About the Episode
When it comes to marketing a book the tried and true method is to get people talking about your book through a book launch team and doing interviews. Today’s guest shares some of the creative ways she promoted her novel.
Topics covered in this episode:
- Utilizing a hybrid publishing route
- Book launching
- Shifting from the self-promotion to serving a reader
- Email lists, social media marketing, and podcast tours
- Thinking Creatively when it comes to marketing
- Owning your author identity
GET MEGHANS BOOK Loving Naomi
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About My Guest
Meghan Newkirk is a North Carolina native who graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in Communication. She was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder while in college and has learned how to combat it with counseling and medication. Meghan feels called to write fictional stories about characters who suffer from mental struggles but who also find their ultimate hope in Christ while using the tools of the mental health professionals He provides. Loving Naomi is her first novel.
Meghan’s Newest Release
Click for Transcript
Meghan Newkirk: [00:00:00] My writing journey was completely accidental. I started reading books about characters who had OCD, which is what I was diagnosed with in college.
And I just found zero that had any hope in them at all. And so I just wanted to see like, what does the world perceive about people with OCD? How do they write about them? How do we connect with them? Mm-hmm. And I read so many where at the end it was just this fall flat.
No hope. Very vague and I just thought this is such a disservice to the world.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Welcome back to another episode of The Business of Christian Fiction. I’m Rachel Fahrenbach and I’m joined today with Meghan Newkirk. Meghan has published a novel called Loving Naomi, and I can’t wait to dive into the conversation about her publishing journey, writing journey, all of those things. She’s done some unique marketing things that I think are gonna be interesting to you, but I also.
We’re [00:01:00] gonna talk a little bit about her experience of going with a hybrid publisher. This is an option that we have where it’s not fully traditional publishing where you have to be accepted and acquired by a publisher, but it’s not completely self-publishing cuz where you’re on your own for everything.
So I think that’s gonna be really interesting and helpful conversation for our listeners today. So thank you so much, Meghan for joining me.
Meghan Newkirk: Oh, I’m very excited to be here. I’m a super fan, so this is, this is a big deal for me.
Rachel Fahrenbach: I’m so excited to hear you say that. Like we were talking before I hit record and she totally made me blush and I appreciate it.
You know, I think as writers we write in a vacuum. You know, we’re kind of in this lonely work where we’re sitting at our desk by ourselves. Then, you know, until we get bigger where we have maybe a virtual assistant or something, somebody helping us do some stuff. It’s, it’s lonely work. We’re kind of doing all the hats.
And wearing all the hats. Exactly. And it’s, you put stuff out there and you don’t always get a response back. Mm-hmm. people can kind of [00:02:00] consume what you make without really interacting with you, per se. And so to get the feedback from listeners or to get feedback from readers mm-hmm, it’s just always such a great, like, encouragement to writers.
So this is a tip for those of you listening, if you haven’t commented or shared or liked or some, some way interacted with a writer lately. Go do that for somebody today. Yes. Make their day by. Mm-hmm. encouraging them. . Yes.
Meghan Newkirk: It’s a huge thing. It is huge thing. It means a lot for all of us. For sure.
Rachel Fahrenbach: It does.
Yeah. Well, Meghan, let’s kind of dive in before we get like too deep in the weeds which we’ll go there. I am excited about this conversation. Before we go there, can you just share a little bit about yourself, maybe where you live, do you have kids, all those little fun tidbits?
Meghan Newkirk: Yeah. I live in the south.
I grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, so that’s where I live. And I have three kids. I have a 13 year old and 11 year old and a seven year old. So I have a very busy house. And. I’m just, I’ve got family [00:03:00] everywhere. Basically my husband’s family and my family minus like one family member who’s a missionary in Japan, all live within like, five miles of us, 10 miles of us. So we’re very small.
Rachel Fahrenbach: You’re literally living my mom’s dream. , like she keeps Oh really? Yes. She wants to gather. I’m one of eight and she wants to gather us all to her so that she has access to all of us and her grandkids. And unfortunately we’re all spread out right now, but she’s working hard for it.
Meghan Newkirk: well, listen, I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know that they always love it, but we’re, we’re here and my sister’s like a mile away, so I’m very spoiled. So but yeah, I just, I love the south. Just happy to be a stay-at-home mom slash author, which I still have trouble saying out loud that I’m an author, but get better at it.
Rachel Fahrenbach: but you are. Yes. Yes you are. So how long have you been on this writing publishing journey? Like were you always wanting to write books or is this a more recent Development.
Meghan Newkirk: So I would say that as a child, as I heard on one of your podcasts, somebody say, I used to never write [00:04:00] stories as a child.
I definitely did. Yeah. I was very imaginative. Sometimes to a fault I think, which is kind of where the anxiety piece came in for me. Mm-hmm. , but always like to write stories, always dreamt of publishing a book. Just never put it together. Like in college, I went to school for communications. I didn’t go for English or anything like that.
And then I started becoming this just like reader where I just wanted to read everything. And I think when you’re in school and you have to read, you kind of kinda like, I don’t like reading and then, as I got older, I thought, I love this. And so my writing journey was completely accidental. I started reading books about characters who had OCD which is what I was diagnosed with in college.
And so when I had young kids, I was like, I’m gonna read all the books I can find, and I just found zero that had any hope in them at all.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Are you talking about specifically fiction, or are you talking about
Meghan Newkirk: anything? No, I’m talking fiction like. Definite fiction. [00:05:00] I’m not a non-fiction
Rachel Fahrenbach: reader. I would like to, you were not wanting to read a self-help book or No. Or a book about OCD you just wanted to see somebody like yourself in a
Meghan Newkirk: novel. Exactly. That’s exactly correct. And so I just wanted to see like, what does the world perceive about people with OCD How do they write about them? How do we connect with them? Mm-hmm. . And I read so many where at the end it was just this fall flat No hope. Very vague and I just thought this is such a disservice to the world. God uses hard things. Mm-hmm. and I did not find anything in the Christian fiction genre. And so for the sake of my kids, I thought I’m gonna write a short story about, based on my own journey, a fiction book or a fiction short story about my journey.
Inspired by that, I got this great idea and I was like, I gotta write this down. And I started sending it to my sister, who’s a fantastic editor, and she started editing it. And about halfway through she was like like are you gonna be writing [00:06:00] tonight? And I was like, I don’t know what you’re talking about.
I was doing it on a Google, on a Google. and she would go in there and be on while I was typing, reading what I was typing out , I was like, this is really like high pressure. And she’s like, well, I just really wanna know what’s gonna happen next. And I’m like, Please. You’re putting, you know, but anyways, it was
Rachel Fahrenbach: That’s interesting. . Yeah, it’s interesting cuz I’m always telling people, like, part of this whole marketing thing is that we need to write in public. Like we need to Yes. Be like open about our progress and what we’re doing, but like that’s taking it to a whole new level,
Meghan Newkirk: right?
Like I was like, Sarah, get off of here.
But anyways, so she, I got to the end and it was 80,000 words. and I Googled how long is a short story? That’s not a short story. I was like, oh, that’s a book .
Rachel Fahrenbach: And so then I, for, for people who don’t know, most short stories range between 1500 to 3000 words. Like that’s a short story. 80,000 words is a [00:07:00] novel.
Novels are typically between 80 and hundred 20,000 words. So yeah, you, you hit the novel league. I, the mark, I,
Meghan Newkirk: yeah. It was crazy . And so then I started having like beta readers. Mm-hmm. And. obviously was still really new at the whole writing for other people to read gig. And everybody kept coming to me going like, this is, this is helpful.
Like this helps us understand certain things that we never understood before. And so, Long story short, I was one of those hard and fast. I’m gonna get an agent, I’m gonna get a traditional publisher. I’m gonna do the things, I’m gonna be official. And I have a really good friend who has a book through a traditional publisher, and she basically said to me, why?
Like, why are you doing it that way? And I said, well, because that’s the way you’re supposed to do it. And she was like, but you, you can’t tell me why. She said, how is anybody gonna be helped by your book? Mm-hmm. , if you’re waiting around for somebody to, to like it. Mm-hmm. And she said, if you don’t care about your message, then how is anybody else gonna know to care about your message?
Like you mm-hmm. , you obviously wanna help people with this and you feel there’s [00:08:00] a need. So let God kind of work within that space. And I’m not kidding, I think two weeks later we got the stimulus check. Okay. And that was the exact amount of the self-publishing that I had looked into. Okay. At WestBow.
Okay. So yeah. Wow. Yeah, that’s how it happened.
Rachel Fahrenbach: What great questions your friend posed to you there. Yes. If you don’t care about your, it’s hard, but it’s, it was getting to the truth like or mm-hmm. getting to the heart of what publishing is all about. You have a product that you know will benefit somebody.
Right. You know, I think sometimes we kind of get in our heads about our novels. We think of them as like these, like extensions of ourselves because the story comes from within. Right. And so it’s hard to kinda mm-hmm. . Whereas I think when it’s. When you’re kind of like more in a business where maybe like soap making is very tangible, that it’s separate from you.
Exactly. But when it’s like this creative art where it’s coming from within, right. Sometimes it can feel like an extension. [00:09:00] And so it’s hard to disentangle that and to see it as a product that stands by itself and that it’s supposed to go help somebody else and somebody else is supposed to consume it.
And so we get caught up in our heads about like sharing it and that it has to be approved first before it can go out into the world. And yes, there’s this like the sign the sense of like, Oh, we have to jump through all these hoops to prove that this thing that came from within is worth being consumed by somebody else.
Instead of seeing it as I see a need, I created a product that fills that need and Right. I’m just gonna make sure that that product can get into the hands of the person who needs it. Right.
Meghan Newkirk: And the people that it might actually help. And I, I felt very convicted at that point, cuz I felt like I was being a little bit hoity-toity.
Like, well, if I’m gonna do this, I have to do it the way that everybody says that you’re gonna do it. And so I had to decide in my head, which I’m still working on yeah. That it is a ministry more than a business. But now I’m kind of on that track of like, wait a [00:10:00] second. It can be both. Yes and yes. I, that has been a new discovery for me.
And it’s, it has felt icky to promote myself. And I think my book is so largely based on my experiences. Totally fictional story. Mm-hmm, the people in there are all based on real people. Mm-hmm. So well, I guess not all of them, but the majority of them have inspiration from people I know.
Mm-hmm. So it goes even a step further as far as how personal it is, because it’s not a memoir Yes. By any stretch, but it’s got these whispers of what I experienced. Mm-hmm. And so, it definitely feels more like self-promotion because I’m talking about something that happened to me. It’s not like I’m talking about some mm-hmm.
wild mystery or fantasy story that never happened. Like these are things that actually happened to me. Particularly the mental ruminations. Mm-hmm. . So I think that’s where I’ve had to really go a step further and be like, okay, this is not about promoting myself. This is [00:11:00] about, promoting something that’s going to help someone else who is dealing with the same thing. Who doesn’t feel seen or heard.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Yes. Yes. So I think there’s gold in what you just said because when we are writing, no writer, if we’re being honest with ourselves, no writer doesn’t pull from, I’m like, wait, how many double negatives am I about to put in this sentence?
Oh, . The point here is do ’em all, every writer pulls from their own experience. Yes. To convey a completely fictionalized story, you have to, you have to pull on your experiences mm-hmm to fully flesh out and paint and create this world that is, you know, it doesn’t really exist. And so I don’t think any writer creates something out of a void. Like they can’t, they have to pull from their own experiences. Right. Which is why it’s hard, like we were just talking about, to disassociate yourself. But I think what you said about it being both a [00:12:00] ministry and a business is so true and so powerful because who better to write this story than you?
The person who’s lived it, right? The person who has felt it, the person who actually understands what’s going on in that, the mind of this individual. I recently read, well not recently, it’s been a few years now, but I vividly remember picking up a book and was intrigued because the character kind of had some uniqueness to their personality. I don’t, it never really explicitly said like they were OCD or mm-hmm. , anything. Mm-hmm. , anything like that. But it was kind of implied that there were some things she was working through, and as the story progressed, it just, those things kind of magically resolved themselves.
And I remember thinking as I was reading, this doesn’t feel authentic, this doesn’t feel real life. And what I’m hearing from you is that you experience the same thing when you’re reading those kind of novels and you’re like, no, I need to write something that shows the authentic [00:13:00] side of what it means to experience this.
Mm-hmm. And so in one way, you’ve identified there’s this person that I wanna help mm-hmm. to see themselves in this material I’m creating. Mm-hmm. But I have to sell it to them. Sales means getting it into their hands. Exactly. And so they go together. Mm-hmm. . And I love the fact that you’re saying like, I don’t need to separate those two out and I don’t need to feel gross about promoting this book.
Right. Because it’s going to help somebody, while it may have come from inside of me. Mm-hmm. and it may be whispers, I love that how you say that, whispers, mm-hmm. of what you’ve experienced, mm-hmm. it’s not self promotion.
Meghan Newkirk: Right. I just love that story. Well, and I’ll be honest with you, like your podcast along with kind of this business venture of having a spot at an antique store, those two things combined, I mean, I’m not gonna lie, like your podcast has been super helpful and helping me solidify what I think God was already trying to help me to come to terms with because I think I just, I couldn’t quite [00:14:00] put into words how I was supposed to move forward with the business part. It’s just not my gifting. Mm-hmm. . But I have since started writing the sequel and so I think I needed that kind of jump in my chutzpah, so to speak. Like, I’ve got to get this going. And like you say, you, you don’t just wanna write about the things you’ve, or promote the things that you’ve already written.
You wanna promote what you’re already write, what you’re writing now. Right? And so I need to get excited about that. So it’s been helpful and inspirational to talk through that and to listen to other writers who have had similar experiences, particularly in the Christian realm. Mm-hmm. . Because it is kind of against our you know, that idea of being humble and think of others first. But that idea of promotion is not about promoting yourself, but about promoting what you’ve done so that you can help other people. Right.
Rachel Fahrenbach: And promoting what’s in it for the reader, like exactly. For you particularly, you’re promoting the fact like, Hey, if you experience these things, yes, you’re gonna see yourself in [00:15:00] this book and find some encouragement from them, right?
Or some validation. Yes. Or whatever it is, some hope. And so you are selling that to them, not necessarily the book itself. Right, exactly. And it’s Well, and I, yeah, I’m sorry, go ahead.
Meghan Newkirk: Oh, no, no. I was just gonna say like, I found that the book has been almost more like you talk about primary readers and like who are you selling it to?
And it’s actually been more helpful for family members of those who suffer from OCD, that that’s actually been more of the, kind of demographic that I’m hitting mm-hmm. because they just don’t understand how their loved one’s brain works. Right. And so because they can’t articulate, it’s hard for when you’re in the middle of a rumination Mm.
To be like, I’m worried that my sock just touched this and now I want to throw my sock. Like, it doesn’t make sense. It’s not logical. And so the, the actual story itself creates this picture for these family members to hear the thoughts of someone who has it. And
Rachel Fahrenbach: I would. , I would imagine that it’s not logical, [00:16:00] therefore it’s not happening here.
It’s happening back here. Yes. And for the person who’s experiencing it is very like an experience, not a thought. Yes. Right. Which is so cool that you’re putting it into a novel form because the novel is an experience, not thought. Right. So that’s super powerful. I love it.
Meghan Newkirk: Oh, that’s so, oh, you gave me goosebumps.
That’s a great way to put it. I had never thought about it quite like that, but that’s exactly, and for me, as the experiencer and then as the writer, I was able to get out things and articulate things. I had never been able to process in that way. So it was so much fun to write. . I enjoyed writing it. And people say they enjoy reading it and that’s always the best thing to hear,
Rachel Fahrenbach: Love it. Okay, so we’re gonna pivot a little bit because I wanna talk about this. Yes. Hybrid the mm-hmm. you mentioned going with a hybrid publisher, specifically with WestBow. Yes. And well, I don’t wanna like go too deep into your experience with WestBow, cuz this is not about like reviewing your experience right.
With them or without, [00:17:00] but I do wanna talk about the hybrid process of going with a hybrid publisher. Okay. And so can you kind of sum up for our listeners what that is? Mm-hmm. and kind of your experience with it. What maybe you had to do, what, what was your responsibility? What was the publisher’s responsibility, those kind of things.
Meghan Newkirk: So there were some unique aspects to it. One being that you do feel a bit like you’re being sold to, mm-hmm. because they wanna sell you services. So you have to think outside the box for yourself. Like, am I going to need these marketing services per se, or do I want them to be the ones to do X, Y, or Z?
Because along the way, they will call you and you. kind of shifted to the next person. So as you’re going through the process, you start with the guy that signs you up, and then they pass you to the next person. That was a very unique and hard, I think, experience because I’d have to keep explaining what my goals were to the next person.
Mm-hmm. . And after a while it gets old. You feel like, okay, I please just somebody [00:18:00] be the same person that I talk to every day. I did have, I paid out of pocket for a professional editor to edit it. I had my sister do it. I had another friend kind of look it over who is a writer. And then I had them, I had this other private person do it.
I think, they don’t hold your hand in this process. I had to do a lot of research on my own, which I think is true for any indy publishing. Yeah. Unfortunately. Yeah. Yeah, you just kind of have to learn through your mistakes which was fine and I’m sure I’ll make plenty more. Mm-hmm. . But that was definitely, if I could recommend anything to anyone, if you are hybrid publishing, definitely find a good private editor who can edit it professionally for you, because I think it, you have a little bit more of a one-on-one experience with that person to be able to talk through why they put things where they did.
Otherwise, it just feels very wrote mechanical. So that would be the one thing. The only other kind of I would say struggle that I had was that with WestBow, it is a Christian, specifically a Christian [00:19:00] publisher through Zondervan. Mm-hmm. As their main umbrella. And so with OCD, a lot of the thoughts that my main character had were, for lack of a better word, a little outrageous mm-hmm. Very much like those intrusive thoughts that you kind of think on a wild day and then you’re like, yeah, where’d that come from? So that was the focus, and they were very strict about what words that I could and couldn’t say. Mm-hmm. and certain things that I couldn’t portray.
Okay. And I do think on the whole, that hurt, the overall message that I was trying to get across. I think a, a lot of the fears kind of. Dampened a little bit. They weren’t quite as intense as I wanted them to be. And it’s actually really funny story. I’m not a rebellious person by any stretch . My sister laughs that I do, in fact, like confrontation.
She’s like you, when you care about something, you’ll fight for it. But they basically, when they were going through my book, they kept flagging words. Mm-hmm. . But they would send me an [00:20:00] email and they’d be like, these are examples of words that you can’t use. Well, I’d go back through and I’d change those words and then I’d send it back.
I think that happened about six times. And the guy finally told me, we’re gonna drop your book. Oh my goodness. Change if you don’t change these words. And I was like, I don’t know what words you’re talking about. And I, they were so specific about the types of idioms and, mm. If there was any sort of nuanced, if you said dumb or stupid , you couldn’t put that.
Okay. And so that was the one, like, I think for me, I felt very rebellious cuz I was like, they’re about to drop my book. Mm-hmm. And they didn’t, we were able to work it out. But moving forward, I’m gonna have to really consider how far I wanna push the line and how I want to go about publishing. Yeah. The second one
Rachel Fahrenbach: that’s a really, I just wanna mm-hmm. Pause a moment here on this point. It’s a really good point you just made about the level of. I don’t wanna say control, but just the level. Mm-hmm. of influence you have, or final decision or final [00:21:00] say you have in the publication of your book.
So here’s what a writer needs to know. You need to understand that if you go traditionally publish the traditional route, or if you use a hybrid, . Mm-hmm. . So if you have some other publisher put their name on it, they’re gonna have, it’s like their stamp of approval. Therefore, they’re gonna have a list of things that they are going to tolerate or not tolerate.
Yes. And so you have to decide for yourself, is my product and my person that I’m serving, do they need those words in it? Do they need that content in it? If so, then maybe you can, you need to not go with a traditional publisher or a hybrid. Maybe you need to go fully independent publisher the independent publishing route, which is self-publishing.
Mm-hmm. . Or maybe you can tweak it like you did. You just kind of kept working it out and, and having a commitment to making it work for this book. Great. So that’s important to note. I think we have to have that understanding that sometimes we go to bat for our [00:22:00] books and we have to Yes. We know it’s gonna benefit our reader, but sometimes we can just work out those little nuanced things.
Meghan Newkirk: Yes, exactly. And it was very, I got very defensive of my book because mm-hmm. for me, this is not just about this wasn’t just about, is this gonna sound better? Right. It’s like is this going to hurt the integrity of it? Because now the character is not thinking the things that I want her to think. Right.
And the whole book is about what she’s thinking, so. Right. But I think we came to a good medium and at that point I was too far in mm-hmm. But it will definitely influence the route, you go with the next one that’s what I do
Rachel Fahrenbach: next. Exactly. So what did you pay them for? Did you just pay for like author copies or did you pay them for like cover design and things like, so you basically point, sorry.
Well, that’s the, no, that’s because you didn’t pay them for editing, right? No, no, no, no. Did you paid your sister and the other individual? Right.
Meghan Newkirk: I’m trying to think now. . They [00:23:00] do a, very basic editing. Like, are there double periods are, you know, right. Like that proofing. Yeah, proofing not really the full on like, hey, this sounds bad.
So basically what you pay for upfront, you pay about, it was about $2,500 for getting the book from my computer into book form.
Rachel Fahrenbach: So layout, cover, design, all of that.
Meghan Newkirk: Okay. I actually did not even go their cover design route. I had a friend who’s a photographer. The the girl on the cover is actually my next door neighbor’s granddaughter.
I love how
Rachel Fahrenbach: like, you’re like, I’m gonna go every route, but I really don’t like this, so we’re just gonna, I think I made a poor choice. Like real, like, you were like, no, I know what I. Yes. And I’m gonna do this.
Meghan Newkirk: Yeah. Yes. And I mean, my best friend was like, I’m a photographer. We had a vision for the cover.
Yeah. And so we went that route, which they were agreeable about, thankfully. And so they, and then they say marketing and I basically did all my marketing. So,
Rachel Fahrenbach: So what did you, so you paid them to help you market.
Meghan Newkirk: Well, that’s [00:24:00] all in the package. Right? So you
Rachel Fahrenbach: paid the 300. So what did that, what exactly is that marketing that you’re paying for?
Meghan Newkirk: I think it, it just creates the book. It’s
Rachel Fahrenbach: the, it’s the actual, it’s probably you’re, it’s probably my guess, and I don’t know this for sure, so nobody quotes on me, but I’m guessing it’s distribution. Yes.
Meghan Newkirk: It’s, it’s that, and then you get to the part where they’re like, okay, well you can do this amount of books, or you can go the route of. you buy a certain amount that are higher quality and they, you know, you buy more of them and then you have to pay for the warehouse space. And so there was definitely a lot of I don’t wanna call them loopholes cuz I don’t feel like they were loopholes, but for somebody who was new at it, I was like, I don’t what’s happening.
Like I, yeah, just wanna get the book out there and I want it to be high quality. Yeah. It is a very high quality book. I was very happy with the, you know, like the look and feel. , yes. But you do feel like when you’re talking to constantly a new person mm-hmm. You, you know, I just kind of got to the point where I was like, I [00:25:00] know what I’m doing.
I’m gonna have launch day. This is what I’m, blah, blah, blah, blah, all that. Yeah. And so I did take the bull by the horns and did a lot for myself, which looking back on it, I don’t even think I realized it was a hybrid publisher until h. Yeah, truthfully.
Rachel Fahrenbach: So I, I think it’s important that we just make note of that.
I think there’s a misconception amongst writers that if they go with a traditional or a hybrid, they’re gonna get that marketing support. Mm-hmm. as opposed to self-publishing. Like a lot of times they don’t wanna do the self-publishing cuz they’re like, I don’t know what I’m doing and I need help marketing it and getting it in front of people.
And the reality is, unless you’re a big name, writer, you’re probably not gonna get a huge marketing budget behind you. They might do some things for you, but it’s gonna, it’s gonna come down to a lot of what you do as a self-published writer too. A lot of, like a book launch you know, paying for advertisements, getting on podcasts.
Absolutely. All those things. So it’s just, it is a misconception that you’re gonna get more help, but it’s not always true.
Meghan Newkirk: It’s not, [00:26:00] and I mean, honestly, my friend who’s, you know, through a traditional publisher, she even says they only give. You know, a little bit of money for marketing and I will, I will be very, I mean, this is my tip to anybody.
There’s a book out there called The First thousand Copies Girl. Oh my gosh, fantastic book.
Rachel Fahrenbach: He’s so smart.
Meghan Newkirk: He’s so smart, so good. That book just gave me the permission I needed to take control and to say, okay, this is how I wanna take the marketing. I’m not a natural, a natural marketer, so what can I do?
And it’s just very logical steps that were very helpful. And I will say my book has been successful and I actually, that first month I had to call the publisher about something and she was looking at my numbers for me and she was like, oh my gosh, you sold that many books in this amount of time. And I was like, yeah.
Do you mind telling us what that is? I’m gonna be really honest here, i’m horrible at numbers, so I don’t remember. Okay. And they do it all through royalties. Yeah. So you have to do the math of like, but , so I broke [00:27:00] even. So you have to, so you pay for the 2000 mm-hmm. for the, their work, and then you have to pay for the books.
So total, I paid about $7,000 for Okay. All of it. And I broke even in the first. Before the first year was up, I broke even. And I don’t even think it was the total $7000. What’s your royalty?, Barely anything. I mean, it’s like Amazon, I think I get like $3 a copy or something. Okay. And I think is my royalty. And then, so that’s the other thing.
If I sell a book myself, I can sell it for 20 bucks and I can make that.
Rachel Fahrenbach: That you make, you have quite a bit of profit if you go that route. Mm-hmm. . Right, exactly. But if it’s going through a distributor like Amazon or another bookstore, they take their cuts and then WestBow probably gets a cut of that too, I’m assuming, because, or do you, or is it because they.
They probably get a royalty, right?
Meghan Newkirk: They, they, no, they actually get a, when you purchase those books for the warehouse,
Rachel Fahrenbach: oh, that’s when the royalty [00:28:00] right
Meghan Newkirk: comes up. They’re pricing them such that they get, you know, cuz then those books are
Rachel Fahrenbach: mine. They don’t care about ’em anymore. Yeah. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Okay. That makes sense.
So do you have to fulfill through Amazon or do they do the fulfillment? They do the fulfillment for me. Yeah. Okay, good. So sorry, we’re like nerding out and all . So does this happen, does this happen ?
Meghan Newkirk: And this is not, I’m telling you right now, like numbers are not my thing at all. Yeah. So my dad’s probably gonna listen to this podcast and he’s gonna be like, you got this wrong, you got this wrong.
And I’m gonna be like, I was in the right window. Okay. Just gimme a break.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Yeah. But here, the important, the important thing to hear from that is that you broke even. Yes. Using marketing techniques that you learned from. Yes. Different things that you were researching and learning from, and I think that’s what people have to listen.
Like you have to make that decision. When people go the traditional publishing route, I think they just kind of go, all right, I’ve gotten my advance, I’m moving on, right? Mm-hmm. , I [00:29:00] wanna market, I wanna sell more copies. But the reality is they have to sell so many copies to get their advanced back. That mm-hmm. , it’s kind of like their, their advance is what they’ve gotten and they’re kind of moving on. Mm-hmm. . Now that’s not necessarily true if you’re a bigger mm-hmm.
A better known author. Right. You can move more copies and you will probably make above your advance, but when it comes to hybrid or self polishing, you have to think of it in that numbers game. Yeah. Kind of way. You have to think of it as, I’ve invested this much so I need to market myself and market my book so that I can recoup that investment.
Because it’s not just that 7,000 that you put into it. It’s paying for your website. It’s paying for the training that you did, it’s paying for. Exactly. It’s all those hours that you put into that book that we’re not even. we’re not even really calculating. Right? No. Like how much it’s, it’s not just that, it’s how much you paid your editor, it’s how much you did this, how much did, yes.
So there’s a lot of, [00:30:00] there’s a lot that goes into each book and we as business owners have to say, okay, I’ve put in this much, how can I get that back? Exactly. It’s not just about the reader, because if we don’t have money, we don’t have money for the mission. Exactly. Like if we don’t have sales, we can’t keep.
No, we, we’ll hit a wall and we’re like, I don’t have the ability, this isn’t making me money. I can’t reinvest into the next book, so therefore I am gonna have to put this on hold and maybe go get a nine to five or something like that, you know? So it’s, I think it’s important to note like, you did really well that first year because you marketed and that’s awesome.
Yes. So let’s go into that whole marketing side of things. What were some of the things you tried? Mm-hmm. , what worked for you? maybe didn’t work. What kind of advice do you have for us on that marketing side?
Meghan Newkirk: Well, I’m gonna be just real honest that a newsletter and email blast has been the hardest thing for me to implement For whatever reason, I just don’t it doesn’t come naturally to me.
[00:31:00] Instagram has been more of my kind of area cuz I can tap into that mental health world a little bit more mm-hmm, not just so much the reading world. Podcasts have been huge. I’ve been on quite a few mental health podcasts, I would say that has been putting myself out there. Sending a letter to somebody, sending my book to somebody. Mm. Finding somebody who might read my book and go, wow, this is great. I wanna promote this. That has been easy for me. I’ve loved doing that. I’ve gotten great feedback. Even when they say no, it still feels purposeful. The email thing is definitely where I’m working on myself. I’m
Rachel Fahrenbach: trying to go figure out, I was waiting for you to be positive about it.
Meghan Newkirk: gonna do it. And, and I think for 2023. That has, has been my goal is to build my readership. I think with this upcoming Sequel, I, I put something out there on social media like, Hey, I’m working on the sequel. And the feedback that I got in return of people excited and waiting mm-hmm. That I didn’t even know were [00:32:00] excited and waiting.
I was like, who are these people? I didn’t know. I
Rachel Fahrenbach: didn’t know. There we go. That’s why we need to post about our stuff, right? Yes. Right. And so I said, there’s something internally that happens to us when we know that there’s somebody waiting for it. We’re like, oh, I actually have somebody that’s like waiting on this thing.
I need to show up and do it. You know, like, yes. Now that it’s not just this idea in my head no, that I can maybe like shove off to the side. It’s like, no, this is a real thing. People really want it. I need to show up and do it.
Meghan Newkirk: Yeah. Well we were in an airport once and my sis, it was my sister and I, we were on a girls’ weekend for my cousin’s wedding and we were going down the escalator and we met this really nice girl.
And my sister was friends with everyone. So she starts chatting with her. Anyways, long story short, she asked both of us what we did, and I started to speak and my sister goes, she’s an author. And I just like, cuz she knew I was gonna say, I’m a mom. Right? That’s, she knew I was gonna say that first. Mm-hmm.
And so we started walk away and the lady was like, oh my gosh, what book? And blah blah, blah. And we talked about [00:33:00] it and we were going to the bathroom and Sarah goes, you were gonna say you were a mom And I was, I think I was, and she said, you’ve got to say that you’re an author. We ran into her on the way to get the Uber and she had ordered a copy of the book in the bathroom before we even left the airport, and I was like, awesome.
That was a sale. Like,
Rachel Fahrenbach: yeah, just, just by being honest about what you had to offer. The world. Yes. And we’re not discounting, like your role as mom is important. Absolutely. And it, I’m sure, like I, I try to, when I’m coaching clients, I’m saying I always have them identify three main labels. Mm-hmm. , they’re top three main labels that their reader is gonna pay attention to.
Because you carry a lot of roles and a lot of labels in your life, but Right probably only, they’re only gonna really care about three . Exactly. Well, you can’t, that’s what you only do, but so much. Yeah. Yes. And the main one they, they need to know is that you’re an author with a novel Yes, yes. For them to read.
Yes. You know, [00:34:00] that’s the main one. And then the next one is like, you know, what’s important to you? Maybe your worldview, what you know, and then what’s the thing that impacts, like for you, it’s. , you’re a Christian, you have OCD, and you are an author, right? Mm-hmm. , those are your main three labels now.
Mm-hmm. , your motherhood might show up the fact that you mm-hmm. , you have a sister that you live in, you know, the south that may all pop up here and there mm-hmm. , but your main three for your reader that your reader cares about are not those things, you know?
Meghan Newkirk: Right. Exactly. And that was just such an aha moment for me from a marketing standpoint.
Mm-hmm. of, you know, my story and my giftings mm-hmm. Are going to be one of my marketing tools.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Because you’re marketing what you can do for the reader, not your, necessarily your product. Like we do market our products, but at the end of the day, it’s about, yes, what can I, what kind of experience can I give this person?
Yeah. And how will it help them? So for you, I’m just [00:35:00] reiterating this for the listener who is like, well, I don’t get it. Cuz it’s like, we write fiction, we write in a genre. Mm-hmm. , what does this mean? It’s like no, for you specifically, is I write stories that have OCD characters or other characters mm-hmm.
that are neuro divergent. Mm-hmm so that those who have loved ones with the same challenges understand them better. Yes. Yeah. And that means a lot of different things. Right. You can create many different products. Oh, it’s not just a novel. Right. The possibilities are endless, right? Yes. But your main tool is probably gonna be your novel, right?
Meghan Newkirk: Yep. Exactly. Yeah. It feels, it feels very empowering to think that
Rachel Fahrenbach: way. Yeah. So what other marketing things did you do? I
Meghan Newkirk: did a pretty big book launch. It was in the midst of Covid, Oh, wow. Which ironically helped, well, we had helped, we had just started opening up. Right. Well, and one of the main fears of the main character are germs
So people were really feeling it at that time. Yeah. And so we had a big I, I really put it out there. We had giveaways. I [00:36:00] sold like, I think about a thousand. Or so, maybe, maybe a little less than that. That’s awesome. Maybe not. Wait, see, look, my numbers are coming back to haunt me. What? I did a good bit.
Let’s put it that way. Yeah. Yeah. I felt very successful. Yeah. At that book launch. And then from there I just kind of kept trying to put myself in conversations at different bookstores put, went to different local bookstores and spoke about my book and that was probably the most helpful was getting it out there quickly and confidently and then from that point forward, I could say my book launch was this day. Mm-hmm. , and this is how long I’ve been selling copies. And that really does help people who may promote your book or whatever. Right. Because then they can go on and they can see the Amazon reviews, which, I mean, I have about 39 y’all.
It is not that many. That’s fine
Rachel Fahrenbach: though. But
Meghan Newkirk: honestly, but I just try my best to just tell [00:37:00] people, please leave a review. Right. Getting on Goodreads has been helpful. I was actually at an event once for a friend of mine and my book came up and this stranger came up to me and said, she went in the corner, looked up my book on Goodreads, and then came back and bought it cuz she saw it had four and a half stars.
So just like little
Rachel Fahrenbach: things like that Yeah. Where
Meghan Newkirk: you feel silly, you’re like, please leave a review on Goodreads. Like, could you and then, you know, somebody actually utilizes it and goes, oh, I, yeah. You know, and then not being hung up on that one person or whoever who might give it three stars or two stars or whatever, right.
You just, just can’t get too stuck on that. Mm-hmm. . And also surrounding yourself with other authors, if you can, who can be in encouragement and promote you because mm-hmm, authors promote authors. Mm-hmm. So getting that community together, I would say has been the biggest marketing tool for me
Rachel Fahrenbach: That you’ve done like collaborative events with other authors?
Meghan Newkirk: Yes, yes. And just listening to their [00:38:00] advice. Like when they say, Hey, you should maybe think about this. I’m okay. Yeah, I, I’ll think about that because that worked for you.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Now, I know you mentioned earlier, just briefly mm-hmm. about your, like your booth that you have at yes. What is it exactly? Like a craft?
Like, like it’s an, it’s actually anti antique store. Yes.
Meghan Newkirk: It’s an antique store. It’s a very unique place, I’m gonna be honest. It’s got about 24 different vendors. Mm-hmm. . And I actually, so I also do furniture painting. It’s like my creative space that actually helps me write, when I paint furniture, I think of things to write.
and I started working there one day a week because I love people and the family is a Christian family. And they were like, do you wanna work here? And I just loved it. Well, at the beginning of 2023, I’m friends with all the vendors in there and the owner came up to me and said, Hey, we were moving things around.
Would you like this bookshelf to sell? Because I had tried popups. Yeah. And popups are like a lot of [00:39:00] work. Yeah. And you don’t, people don’t walk by a table full of books and go, oh, let me, let me just look and turn this book over and read what this book is about. Yeah. They just don’t, they don’t. And I tried to branch into like vintage books and, you know, bookends and different things, and the work itself of bringing the items to the pop-up mm-hmm.
it was just, it was too much. So I kind of had to let that dream die. Hey, I tried it, it didn’t work. Mm-hmm, I moved on to the next thing. That’s the other thing, don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t work, God will open a door. And so at the beginning of 2023, my boss said to me, do you want this bookshelf?
And then she looked at me and she said, you’d be stupid not to take it. And then she turned and walked away. And I was like,
Rachel Fahrenbach: I love how God just puts these people into your life that are just like, they just like straight shooters with you. Right? Oh, like, they’re just like, this is what you need to know.
This is what you need to do. . Yeah. Yeah.
Meghan Newkirk: And so I, I said, well, how, cuz you have to pay rent, right? Mm-hmm. So I said, well, how much is rent? And she said, it’s the equivalent of basically one day of me working there. Okay. [00:40:00] Which I was already doing. And so I contacted all my local author friends and I was like, give me your books.
So I started selling vintage books Okay. And vintage items that were book related, God related.
And so January was my first month and I made rent, which according to the other vendors is huge. And I had profit that’s awesome from that. And so it has been just a great opportunity for me to promote other author friends that have poured into me and been a blessing to me. And I can honestly say each one of them has sold at least one book so far.
And it’s just been a really fun way to get my book out there, get other people’s books out there and get Jesus out there. So yeah.
Rachel Fahrenbach: What I love about the, this example is like one you mentioned. you tried a bunch of different things and you started, you kind of saw what was working, what was not working, and you took an opportunity that was presented to you and you’re like, Hey, let’s just give it a shot, right?
Yeah. That’s what I first [00:41:00] like about that story. The second thing that I like about this is that it’s, it’s kind of like a mini store within like a space where people are already slowly brows. Yes. Right. So they’re like strolling and they’re, you know, like where the pop ups a little bit different. It’s the short amount of time.
It’s not, it’s just a little different feel. But I like the fact that it’s like people are already browsing for things. They’re already picking through things and so when they get to your booth, they are like, oh, let me see what this is. Exactly. And I think that it’s really neat that you like, have identified what would appeal to that group of people.
Mm-hmm. . And so it’s kind of like your book. It’s not like your book is specifically for those people, but they might be those people. Right, right. And so, but you are appealing to the moment that they’re currently in. Yes. And you’re saying, Hey, by the way, here’s my book. And I think that if we can think creatively and outside the box mm-hmm.
like there’s other opportunities like that, mm-hmm, where it might not be [00:42:00] exactly what we would think of in terms of marketing our novels, but once again, we’re marketing what we can do for a reader. Right. And so, like even in that space, you’re saying, here’s what I can do for you. Yes. I can provide these things for you.
And so when they’re browsing and they come up to your booth, they know what to expect from you. Mm-hmm. . So I’m sure there’s repeat customers to that space. Mm-hmm. And they’re, that’s the goal, you know, like there are people that come back to that antique space more than one time. Right. And so my point with this that I want the listener to take away is to start thinking outside the box, like mm-hmm.
what are things where, where I can have a captive audience, like what are things that I can do where there’s a captive audience? Mm-hmm. Where I can start to talk about myself or showcase who I am, my worldview, what I’m able to do as a writer. Mm-hmm. , and kind of bring along my products as well. Yes. So like, you just gotta think creatively.
And I think that’s why I love what you just shared with us, because you thought creatively and Yeah. [00:43:00] It’s unique and it’s also collaborative, which I always love a collaborative thing. I think they’re really helpful.
Meghan Newkirk: Well, and I, I would say too, if you, if you have a book and you, you obviously you live somewhere, right?
Like mm-hmm. , and if your book has a certain theme or something, I would just encourage folks to go to those family-owned businesses. Like if your book has a sports theme, go to a, you know, a secondhand sports place and say, Hey, I’ve got this book that’s, you know, it’s has Mrs. Hockey as the main theme.
And ask them, be like, Hey, would you be willing to, you know, take 12%. if I can set up these copies. And people get very excited about that. And they, they want a word of mouth. Yeah. That’s what I have found is the most helpful is like, I’ll have a customer come in and for a long time people would say, do you have a booth?
And I would say, no, I don’t have one. Now I can say, I do, and I’ll say, I’m an author and a good friend of mine actually sold my book for about a year in her space at the antique store. And so when I’d be working, I’d say, well, I did write this [00:44:00] book and I can’t tell you how many times people put a face, mm-hmm.
you know. Oh, you’re local. Oh, that’s so cool. You know, I have a friend who’s such and such, and then they buy the book. Yeah. And you may only sell 20 copies in a year, but that’s 20 more copies that Exactly. Somebody else is gonna go out and tell somebody
Rachel Fahrenbach: else. Exactly. Exactly. It’s the word of mouth.
Word of mouth. Marketing is our best tool. Yes. Hands down. Yep. So the more hands you can get into it, the more they continue to tell about it. I have loved our conversation so far. I think it has been so helpful and so detailed and just full of all the nuggets and I could keep going on and on and on with you.
I love this conversation that we’re having, believe me. But as we begin to wrap up, I wanted to ask you this question. What piece of advice do you have for the writer who’s just beginning this mm-hmm publishing journey? What, what advice do you have for them? So
Meghan Newkirk: I would say, you know, that that feeling you [00:45:00] get when you start a project and you’re so excited about it and you feel like this could really be a great thing for people to read mm-hmm.
I would just encourage people just hold on to that feeling. I think it can get really easy Yeah. To get lost in the weeds of the discouragement of the decision making and the what do I do next? And, and I think for me, I’m a, an Enneagram seven, so if it’s not fun, I don’t wanna do it. And I holding onto that excitement.
Mm-hmm. It, I mean it’s almost like marriage, right? Like it’s work. Mm-hmm. It’s hard. But if you hold onto that, those sweet moments and those sweet pieces, hold onto the, the possibility and the excitement of that possibility and don’t let yourself get discouraged. That would be the first thing. And then the second thing is don’t do like I did.
Be sheepish about mm-hmm showing that excitement to the world mm-hmm, and being able to say, I did this and I’m excited about [00:46:00] it. There is no, nothing wrong, there’s no sin in that. That would be my other just piece of advice, is to hold onto that excitement and share that excitement and give yourself permission to talk to people it.
Rachel Fahrenbach: I love that. I love that so very much. And I think that is a perfect spot for us to end on. Yay. So before we go though, I do want people to know how to get in touch with you. Where can they find you? Where can they find your book? How can they, like what socials can they find you on? All of those things.
Meghan Newkirk: Absolutely. Yes. So I’m on Facebook. I have an author page, Meghan Newkirk, author page. You can find me there. You can find me on Instagram at Meghan Newkirk Writes. And I also have a website that I do publish a blog. The goal is to be every other week. It’s depending on illness in my family and such and inspiration.
I have short stories and different things there, which by the way, one of your podcasts has inspired me that I need to give those away in my newsletter. Yeah. but that’s a whole nother conversation. I’m just learning so much. But[00:47:00] anyway, I love it. Yeah, so you can find me at either of those places. You can comment on my website and I get those directly, and those are really fun to get to find out who’s, you know, who, and sign up for my newsletter on that, and I’ve gotta sign
Rachel Fahrenbach: up for that.
Where can we buy
Meghan Newkirk: your book? You can buy my book at westbowpress.com, or you can buy it on Amazon. Okay. It’s very well, well available. Or if you’re local, come on down to News General Store and buy it there. If you’re in Raleigh or in the local North Carolina area.
Rachel Fahrenbach: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Meghan for joining us.
I thank you. I have enjoyed this conversation. I think it’s going to be so useful for I hope so, writers who are looking to publish, maybe go the hybrid route, maybe are considering it, but also just all the great marketing tips you’ve shared with us and just sharing your heart and your journey. It has just been really truly inspiring.
So thank you so much. Oh, thank, thank you so much for
Meghan Newkirk: joining us. I find it kind of ironic cuz marketing is not my strong suit, so I’m so happy that I was able to give some tips. So I, I feel like I’ve learned a lot as well, so thank you [00:48:00] for having me.
Rachel Fahrenbach: You’re welcome. And thank you for joining us today. Join us next week as we continue this conversation on the business of Christian Fiction.
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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.
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And you can learn more about my personal journey here.
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