Greetings from beautiful Mount Dora, Florida, where we’re starting to chill out.
Of course, for us, “chill out” means temperatures that dip into the fifties at night and still climb into the seventies during the day. Today, I have the privilege of introducing you to novelist C. Kevin Thompson, who is also celebrating the season in comfort because he lives in a town just down the road from my own.
Welcome, Kevin! How many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
That’s an interesting question. It’s something I’ve written about on my blog and is too long a story to get into here. Suffice it to say I’ve had two books published, and they will be published again as second editions. My first book, The Serpent’s Grasp, originally came out in 2012 and won the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award in 2013 for First Fiction. It will be out again in 2017.
My second book, 30 Days Hath Revenge (A Blake Meyer Thriller – Book 1), was just re-released as a second edition and is the first in a series slated to have six books in all.
I’m so happy for you and all this good news. Congratulations! This is your first time on our CAN blog as the spotlight author. What are some chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life?
Be patient. I mean, really patient. There are so many steps to the writing process authors just don’t know about as a newbie. It’s easy to get antsy, even pushy. Your eagerness can become a detriment because you simply are unaware of all the steps involved in producing a book.
So true. Kevin, what are some chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion?
That I’m about as good at it now as I was when I tried to be a salesman for a local radio station back in the late ’90s. #EpicFail
I can honestly say a chief lesson I’ve learned is platforms, social media, and all the other things authors are supposed to build and be involved in mean nothing if your writing isn’t any good. Good writing sells. Good ideas sell. Coupled with promotion, good writing sells really well.
That’s a great reminder. So what are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?
Well, I feel like I’m starting over in many ways. As I transition to my second-edition life, I’m learning a great deal about all the sites available to an author these days. I’ve also learned that each author finds success in different ways. It’s definitely not a “one size fits all” publishing world. So all I can say is be on the lookout for my book. We’ll probably be trying several places until we find our niches and have a better answer.
And what are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
A Goodreads giveaway. Gave five books away (had to mail them out, too). Got thank-you cards from the winners. They were very gracious, and one left a great review. But as for sales, it didn’t move the meter much.
That’s good to know since we tend to think giveaways prompt sales. So what’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
Through social media, although I also like to do book signings. Obviously, social media is better because I can be in more places at once. Book signings have their budgetary and geographical limits, and since I work as an assistant principal at a middle school (I know. You’re questioning my intellect about now), book signings must be local to be feasible.
Makes sense (even for someone who works with middle schoolers). So tell us: What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
I attended a book signing with two other well-known Christian authors. It was in a little Christian gift shop in a little downtown area of a small town in central Florida, and we were doing this as a favor to the store owner, who had just opened her business. The gift shop was cute. My wife would have loved it. Frilly, knick-knacky, Southern charm kind of cute. And there I was, selling thrillers about serpents and FBI agents. The other two authors had romance novels, a coffee table book about Israel, and books for teenage girls about how to grow up and be the kind of girl God desires. I was definitely out of my element.
However, until last February at a different event, I sold more books in that little gift shop than any other book signing I’ve attended. Go figure.
That’s great. What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
Beyond what I mentioned earlier about being patient, there are a few things:
- Find ways to get your name out there even when you don’t have a book coming out. What happens when you see something over and over in ads, whether it be on TV or over the Internet? You eventually start to wonder what all the buzz is about, right? “Getting your name out” doesn’t have to come via ads, either. Pray and let God work here.
- Don’t give up. If you’re called to write, write. Grow as an author. Read about writing. Attend your nearest (and best) writers conference and writers groups/associations. Network with people. Build those relationships. Even during the times when things look grim and unproductive. If God is in it, things will change for the better.
- Don’t set sales goals. Instead, set writing goals. Most authors will tell you (and there are scads of other examples out there in the secular market) it took several books for the author to garner enough steam to hit some of the “dream” sales numbers.
- Learn how the Internet works, learn how your possible customers consume their little piece of it, and find ways to target those people in their digital world.
- To piggyback onto #4, stay current. If you still have a pager from the early 1990s, or you’re wondering why Microsoft won’t update your Windows XP anymore, you may want to upgrade your knowledge.
- To piggyback further on the last two, find what you can do, and do it, but don’t overwhelm yourself. The writing life is a marathon, not a sprint. Try one thing. If it works, hurray! If it doesn’t, scratch it off the list for now. Find what works, what can fit into your writing life and budget, and do that—to the best of your ability. And let God bless it. I always wonder how much more God would be able to do if I didn’t get in the way as much as I often do.
Those are great reminders for all of us, Kevin. Thank you so much!
To learn more about C. Kevin Thompson and his books, please visit Kevin’s website.
For His glory,