Kathi and her friend Diane Dokko Kim, author of Broken Faith, are returning today and going deeper in Part 2 of What I Didn’t Know About Book Launches. Last week we discussed some of the biggest surprises of book launches and becoming an author and we promised that this week Diane would share the depths of her soul with us. This week you will learn Diane’s answers to:
- How did you know what your audience needed to hear?
- What were some of the book launch activities that did really well?
- What do you wish you would’ve done better?
- What is the main thing you will do this time with your next book?
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Transcript of this Episode
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Communicator Academy Podcast # 195
What I Didn’t Know about Launching a Book – Part Two
Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to Communicator Academy, where our heart is to equip and encourage men and women become the communicators God has created them to be. Returning today is my friend, Diane Dokko Kim, who is the author of Unbroken Faith. We are here talking about book launches. Diane, welcome back to Communicator Academy.
Diane – Thank you, Kathi.
Kathi – Okay, so we promised our listeners last time that you were going to share the depths of your soul when it came to book launches. So, the first thing I want to talk about is “What did you get right?” because I know your book is a success, so you got some things right. So, let’s talk about those for a second. It’s very easy to say, “Here’s a list of the things I didn’t know and the things I got wrong.” But there was a lot that you got right, so let’s talk about that.
Diane – It’s interesting. Everybody asks the question, “How long does it take to write a book?” or “How long does it take to launch a ministry?” and technically, it took me about ten years. So, the question, “What did I do right?” I think it boils down to two categories. What I got right was, I had a very clear ‘Why?’ – Why I was speaking; why I was writing; why I was doing this ministry. So, for myself, I’m a special needs parent, so I had a burden for other families that were struggling. I had a clear ‘why’. I knew that this was an audience whose needs were not being met, so I had a very clear sense of mission and calling to them. The second thing was having a clear sense of who I was ministering to. Who was my target audience? I remember attending Leverage, and that’s one of the things that you and Michele talk about. Having a clear, let’s use the word ‘niche’, is actually a good thing. I think, as aspiring authors, we all think that we want to reach as many people as possible, but it’s actually strategic and recommended that we have a very clear sense of who our audience is. Seth Godin even talks about having the smallest viable audience, so, for me that was a no-brainer. Finding out that having a clear sense of why I’m doing this, why I’m writing, why I’m ministering, having a clear sense of who I’m ministering to. Once those are in place, the ‘hows’ actually fall into place.
Kathi – Yeah. So, it’s really understanding who your people are and what their needs are. We talked about this in the last episode, how you had a secondary audience. You so clearly wrote to the needs of your audience, that your audience handed the book to leaders in the church and said, “This woman can say it better than I ever could.” How did you know what your audience needed to hear?
Diane – I knew what my primary audience needed to hear, because I was one of them. I, myself, am a special needs parent, and I remember 10-15 years ago when our child got diagnosed, I was looking for spiritual resources. There’s tons of material out there for my people about ‘how to do this’ or ‘how to train your kids on this’, but I was looking for something that ministered to my soul. Yes, the child has a disability, but a lot of times the parent have a spiritual disability, but their needs aren’t getting met. A lot of times, these families are not able to go to church because they have challenges with their kids and a lot of churches are not equipped. I knew there was a spiritual hunger that was not being met. I remember at that time, someone said, “If you’re looking for a book and it doesn’t exist, then maybe you need to be the one to write it.”
Kathi – Right.
Diane – So that’s the birth of this book. When I wrote it, as you mentioned, I was not prepared for the secondary audience. The secondary audience that came up was churches that didn’t know how to deal with our families with our kids. So, these families, once they read this and said, “This woman gets us. She gets our challenges.” They turned around and gave it to their church leaders and said, “She says what I’m not able to articulate.” That’s when all the invitations came in. “Can you train us? Can you equip us?” Actually, that’s where a lot of the requests and bookings came.
Kathi – I think it’s so interesting. In the ‘80s and part of the ‘90s, books were written by people saying, “This is how you do it better. Be good like me.” We have discovered that no, we need books to be written by people who are like, “I’ve been there. It sucked. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. I survived it. Let me give you a little bit of hope.” That’s what you’ve done with your book, and that’s how it provided the secondary audience. So, talk about some of the launch activities that you feel like you did really well. What are some, either classic launch activities, or maybe things we haven’t heard of that you though, “Yep. I nailed it.”?
Diane – I think, one thing is, I spent a lot of time studying. Studying the craft. Studying writing. Studying the publishing industry. Speaking, marketing, all those things. Actually, I was preparing to self-publish, so I knew that I was going to be responsible for all those things. So, because this was a niche audience, I didn’t expect to be picked up by a publisher, so was prepared to do all the nuts and bolts. I went to Leverage. I went to writer’s conferences. So, I did a lot of studying about the business and the craft, so that’s one. I think, related to the first thing I did right, is knowing who my audience was and having a sense of mission. So, in the world of publishing you hear this word ‘platform’ a lot. For me, it’s ironic, ‘cause I thought I didn’t have a platform. At that time I was blogging, I only had a hundred subscribers, but when I actually ended up meeting with an agent, and I apologized, “Yeah, I have a really small platform.” She looked at my one sheet and said, “No, you’ve actually been ministering for the last ten years and that is your platform.” So, platform, as I’ve learned so much from you, Kathi, is, basically, serving your audience; showing up to serve your audience. So, whether that’s writing or speaking or whatever it is, it’s just meeting their needs. So, interestingly, after ten years, I had a ‘platform’ and it wasn’t a matter of blog subscribers, or how many social media followers you had. Practically, one thing I’m so thankful is, I had a website. I had a professionally designed website. Angela Bouma did a fantastic job. I booked her a year in advance, knowing that it was going to take a lot of time to build something like this. So, that was my saving grace because there were many parts that I didn’t do right and that I wasn’t prepared for.
Kathi – I think that’s what happens. People write a book, they get really excited about it, then they’re like, “Okay, now I have to do a platform.” If your book isn’t a natural outgrowth of what you’ve already been doing, you’re going to have a much harder time. So, do the ministry. Do the business. Then, when you publish the book, and the ministry and business have to keep on going, it won’t be such a shock to the system. It won’t be such a surprise. Okay, now let’s get into the nitty gritty. Tell us all the horrible things you did wrong. I don’t think you did many things wrong, because, like we said, you didn’t have to sell your book to everybody. You needed to sell it to this select group of people. You needed to be known as a name in that select group of people, and that’s what you did. So, tell us what you did wrong, and what you’d do differently next time.
Diane – I’m happy to share this part because, this podcast is for folks on the cusp of releasing their first book, so I am so happy to share what I wish I’d do better so that others can be more equipped and don’t make the same mistakes. I think we’re all going to face the same challenges. So, number one, I wish, and this is something you’re only going to learn as you go through it is, I didn’t know how to transition from being an amateur (a volunteer who did this ministry because it needed to be done) transitioning to pro. So, when you release a book, invitations are going to come to do media. I didn’t know how to do interviews. I didn’t know the format of how to conduct yourself, things like that. I also had no experience leading a launch team. We mentioned that in the first podcast. I’d never been part of a book launch team. So, when it came to leading my own, I had no idea what I was doing, yet launch teams are so key. I think, in terms of practical things, I had been speaking and ministering for ten years, but at every speaking event, I never bothered to collect an email list. I didn’t know that was going to be important. So, there were eight years that went by, that I forfeited building my subscriber list, until a year before publishing, and it’s like, “Oh shoot! I gotta do that.” So, if you’re out there speaking, start a subscriber list. Another practical thing is, I had no marketing assets. Kathi, you teach this at Leverage. Have a media kit. Have a speaker packet. For some reason, I just wasn’t prepared. I didn’t have those, so I was really scrambling when requests came in for speaking engagements and I didn’t have anything to share with them. Even in terms of pricing. How do you price yourself as a speaker? I did things for free and suddenly people are asking me how much I cost, and I’m like, “Um…” So that’s just a few.
Kathi – Here’s the thing. I think that sometimes people don’t get prepared because, one: It’s imposter syndrome. “Well, I’m not really a speaker.”
Diane – “That’s not going to happen to me.”
Kathi – “Nobody’s going to ask me to speak.” Well, okay, what if the worst happens and somebody asks you to speak? Let’s figure out what the next step is on that. So, imposter syndrome, or also, it feels overwhelming. So, I think that at some point, what you need to do is say, “Here are the six things I need to do. Let me break these down into 15 minute, doable tasks.” You may have a hundred fifteen minute, doable tasks.
Diane – I wish I’d done that. Especially things like a speaker packet. It’s such a basic. What are the things you talk about? What are your areas of expertise? How much does it cost? How do we go about booking you? So, I was just scrambling for those pieces.
Kathi – But that’s why we do Communicator Academy. I know you got a lot of resources from there. Also, this is why it’s so important to hang out with other authors. I also think, one of the best things you can do is, if you don’t, intern for somebody. You interned for me, and I know you learned a lot through that, ‘cause you’ve told me several times. But also, being on a launch team. Yeah, I’d never been on a launch team before I needed a launch team. When I started this, there weren’t launch teams. We didn’t even know what that meant. So now, to understand how to work something like that, and how to know what to do, and how to serve your launch team audience, so that can serve a bigger audience. These are all beautiful things to know. So, Diane, off-air I asked, “Are you working on another book?” and you said you had several that were floating around, but the one that you’re pursuing is the one that everybody asks the questions about. So, what’s the most important thing that you’ll do differently this time?
Diane – It’s interesting that the same cycle in which I came up with my first book is what’s driving what’s going to be my second book. When I wrote my first book, it was basically an FAQ of all the common struggles that people in my boat, my people, struggle with. So, that first audience was special needs parents who had all this spiritual grief and disillusionment and all of that. We all had the same questions. So, I was answering all those most commonly struggled with issues. When that book released, I was surprised that this secondary audience rose up of churches and ministry leaders asking “How do we do these families, so we can take care of them and meet those needs?” So, again, it was the same questions that were coming up over and over again. I thought, “Okay, apparently this needs to be my next book.” It totally was not what I had planned. I had other books in mind, but this seemed to be hot. Communicator Academy just came out with a podcast about listening to your audience. What are the commonly requested issues or themes that are coming up? Really being dialed in to what your audience needs are, and seeking a way to meet those needs.
Kathi – You have experience setting up a special needs ministry in a church. You’ve had experience in all of these things and there are very few people who have been on both sides of that issue. To know that. The beautiful thing is, out of what you’ve done for your first book, you already have the mailing list. You already have the people. You know the conferences. You know who needs to hear what, and you can be an advocate for them. This is amazing.
Diane – Going back to the question of “What is the one thing I did right?” Because I’ve been serving my audience for a good ten years, ironically, that was building a platform, and, even more specifically, by the time it came to publish, I already had several endorsements ready to go; people who knew who I was, knew what I did, knew the quality of my work. So, when I had a book coming out, and I said, “Hey!” This is actually an area where first time authors struggle. “Nobody knows me.” So, I actually had about 20 folks who were familiar with my work and said, “Oh, absolutely. Let me at it.” So, knowing ‘why?’, knowing ‘who?’, then God will order those ‘hows’.
Kathi – I love it. Okay, friends, we have got resources for you. We know that many of you are either in the throes of launching a book, or are in the throes of writing the book that will have to be launched. So, a couple of things: Diane has a great download. We explained it last time. It’s The New Author, Speaker, and Solopreneur Resource List. We will have a link in our show notes so you can go and download that. I’m super excited that you’ve pulled together that resource. Your basic kit on what to do. Then, also, if you are going to be launching a book, you are not going to want to miss our Writing at The Red House with Anna LeBaron in 2020. So, find out more about that. Diane, thanks so much for being on Communicator Academy.
Diane – Thank you so much, Kathi. Thank you for birthing me and teaching me all of these things that I can pass on to the next generation of emerging authors and voices.
Kathi – You know what? You’re one of my proudest people. I just love what you’ve done with your community and that I got to play a small part in it? It just thrills my heart. Friends, thank you. You being here week after week just excites me and gives me so much stamina to keep going. I want to equip you so you can equip your audience. You’ve been listening to Communicator Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. You’ve been given the best message in the world. Now, go live it.
*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items
Meet Your Hosts
Author, Speaker, Communicator Academy Creator and CEO
Diane Dokko Kim
Diane is a disability ministry consultant, speaker, and author of Unbroken Faith: Spiritual Recovery for the Special-Needs Parent. Her passions include encouraging struggling families from Scripture and equipping churches into becoming inclusive faith communities.
Connect with her at dianedokkokim.com, where she blogs on being “wrecked, redeemed, and repurposed.”