And so there’s that kind of, um, buzz. And so for money making older women will be like, oh, it’s a Christmas book. It’s a one-off, or it’s a one romance. And so, right. You know, women, older, you know, whatever age will buy the one-offs. Mm-hmm. But you wanna think about the series.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Yes. I think you made a really important point there about, um, the buy-in to you, the author.
Mm-hmm. Yeah. I think we get sometimes, especially as fiction writers, we’re like, this is my story. Yeah. And it’s this little world and it exists out. Mm-hmm. Within, like from me, but outside of me. Yeah. And we think that that’s the thing we’re marketing, but it’s really not. No. We’re marketing [00:30:00] the experience we can give the reader, right? Absolutely. So like the novel is just the tool, but the reader knows at the end of the day that we’re the one that gave them the experience. Mm-hmm. and they get hooked on the, uh, the fact that we created this opportunity for them, we created this experience for them, and they come back to us.
So like when you’re saying like, oh, I love Mo Williams, like I love the experience of sitting with my kids and chuckling alongside of them. Right. That’s an experience. And that’s why I keep coming back to him because I know he can deliver on that. Absolutely. Same thing with, you know, a series like this is this, um, author made me experience this thing, I’m gonna come back for it again.
Mm-hmm. . And then you’re like, huh, I can always come back to them cuz I know they’re trustworthy. I can trust them to give me this experience. And so yes, we’re marketing a novel to somebody, but at the end of the day, this is why personal brand is so important.
Mm-hmm. . At the end of the day, they’re come becoming invested in us Yes. To give them that thing that they’re looking for. And so, um, that’s why [00:31:00] we do things on social media. That’s why we do the marketing that we do, is because it helps solidify in, in the buyer’s mind that they are going to be able to receive the thing that they’re looking for.
Chantal MacDonald: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s interesting that you say that. Thinking about the importance of once you’ve created your personal brand, like sticking to your personal brand? Yep. Uh, you know, I think of like Adam Sandler is the, what popped into my mind. Like I, you know, used to grow up loving his a, all those, these funny movies.
Mm-hmm. and then he released like a super serious movie that Right. We went to watch because it was Adam Sandler and we’re like, Crazy disappointed. What did I just watch? What? What was it? And it’s not saying that you have to pigeonhole yourself into one specific thing, but you need to be mindful that if you veer off from your personal brand, what you’ve created for your reader, that you are at risk of disappointing who is following you.
So if you are writing you closed door [00:32:00] romances and then all of a sudden you release something that’s not that. Right. Uh, you’re gonna have some pretty upset people.
Rachel Fahrenbach: That’s so, and that’s not, and that’s not about, necessarily about genre either, because you can write like you’re writing in different genres, right?
Like I am Children’s. Children’s. But at the heart of it, what you’re doing is providing a clean, fun, entertaining Exactly story that draws on drawing closer to the Lord. Right? Exactly. Yep. So that faith element of it, so like at the heart of it, you are providing a certain experience, a certain, um, yeah, a certain experience for that reader, regardless of the tool that you’re using.
But the example that you gave is two totally different experiences for the reader. Yes. Right. Yeah. And that’s why it’s jarring.
Chantal MacDonald: Exactly. So you just wanna be cautious. It’s not saying that you can’t ever do something new, right. It’s just be mindful of who has bought into you and what you are offering them.
And as you write, as you market, try to stick inside of that [00:33:00] box, right? Or else let them know very clearly upfront, Hey, I’m doing something different. It’s totally new. This is gonna be really new. You’re, you’re not necessarily going to be who I’m trying to reach with this. And so just being clear with that.
They think it’s gonna be important.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Yeah. So good. So Wise, really appreciate that. Well, we’re getting close to the end of our time together and I wanna make sure that we talk about your brand new, your brand new book and what you’ve got coming out soon. Yes. In the pipeline. Um, and I just wanna. I just, I was looking at your books and I was like, does she have a thing for lobsters?
Chantal MacDonald: right? This is like, I can’t, this is when you write what you know. Right. So I live in New Brunswick, Canada, so we are as East Coasty as we get north of Maine. And so, um, we like our lobsters, we like our seafood, and it seems to become my thing . Hopefully it doesn’t. That’s not my personal brand. People. Let me just like [00:34:00] make that very clear.
The next book will not have as many lobsters, but yeah. So I’ve got my first, um, book and this is gonna be like talked about the series. This is a Sadie Jones series. Hope at the Ocean’s Edge is the first book, but I’ve written the manuscript for the second book. It will be a harbor for broken hearts, and it’s coming hopefully in the spring, maybe summer, we’ll see how that goes. And I released, uh, my first children’s book yesterday, uh, and it’s called Lester the Lobster and the Great Escape. It’s a fun one. Which, do you have it by? You? Can you hold it up? I don’t have it by me. Okay. It’s not, it’s all right. That’s, it’s here somewhere.
I, I, the reason is because my kids took it to read at bedtime. Oh. So it’s probably in one of my children’s beds.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Oh, that is so sweet. Oh my gosh, that’s so adorable.
Chantal MacDonald: I’ll tell you this, if you write children’s books, So I was excited about my first book, but there was zero buy-in from my children. Mm-hmm. they were so excited. When the proof copy arrived, it was like [00:35:00] better than Christmas morning. So .
Rachel Fahrenbach: That’s awesome. My kids are bugging me to write them story. They’re like, mom, can you write a story for us? And I’m like, maybe we’ll see. great. It’s not normally what I write, but storytelling.
Chantal MacDonald: You do anything for your, exactly anything for your kids,
Rachel Fahrenbach: anything for your kids. So your book is coming out in the spring. We can look forward to that. We can read your first book in the series, and where can we find you on the internet? Where can we hang out with you?
Chantal MacDonald: I’m all places, um, but I’m not dancing anywhere, so you don’t have to worry about that. I am on Facebook. I’m on Instagram, Chantel j McDonald’s, and I am, uh, I have my books, both of my books are on Amazon in all marketplaces.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Before we go, what advice do you have for that author who wants to write ya and is in like the throes of trying to navigate the whole business side, the writing side, all the, all [00:36:00] the sides. What do you advice do you have for them?
Chantal MacDonald: Talk to a teen. Mm. Just talk to one, like find one. You don’t have to become like a mentor or, or any of that stuff, but find a teenager in your life, surely you know, someone at your church, in your family and ask what they like to read, ask what they’re going through. Just talk to them and get their input. Say, Hey, I’m interested in writing a book, right? What kind of things? And so you get their feedback on that. And, Really have a lot of grace with yourself as you try to navigate it. And if you want, like you can get teens to be your beta readers and give you feedback if you’re concerned about that part of it. But otherwise, your primary audience and your secondary audience, keep both of those in mind.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Great advice. Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for joining us. I think this has been a gold nugget filled episode and I’m so fun excited, so excited for writers who are gonna listen to your wise advice [00:37:00] and create wonderful novels for young adults and be able to sell them. Cause that’s the key, right? We gotta get ’em into the hands of readers.
Chantal MacDonald: Get them into the hands of the readers. Absolutely. Serve your audience. So I wish everyone just all the best as they try to.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Well, thank you very much. And thank you for listening. Join us back here next week as we continue to talk about the business of Christian Fiction. Bye.
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Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!
I help Christian fiction writers figure out how they can make an impact and an income from their storytelling while keeping rest a priority.
You can learn more about how I’m in your corner here.
And you can learn more about my personal journey here.
One last thing, if you’re looking for a bit more rest in your life, be sure to check out the Rest & Reflect guided journal.