“The passion for wanting to make a difference is stronger than my desire to stay comfortable” – Kimberley Parkinson shares her publishing journey
Like many Tellwell authors, Kimberley Parkinson took a huge step outside of her comfort zone when she decided to publish her first book. When her children’s book What Can You Do? was published, Parkinson realized it was time to get the word out about her book, and that she was going to be the driving force behind that. While marketing seemed daunting initially, her efforts were greeted with success and gratification. Now, she shares some of her early marketing experiences to encourage other authors to push themselves when they take the leap, and publish their writing.
Kimberley Parkinson’s take on book marketing:
A smile appears upon your face. There it is, nestled proudly within your hands, the first copy of your published book. You take a moment to reflect on all the hours spent from the initial thought to the finished product. You have worked so hard and deserve to relish in satisfaction.
Then the next part of your journey beckons…marketing! A mix of excitement and nervousness takes over. What is the best route to take first? Who should I contact, what should I do, where should I go? This is when you take the time to address your strengths and weaknesses. I know with myself, I would rather sit back quietly and let the book sell itself as I am quite shy with this sort of thing. I am not a fan of social media outlets and the thought of trying to sell my book in person to stores or reading my book in front of others at events made me want to throw up! My comfort zone was very comfy, and it didn’t like to feel threatened. However, I knew that for my own growth I had to push myself beyond those comfortable limitations.
I appreciated the knowledgeable advice and strategic outline that was given to me through Tellwell and needed to implement some of their suggestions. I had to at least try because I have always believed that there is no failure if I try. I wasn’t ready to do the social media thing yet, so I decided to go the good old-fashioned way. I travelled to locations that were within a reasonable distance and made sure to have copies of my book with me, along with props such as bookmarks, posters, etc. It was also important to have all my contact and book details ready as you don’t want to be fumbling around when asked.
Do your homework. Find out who the manager is, contact them directly, and most importantly, mind your manners. Be polite, be gracious for any opportunities that present themselves and be respectful to the ones that don’t. Unknown self-published authors tend to make some store owners apprehensive to take a chance on you and that is okay. Thank them for their time and walk out with your head held high. There will inevitably be some doors that close but if you believe in your book and most importantly yourself, you will start to see doors open. Patience and persistence is key.
Get your feet wet with smaller events at first if needed. I started with an intimate book signing/reading at my local library. It was a comfortable setting that helped me get over my nervousness. Have friends and family there for support. I felt much more at ease with their smiling faces around me. Advertise your book in local papers, make calls, get your name out there. After you have experienced one event, the next ones won’t seem so daunting. This is all still very new to me too, and I am learning as I go.
Having a cause to go with your book is a good way to attract readers. One dollar from every sale or a percentage going to something that is important to you lets people know that you are paying it forward and believe in something that is beyond your own gains. An attitude of gratitude goes a long way. Be truly grateful to those that buy your book and attend your events. Every person deserves to know that their presence matters to you, that it isn’t just about making a sale. One of the best moments I have had is when a young girl wanted to meet me at my book signing event. She left without a book, but the smile on her face and mine was more than enough. I loved the fact that she just wanted to meet me.
Connecting with others and word of mouth have been successful tools for sales. I have some great friends and family members who have told others, who then went on to tell some more, which ultimately lead to stores wanting to order in my books because demand started to increase. Connection is imperative. Surround yourself with positive people and distance yourself from the negative ones. A good support system will give you the boost of confidence when needed. It really is a journey of self-discovery and your objective shouldn’t only be about sales. You are worth more than that. Be confident in who you are and your intentions, and never give up.
Your book is meant to be or else you wouldn’t have thought of it in the first place so trust your journey. Success is waiting for you on the other side of your comfort zone. So, take a deep breath and go for it!
Author Q&A with Tellwell’s Marketing Manager, Francesca Jackman
Q: What has been your biggest marketing accomplishment to date?
A: Besides getting my book onto store shelves, it would also be taking the time to connect with readers. Hearing that my book is influencing not only children, but adults too, means the world to me.
Q: What areas have you found to be the most enjoyable?
A: The peace of mind knowing that I am making a difference in the world, even if only in my little way brings solace. I hope to plant little seeds of change and have honoured and will continue to honour my intentions of giving back. One dollar from every sale goes to World Wildlife Fund and I have also given to a tree replanting organization to make up for the paper used in printing. My book is about making a difference, so it is important that I walk the talk in every way that I can. Integrity matters.
Q: What marketing tactics have you tried so far?
A: I have made lots of calls to retailers and have taken the time to build a rapport with them and have also visited stores to meet in person. Advertising in newspapers and word of mouth have also been successful tactics. I am blessed to have the support of friends and family who help to get the word out to which I am so grateful for. Throwing a launch event and book signing is a great way to connect with locals as well.
Q: What’s next for you? More books to come?
A: Right now, my focus is on marketing and sales of this current book, however, I do have a couple more on the go within a different genre that I hope to eventually publish too. This was going to be my only children’s book initially, but people have been hoping to see more of the character Ally so perhaps another children’s book will be on the horizon, we’ll see.
Q: Have you seen benefit in getting your book into physical bookstores? Why or why not?
A: Yes, there has been a benefit. Exposure for one, and some people still like to be able to go into a store and physically see a copy and purchase it there instead of having to go online. Online is a great way to reach others on a global scale, and has been a successful method, but in such a high-tech world, the nostalgia of the book store experience will always appeal to some, myself included.
Q: Looking back, is there anything about the publishing process you would have done differently?
A: No, it was great learning experience that was essential for growth.
Q: Do you have any advice for fellow authors based on your experiences?
A: Yes, life happens, so don’t get discouraged. There will inevitably be some roadblocks along the way. You may encounter delays and errors on book orders and the updating of databases. Keep communication lines open with retailers and consumers so that they know exactly what is going on which reinforces a sense of dependability between yourself and them.
Also, remember to be grateful. People that have provided guidance, support, purchased a book, took time out of their day to meet you, or have taken a chance on you deserves gratitude. Be kind and stay humble.
Q: How much investing post-publication have you done? Has it “payed off?”
A: I have invested numerous hours and energy getting my book out there and developing a relationship with retailers and consumers. Also giving back is always a good karmic investment. So yes, I believe it has.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: The list is long… Family, friends, my spouse, and every day people who aren’t afraid to take a chance on their dreams.
Q: What pushes you outside of your comfort zone?
A: The passion for wanting to make a difference is stronger than my desire to stay comfortable.
Kimberley Parkinson is the author of What Can You Do? a children’s book about the small changes you can make in your life to make a difference in the world around you. The book is available on Amazon, Chapters and Barnes and Noble, as well as in bookstores throughout the lower mainland in B.C.