Pieper1

Marti Pieper

Greetings from Marti Pieper and not-so-snowy Mount Dora, Florida. We can only dream of white Christmases here, although some towns, including ours, brings in snow for at least one day during December. Regardless of where you live, I hope you’re warm, healthy, and eager to receive some book marketing wisdom from author and speaker Anita Agers-Brooks. I had the privilege of meeting Anita at the International Christian Retail Show last summer, and I’m excited about introducing her to the CAN readership today. Let’s get started with our interview.

Welcome, Anita! How did you get into writing? 

Anita Brooks Closeup Color Oval

Anita Agers-Brooks

As a child, I wanted to be a writer, but I hid that secret until I was in my forties. It wasn’t until late 2008 that I attended my first writer’s conference.

Sometimes it take a while to see our dreams fulfilled. How many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?

I’ve now had two titles published, First Hired, Last Fired: How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market, and Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over. I’m working on a new project now. My agent and I have discussed a list of titles I want to write with selling potential, so my goal is to publish a book a year.

That sounds fantastic. Can you please tell us how you got your first book contract?

After I attended that first conference, I realized I had a lot to learn, so I took a spiritual and a practical approach. I prayed over Matthew 25:27, asking God what bankers He wanted me to invest my talents with, but I also set a goal to read 100 books on the craft and business of writing. After eighteen months of study and practice, I had two book proposals completed, one for fiction, one for nonfiction.

A few weeks after I finished my proposals, when a literary agent asked to see my work, I was ready with both. Six days later, I was invited to be their client as a nonfiction author. My agent sold my first book within two months. Read More →

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Janet Perez EcklesHola from Janet Perez Eckles…Igniting Your Passion to Overcome

I was excited, I was prepared, and I was grinning at God’s grace to allow me to be on radio. Sound familiar? That was a couple of decades ago. And sitting behind that microphone, I began…and  didn’t stop. Maybe I took a breath, maybe not. But my host might have been gasping, annoyed with my endless gab. I thought I had a killer interview, but instead I killed the audience’s interest. Then I figured out interviews that sing over the airways, and those that prompt a second and a third invitation, need refining. Read More →

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DCS 2014_3.smallerGreetings from colorful Colorado. Davalynn Spencer here, soaking up the beauty of fall on the Front Range and thrilled to introduce author/editor, Kathy Ide.

Kathy, please tell us how you got into writing.

About twenty years ago, a friend from church asked me to help her with a conference she was running. She said I was so much help, she asked if I’d like to attend for free. “I don’t know. What kind of conference is it?” (Clearly I hadn’t paid much attention to the material I was stuffing into three-ring binders.) She told me it was a writers’ conference. “But I’m not a writer,” I said. She replied, “Maybe you are and you just don’t know it yet.” At the conference, I met people whose names were on the covers of books I had at home. I felt like I was meeting celebrities! But they were “real” people, a lot like me. And they wrote in their spare time—it wasn’t a full-time day job, as I’d always assumed. Deciding to take a shot at it, I wrote an article and submitted it to a magazine I’d never heard of until I picked up their writers’ guidelines on the freebie table. They sent me a check for $100. I was hooked!

Read More →

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Kevin: Welcome fellow CAN author, Billie Montgomery Cook!

Billie, it’s great to have you on our “show.” Tell our readers how you got involved in writing?

Billie: I’ve always been interested in writing, at least the concept of it, because I’ve always been interested in reading.  My 12th grade English teacher was the first to see something of a writer in me and seriously talk to me about it.  I was a History major in college which demanded a lot of writing, and there was the time a History professor of mine used a great deal of a term paper that I had written as a chapter in his book! Things began to change for me when I became a stay-at-home Mom in the early ‘80’s.  A dear friend gave me a journal as a way to “gather my thoughts.”  Those thoughts evolved into the first plays that I ever wrote which became the basis of our church’s drama ministry.  When my daughter was in middle school and coming home with the horror stories of that age, while looking for books to help her, I began to write her a letter that kept getting longer and longer. By the time she reached the age of 16, the letter to her became my first book, THE REAL DEAL: A Spiritual Guide for Black Teen Girls (Judson Press).  I’ve also started an historical fiction trilogy about my home town (GEORGIANA SCOTT:  A Free Child of Portsmouth) which I hope to finish now that I’ve retired.  In April, my latest book, SISTERS OF SCRIPTURE: Mentors in Womanhood (Judson Press) was released.  I’m really excited about the kinds of conversations that women will have using SOS.

Kevin: How many books do you have published?

Billie: I’ve published 3 books, 2 traditionally through Judson Press and one on my own.

Kevin: What are a few of your latest titles?

Author Billie Cook

Billie Cook

Billie: The latest is SISTERS OF SCRIPTURE: Mentors in Womanhood (Judson Press), released April, 2015.

Kevin: How did you get your first book contract?

Billie: My first book contract which was and is with Judson Press came as a result of going to writer’s conferences, listening carefully, doing my research combined with a healthy dose of recognizing the obvious. To explain, while attending a few writer’s conferences, I would always hear that one should approach trying to find a publisher the same way one should try to find a job: send out query letters on a daily basis to as many publishers as possible.  That sounded like too much work me and a bonus to the post office! But I also heard at those same conferences that one should go to bookstores and see what was being published and by whom which I did and that proved valuable. At one point, my husband pastored two churches (at different times) that were affiliated with American Baptist Churches and Judson Press is the publishing arm of ABC. After thumbing through one of Judson’s catalogs one day while waiting in his office, I realized that they had the market that I wanted to reach.  I sent them a query letter and the rest is history.

Kevin: What has helped you promote your books the most?

Billie: I suppose my best promotion has been word of mouth.  I’m involved in quite a few things in my church as well as in my community so women spreading the news about my books have proven to be a blessing for me.

Kevin: What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book? Did those mistakes cause you to change? If so, how?

Billie: My wrong assumptions were probably the same that most first time writers make: thinking that the book would sell itself! Realizing how crazy that was helped me to grow up and understand that marketing is key and that every author must market their work in some form.

Kevin: What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?

Billie: The gimmick wasn’t mine but I once shared a book signing table at a bookstore in Atlanta with a young, first-time fiction author who had stated on a radio show that if 20 people bought her book by Noon that day, she would come to her book launch party in the nude! She got a lot of traffic with people coming to see her and talk to her (she was fully dressed) but she didn’t sell a single book. I sold about a dozen books to those same folks and even sold one of my books to her mother! It was one of the best, most interesting and craziest book signings I have ever had.

Kevin: What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?

Billie: The REAL DEAL had been out for a few months and I was just beginning to do book signings and appearances and still quite new to author status. I was in East Orange, NJ at a college friend’s bookstore waiting for a group of teen girls coming from a church in Newark. I was nervous and really excited. As I walked through one of the aisles, I heard a girl gasp and say really excited, “There she is!” I stopped and looked around to see who she was talking about only to realize that it was me.

Kevin: Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?

Billie: Probably being open and available as much as possible.  I did quite a bit of traveling w/ the REAL DEAL.

Kevin: Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?

Billie: YES! When I wrote the REAL DEAL, I never imagined that the book would be so popular with adult women. I felt strongly that they would purchase it for their daughters, granddaughters, nieces, students, etc., but I never thought it would resonate so strongly with women. That has been a real blessing and eye opener for me. The second “door” has been the vision that Judson Press had for the book that has carried and continues to carry it to places that I never could have imagined.

Kevin: Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?

Billie: I still have to say word of mouth, woman to woman, small groups, conferences and workshops. The one-to-one with the writer up close and personal continues to work well for me.

Kevin: What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?

Billie: The most important tips I would give:

  1. Understand that the publisher sometimes has a broader vision for your book than you as author.
  2. Do your homework on the publisher BEFORE sending that query letter!
  3. Trust the publisher’s marketing team’s expertise because they know their audience/market.
  4. READ the contract carefully. For a first time contract, will it be ‘money or ministry’?
  5. Be available and open-minded to God’s will for the book!

Kevin: Thanks, Billie, for your advice and time, and may God continue to use and bless your writing ministry!

If you wish to contact Billie or check out her writing, you can contact her @  www.billiemcook.com or check out her blog @ www.tgabc937.wordpress.com.

_______________________________________

 

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school. He also has several years experience as an administrator at the high school level.

 

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So, summer is officially over for me. I’m a school administrator by day. When I peel back my shirt and run to the nearest phone booth after work (who has those anymore?), that’s when the big “W” on my chest appears. Super Writer! (There’s got to be a superhero story there somewhere…)

As the kiddos languish over the dwindling days of summer and “look forward” to hitting the books again, in whatever form that may take – public, private, or at home – there’s a writer to whom you may wish to introduce them. Particularly if you have girls in your midst.

Welcome to the big, Florida front porch, Rebecca C. Ondov!

Rebecca Ondov

Rebecca Ondov

Rebecca, you were last featured on the CAN blog in 2010. That was years ago. Just think of how much has happened in the world since then. How many books do you have published now?

Six.

What are a few of your latest titles?

Great Horse Stories: Wisdom and Humor from Our Majestic Friends

Great Horse Stories for Girls: Inspiring Tales of Friendship and FunGreat Horse Stories for Girls Cover 2

Since your last visit to the CAN blog, what are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?

That the friendships I’ve made with my readers are some of the most precious ones I have. I love being a part of their lives through letters and social media platforms like Facebook.

What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since then?

I make an effort to personally connect with my readers as much as possible and to share, as a friend, God’s love and encouragement with them.

What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?

I love doing radio interviews, but I feel my most effective is reaching out through social media.

What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?

Book signings

What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?

Facebook and Email

What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?

For a couple of my books, my publisher has paired up with me to target specific audiences where I’d send an email offering a free book and the first 50 to respond would win. It worked well.

Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?

Yes, a crazy thing happened, one that only God could have done. I took a day off from work and a friend and I drove a couple hours to a Montana hot springs for lunch and to soak in the mineral pool. The location is in the middle of nowhere Montana.

On the way we stopped by a tiny mom and pop grocery store to grab some snacks. While chatting with the owner, she mentioned that she was a Christian. I shared that I was a Christian author. We exchanged some testimonies of how awesome God is. Then she asked, “Have you ever been interviewed on the radio show, ‘A Woman’s Special Touch’? It airs throughout California and into 26 different countries.”

I shook my head and told her I’d never heard of it.

She leaned sideways, looked into the back room, and yelled, “Hey, Norma, there’s a Christian author out here you need to meet!”

The host of the show was a friend of hers and “just happened” to be visiting her in podunk Montana.

Since then Norma and I have become good friends, and she’s interviewed me on her show several times.

What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?

Pray for wisdom, do what God suggests even if it seems silly, and don’t get discouraged.

 

Thank you, Rebecca, for taking time out of your busy day to visit with us. And if you’re willing to share the address of that mineral bath place with our readers, I’m sure if they’re up that way, they may decide to stop by and take a dip.

You can visit Rebecca online @ http://rebeccaondov.com/

 

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