Monday, October 9, 2017

The 'Do Unto Others' of Marketing by Nola Passmore



Soon after being released from Ravensbruck concentration camp, Corrie ten Boom began a worldwide ministry of forgiveness and reconciliation that took her to more than sixty countries over several decades.  During those years, she was billeted in the homes of hundreds of people, and experienced their warm hospitality.  She thanked God for these wonderful hosts, but also credited her parents with planting the seeds of generosity.  All throughout her childhood and into adulthood, their home was open to anyone. There was always an extra place at the table, a word of encouragement and an open ear.  Corrie later reaped the benefits of her family’s hospitality.

We’ve all heard the adage ‘do to others as you would have them do to you’ (Lk. 6:31), but do we apply this in our writing?  We’re fortunate that there are supportive writing groups like Christian Writers Downunder, Australasian Christian Writers, Omega Writers and FaithWriters.  All of these groups emphasise community and helping each other.  However, I’ve also seen the other side where some writers exude a sense of entitlement.  They want everyone to support their writing, but are reluctant to help others in return.  Such a person might join a group of writers purely to market their own book without giving anything back to the community; or they might expect their publisher to nurture and promote their book, yet be reluctant to even share posts about their publisher’s books, services and events. 

‘Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’ (Lk. 6:38)

How can we apply that in the marketing of our books?  Here are a few suggestions to ponder.

  • If you want people to review your book on sites such as Amazon or Goodreads, you must be prepared to review other authors’ books. (See my post about reviews here).
  • If you expect others to buy your book, you need to be willing to purchase other people’s books.  If your budget is a problem, see my suggestions later in this post.
  • If you expect people to share your book news on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram; you need to do the same for them.
  • If you want someone to give you feedback on your manuscript, you need to be prepared to give them feedback on their writing.
  • If you want people to comment on your blog, you need to comment on other people’s blogs.
  • If you want people to subscribe to your newsletter, give them something in return (e.g. a special offer or some subscriber-only benefits, such as a free story).
  • If you want people to help you with events such as workshops, book fairs and book launches, you need to be willing to lend a hand to others.


I could go on, but I think you get the idea.  If we’re going to support each other as a community of writers, we need to give before we take.



There are some caveats to what I’ve been saying.  Firstly, we need to watch our attitudes.  We should help others because we genuinely want to support and encourage them, not just because we want something out of it.  People can spot a phony a mile away and no-one likes being used.

Secondly, ‘doing unto others’ doesn’t mean we give someone a five-star review because they gave us a five-star review.  Honesty is critical.  There have been times when I’ve started reading a book with every intention of posting a review, but then felt I couldn’t really endorse it.  If it’s an author I know personally, I’ve chosen to not review the book rather than post a negative review.  There have also been times when I’ve been asked to share a Facebook post or tweet, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing so. This could be due to the content or to other practical considerations (e.g. I'd shared other posts recently and didn't want to spam my friends and followers).

Time and money constraints can also be issues.  It only takes a couple of seconds to retweet a message on Twitter, but it can take ten hours or more to read someone’s draft manuscript and provide constructive feedback.  For that reason, I’ve decided to only do that favour for my critique partners.  Most people don’t have endless pots of money to buy books, but we can still help authors and publishers by borrowing a book from a library or a friend, and then posting a review.  Some authors and publishers will be happy to give you an Advanced Reader Copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. If you sign up to NetGalley, you can also receive free e-books in exchange for reviews.

Some people might find this post challenging.  I find it challenging too.  I could be doing a lot more to support other writers, editors and publishers; and I admit that my attitude is not always as it should be. None of us is perfect, and we all have limitations and responsibilities.  We can’t do everything, but we can all do something.  Can you take time to bless a writer, editor or publisher today?  It could be a simple ‘like’, comment or retweet. You don’t know what blessings may be poured out for you in return.


Nola Passmore has had more than 150 short pieces published, including fiction, poetry, devotions, true stories, magazine articles, and academic papers. She and her husband Tim run a freelance writing and editing business called The Write Flourish.  You can find her weekly writing tips blog on their website.  

Twitter:        https://twitter.com/NolaPassmore

40 comments:

  1. Nola, excellent post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and challenging us to look at how we can support others in the writing community. What I call ‘Selfish Author Syndrome’ is something that authors can’t hide. Actions speak louder than words and the many authors who quietly review, share, support and encourage others do inspire their peers to do the same. It’s the body of Christ in action, with writers doing their bit, however big or small, to help and support our Christian writing community. My next job - share your post on Twitter and in Australian Christian Writers Facebook Group :)

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    1. Hi Narelle - Thanks for that. You're so right that actions speak louder than words. If I see others doing something encouraging, it does prompt me as well. Even small encouragements can help. Thanks too for commenting and sharing my post. I really appreciate it.

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  2. Great post Nola and a needed one. Love it how you began with the example of Corrie Ten Boom reaping the hospitality that she and her family sowed. I've learnt that life is a lot about reaping and sowing. :) So it does well to heed what you say. Also loved you mentioning the heart attitudes which should be behind it - not self gain. Thanks for sharing the practical ways we can support one another. After all - that's a big part of what this Christian walk is all about - building up the body of Christ. The wonderful truth is that a fellow Christian's success is our own because we are all part of the same body. So it makes perfect sense to do what you express so well. Many thanks Nola and well done on all your writing and sowing!

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    1. Thanks Anusha. I've read a few of Corrie's books and I can't remember exactly where that example came from, but it made a big impact on me. One of her books, 'In My Father's House' gave more background about her life before 'The Hiding Place' and it was an amazing family. You're such a great encourager, Anusha. It's great to share each others' successes. Looking forward to dancing with you when your new book comes out :)

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  3. Nola, I love that line in your blog, 'We can't do everything, but we can all do something.' Also the gentle way you have challenged us all in general. Sometimes I can feel guilty because I haven't had time to read an author friend's new release, let alone review it, or if I honestly don't like a book well enough to give it a good review, as you mention, or even share it on Facebook. But then I remind myself I have done other things for authors as time permits and that sit well with me, like editing/assessing the work of first-time authors and trying to help them in all sorts of ways eg in networking, passing on relevant info, attending their book launches etc. And I am also happy to give others the freedom not to feel pressured to read (and like!) my own books and not to review them etc! I think it's about all of us being aware what God is challenging us to do and to put our time and effort into and being faithful in that, rather than trying to spread ourselves too thinly.

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    1. Thanks for those great examples, Jo. You give of yourself so much in your books, talks, and mentoring of people. You've been such a faithful blogger for so long, and God has blessed hundreds of people through your words. I like what you say about being aware of where God wants us to put our time and effort. If we follow His leading, it's always the right thing at the right time. Thanks for commenting.

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  4. Nola, thank you for a wonderful post. Every time I read something from your pen, it always has 'The Write Flourish'. Joking aside, I know I've appreciated your kindness in sharing, and sadly I've seen few friends do the same. But it's a reminder to myself as well, to continue give as little as an encouraging word. A blog I was so kindly asked to write for CWD touches on the same topic. I know that the offer to contribute really made my day. It's even inspired me to use my cobwebby Wordpress blog site an get running an ivitational author interview/review once a month blog. Once again, thank you for your words, Nola, as always.

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    1. Thanks Deirdre. It's amazing how something seemingly small can encourage someone. I'll look forward to your blog on CWD and will be interested to see what you do on your Wordpress site. Interviews and reviews are a great way to start. Thank you for sharing my posts too and for commenting on my blogs. It's great to get those words of encouragement. May God bless you richly.

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  5. Great post. Thanks, Nola. I too like your point that we can't do everything, but we can do something. And also, that it's not a strict accounting procedure, but a willingness to support other writers in their journey in practical ways.

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    1. Thanks Jenny. You're one of the super encouragers, sharing people's posts and commenting on blogs. May it come back to you a hundredfold. And I like what you say about it not being a strict accounting system, but the willingness to help in practical ways. Thanks for your comments.

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  6. Thanks Nola for your excellent post. Yep we all could do more. I've got a backlog of reviews I want and need to write. How long do they really need to be? Some people here (I'm looking at you Paula Vince) write beautiful detailed reviews. The most I've done is a short paragraph!

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    1. Aww, thanks Sue 😁 I have a great fondness for reviews because they are a fairly permanent record that anyone may keep stumbling across years down the track. Sometimes even short paragraphs have sold a book for me.

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    2. Hi Sue - I have a pile of books sitting here (and on my Kindle) that I've been meaning to read and review too. I'm not sure we ever get to the end of our lists, but the odd review here and there helps. And a review can be really short, even just a couple of sentences. I think the key though is to say something specific rather than just a generic 'really liked this book'. But a specific comment can be made briefly. 'I really liked the way the protagonist changed as they overcame their fear of purple anteaters.' And yes, Paula does write great reviews :) Thanks for commenting.

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  7. Great post, Nola, thanks. I do agree, especially as Christians, we should have an attitude of giving and not just taking. I always enjoy your content and today I also noticed how helpful your little 'click here' to see other relevant blog posts etc is.I am still conquering all that how-to-do side of it. I'll continue to do what I can when I can and make more effort to comment etc. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Thanks Jeanette. You're one of my most frequent commenters and I really appreciate the time you take to do that. There's always more that we can do, but as you say, we can do 'what we can, where we can', and I think that's all anyone can ask. And re the 'click here' links, it's easy in blogger because you just click on the little 'link' icon on the menu and it asks you for the info. I don't use Wordpress, so I'm not sure what they use, but imagine it's something similar. It's a great way to direct people to other helpful information. Thanks for your comments.

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  8. Hi Nola, thanks for the great post. It's a challenge to all of us, since it's so easy to fill the 24 hours with our own work and agendas. I'm sure not many of us complain that we haven't enough to do. But on the plus side, when we are generous in these ways, we often get the benefit of helping with some terrific work. And also, it's good to keep in mind that we can't possibly help everyone in these areas without getting burned out. As Jeanette says, what we can and when we can is a great help 😊

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    1. Thanks for that, Paula. Yes it is a great feeling to be generous and share in the successes of others. And you're so right about being careful not to burn ourselves out. I know I just can't comment on all of the blogs that come around or review all the books I'd like, but we can start where we are. As Jo said, we can follow those God promptings. I really enjoy your blogs and reviews. Always informative and entertaining. Really appreciate you commenting.

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  9. Thanks, Nola, for such an insightful post. Perhaps because of my experiences as an author, now that I have moved into publishing on a small scale, one of the primary things I look for with new authors who approach me is actually not their platform but how much they are supporting others. I am happy to work with people who are "us" oriented, rather than "me" oriented - because at the end of the day, I believe God will honour them, regardless of their "platform".

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    1. Thanks Annie. That's a great perspective from the publishing side. I think people can sometimes be caught up so much in establishing themselves that they don't realise the importance of teamwork in the publishing process. When I was a Uni academic, I tried to impress on students the value of teamwork. Students who worked really well together and helped each other with study and assignments, usually reaped the benefits. I guess it's just another example of how helping others can help you. You've done so much to support other writers, especially with all your years as Omega president. May God bless you a hundredfold in this new season of your life. Really appreciate your comment.

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  10. Nola, I can testify to the fact that you practise what you preach! You go girl!!!

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    1. Aw thanks Janet. It's easy to share your bloggy awesomeness. And you've helped so many people over the years. I remember all the encouragement you gave to the Quirky Quills when we were just starting out. And you've done so much to help people in your community. You go girl too :)

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  11. Yes Nola is a true giver and practises what she writes! Thanks, Nola, great post.

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    1. Aw, thanks Ruth. I feel I could do heaps more. I've really appreciated your support too. Will be fun sharing in the Blue Mountains. Not long now. Thanks for commenting :)

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  12. Hi Nola, yep, I agree with the others' comments - a challenge, especially as being an 'author' in itself tends to make one time-poor. I have found the online Christian community of writers a fabulous support (as acknowledged in the bck of my novel!). I find being a part of the small groups, in particular, within groups like CWD, is fantastic.

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    1. Thanks for that Cate. It's great to be part of the online community, but you're so right about the value of smaller groups. I don't know where I'd be without my writing group. The picture of the top of this post shows one of our meetings a while ago where we all brought something to critique. Congratulations on your novel. Will be excited to see the launch at the conference.

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  13. An honest post. Thank you, Nola. I think we as writers sometimes hide away and forget that we’re all trying to do the same thing. We forget to acknowledge and encourage each other. It doesn’t have to be huge like you said. A comment on a blog or a share of social media news. If you’re planning to go to a book launch for someone, why NOT offer to help out?
    It’s the little things that count. We’re all in this together :)

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    1. Thanks Kirsten. Have certainly appreciated your comments, feedback and help with various events. It's fun working together towards common goals. All of those little things sure add up. Thanks for commenting.

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  14. Thanks Nola, for a challenging blog and for practicing what you preach. I read posts, may be in a hurry, or want to think about my reply, then don't get back to it. So definitely need to be more self disciplined.

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    1. Thanks Janelle. I find if I don't comment at the time, I often don't get back to it. I always appreciate it when someone's given a thoughtful response they've thought about, but any encouragement is great. Just like the way you've encouraged me by commenting here. Thanks for stopping by :)

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  15. Great post, Nola. What a great challenge, and so much helpful advice on how we can support each other. I appreciate the encouragement and reminder to do so :)

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    1. Thanks Carolyn. I found it challenging myself - LOL I think the important thing to remember is that we don't have to try to do everything. Encouraging comments and retweets can be a big encouragement. Thanks for stopping by.

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  16. Your post has really challenged me but in a very positive way. You could say it 'spoke' to me. Personally, I need to do more - not just of sharing and helping others on their journeys but also to just 'participate' and 'give' to whatever group activity I'm taking part in. My illness is a big issue because I frequently find myself wanting to be part of things, wanting very much to help others, but having to back out of commitments because I simply wake up in so much pain on the day. I think in some ways this has become a bit of an excuse for not trying hard enough though ... and I really appreciate your practical suggestions. As you say, it really only takes a minute to do some of these things so I'll be making it a priority from now on. And I agree with other commenters that I have always found you to be incredibly supportive and encouraging. You certainly practice what you preach. :)

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    1. I see my comment has come up under the name Miss Min ... it's me ... Melinda, lol.

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    2. Thanks for that, Melinda, and I did remember you were Miss Min :) I know it's hard for you to continually be battling with chronic illness and I know you've missed out on a lot of writing events etc you would have liked to go to. You can only do what you can do. You've always been an encouragement to me. I think the important thing to remember is that it does only take a minute to do some of these things, as you say. I could be doing more and don't have any excuses really. Thanks for taking the time to comment here. I really appreciate it :)

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  17. A really good reminder and a challenge! Thanks for writing about what could have been an easy subject to avoid :)

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    1. Thanks Emily. I did wonder how the post would be received (LOL), but I found it helpful to write for me as well. I need to remind myself about these things because I don't do as much as I could be doing. Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it :)

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  18. You exemplify the positive actions you've espoused. It is so true that a little encouragement goes a long way.

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    1. Thanks Mazzy. You've been a real encouragement to me too. You're so right that a little encouragement goes a long way. It can help keep us motivated when we feel like we're writing ourselves out of a tunnel or maze.

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