Do you want to know how to find peace of mind writing, publishing, and promoting your book? Listen as Bella Mahaya Carter shares her secret sauce recipes to gain more confidence and self-assurance in writing, promoting, and marketing your book.
Do you want to know how to find peace of mind writing, publishing, and promoting your book?
Listen as Bella Mahaya Carter shares her secret sauce recipes to gain more confidence and self-assurance in writing, promoting, and marketing your book.
In this week's powerful episode "How to Find Peace of Mind Writing, Publishing and Promoting Your Book" you will discover...
Here's how to contact Bella and get a free copy of "10 Ways To Nurture Yourself While Writing"
Want more insider book promotion secrets from Bella Mahaya Carter?
Join the Book Marketing Mentors Premium Membership
Susan Friedmann: Welcome to Book Marketing Mentors, the weekly podcast where you learn proven strategies, tools, ideas, and tips from the masters. Every week I introduce you to a marketing master who will share their expertise to help you market and sell more books. Today my special guest is Bella Mahaya Carter. Bella is a creative writing teacher, empowerment coach, and author of three books. She views book marketing as an opportunity to deepen self-awareness, nourish meaningful connections, and delight in peak experiences while being of service. She's helped hundreds of writers experience freedom and joy at every stage of the writing process, from inspiration to publication and beyond. Bella, what an absolute pleasure it is to welcome you to the show. Thank you for being this week's guest expert and mentor.
Bella Mahaya Carter: I'm delighted to be here, Susan. Thank you for inviting me.
Susan Friedmann: Bella, we could talk about so many different things when it comes to books and book marketing. But I know that you have a secret sauce when it comes to book marketing. Is that something that you would be willing to share with our listeners?
Bella Mahaya Carter: Yes. I actually have a couple of secret sauces. The first one is, is to know who you are as a writer. Part of that is asking questions like, what do I write about? Why do I write about this? Who do I want to share it with? Once you have an idea of who you are as a writer, and what you're writing, and who you want to share it with, you start to have an understanding of your audience. That becomes very important. So I would say that the first secret sauce is knowing who you are as a writer, which is connected to, who are the people that you'd like to have conversations with?
And then the second piece of the secret sauce is related to my new book, Where Do You Hang Your Hammock?, finding peace of mind while you write, publish, and promote your book. I tell a story in there that I, I'll just repeat briefly, I'll give you the short version of the story because it'll point to what I'm trying to get at here, 10 years ago, my husband and daughter bought me this beautiful Mother's Day gift. It was a hammock. I loved the gift, but I didn't know where it put it. I thought, well, what am I going to do with this? Finally, we decided to tear down an old rotting shed on the side of the house and set up the hammock there. I loved the hammock there. It was the perfect spot for it.
But then one day I got into my hammock and something was wrong, and I didn't know exactly what it was. But I looked up and I noticed that the tree branch providing the shade to my hammock had been cut down. The tree was on my neighbor's property. The limb of the tree went through a hole in the fence and provided this beautiful canopy of shade for my hammock. I was pretty annoyed. He didn't ask me if he could do it. So for two months, I tried different things. My husband came up with some suggestions like, "We can plan something there." I thought, no, it'll take too long to grow. "Let's get a shade structure." "No, I don't to look at the piece of plastic. I want to look at the sky." So there were all these reasons why everything was just ruined. So for two months, I avoided my hammock.
And then at the end of the summer one day, I was really just tired and longing for my hammock. I decided to just go outside and just drag it a little bit so that it would be under the shade of a different tree. I did that and I got into my hammock, and I looked up and I thought, my goodness, why didn't I do this sooner? It was a beautiful view. What I realized was that the reason why I didn't do that sooner was because my mind had been fixed. I had a lot of rigid thinking, and I thought, well, if it can't be the way I think it's supposed to be, then forget it. It can't be anything at all. I now moved my hammock all the time, and I realized that there isn't a bad place in my yard for my hammock.
But the point of this story is just to say that the second secret sauce to book marketing is being willing to change your perspective. When things don't unfold the way you expect, the way you think they should, then ask yourself the question, well, how can I look at this differently? How can I change my perspective? Maybe it's time to move my hammock.
Susan Friedmann: I absolutely love that story. It reminds me, Bella, of the fact that our neighbors, they just sold their house, and the new owners come in, and they've taken down all the trees that were separating us from the neighbors.
Bella Mahaya Carter: No.
Susan Friedmann: I'm like, first of all, I was devastated that they took down these trees, these beautiful Cedar Pines. Secondly, I was like, my goodness, we're now exposed in a way that we've never been before, and we've been living here 20 plus years. You get used to things over the time. I'm now having to see this from a whole new perspective, and look at, well, what are the benefits of these trees being taken down? Which is so sad, I cried. I saw them being a sown down. But yeah, that rigid thinking often does get in our way. It's hard to change a habit, or even I think when it comes to our books, falling in love with our stuff that perhaps other people are not quite as in love with as we are. What do you have to say about that?
Bella Mahaya Carter: I would say if somebody is not as in love with your writing as you are, maybe you haven't reached the right audience because not every book is written for every person. That's why I started this conversation by saying, know who you are as a writer, and know who your audience is because ideally when you're writing something, I mean, if you're writing something that is information that you want to share that you feel passionately about, that you've been studying, you're an expert at something, and you want to share this information, the chances are there are people out there who have problems that your book could solve.
Really it's a question about asking yourself, well, what is this that I'm writing? How can I help solve someone else's problem? When you are clear about those two questions, other people will be excited about what you're sharing.
Susan Friedmann: I love those questions. It's a different perspective as to who you are, and who you want to serve. So many times they talk about find your avatar, find the persona, your niche, your target audience. But I love going back and looking at yourself, and what is it that you do well? How can you serve in the best possible way the people who need what it is that you have to offer?
Bella Mahaya Carter: Yes. I would say, forget your persona, close your eyes, get quiet, stop moving so fast, and connect with who you really are. Be yourself, come from your authentic center.
Susan Friedmann: Beautiful. How about book promotion? I know that you talk about doing things smarter rather than harder, which is my recipe for everything. I'd love to hear your perspective, especially when it comes to book promotion.
Bella Mahaya Carter: Great, I love that question. What I call doing things harder is looking around at everybody else and seeing what everybody else is doing. Listening to all the experts and thinking that you need to do everything that everybody is suggesting, particularly the experts, particularly the authors that you admire. It has to do with looking outside yourself to try to figure out how to navigate your world to a book promotion. I think that's working harder because you can be like a hamster on a wheel running around in a million directions. There's a lot to do. There's a lot of advice out there. There's a lot of people that will tell you what to do. To me, that's working harder. To me, working smarter means slow down, surrender, pay attention, listen, see what feels right from the inside out rather than from the outside in.
Susan Friedmann: I love that too because you're absolutely right. First of all, everybody who's written a book suddenly becomes an authority on book marketing, book promotion. Isn't necessarily the right thing for you to be doing, and it goes back to who you are and who you're serving. You're right, it's like going on that hamster wheel round and round because one week it's social media and another week it's doing a virtual book tours, and another week, you've got to write articles, and you've got to be on this platform, and that platform. I did it this way, and I was so successful that you should do it this way. I mean, I'm just exhausted just saying all of that.
Bella Mahaya Carter: Exactly. As I'm listening to you, I'm thinking the truth is, the right way to do this is to pay attention to what it is you enjoy doing. Some people might really enjoy doing podcast interviews, for example. I love it, I love having conversations with people about the work that I love, but some people might not like doing that. Some people might prefer doing something else. They might prefer going and giving readings, or giving talks at various organizations, or associations. People have different things that they like to do. The key really is to know, well, what is it that I enjoy? What would I like to do? It's not, I have to do at all, no, it's what do I enjoy doing?
Susan Friedmann: It's so funny that you say that because I'm about to do a three-day author tour authority virtual retreat. One of the approaches to marketing is exactly what you said. There are so many strategies and tactics out there, but at the end of the day, you do what you enjoy doing because that's the strategy, or that's the tactic that you're going to want to do because you enjoy it.
Bella Mahaya Carter: Exactly.
Susan Friedmann: I love podcasts. I've been doing this podcast now for five years. I love interviewing experts like yourself. It gives me a charge. I mean, it really lights me up. I've seen the progress over the years. The more I do it, the more I enjoy it. But you're right, there are people out there I can't go out and say you've got to do podcasts because that's the way to get out there and be seen as an expert because they may not enjoy doing what I enjoy doing.
Bella Mahaya Carter: Exactly. I love your phrase, author to authority. I think that's equally true just within our own lives. How do we become the authority of our own life? How do we navigate from that place inside us that really knows what we enjoy, what we want to do, who we want to talk to, and stop looking outside ourselves for those answers? Why not become an authority of your own life? That's what my practice is because for years and years, I did the opposite. I looked everywhere, but inside me. That's really where the answers are.
Susan Friedmann: I've seen that myself over the years, and I've been in the marketing arena for over 30 years. Yes, I always wanted to do what other people did. I just kept chasing my tail with many of these different practices. When I stopped, and listened, and did what I enjoy doing rather than other people saying, "You've got to be on Facebook, and you've got to be on LinkedIn, and you've got to write articles," I was like, yes, and I enjoy the interviewing. Therefore, that's what I'm going to do.
Bella Mahaya Carter: I love that you said that. I must tell you that when my second book came, my first book was a book of poetry, my second book was a memoir called Raw: My Journey from Anxiety to Joy. When I was getting ready to release that book, I was just looking outside me all the time and everywhere. One day I was so stressed out that my husband and I decided to go for a walk in a park. In the park, we actually literally came upon a dog chasing its own tail. It must've been mad. It was just going around in circles. We stopped, we looked at the dog, and then I looked at my husband and I said, "That's what I'm doing, isn't it?" We just both started laughing.
Susan Friedmann: Yes. It takes some times and wisdom just to realize what we do. But I think it's all part of the growth. But if we can help authors avoid some of the mistakes that we've made along the way, I think that's really useful. Bella, in your book, was it where to move my-
Bella Mahaya Carter: It's for you, Where Do You Hang Your Hammock?
Susan Friedmann: Where Do You Hang Your Hammock?
Bella Mahaya Carter: It's really another way of saying, where do you hang your peace of mind?
Susan Friedmann: It's great. I just visualize this, and the story that you told about the hammock. Every time I see a hammock, now I'm going to remember that, so any event. In the book, you talk about some book marketing basics. Give us a few of your secret sauce recipes for book marketing basics.
Bella Mahaya Carter: I would love to do that. In addition to knowing who you are, and having a clear objective, and getting a sense of who your audience is, I really like to tell people, promote your ideas not your book. Now, obviously you are going to promote your book when you're talking about your ideas, but people can really get behind ideas. What I'm talking about in this recent book is, what is your perspective? Are you letting the actions of somebody outside of you dictate your happiness? So that's an idea that I think that people can relate to, and they understand, and they've thought, who hasn't felt that way?
I like to tell people to initiate conversations and keep them going on the topics that they're writing about, whatever it is that is their area of expertise because if people care what you're talking about, if they think that your thoughts and your words are going to add something to their lives, they're going to be more likely to buy your book. That's one. Of course, it's a good idea to have an author website. If your business has nothing to do with your book, you may want to create a separate author website. Although, most of your listeners probably their businesses are connected to their books. So they can just have a separate tab on their website for the purpose of talking about their book.
I personally love to blog because I just love to write, and so that's a possibility. The author newsletter is really important to collect email addresses wherever you can, however you can. When you speak at places, you can ask people to visit your website. But when you send author newsletters, you have to be selling relevant, and not selling, you have to be sharing relevant information that's going to help people. When I first started years ago in the early days, I would just send out information about my offerings, and what was going on. But then I realized, no, in fact, the best thing to do is to just give people free stuff, give people free advice, give people ... share your thoughts.
Whenever I send out an author newsletter, which is about once a month, I think each month about, what do I want to share? What information do I want to impact? What inspiration do I want to provide for people? I love the author newsletter. People often respond to my author newsletters. They make comments and I write back. So it's a great way for me to directly interact with the people who are interested in having conversations around these ideas of freedom, and perspective, and peace of mind in the writing.
Susan Friedmann: One of the things that you said is promote your ideas rather than go about selling the book. That's absolutely in line with what I tell my authors and say, it's not about the book, it's about your message in the book. It's about the value that that book brings because that's what people are going to buy. People don't buy books, they buy what the book does for them. The fact that you put it in terms of promoting your ideas, that's perfect. I love that.
Bella Mahaya Carter: I think that's true. I also would say, have a great product. Then no matter how you publish, whether you go with a hybrid press, or you self-publish, or even with the traditional deal, I would say make sure that the quality of the book is as fine as it can be out of respect for your reader. I mean, when I pick up a book and it's riddled with typos, I can't get through the first chapter, I'm just going to put it down. I feel like it's important, especially with indie publishing, if you're going either with a hybrid press, or self-publishing, it's worth it to pay professionals to edit your book, to design your book cover, and the interior of your book. It should go through at least three stages of editing. It should go through developmental editing, copy editing, proofreading. Those services are well worth whatever you're being charged them.
Susan Friedmann: Very much so. It's unfortunate, but being self-published, there's a stigma about that in the marketplace, as you probably know because so much garbage is getting out there. Anybody who's anybody can put something up on the internet and say, I'm published, I've got a book out there. As you rightly said, it's full of mistakes. It's not been edited. It's got a cover that some, I don't know, some high school person maybe designed, I don't know. There is some really trashy things out there. Unfortunately, that gives self-publishing a bad name. I just answered that question in an ask me anything column that I have on my premium membership site. I answered the question, should I self-publish? I said, well, if you do make sure that you pay to have it professionally edited, and have a professional book cover design because, yes, you want it to be quality.
Bella Mahaya Carter: I think that investing in the right editors and designers means investing, not only in your book, but ultimately in yourself.
Susan Friedmann: Yes, because your book, it's promoting you. It's either doing you a service or a disservice. Let's make it do it a service.
Bella Mahaya Carter: Also, just to bring it around to the audience, I think it's respectful to want to put into somebody's hands something that is, not only informative, educational, inspiring, but also beautiful.
Susan Friedmann: Yes. I love that word, something beautiful because books are beautiful, especially when you've got a beautiful cover. There are so many different styles with regard to covers. Yes. I mean, some of them are lushest, they really are. Bella, book tours. I know that you've also got a chapter in your book about book tours. Talk to us about that, especially in light of a virtual environment now. How can we do book tours?
Bella Mahaya Carter: Well, it does look like we are coming out of it. I mean, we're never going to be coming fully out of our virtual environment. Certainly doing book tours online is a great thing to do. Whether you do them online or in-person, the most important thing to remember about a book tour is that it's your responsibility to bring people through the door, whether it's a virtual door or a real door. I think a lot of writers don't understand that. For my memoir, I did a book tour, and I was at seven different locations, and many of them were bookstores. So I had to think about, well, how am I going to get people in here? Because the bookstores themselves, yes, they have a mailing list, but they could send a mailing to thousands of people. They can promote it online, and you're lucky to get one or two people there who saw it from the bookstores promotion.
That's really your responsibility. So what I did when I was promoting my memoir was I thought, okay, well, where do I know people? How can I take something that's going on in my life and combine it with a book tour? So for example, the publication of my second book happened to coincide with my 40th high school reunion. So I reached out to the reunion coordinators and I asked them, was being held in New York at a hotel, and I reached out to them and I said, "Would it be okay if I had this event?" I guess we were meeting Friday night and, "Would it be okay if I had this event Friday night? And then it wouldn't interfere with any of the events from our reunion. It would just add an event to our reunion that would, of course, would be optional." They were delighted. They thought it fabulous. I love the idea.
But then I also reached out to lots of people that I knew that I liked that were friends and acquaintances from high school. I reached out to them personally on Facebook and invited them. That was one of the most lovely events. It really did set a very intimate tone for the weekend because my memoir is a very personal story, and it's very deep, and touching. So, it just created this ... After the event, a bunch of us went out for dinner together. So the idea is you have to think of ways, how can you get people in the door? Another event that I did was in Virginia because my sister lives in Virginia, and she scouted out a wonderful bookstore, and she invited all of her friends. She said, "Come here. My sister, she's going to be sharing from her memoir." She brought in 30 people, and so we had an event.
The same thing in Northern California. I had a bunch of friends who lived in Northern California. What I decided to do for that event actually was to, so my book is published with She Writes Press, which is another hybrid press, what I did was I got in touch with the digital director of the National Memoir Writers Association, Linda Joy Myers. I invited her to head up a panel. I invited other memoirs, and you certainly could do this with any genre, it doesn't have to be a memoir, to have a conversation. I created the theme. I created an event, and I invited other authors who lived in the area. That event was packed.
It had so many people because people were coming to listen to all of it. There was a panel of like five of us, and we were all established authors with our own following. A lot of people attended that event. So, I always say, think outside the box, think about, how can I get people in the door? It's my responsibility. If you don't feel like you can get enough people there yourself, team up with other authors.
Susan Friedmann: That is an idea that nobody in the five years that I have been interviewing somebody has said, and it is so simple. That's gold dust. Just what you have shared with us there, Bella, because yes, it is your responsibility to market the book. I know so many authors say to me, "Well I want to be traditionally published." I say, "Why?" "Well, they're going to market my book." No, they're not going to-
Bella Mahaya Carter: No, they're not. You're still going to have the same responsibility, even if you're traditionally.
Susan Friedmann: Exactly. I say with Amazon because Amazon is just a shop window, you have to bring people to that shop window, which involves marketing and letting people know. So everything turns around constantly to the fact that you need to be doing the marketing, you need to be getting people to your events. It's your responsibility. I would say fall in love with marketing as much as you can because you need it. It's got to be your friend because it can really help you.
Bella Mahaya Carter: I love that. I think that's so important. I think the question to ask is, okay, where's the fun here? How can I find fun here? I'm telling you it was so much fun to have that event at my high school reunion. Actually every single one of my events was fun because I just thought, well, what can I do? Who can I do it with? There are people that want to help you. My sister was ... She was tickled to death. She loved planning this event and inviting all her friends to come see her author sister speak at a bookstore.
Susan Friedmann: She was so proud of you, going to get people. "Hey, my sister's an author. She's a published author."
Bella Mahaya Carter: Exactly.
Susan Friedmann: "She's a celebrity. Come and see her, come and meet her. Get her autograph. Listen to what she has to say." Yes.
Bella Mahaya Carter: Yeah. They were a great audience, and it was great to meet all her friends. You really can just, well, think about places you've live, places you've gone to school, who you know who might want to help celebrate what you're doing. Just things like that when it comes to book tours. That's true, whether you're doing it. I mean, the thing about doing it online because I did my book release June 3 online, my book that came out pub date was June 1. Thinking about doing it online was that I was able to have people from all over the country, and even outside the country attend because I have students and clients I teach writing workshops. I have students and clients all over the world, so somebody was tuning in from the United Kingdom, and from Costa Rica, and from Australia.
That was different because for the live events, I traveled. I went to the East Coast. I went to San Diego. I had to travel from place to place. They were all different audiences. All part of my audience, but different audiences. Whereas online, I did that one event and I thought, well, I've invited everybody that I can think of. I felt like that was enough. I felt like I didn't really need to do a tour, so to speak. But I have been, this is probably, I don't know, maybe my 15th podcast because I've been enjoying basically touring around on podcasts.
Susan Friedmann: Which is also a great way for authors to get the word out, talk about their book, talk about the value more importantly. I get pitched by PR companies that say, "Hey, interview my client, they've just written a new book." I was like, "I'm not interested in the book, I'm interested in the value that that person can bring to my listeners. That's far more important. I'm not here pitching people's books."
Bella Mahaya Carter: Yeah. I love that. I think that's great. I guess my main piece of advice would be, don't try to execute every book marketing strategy that you read or hear about. Just really pick and choose which activities you enjoy, and stick with those. Remember, and this is something that maybe you don't hear often, but I just want to say to all of your listeners out there, remember this, you are enough. Whenever you have the thought that you're not enough for whatever reasons because I have dealt with that thought in my whole life, I'm here to say that that is a thought, and it's not the truth of who you are, or what have to offer. You don't have to listen to that thought.
Susan Friedmann: I'm just thinking, I was like, okay, when you're ever down, listeners, you've got to listen to this podcast over and over again because those words of wisdom from Bella, I mean, they are enough to make you feel so much better about yourself. So I love this.
Bella Mahaya Carter: I mean, this is the whole point of this book, Where Do You Hang Your Hammock? It really is because it's really about understanding I'm not better than anyone and I'm not less than anyone. I'm just showing up, doing the work that I love to do, and sharing it. That can be true for all of your listeners. I mean, it can be true. I mean, when we start to understand that the thinking in our mind that brings us down the, who cares what I have to say? I'm an imposter, all the thoughts that we have ... I have a chapter in that book called Universal Doubt.
I talk about this because it's so important because we encounter these thoughts, and we become fused with them, and we believe them, and we think that they're real. We're like fish in water, swimming around in the water. The fish don't know that the water is separate from them, and that's how it is where our thinking, we have all this thinking and we think, this is me, this must be true. But what I talk about in this book is that, well, actually that's not who we are. Who we are as much deeper than that, and much more profound than that.
Whatever the brain is conjuring in order to try and navigate the world and keep us alive and survive, that's a great tool, but it shouldn't be our master, particularly when the brain is giving us the messages, thoughts like I'm not good enough. Who cares what I have to say? I'll never be able to do XYZ. This book really deals a lot with, how do you cope with that? The way that you cope with that is by understanding that the mind is a useful tool, but it doesn't necessarily have all the answers that we need.
I have a little snow globe on my desk and it has rocks in it, which is an unusual protagonist for a snow globe. But when I shake the snow globe, I can't see the rocks. They're five rocks and they're balanced on top of each other, when I shake the snow globe, that's how my mind was. When I came across that dog chasing its own tail, I had no clarity. I had no balance. I had no equilibrium. I couldn't make decisions from that place.
What I'm talking about in this book, and really from inspiration to publication and beyond, and it doesn't matter what genre you're writing in, what I'm talking about is understanding that, let's let the snow in the snow globes settle so we can see what's inside. Let's let our minds quiet. Let's give up the illusion of control and work with what is.
Susan Friedmann: I love just that whole analogy using a snow globe. Again, I'm going to remember a hammock. It will remind me of you and snow globe. That's it.
Bella Mahaya Carter: I mean, think the snow that's flying all over the place, we think that's our thoughts. We think that's our truth, but that's not our truth. That's just a bunch of conditioned responses and thinking that changes, and shifts, and creates different emotions, but there's something deeper inside. I say, navigate from that something deeper inside and you are golden, you cannot go wrong.
Susan Friedmann: I know that our listeners are champing at the bit to find out more about how can they contact you if they want to get more of your wisdom, share that with our listeners.
Bella Mahaya Carter: Yeah. This is my website, www.bellmahayacarter.com. I offer a piece there that I don't offer anywhere else, which is 10 Ways To Nurture Yourself While Writing. But you can absolutely consider that also to be 10 ways to nurture yourself while you're out there promoting or marketing your book, it's all connected. So that is just a free gift that I offer people that join my newsletter. Again, the newsletter comes out once a month. The newsletter is really just along the lines of what I'm talking about. I just share my insights around, how can we be freer? How can we have more space in our writing, in our lives? How can we have more confidence? How can we have peace of mind while we write, publish and promote our books?
Susan Friedmann: Beautiful. Thank you. If you were to leave our listeners with a golden nugget, what would that be, Bella?
Bella Mahaya Carter: I think there are three golden nuggets. I've talked about them all. I would say the first one just knows who you are, know yourself, slow down enough so that that is possible. Surrender what you can't control and work with what shows up with an open heart, and know that you're enough. Know that what you're doing is an act of generosity of spirit.
Susan Friedmann: Well, I have to take a deep breath to take all of that in. Beautiful. Thank you. I have to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all this beautiful and just amazing wisdom that you've shared. Thank you for taking time to be our guests. Thank you all for taking time out of your precious day to listen to this interview. I sincerely hope that it sparks some ideas you can use to sell more books. Here's wishing you much book and author marketing success.
Here's how to contact Bella and get a free copy of "10 Ways To Nurture Yourself While Writing"
Want more insider book promotion secrets from Bella Mahaya Carter?
Join the Book Marketing Mentors Premium Membership