Today I’m happy to introduce author Kathy Howard as she shares highlights from her amazing writing journey. You’ll be encouraged by her discoveries and innovative suggestions. Thanks for reading! ~Davalynn Spencer
Kathy, tell us how you first became involved in writing.
My passion for teaching the Bible led me to writing. About 10 years ago, God dropped me into the middle of a teaching ministry to spiritual seekers. After using the material I had for a while, I knew I could develop curriculum that would better meet that group’s specific needs. I was in seminary at the time so writing the Bible study, God’s Truth Revealed, became my field study work. This study opened the door for two more studies, a devotional book, and a non-fiction title.
My fifth book, Fed Up with Flat Faith: 10 Attitudes and Actions to Pump Up Your Faith, releases in March 2013 by New Hope Publishers. My fourth book, God Is My Refuge: 12 Weeks of Devotions and Scripture Memory for Troubled Times, was released in January by Leafwood Publishers. New Hope also published my first three books, which are Bible studies.
How did you get your first book contract?
I worked my connections. A couple of friends who were published authors connected me to editors. I attended a writer’s conference and met more editors. I received several polite rejections. But I persevered. I reconnected with a woman who had led a short-term mission team I had been part of about 15 years earlier. But now Andrea was the publisher at New Hope. That connection got two of my proposals in the door. New Hope Publishers and I have worked on four books together.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
Word of mouth is the most believable advertising. I try to incorporate a mix of “word of mouth” marketing techniques. Here are a few I’ve used:
• Gather a team of influencers who will review the book on online stores and post tweets and status updates.
• Ask bloggers to review my book on their blog.
• Ask bloggers and influencers to share how the book has impacted their lives personally.
What did you learn in the marketing of your first book?
I mistakenly assumed that when people heard I had written a book they would rush right out and buy it. What I’ve learned is that it takes a lot more than a great topic or good writing to sell books. The reader must believe the book will benefit them. I’ve learned I need to show the reader what’s in it for them. How will the book meet their specific needs? How will it make their life better?
Any crazy promotional gimmick you’ve tried?
I am planning something fun for the next book. Women love the high-heeled decorated cover of Fed Up with Flat Faith. I’m going to invite women to post photos of their super-high or crazy high heels on the Facebook book page. I will probably turn this into a contest!
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
Once at a women’s event, a fashion show and luncheon, I shared a book table with another author. One lady asked to borrow my pen so she could write a check to purchase a book from the other author. She didn’t even look at my books!
What works best for you in promoting your books?
For my last two books, as I proofread the last edited manuscript, I copied and pasted short quotes into another document. When it was time to promote I had an entire list of great book quotes for status updates and tweets!
• Readers like to see what they’ll be getting. For both of my last books I offered free downloads of one chapter or devotion. This gives them a “test drive” so they can decide if they want to buy the book.
• Readers also love giveaways. I created a buzz leading up to the release by holding a giveaway contest on my website.
Did you see God open unexpected doors for the promotion of your books?
My publisher will be sending copies of God Is My Refuge to parents of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. I consider this ministry, not promotion. But I am blessed to see God using one of my books in this way.
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
• Don’t be afraid to ask for changes. The worst they can do is say “no.”
• Ask other authors you trust for feedback. Find out what is normal and not normal.
Thanks so much, Kathy, for sharing with us today.