Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
A dear friend of mine writes:
From: Anonymized But Lovely Reader
Subject: have i ever told you ....
.... how wonderful you are?
what's that? no?? how remiss of me!
by now you're doubtless thinking All right, what does she want this time?
and you'd be right.
you see, i am nearing the end of a revision of Entropy Academy, or How to Succeed at Homeschooling Even If You Don't Homeschool (yes, Cow [Mark here: she is referring to our second eldest son, whose actual and long-disused name is Matthew. You may ask, "Cow?" Don't ask. Long story.] made the cut) which will result in an e-publication-ready copy of breathtaking magnificence.
response to the hard copies in circulation has been very positive, BUT i am veritably clueless when it comes to e-marketing.
DOUBLE BUT .... I know somebody who isn't ....
and ... it's .... YOU!!!!
what are your thoughts so far?
and did i mention that i love each one of your sons?
and that your wife ain't half bad either?
I'm not much of an expert on emarketing. Basically, my own limited knowledge consists of common sense stuff like this: Write to big mouths in the blogosphere like me and Simcha and every mommyblogger and homeschool site you can find and give them some variation on...
Hi! I'm [insert name here]. I know an unbelievable amount about homeschooling successfully because I did it and here are all my amazing and accomplished kids--and a whole bunch of other amazing and accomplished kids like Cow Shea who aren't even related to me!--and here this shiny book with this awesome cover that will tell you the whole story for the low, low price of $X.00. Here is a brief description of the astonishing and life-changing content you will find in this book, content you can only get from me, which is why you need this book so bad! Here's a passage from the book, in equal measure funny, moving and thought-provoking about this thing that happened once and what I learned from it. Also, here are some blurbs from Famous Person 1 and Famous Person 2, testifying to the fact that I truly am an avatar of wisdom without whom you cannot live and this book is *the* compendium of my knowledge over which I have labored so that you can have access to the sanctus sanctorum of my thoughts and no longer live in darkness. You're welcome.
Some variation on this message is basically what you need to emanate. Yes. I know. It's very American and brash and very un-English to do this [Mark again: My friend is English. If you are some other nationality that feels uncomfortable with the American ethos of obnoxious self-promotion and go-gettery, then keep reading. If you are a brash American who has no difficulty with self-promotion, then you can skip this paragraph's brief, "Chin up and sally forth" speech and jump to the next paragraph]. But basically, it's what's necessary to get your name and your book present to the minds of potential readers. You can also write some folks like Sarah Reinhard, who do book reviews and see if they will review your book. Indeed, sending a freebie link to reviewers is a fine way to generate buzz. It's curious, because what you are doing is promoting the book, not yourself. What you want are for the ideas in the book to be heard. But at the same time, what people will do is primarily become attached to you. It's you they will like (because you are likeable and funny and thoughtful) and the way you speak forth those ideas. So the next time you write, people will say, not "Oh! Another homeschooling book" (there are lots of these) but "Oh! Anothe book by Anonymized but Lovely Author Lady!
Beyond that, you can get creative by contacting editors at, say, Our Sunday Visitor and seeing if they want to do a review. You can contact the Bookmarks program at EWTN and maybe Doug Keck will have you on for a chat, or perhaps some other show there or both, as well as some sort of radio shows (perhaps national, perhaps local) you can go on to discuss the book. You have a natural advantage with your British accent you should not overlook, because Americans tend to invest a British accent with Authority. Don't hesitate to let nature take its course in that event and get yourself into venues where you get to talk about the book to an audience. [Mark again: If you do not have an English accent, you might consider faking one, or talking louder. But usually simply knowing what you are talking about and doing so in an engaged and interested way will engage and interest others. Passionate people kindle passion in others, whatever their accent may be.] Consider working up some talks for homeschool conferences and so forth. You have something to say, so by all means get out there and say it.
Finally, kick around the possibility of designing a website to attract attention to the book so that when the name "Entropy Academy" does get out there and people Google it, the traffic goes first to *you* and not to Amazon (though don't hesitate to market the book through Amazon too, especially in Kindle form).