Overcoming The Fear Of Marketing With Alexa Bigwarfe

Overcoming The Fear Of Marketing With Alexa Bigwarfe

When should you start marketing your book? Is there anything you can do to market your book while writing and editing it? What should you do if you’re afraid of marketing or sounding too salesy when your book comes out? 

These are questions I get asked all the time

In this podcast episode, I’m sharing a conversation I had with Alexa Bigwarfe about how writers can overcome the fear of marketing their books and what you can do right now to kickstart your marketing efforts. She’s also going to share a behind-the-scenes look at her own marketing efforts, plus what she’s learned over the years helping writers market their books, too.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right into my conversation with Alexa Bigwarfe where we talk about how to overcome the fear of marketing and so much more. 


Transcript: Overcoming The Fear Of Marketing With Alexa Bigwarfe

SAVANNAH:  Hi, Alexa. Thank you so much for coming on Fiction Writing Made Easy. I'm so excited to have you here!

ALEXA: Hello! Thank you so much for having me here. I'm so excited to be able to talk about fiction as a fiction author now.

SAVANNAH: I love it. We're going to get into what Alexa means by that shortly. But before we get there, I gave you an intro before the episode started, but in your own words, just quickly tell us who you are, what you do, and things like that.

ALEXA: So I guess when you boil it down to who I am today, it's really as a coach, a connector, a trainer, someone who is very passionate… In fact, one of my clients said, I'm kind of like… You're kind of like the advocate or like, you know, the, the person who's there making sure that authors are equipped with knowledge and training and community. And so through. through my own journey of publishing... Like I just love being able to share resources and also remember how hard it was for me in the beginning and try to alleviate the stresses that authors have. I mean, writing a book is the easy part when it comes down to it with all the other things that have to happen.  

SAVANNAH: Yeah. Which is so fun. We're going to talk about that today. We're going to talk about how you went from nonfiction to fiction, how you have this amazing summit that happens once a year... We're going to talk about marketing in general and so many other things. But what you just said, I love, because that's kind of the vibe I like to go forward to is like, we don't need to gatekeep the knowledge. We don't need to like, you know, have degrees to do some of this stuff.  

ALEXA: Right. 

SAVANNAH: If we could just kind of boil everything down to let's say we're a writer who, they're at the start of their career, maybe they're editing, maybe they're finished, all of them are going to have these fears come up about marketing, right? Because sometimes people are like, marketing feels skeezy, I don't like it, it feels overwhelming. Where would you start if you were any of these people?  

ALEXA: So the first and the first and most important thing always is to remember that marketing is just about building relationships. I talk about this fear around marketing a lot and I tell people to stop calling it marketing. Call it connecting. Connecting with my potential readers, connecting with fans, connecting with people who love this genre just like I do. And the moment that you start thinking of yourself, kind of with your marketing more as one of them, than any other way that you can think of yourself, it becomes a lot easier. And it's also really fun if you love what you're writing and you love your genre and you're reading and talking about other books when you don't have your own book to talk about. Like all of these things… Just by being excited and being one of the readers can, can make it so much less intimidating.

SAVANNAH: Yeah, and that's such a fun point, because I work with a lot of writers who… They're really into their fandoms, or they're really into books, and they're on all the apps, and they're, you know, even Bookstagrammers and things like that… They have no problem sharing and talking about other books, and they're so excited, and it's kind of like… I like to try to say just because it's your book doesn't mean it doesn't deserve that level of excitement. Right? Like that's something to be so proud of!

ALEXA: Yes. Well, we had this conversation yesterday and in our membership program as well. If you feel this fear, you are 100% not alone. It's more odd that people aren't afraid of marketing their own stuff. But I reminded people, I said, you know, think about anybody that you follow, anyone that you're interested in learning more about. You’re not put off by them talking about their books. In fact, you want that because you followed them for a reason. And when someone follows you, whether it's on your social media or joins your email list or comes to an event that you do or whatever, they are giving you permission explicitly to talk about what you are doing as an author. And they want it. And remember that because you want it too. When you follow an author that you love, I mean, I love hearing what people that I am interested in have to put out—whether it's about their book, which I appreciate because as a reader and fan of them, I want to know when their next stuff is coming out—or maybe it's a book I missed any of those things. So don't worry about that piece and worst case scenario, someone unfollows you. Does that really matter? No, because they're not interested in you or your writing.  

SAVANNAH: Right. And I like how you said it’s about connecting and more like sharing versus I'm marketing at you, right? It's like… We're not throwing things at people. We're sharing something that they're probably going to like too. And to your point, that they probably signed up to hear about it, so…

ALEXA: Exactly. And if they didn't sign up to hear about it, then maybe you need to look at how you're bringing people into your community because that is one thing when we talk about fear. Fear is based on things that haven't happened yet, but might happen, or it can be based on learned and lived experiences, right? So if you have an audience that you've built, but maybe you built the email list through an Amazon gift card giveaway or a recipe for your grandma's favorite pie, or, you know, something else, or a meme that everybody followed you about, but it's not really relevant to who you are, then you may be seeing frustration because you have the wrong people. So it's really important to make sure that as you're growing your audience to make the marketing more fun and less difficult, that you're finding the right people who do want that, then they will engage, then they will say fun things back. Then you don't have to worry about those other scary factors.

SAVANNAH: Right. And so sometimes I see that kind of happens on accident. But other times I see that happen where like… A writer, they'll do something that the internet tells them to do. So it's like the internet says, post a meme every Thursday, right? And they post memes and they build the following based on the memes. Instead of that, what makes you happy? What makes you want to connect with people? What would you like to see from your favorite authors? So sometimes it's like, listen to your gut, be yourself. And that stuff won't always happen. 

ALEXA: And funny memes are great. I just saw a webinar the other day about how much comedy converts and laughter converts. And I know that's true. That's generally what gets my attention are things that make me laugh. If you're going to use comedy, make sure that it's relevant. Like there are a ton of hilarious memes out there about writers and books. And so if you're using things like that, then you're getting that right audience because they think it's funny and it's about something they love.

SAVANNAH: Right. And it's funny because just as you were saying that, I'm like, yeah, that makes a lot of sense for someone who, you know… It's on brand for them. So the humor is on brand. Maybe there's humor in their book. Maybe the readers of their book are talking about things like that. Sometimes it’s about expressing yourself versus doing what you think you should do that's going to draw people in more. And you'll just kind of come up with a cohesive feel and vibe for your brand. 

ALEXA: Absolutely couldn't agree more.  

SAVANNAH: So we talked about the fear a little bit, right? If people are afraid of marketing, don't think about it as marketing, kind of tap into why you're doing this, what you enjoy and things like that. The second biggest question I get asked about marketing, other than like, what is it, is when do I need to worry about it? So is it something I think about when I'm starting an idea, when I'm editing a book, when I'm done and the book's in my hands, do I start thinking about marketing?   

ALEXA: Oh, man, this is such a good question. And it's one that's really hard to answer. Well, the answer is easy. You should be marketing from the time you have an idea because it takes time and energy and effort to grow an audience and you don't want to be left behind. But the reason it's a complicated answer is because… When people hear that there's something that happens in your brain, I believe, just because I feel this on my end as well, that you all of a sudden are so worried about other details and you think things like, “Oh, now I have to learn about how to do an Instagram account! Now I have to learn about how to set up an email sequence! And I have to do that…” You wind up spending all your time learning all of those things and trying to implement them—and then you're not writing your book. And the truth is… We all know you can't sell a book that's not been written. Well, you can, and people do it all the time, but that's a little bit risky because people actually want to get what they paid for. 

So I think that what is most important is that you're thinking about it from a big picture standpoint, but not letting the marketing rule your life. Like maybe you have one day of the week that you set aside for working on your business or in your business. And if you're not thinking of yourself as a business owner, as an author, that's a mistake. Number one, you need to be thinking about things from a business perspective. A new restaurant wouldn't just open up and expect to, you know, have a grand opening day if they never put in any time, energy and effort of telling the community, “Hey, there's a new restaurant. We've got this and that… We've got coupons. We've got all those things!” You have to think in the same way about your book. 

So I would say do a couple of basic things in the beginning. We all know we have to have social media these days. That's just the way it is. And we all know we need to have an email list… But then it starts to get overwhelming. And a… And a.. And a… And I don't want anyone to get overwhelmed. So at a minimum, think about your home on the internet. When you find readers, where are you sending them and what action steps do you want them to take?  

And that could be as simple as a landing page for now so that you can start collecting email addresses because your email list will be critical to you and it's setting up your social media profiles even if you're not active on them. Claim the ones that we know are going to be the biggest for you right now, which generally speaking for fiction authors is definitely Instagram, and could incorporate TikTok and YouTube, probably not LinkedIn so much, but Facebook if you’re in my generation or older—maybe even the old millennials are on Facebook. So if that's your crew, you know, just establish those things so that you're not worried about them later. And then as you're getting out there and talking about your book, people have a place to find you and to, and to become part of your community. 

So if that's as much as you do, just think… Okay, I'm going to set up these accounts. I'm going to make them available so I have a place to send people when I'm talking about my book. And I might post something once a month, but at least there's something on my feed if somebody comes to follow you and then you can build that in later as you go. And I know this is a long winded answer right here, but if you're doing what we're talking about, which is building relationships and building readers, then you will naturally be posting things on your social media because you'll be like… “Hey, I know y'all all love thrillers. Did you see this new thriller book? Or everybody's talking about this book. Have you read it yet?” Those engage with exactly the right people—assuming you write thrillers. Don't do that if you write romcom. But you know… You can start just very naturally having conversations with people about your genre, about the type of the book, and posting fun things along the way.

SAVANNAH: Yeah. And I think don't discount behind the scenes too, because how many of us like seeing behind the scenes of someone else's process, even if it's messy or like, you know, they don't have all the answers yet? It's still fun because if you have writers in your audience, it's going to make them feel like they're not alone, you know? I always say people are more interesting than you guys give yourself credit for.  

ALEXA: It's so true. I mean, because often if you have… Say you write historical fiction, you're probably traveling, you're probably doing things. My book is set in Paris, so I am really keyed in on people who are interested in Paris as readers. So I'm not necessarily focused 100% on the rom com audience, although that is a big audience that I want to make sure that I'm in there. But I know that people who love Paris will also love my books. So thinking about things of that nature also helps. 

SAVANNAH: Yeah, which is so fun. And it's kind of like you said in the very beginning, it's just sharing, right? So it's not like in these initial stages, you need to worry about marketing to or marketing at people. It's just sharing and saying, if you want to find me, if you want to connect, here's where I am. An email list is huge—you know, if I had to pick one, it’s an email list, but then it’s like… How are you getting people on your email list? This is where the social stuff comes in. 


SAVANNAH: So speaking of your books… You’ve written 14 nonfiction books. And now you're in the fiction world. What was that like? 

ALEXA: So, a little bit of the sad part of my background was that I started all of this process after I lost an infant daughter. So I did not come into this world as a fiction writer, although like many fiction writers, I was a voracious reader as a child, just anything I could get my hands on. I wanted to read. I loved books, and always had a dream of maybe being an author, but then my career took me into Homeland Security and intelligence and the military and all those things.

SAVANNAH: So a little bit of a different track…

ALEXA: Right, exactly. But when I started, I actually started as a blogger writing about what happened with my daughter. And she was, they were twins with twin to twin transfusion syndrome, and all these things… And I love to share and educate. So I was blogging a lot about the NICU, about loss, about all those things, which led me to doing a composite book. Basically, I brought together over 30 parents and we put together Sunshine After The Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother which really lit a fire on my writing. I was like, oh my gosh, I love this! Like I want to write, I want to do this more. But also the publishing process… And so without boring you through the entire next 10 years… I love to teach. I love to share. I started sharing what I was doing in this exact same way. Y'all I am a case study for exactly what we're teaching you. I just started sharing what I was learning as I was writing, publishing, and selling. Write|Publish|Sell was born and people started coming to me asking more questions and they came to me and I got new clients and I started helping them and I really learned and then wound up creating publishing houses, et cetera, et cetera.

As that grew we started doing the training courses, which turned into the Women In Publishing Summit eventually, which we'll talk about in a minute. I started getting fiction authors... Originally, all my clients were either grief and loss or moms who were building businesses and were writing books to grow their business or entrepreneurs, business books, all of those kinds of things. And then the fiction authors started coming. And I was like, oh my gosh, this is so different. It’s so different trying to think about marketing a fiction book than it is when you're sharing your innate knowledge on something. But I really started getting the bug. I was like, I'm helping these people finish their books, publish their books, have these wonderful launch parties, do all this fun marketing. And I'm like, I want to do that. 

So, I knew I’d been writing all throughout this time. Like I’ve been working on a historical fiction book for years. And eventually, during COVID, I went back to a story that was based on a really fun time in my life. It really happened. I was living and working in Paris in 1999 and on New Year's Eve, my friends and I threw a party and one of my girlfriend’s cousins came and he and I totally hit it off. We had this magical New Year's Eve. We went to watch the fireworks, then to a nightclub, and then we spent the whole night walking around Paris. And, so I took that story—because COVID was such a dark time and I couldn't do World War II research—I was like, I need something light and makes me laugh, but also I was going through a divorce. And so I was trying to keep myself upbeat and I was watching all these romcom movies and I was reading all these books and they were just making me laugh and I was like, this is what I want to feel right now. So I wrote that story. I took a fun time in my life and created a fiction book out of that four days in Paris. I wrote it under a pen name—Lexie Haddock—which is also something that you can do if you’re a non-fiction author moving into fiction. I strongly encourage you to do so because what a weird blend of marketing that would be trying to market books on grief and loss and inspiration and transformation and healing and entrepreneurship plus romcoms. It doesn’t work. 

SAVANNAH: That's awesome. What a background you have, especially the military stuff—I didn't know about that! That's so interesting. And one thing I heard through all of that is you're passionate about all the things you write about. So, you know, there's a lot of us that have things that we're passionate about if it's animals, children, whatever. It could just be stories themselves. Is that something that fuels you? Do you feel like being connected to that deeper motivation, that deeper level why fuels you? 

ALEXA: Yes, most definitely. For a lot of reasons. In my nonfiction world, I talk a lot about writing to heal. It’s how I started. It saved my life. That mission saved my life after going through one of the worst tragedies a parent can ever go through. So I talk a lot about the power of that, but also the power of our words and how much we impact other people. And just having seen that in the beginning when I started writing a romcom, I actually felt—and no offense to romcom writers because you’ll see by the time I get to the end of this story what’s happening here—but I felt silly. I was like… I have this desire to write these really big, deep, life changing fiction books where you come out the other end, a different person, or you feel like you just lost your best friend when the book ends. And I was like… I'm writing this silly love at first sight, you know, adventure thing that happens in Paris. Like how far from reality are you? And then I had to remind myself what those books did for me and how writing fiction through a hard time or a hard area of life can still be as impactful—if not more impactful—and it can be such a big process and I was like this isn’t silly at all. Did I feel silly that I watched those movies to make myself better? No, I laughed. And laughter is the best thing that can ever happen to you, especially when you're sad or grieving or any of those things. So yes, I'm super passionate about it. No story is a silly story. No genre is a silly genre because people have needs and our books. Fill whatever those needs are.

SAVANNAH: Everybody's different too. I am totally on the same wavelength as you there. And then what would you say to someone who… Because I talk to writers a lot and they're like… I don't know if I have a deeper level why. I just want to write fiction! Do you think everyone has one?

ALEXA: I've been through a lot of therapy in the past decade and a half, and I think if we really boil down to why they really want to write fiction, they have a why in there, they just don't know it or they're not really thinking that their why is important enough. Just having a why that writing fiction makes me feel good, or being a reader of this genre makes me feel good and I want to do that for others. I think everybody does. Otherwise you wouldn't have the call to write. There’s a call somewhere in there whether it's just because you love what books did for you and you want to give that to other people or you just want to create it for yourself, that's okay. If that's your why if you do it because it makes you feel good. But yeah, we all we all have a why we just might not realize it 

SAVANNAH: I think so too. And just that reason of it makes me feel good. It's going to make others feel good. That's totally true and valid. So thanks for indulging that. I do think that people listening are probably smiling a little bit because I talk about this a lot—even if you don’t think you have a why, you do. It’s just connecting with it. 

ALEXA: Yep. 

SAVANNAH: Okay, so you went from nonfiction to fiction, and then we talked a little bit earlier about like, when do you start thinking about marketing? So for your fiction… We’re talking about book two at this point, because book one, Four Days in Paris, is already out, we’ll link to that. How soon did you start thinking about marketing for those? And did you have ideas for marketing while you were writing? Talk to me about that. 

ALEXA: So, I guess one of the best things about what I do is that I'm surrounded by people all the time that are experts in this industry. I'm interviewing people on marketing all the time. I'm working with authors, you know, all the things. So I just already knew. And I teach people how to launch their books. So I already knew, like if I was my client, what would I be doing? What would I be advising them to do?  

I was also working with a writing coach who is a very successful romcom author. She was my writing accountability coach, and she was sharing what she was doing with her book. So I had that insider knowledge, like, for example, one of the things that I've learned because I've been looking at the markets and looking at all of these things is how much better series do and how if you want to build your readers and make money as fast as possible, a series is just really important. So I started thinking about these things. Originally, it was just a story that I wanted to share about a good time in my life. And then I was like, but what if, like, what can I do with this? What I see is really trending and popular right now in the romcom book world is building a whole series around the characters that are in that book. So each person gets their book and that's what Kiki was doing with her book. So I knew that this is probably what I want to do. So from the get go, I was thinking, okay, whose book is going to be next? How do I make sure that I'm writing things into the book that will lead the reader in that direction so that the next book is going to be about one of the other main female characters and her connection with one of the guys. And so you may not even realize that you're thinking about marketing sometimes when you're thinking about a marketing strategy…  

And let me tell you the best way to market one book is by launching a new book that brings a lot of activity around that too. So, yeah, I was from the get go, like, how can I do this? And then of course, it's set in Paris. And I know there's a lot of people who love Paris and thank goodness for TikTok and Instagram. I don't use TikTok very much, but I put a lot of videos on Instagram and I set out to see if what I was teaching people works really I used myself as my own case study in there and I found that it's a lot of work to do all the things that we marketing experts teach. It's a lot of work! I didn't have time to implement all of them. But I did focus on the Instagram side and in three months went from five followers to over a thousand followers. Now that took some effort, but I did what I would tell someone else to do. And it hasn't grown much since then because I haven't been consistent, which is so key in your marketing.

But I went to Paris and I took lots of pictures and I feel and I created reels and I talk about Paris. I know from the feedback I’ve gotten in the reviews is that people’s favorite part about the book is the love story with the Eiffel Tower and Paris in the background. Like, they love the romance, they love the girl, the sister romance that’s happening between these friends, too. But they love feeling like they’re in Paris, right? So, you know, lean in on those things in your marketing.

This is another reason why building advanced reader teams is so important because beta readers are likely going to give you feedback on structure content and all of that. But your advanced readers are going to start giving you reviews that give you marketing messages to use. They’ll say the pieces that they love, and it's often things you don't even think about. Like, I wanted Paris to be a big role, but I wasn't sure if I had done it well enough and the reviews show me that, yes, it's, it's definitely there. So, you know, marketing is something that never stops, ever. You should start thinking about it from the moment you create the idea in your head, plan to make a plan, be consistent, start building things as early as you can. And then always be growing, always be adding to that for, for as long as you want to continue selling that book or until you get to the point where you have a machine that's just selling them for you.

SAVANNAH: Yeah, which is the dream, right? I always tell people to just keep a document of just marketing stuff. If you're not at the stage where you are ready to focus on it. Keep a document with ideas, screenshots, like whatever. And then on the days where you don't feel like writing or editing, you can go play around in that document or make an Instagram plan or whatever you want to do. But it's not like your writing has to come to a halt, you know? Or that you have to focus on one thing in a silo and then go back to the other thing. It's all organic. 

ALEXA: Yeah. Following other authors in your genre is critical. You really need to see what other successful authors are doing so that you can literally just mimic what other people are doing—because it works! I want to say that in that three month window, I did not devote my life to Instagram when I was growing that account. I only devoted about 30 minutes, 2-3 times a week. So it wasn't like my life, but I was very strategic. In case anybody wants to know exactly what I did, I was not following authors. Well, I follow authors. Like I said, I was following the major authors who are in my genre and who are relevant to me, but I was engaging on their pages and with their readers. And following their readers and then their readers followed me back and guess what? They like those books, so they followed me. And then when I announced I was looking for our readers, I also participated in some Instagram tours with love book tours, which I love, love, love Kelly Lacy and everything that she's doing. And that helped build a lot of momentum. And I did not participate in author follow loops. I participated in reader follow loops. I engaged as a reader. I also shared books that I loved in my feed. And of course I leaned in hard on all things Paris. So there was very little marketing about my book. I mean, I would mention my book in it. I'd be like, this is where this is the path that Julian and Callie took on their night or whatever. I would mention things, but I wasn’t doing a lot of “book marketing.” I was doing more reader engagement.

SAVANNAH: Yeah, indirect marketing. I like what you said that it was like 30 minutes twice a week. So it had to be intentional and you're not wasting a bunch of time there because that's how we eat up hours in our day. I love that you're giving so many good tips and advice and we'll link to your Instagram and all that so people can see kind of how you did all of that. But the other thing I'm hearing you talk about a lot is community and kind of sharing within the community. I know earlier you mentioned that accountability factor from other people too. Do you want to talk about that a little bit? 

ALEXA: I do because you know what? Nobody ever gets anywhere without other people in this day and age. We just talked about how important social media is. Well, that in itself means that you need other people and you have the opportunity when you are newer at this game to form relationships if you're in the communities with the right people and growing with them. And I find that people are very generous in the indie publishing world and indie authors, indie publishers. Like it's a very generous community in terms of sharing resources and knowledge and helping each other out. So I like to talk about leveraging other people's audiences. And in the beginning, when you don't have an email list, or you don't have a following, if you're making relationships with other authors who are in the same genre, they may be very willing to do a cross promotion or share different things, but they have to know you. If you just cold call somebody and be like, “Hey, you look like you're a successful romcom author! Will you share my stuff?” The answer is going to be no. But if you build a relationship say something like, “I know I don't have much to offer you now. I will share about your book as my community grows, I will continue to share about your book. When I have an email list, I'll email, you know, whatever, whatever you want, we can do…” I don't want to say using, cause that is negative, but growing with other authors and, and community is. Is really important. Also just having the place and space and group of people who know and understand the struggles that you're going through, who can provide feedback when you're feeling low, who can hold you accountable, who can say, you know, “You can do this. We’re doing it!” All of those things that come up that you can ask questions of these folks that you can share resources with, or someone may say, you know, here's a tool I use that really helped me or this helped me schedule posts. So I don't have to worry about it anymore. I mean, it's accountability. I think it never gets enough credit for how important it is in our success in life. 

And it's funny because my best friend and I, we both want to lose weight. We've set ourselves a goal of 24 pounds in 2024. And she made the comment the other day, she was like, the key to this accountability is we have to be successful. Like we have to be doing good things because she says it when you're doing well when you're eating well and you're posting that you exercised every day and you post that you lost weight. I want to do it too. But if you're like, eh, we ordered Italian last night and I ate three entrees and I just couldn't stop myself. Then she's like, oh, well, I don't have to work that hard this week. Cause you know, she indulged. So, community works that way too. 

You can fall into a place—and I've seen this, oh my gosh, there was one such toxic community… like I never will go in there—but there are some places where it's just mass toxicity and everybody's talking about, “This went wrong…” And, “I can’t do this…” And “This person’s a fraud and blah, blah, blah…” Negativity breeds negativity, but if you find the right group of people, which is something that we focus on very much in the Women In Publishing Summit… Our motto is empower, encourage, and support. That’s our theme for this year. And maybe for the rest of our lives. We are better together. It's okay to have a bad day. It's okay to say, I need to vent and those people will allow that space for you, but they're not going to let you fall into it and we'll, we'll bring you back up out of it again.  

SAVANNAH: I'm so glad you just said that because I'm working with a writer right now and she has a community that's kind of like that and we've talked about how her mood has just kind of gone from like positive to, I don't think I can do this anymore in the span of months. So, it's amazing how much your community can affect you and, you know, not that everything like you said has to be sunshine and rainbows, but it's more like, you know, what kind of vibe and energy do you want to associate yourself with? Do you want one that's constructive or destructive? And I think this particular person, in her group, there are people that are having success with traditional publishing, she's not sure what route she wants to go yet, but she's just hearing things that are, you know, making it not fun, making it not exciting, and things like that. There's a lot of judgment. But she’s not ready to leave the group yet because she’s like… Well, maybe they can offer me something in the future?

ALEXA: Oh gosh, this happens so much. Can I tell you, I've been paying $97 a month for this program for four years, because I'm thinking one day I'm actually going to use it? It's the same kind of thing where you’re like… I don't want to end that because whatever… But I don't know, give yourself a deadline and say, if I don't meet this goal or do this thing, or get help with this or have this positive experience by this timeframe, then I'm going to go find someone somewhere else. And oh, by the way, we would welcome you with open arms at the Women In Publishing Summit, if you need an uplifting community! But yeah, we all fall into that. It's FOMO. It's nothing more than FOMO. We don't want to miss out on something. So we don't make the best decisions because we're again, that word fear when fear drives us. So I will tell them that there are so many great communities out there. You know, we went through this a lot with grief and loss, actually, when you go through a tremendous loss, you see who has your back and who doesn't—and sometimes you have to make difficult decisions. And let me tell you, cutting some people out of my life was the best thing that ever happened to me, even though it hurt really badly. And it's the same with writing too. You know, at the end of the day, you have to make sure that you're putting yourself as number one and your goals. And if anything is happening around you, that's stopping you from moving forward with writing or seeing success or feeling good about what you're doing. Our mental health is so important when it comes to creativity.  

SAVANNAH: Right. We're already in a silo most of the time. So like you said, get that good community and don't make it harder than it needs to be. I also like how you gave your example a monetary value, you're like, I've been spending $97 a month for four years! Think about what that could be at the end of four years. Right!? 

ALEXA: I know. I don’t want to think about it. It’s a lot of money. And now as soon as we get done recording this, I’m going to cancel that. 

SAVANNAH: You're like, mental note cancel. But it's the same thing. It's just not like physical dollars. It's like, how much did that tax our mental health for all this time? So I want to talk about the Women In Publishing Summit because that's coming up next month. So what are the dates? Tell us a little bit about that. I'm going to link to everything, of course, but give us an overview. 

ALEXA: March 6th through 9th, 2024 is when it runs live. But live it's virtual, so you don't have to travel anywhere, which is amazing. And everything is recorded and our attendees have access through the entire year, so that we don't take away access until the end of the year. We also have a very active Facebook group with lots of fun and networking and connections and resources and help and all kinds of things happening. So during the actual live event, we run for zoom rooms at a time and do four workshops at a time. And then we also have special events. 

So we have lots of networking—we call them coffee chats or happy hour, depending on the time of day. Lots of networking and getting to know each other. We have opportunities to meet the speakers and the sponsors and publishers. This year we're incorporating publisher speed dating. We do have one fiction publisher there. We'll work to grow some of that background with the fiction publishers, but it's just fun. We have special events a couple of mornings. We open up with a 10 minute yoga stretch. We have some great keynote speakers coming in to inspire and encourage everyone, and it's built around tracks based on your experience level. So if you're a beginner, we have a suggested track of all the beginner level content from writing craft across the genres to your routes to publishing, working with an editor, all those types of things, marketing and business growth. If you're more intermediate or advanced, we have a track for you. And if you're a professional, we have a track for professionals this year too. So editors, teaching editors and publishers, teaching publishers and professionals come in and talk about growing your freelance or publishing business. So that's really exciting. 

But the fun doesn't stop just in that week. I think we have 7 pre-conference workshops that are still in the works. We have one coming up on February 13th that’s about writing backstory for romance authors. And they’re all recorded so you can watch them whenever. We have monthly free webinars, too. So, if you can’t make it, you can join us at the free events each month. But I don’t want it to be a conference that you go to for four days and then you're done and you have to figure out what to do. We're really trying to structure an environment where our community is learning and connecting every month of the year. We do monthly networking sessions. And it's been an honor growing this community and the women in it. We do have some men and we do have those who are non binary and others, like we welcome everybody. I started the women in publishing summit because I was working with all these incredible women and being mentored by these incredible publishers and book experts and coaches. And I was attending all these virtual conferences and not seeing women or diversity at all. And I was like, okay, I'm going to change that. So that's our requirement is that we highlight the women. We do have a few men who are speakers because I don't want to not have  tools and resources represented that are key like Publisher Rocket, Book Funnel—those are run by men. Brian from Book Ads. We have some dudes who participate, but I make them pay because they’re not women. 

SAVANNAH: I love that you clarified anyone's welcome. And I heard you say earlier, it's for all genres. So not just romance. Even though there's going to be a ton of great romance stuff there. And I'll be there! So, I hope everyone listening comes and we'll put all the links and information to that in the show notes. But any last parting words of wisdom about marketing, writing, anything on your heart or mind?  

ALEXA: You know, the biggest thing is, don't give up. I never thought I would get that first fiction book done because the transition from writing nonfiction to fiction was very challenging for me. And the first draft was, oh my god, bad. It wasn't just like the shitty first draft. It was the, “You probably shouldn't be writing books” first draft. We did it through using my community through using a great developmental editor through going through the process and doing all the things and continuing to work and be consistent. Always, always, always. Work on being a better writer and work on your craft and the other stuff I promise will follow as long as you're doing the things like if you have a great book, marketing comes a lot easier than if you have a book that maybe wasn't ready yet. So don't don't push yourself into publishing too soon. Do it right. Follow the steps. There is a process that works for a lot of people. So yeah, but just don't give up. 

SAVANNAH: I love that you said you got a lot of outside feedback because I think that's important. That's something people skip when they are rushing. They think, you know, it's good enough. I'm going to put it out there. And that's fine if that's your goal. But if you want something that's quality and lasting, it's super important to get outside feedback.  

ALEXA: And it's a whole lot better to get outside feedback from people that you've asked to give you feedback than it is to get some nasty reviews on your, on your book page.

SAVANNAH: Yeah, which is probably gonna happen no matter what. We're all gonna get a bad review, right?  

ALEXA: You're not a real author, so you've got the one star. Yes, which you're gonna get them and it's okay. 

SAVANNAH: Yeah. Well, Alexa, thank you so much! I think this is going to be a listener favorite episode. I can already tell so many actionable things, so much good advice and things like that. So like I said, we're going to link to everything, but let us know where's the one place we can go to find you. 

ALEXA: I would say head on over to womeninpublishingsummit.com but actually, no, use, use Savannah's link. We want to make sure you're going in through the right thing so that you can get the coupon code she's going to share with  you. You can also go to Instagram and follow me @womeninpublishingsummit. That’d be great.

SAVANNAH: We'll link to all that in the show notes. And again, I super appreciate you coming on the show, and hopefully we’ll have you back someday!

ALEXA: I would love to, any time! This is my favorite!


Final Thoughts

My favorite takeaway from this episode was when Alexa shared that marketing is all about connecting with readers. Just changing the language you use when thinking about your marketing can make a huge difference in your ability to come up with a marketing plan, execute that plan, and have fun while doing it.

To learn more about Alexa Bigwarfe you can visit her website or connect with her on Instagram. To register for the Women In Publishing Summit, use this link and code LOVEYOURSELF to get $50 off your ticket before it expires on February 15th.

Savannah is a developmental editor and book coach who helps fiction authors write, edit, and publish stories that work. She also hosts the top-rated Fiction Writing Made Easy podcast full of actionable advice that you can put into practice right away. Click here to learn more →