Create a Brand Identity: The number one thing you should focus on first and foremost when beginning to market your book is to brand yourself. Mind you, I said to brand “yourself” not your book! Why? Because you are the brand! You are the one who is creating the book, and you are the one who is the creation. The book becomes a part of the brand, but it’s not the brand, YOU are! When you brand yourself in this way, you are also leaving room for future projects which can fall underneath your overall brand identity.
As a part of our series about “How You Can Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jenine Lori of the Secret To Life Institute.
Co-founder, creator, and leading expert in freeing others to Awakn™ their unique gifts and step into their authentic self, Jenine’s propriety method, based on healing the wounded child, guides you to reconnect with your child essence™, the Sacred You™, where all solutions reside.
An award-winning, international, best-selling author, skillful subconscious facilitator, and inner-child specialist, with a background in art, education and psychology she continually embodies and demonstrates a simple truth…that anything is possible if you believe!
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what motivated you to become an expert in the particular area that you are writing about?
Motivation to me has always been about striving to live the best life I could. What I mean by “best life” is a life free from suffering, in alignment with the many joys and wonders of the world, in peace and harmony within myself. I feel this is something that we all strive for, to live in balance, yet I frequently witnessed throughout my own experiences that happiness was fleeting, as there was much pain and suffering along the way. I have always believed that my life is my own making and that I have the choice with how I show up, yet I struggled for years (as many do) to figure out “The Secret to Life”; living in a state of love and acceptance for what is. I wanted to embody this desire as I truly believe that much of life’s happenings were not within my control; however, how I respond to them is! To embody this truth, I was driven to go down a path of constant learning, studying, and evaluating human behavior, starting first with my own struggles to uncover what I now understand to be an incredible tool towards releasing suffering and gaining conscious awareness. While I worked with many insightful teachers throughout the world, the best teacher proved to be my own inner guidance which led me back to the beauty of the child essence that was living within, wishing to be heard, seen, and acknowledged for all her miraculous gifts. It was when I finally allowed this part of myself to come through and shine through my first book, “Surprise, I have 3 eyes!” that my work was born! “Surprise, I have 3 eyes!” not only became an internationally bestselling, multiple award-winning book, but also was the birth of my current company, The Secret to Life Institute, where I support people all over the world to reconnect with their “child essence,” by healing original wounds from childhood in the most loving and gentle way. As the great writer Christopher Moore once said, “Children see magic because they look for it” and at the Secret to Life Institute we strive to help people remember how to “See” the magic!
Can you share a pivotal story that shaped the course of your career?
My first book “Surprise, I have 3 eyes!” was actually written 12 years prior to its publishing date. I was sitting in a parking lot waiting to pick someone up at the airport when words started flooding into my mind. I grabbed a pen and paper and began writing. When I came home, I read the work to others who all loved it and agreed it should be a children’s book. Life took its course with the birth of our son, and, with other things taking precedence, the work got put into a drawer, almost forgotten. Flash forward ten years; I was going through a particularly difficult time. Our son, only 4, had developed a rare autoimmune condition leaving my husband and I with little support. It was a challenging time, and our marriage was struggling due to the weight of all the responsibilities. I felt like I was losing my way. A calling pulled me to take a much-needed trip to Peru for spiritual rejuvenation. While I was standing at one of the many sacred sites I visited, I began questioning what all of this was about? Why the pain and suffering? What am I to do with all this in this moment? A vision came to me of the work I had written all those years earlier, as if the suffering called me to this place and I was meant to use it, to channel it into creative expression somehow as a way to also help others. When I came back from my journey, I searched the house and found the story. After I read it, tears streamed down my face. I knew this book was going to change lives. I decided in that moment that I would illustrate my own story and poured myself completely into the work from cover to cover. “Surprise, I have 3 eyes!” and its many vibrant, colorful, imaginative illustrations are a playful illumination into the inner workings of the child essence and now an inspiration to others on how to reinvent themselves in a world where anything is possible!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Are you working on any new writing projects?
Currently, I am working on completing the illustrations for three (3) children’s books in addition to writing an informational piece through the Secret to Life Institute, focusing on my work healing the wounded child. In addition to my written work, I teach a variety of courses and speak at live events through the Secret to Life, which not only provides people with transformational tools, but also empowers them to step into the unique expression of themselves. We are also in the process of journeying to Panama in Central America to submerge ourselves in a multicultural experience so we can learn from the people and the land. Panama has long been known as “the bridge” of the Americas. Here we find a unique blend of people coming from all walks of life. Panama provides an environment where the culture still maintains their traditions while being rooted in the earth, yet merging new forms of modern technology and commerce. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn and expand our knowledge through a true multicultural experience. The child essence is alive and felt throughout the entire country, especially in the rainforest where we are able to see and feel the presence of the creative force in action.
Thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you please tell us a bit about your book? Can you please share a specific passage or story that illustrates the main theme of your book?
“Surprise, I have 3 eyes!” is a rhyming children’s book written from the perspective of the child. It is a story which brings you down the path of opening up to the belief that vision goes far beyond the physical and that imagination and creation come from a place within us. It speaks to a reality based on our beliefs and perceptions which are unique to each individual.
When the main character in the story, Joey, is questioning one of his magical friends as to whether or not they are real, his friend states: “We are just as real as you may believe, it’s all just a matter of how you perceive.”
The story also touches on self-confidence by not paying attention to what others may think, just be yourself! “Try not to worry what others may say, they may not see us, but you can still play!”.
It also reawakens the reader to the magic in life and the belief that anything is possible… even unicorns!
“When you open the door to this magical place, and believe we are real, you will always create. The key to the magic is to walk through the door, to this incredible world, where you can explore.”
You are a successful author and thought leader. Which three-character traits do you feel were most instrumental to your success when launching your book? Can you please share a story or example for each?
When first publishing my book, I threw away any care of what other people would think of my finished work. I wrote the book completely for me and made myself the only critic that mattered. I think that this was probably one of the best gifts that I gave myself as once I was happy with it, it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. Any other support simply became a bonus. I didn’t focus on how many reviews I had; it didn’t matter to me.
The other important character trait was my belief in my work. I was proud of my creation once I published it. I created it for myself, and when I was satisfied with it, I backed it completely! My belief in my work was the driving force behind bringing it out to the world. Other people were magnetically attracted to it, and it was my belief in it that was what drew people to connect with my story.
Of course, my unwavering belief that anything is possible was a message that I carried through with all of my work. By believing that anything was possible I was able to step into new ground that was perhaps unfamiliar and at times even uncomfortable knowing that if someone else could achieve it, then so could I!
In my work, I have found that writing a book can be a great way to grow a brand. Can you share some stories or examples from your own experience about how you helped your own business or brand grow by writing a book? What was the “before and after picture?” What were things like before, and how did things change after the book?
When I first wrote my book, “Surprise, I had 3 eyes!”, I was writing it purely out of inspiration to do something I loved from a place of joy. I had no idea that this book was going to be the beginning of a much larger vision, supporting people by connecting to their child essence. The book which was set to be a children’s book ended up being such a success with adults who were connecting to its messaging of awakening to the child within, that it inspired and an entirely new interest to start an institute where adults remembered how to be a child again. The book was deemed a “children’s book for adults” as its messaging was awakening something not only for children, but also for the adults who were reading it. The Secret to Life Institute was born through the powerful connection to the whimsical playfulness throughout the book, its bold beautiful imagery, and imaginative freedom it instilled in its readers. Now, the Secret to Life Institute is a place where people are being motivated to bring forward their own creative inspirations into the world by reconnecting to their child essence.
If a friend came to you and said “I’m considering writing a book but I’m on the fence if it is worth the effort and expense” what would you answer? Can you explain how writing a book, and thought leadership in general, can create lucrative opportunities and help a business or brand grow?
First off, aside from writing a book to support your brand and business, I’m a huge believer in writing a book for your own personal expression. I tell everyone I know to write a book, mostly because I think that sharing your perspective on life and something meaningful to you is such a huge accomplishment. It’s a great way to inspire others as well as build enthusiasm in yourself and your talents.
That being said, I feel that writing a book creates a fantastic forum to publish your expertise and become an authority on any particular subject. Books can bring validity and if you are skilled at something it gives you the ability to really shine by sharing your work with the world! Publishing a book can really bring you out into the open in many ways, especially now with the accessibility with the internet. Publishing a book can take you places you’ve never dreamed of, as people really take notice to the fact that you are a published author. It’s not something that everyone does, yet it’s something many people say that they wish to do one day.
What are the things that you wish you knew about promoting a book before you started? What did you learn the hard way? Can you share some stories about those which other aspiring writers can learn from?
There was a time in the very beginning of publishing my book that I had unrealistic expectations about getting my book out to the masses. I decided early on that I wished to independently publish my work to maintain creative freedom. However, I had the unrealistic expectation that once I published my book it would just magically be seen by billions of people all over the world instantly upon its release. Now, my book did exceptionally well and was able to become a best seller and an award-winning book upon its first week of release, yet it wasn’t on the shelves in every bookstore and I had to do quite a bit of work to get it out there! What many aspiring authors don’t take into consideration is that there is work involved in getting your book seen by people, regardless of how you choose to publish. You will need to be the driving force behind your book at least in the beginning. Publishing the book is just the first step of the journey, but it’s up to you to get yourself noticed and your book into the hands of your desired audience. Don’t expect your book to just take off on its own; you’re the one behind the book and the more you advocate it, the further it will go. I feel that being realistic about this and focusing on exactly who you want your book to reach will really save you a lot of energy.
Based on your experience, which promotional elements would you recommend to an author to cover on their own and when would you recommend engaging an expert?
I believe in doing my own research and working with the best! When I published my first book, I found the experts in my field, children’s book authors who were doing exactly what I wanted to do and had a proven track record of being successful. I networked with them and even hired a few to help guide me through the process. I didn’t try to reinvent the wheel and knew that there were plenty of people who went through what I was now experiencing for the first time who had important nuggets of information to share. I felt it was a worthwhile investment as it paid off immensely saving me a ton of time and money. It also helped me know from the beginning exactly how to position myself to become an international award-winning best-selling author. What I wouldn’t recommend spending your energy on is agents and marketing schemes that promise they are going to get your book out there to millions. The reality is that it takes time and dedication to get your book into the hands of the right people and marketing is something that all authors should really learn to master on their own first. As much as all authors are looking for the “holy grail” of getting your book out there on a massive scale, marketing companies don’t really do this for you. Its best to learn these valuable skills and figure out how to get your branding and marketing down yourself so you can position yourself exactly where you want to and maintain control of your brand without relying on someone else.
Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your own experience and success, what are the “five things an author needs to know to successfully promote and market a book?” If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- Create a Brand Identity: The number one thing you should focus on first and foremost when beginning to market your book is to brand yourself. Mind you, I said to brand “yourself” not your book! Why? Because you are the brand! You are the one who is creating the book, and you are the one who is the creation. The book becomes a part of the brand, but it’s not the brand, YOU are! When you brand yourself in this way, you are also leaving room for future projects which can fall underneath your overall brand identity. From the very beginning I branded myself as a children’s book author who was into the whimsical, magical side of life. People got very accustomed to seeing me amongst bright colors, rainbows, butterflies, and a clear message of creative expression. I carry this image with me throughout everything I do. People now know me as the Unicorn who believes in the playful expression of life and the belief that anything is possible.
- Zero down your brand: Become laser focused in your area of expertise. You don’t just want to be another book that gets lost in the sea of authors. Find your specialty and get really loud about making sure that people know you are the master of your craft. Once you are able to really have a clear understanding of exactly who and what you are all about, you can speak directly to your target audience and be able to focus in on marketing specifically to those people. After a while, people will also get used to seeing you as the person who specializes in your specific topic and will begin to research you when they are looking for a specific book on a certain topic. For example, I’ve now positioned myself well enough in my industry that people source out my work when they are looking for a forward-thinking book for children. Several years after publishing, I am at the point where I no longer have to market my book openly; the sales I receive are mostly from people who are taking an active interest in finding my work due to how I previously positioned myself in the industry.
- Utilize social media effectively: Everyone knows social media is a great tool for marketing, but very few people really understand how to successfully use it to market and gain sales. Truthfully, in the beginning nobody knows you and what you are all about. You need to really sell your story to people before they are going to want to just go out and buy your book or your service for your company. This is where I say connect with the people you already know on social media. Become someone who has something to share and offer. Be human! The human element is a huge part of marketing. Once you begin to build the human connection, then you are able to share your gifts with them as the authority in your given industry. You want people to follow you, hear what you have to say so they are interested in buying your work. If you connect with them on the human level, share a part of yourself and your story they can relate to; they are more likely to continue to want to connect with you and purchase your book.
- Put yourself in front of the right audience: This seems like a no-brainer, but surprisingly it’s a common one that many overlook completely. Most people will market to the masses thinking that everyone is going to want to buy their book or that eventually they’ll catch wind of someone who will be interested. The truth is that most people will pass right over your information if it doesn’t specifically appeal to them. If I am marketing my children’s book to a bunch of men who are interested in buying cars, do you think they are going to want to click on my links to purchase my book? You need to get yourself into the places where you know that people are going to want to see your material. Some research is always required prior to jumping into marketing. You need to do your due diligence and know exactly the type of person who would read your book and then market directly to them. Research the types of things they are interested in. What kinds of groups do they join, activities do they like, shops do they shop at? I noticed when I first released my book that mostly grandmothers were purchasing. I looked into common characteristics and found that many were into things such as meditation, yoga, spiritual renewal so I began to market in areas that would specifically attract those kinds of people. Of course, sales increased due to this change.
- Shift your strategy as needed: One of the most important things to always consider when marketing your brand is to be flexible with your strategy and shift things accordingly as need be. Marketing anything requires a great deal of research for the first few months. Sometimes we really think that one specific strategy or person is going to be our target audience, only to find out that we were way off the mark. Changing times can also alter what you need to do for marketing. When I first published my first book, I was doing a lot more live book readings at schools, events, and libraries. As times changed and we went into a more virtual world, my entire marketing strategy had to shift as I needed to develop a way to become more digital with my delivery. I also found that my demographic for my target audience shifted as well. Instead of gaining more sales from bookstores, I was gaining virtual sales through vendors who had a more online presence. Point being, always be ready to change course as needed in order to keep up with current trends. Marketing is always something that needs to be analyzed and adjusted to keep you in front of the right audience.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
Well, I may have to go old school on this one and say I’ve always had the dream of being interviewed by Oprah. Of course, who hasn’t, right? It’s like one of those things I think most aspiring authors say at the beginning stages of their career. But in truth, I really do believe that anything is possible and because of this I know it will happen! I was very inspired by the work of Eckhart Tolle and his book “The Power of Now” while I was writing my first book. Prior to its completion, I said that if I could get my book in the hands of anyone once it published, I would like it to be Eckhart Tolle. Two weeks after my book was released, I received an email that Eckhart Tolle was going to be speaking at a conference in my area. I only had one copy of my book in hand and didn’t have tickets to the event. With no clue how I would make this happen, I got in the car and took a chance. As I drove up to the event, I was let right in. I waited outside the room as I didn’t have tickets to actually get in, but as the event ended and everyone walked out, I walked in. I went up to the stage where he was previously speaking, and one of the event managers saw me holding my bright and colorful book. He asked me if I would like to put it on the gift table to give to Eckhart? Of course, I said yes and gifted my first autographed copy of “Surprise, I have 3 eyes!” to Eckhart Tolle. My own book which shares the message that anything is possible was proving right from the start that if we believe in something and it comes from our hearts, magic happens!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I invite you to visit my website at https://secrettolifeinstitute.com where you can explore more and connect with me, as well as experience more information through our blog https://blog.secrettolifeinstitute.com
Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success with your book promotion and growing your brand.