Monday, October 7, 2019

Starting Where You’re At (in Book Marketing and Life)

by Ralene Burke @RaleneB

I have had one CRAZY summer. Insane. Unyielding. Emotional. In fact, I’m convinced August was a blackhole that didn’t actually happen. Before I could recover, my book release time was here, and I had hardly done anything I had planned to do. This launch was going to be a total failure. 

Unforeseen Circumstances 

First, a little background… My husband and I decided early this year that we were going to move from Kentucky to Virginia to be closer to my family (and so I could be nanny to my precious baby nephew). This was an unexpected blessing—and one that threw off all my best-laid plans. 

So we forged a new plan: how we would fix up the house, sell it, and buy a new home all before the end of summer. Unfortunately, it’s now October, the house has just gone on the market, the kids and I are living with my parents in Virginia while my husband is still in Kentucky, and we’re just praying we can get into a new house before Thanksgiving.

A whole host of unexpected disasters and unforeseen circumstances led to this particular situation. Am I frustrated? Am I overwhelmed? Am I struggling? Yes, yes, and yes. 

But I can’t wallow in this depression forever. God has a plan. God will make a way. And I choose to believe Him.

For now, I have to start where I’m at. 

Step Back

I can’t control the world—though my Type-A personality really, really, REALLY wants to. But I can control ME: my reactions, my emotions, my actions. My current life situation may not be ideal, it is certainly not what I planned, and yet there are benefits and blessings that still abound.

So, I take a deep breath, evaluate my current situation, and plan—not for the future—for the now. What can I do now? What will help now? How can I move forward now?

In my writing life, I had a book release last week. Sword of Soter, Book 2 in the Sacred Armor Trilogy, released from Elk Lake Publishing Inc. with very little fanfare on my part. I woke up one morning and realized, “Hey, the book launch is NEXT week. I’m not ready!”

In the previous couple of months, I had made 4 trips back to Kentucky (2 of them for more than a few days), suffered a medical setback that left me incapacitated for much of August, and struggled with life in general. 

I knew the book release was coming. In fact, before the move, I even started planning out the schedule of book marketing tasks to complete before the release. How much of that did I accomplish? Almost none of it. 

Now, before you think I’m bemoaning a poor book launch due to poor planning, that is not the purpose of this post. I own up to the fact that I let myself become overwhelmed and turn inward, ignoring reality, which is my “fight-or-flight” reaction when things get too complicated.

The purpose of this post is to encourage others who might find themselves in similar situations to take a step back, evaluate their circumstances, and start where they’re at. 

Start Where You’re At

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

We’ve all heard that joke before, but it’s so true. When we get overwhelmed, sometimes our circumstances seem too big, like just the thought of them will crush us. We can’t focus on the big picture. We have to focus ONE. SMALL. THING.

My book launch didn’t have a lot going for it. I had not been promoting it much. I didn’t have a pre-order set up. I didn’t even have ARCs for my street team. What did I have?

Well, I did HAVE a street team. I could start with them. They were already excited about Sword of Soter. They’d all read Armor of Aletheia and LOVED it. They couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. I let their enthusiasm carry me from task to task. I let them have some input on things like cover and graphic designs. THEY made my cover reveal—which happened a week before the release—a great success.

I also like to create contests within the street team to encourage them to participate in launch month activities, like leaving reviews, sharing on social media, requesting the book at their local libraries, etc. Sometimes I let THEM come up with the activities—they can be quite creative. 

And I did have a newsletter. Granted, it’s not a very large one. But again, it’s people who have stuck by me for the past couple of years. They enjoy my stories. So I invited them to my street team. I let them know about the cover reveal. I sent out an email blast on release day. I’ll send one out again to remind them to leave reviews.

My goal during launch week, especially given the lack of pre-launch buzz, was not to flood Amazon with a ton of sales over a couple of days, but to slowly build sales over the week, the month. To allow Amazon’s algorithm to do its job in pushing (and keeping) my book up in the ranks so new eyes would see it. 

While I may not have had the best book launch ever, I’m encouraged by the response I’ve seen so far. And while I may not be where I wanted to be in life at this moment, I’m learning to roll with the tide and allow God’s blessings to encourage me anyway. It’s a process. But when I let God do the leading, I find that I’m not as overwhelmed and frustrated. Instead, I look forward to seeing how He makes everything work out for the better. 

Are you at a point in your life where you need to step back, breathe, then start where you’re at? Feel free to share a little bit in the comments, and I’ll be sure to add you to my prayer list. If not, what new and exciting things is God doing in your life?


Whether she’s wielding a fantasy writer’s pen, a social media wand, or a freelance editor’s sword, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to help everyone #SHINE Beyond their circumstances! Her novels, Bellanok and Armor of Aletheia, are available on Amazon. More fantasy novels coming soon!

When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all-around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . . You can also find her on FacebookInstagramTwitter, or at her website.


  1. Congratulations on your new book! :) Trying to balance taking care of our loved ones (and ourselves) and doing “our thing” is my biggest challenge too. The good ideas and plans are far greater than the hours in a day - then add in the family! Lol So thankful that God “works all things together for good...” Rom 8:28 because I always need Him to do so.

    1. Amen, Chris! What would we do if God were not on our side?

  2. I needed to read this today.
    Thank you, Ralene.
    And good luck with your book launch and housing situation.

  3. Congratulations, Ralene! And God will redeem the time!

  4. Praying all goes well moving forward Ms. Ralene. The key, moving forward while staying in step with The Planner. God's blessings young lady.

  5. Thanks for your encouraging message. Praying for you as you sell and buy homes and juggle all your responsibilities. Congratulations on your new book!

  6. Thank you for the encouragement to take a step back and breathe and then, continue writing. :-)

  7. Thank you all for your encouragement as well. I'm glad y'all could relate to the post and find some little nuggets to encourage you as well. God bless!

  8. Congrats on the new book, and your words are encouraging to take that first bite and each one after until the task is completed!

  9. I so needed to hear this message today. Thank you for sharing from your heart! I feel like I am so far behind on all of this marketing stuff, it is overwhelming. My fight of flight reaction is the same as yours. Yes, one bite at a time. Thank you!!!

    1. It is always nice to know we're not alone! I hope you find a way to organize and press on!