here, from colorful Colorado, excited to visit with Mona Hodgson. I met Mona a
few years ago at a Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference and have been awed
by her maneuverability between children's books and historical fiction. Mona has
some great tips for first-book authors.
Will you tell us how you became a writer?
For as long as I
can remember, I was going to be a nurse like my cousin Irene. That's what I
told my parents and that's what we all expected. Although I had been more
successful in English classes than in other classes, and I had always preferred
words over numbers or science projects, becoming a writer hadn't crossed my
mind until I was nearly thirty.
In 1983, while my
hubby, Bob, was a deputy with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, our
family of four attended a retreat for law enforcement families at the Forest
Home Conference Center in California. That's when I had my first encounter with
a real writer!
As Carol the writer interviewed Bob and me for a magazine
article, I remember wondering … Hmm, could I be a writer? (You can read more
about that journey at http://www.monahodgson.com/Pages/howdidi.htm).
When the idea of
writing for publication kept niggling at me, I enrolled in a correspondence course
for writers (now many are available online) and in creative writing classes at
my community college. Most importantly, I attended the Mount Hermon Christian
Writers Conference near Santa Cruz, California.
Attending at least two
writers' conferences every year affords me the opportunity to study the craft
of writing, develop some industry savvy, and track publishing trends while
building relationships with editors, agents, marketing specialists, and other
writers at various intervals on the journey.
You started out in children's books. What led you to historical romance?
Being a novelist was a 20-year-old dream. God led me down a circuitous path on which I produced 28 published children's books first. My dream to write historical romance was still alive and I was much better prepared to pursue it when God opened that door.
Was it difficult to switch gears?
Talk about two different genres–pictures books and novels. What a boon social media and blogging have been to helping me build my readership for the novels. Another advantage I have is that the market (buyers–moms, grandmothers, teachers) for the children's books are the audience for my historical romance.
Do you enjoy historical romance as much as children's books?
I love my role as a children's book author, and the opportunity it affords me to visit schools as a guest author, but being a novelist–writing historical fiction was my dream. What a blessing to be able to do both.
Of your 32 published books, what are a few of
your latest titles?
The Bride Wore
Blue (WaterBrook Multnomah)
Too Rich for a
Bride (WaterBrook Multnomah)
Two Brides Too
Many (WaterBrook Multnomah)
Twins and the Tea Party (Zonderkidz)
Twins and the Puppy (Zonderkidz)
Real Girls of the
Bible: A 31-Day Devotional (Zonderkidz)
How did you land
your first book contract?
I had my
children's book draft critiqued by published children's book authors and
rewrote it again and again. I turned the picture book manuscript into a
beginning reader manuscript and showed it to an editor at a writers' conference.
Friendly Differences, Book 1 of 12, in the Desert Critter Friends series was
published in 1998.
What has helped
you the most in book promotion?
Connecting with potential readers on
Facebook and Twitter.
Connecting with readers and potential
readers on my blog, Hindsight by Mona Hodgson.
Giving away books on my Facebook Mona
Hodgson Author Page.
Connecting with potential readers on other
Giving away books in connection with a guest
appearance on other people's blogs.
Book reviewers posting reviews on
Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, and Goodreads.com.
Readers getting excited about my books and
helping spread the word through their own channels.
Having bookmarks ready for anyone who shows
interest in my books.
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?
everyone would, or at least should, care about my books. Now, I focus on ways
to connect with the buyers/readers who might and do care.
craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
printed the cover of Friendly Differences on the back of a white denim vest,
and I wore it on the floor at CBA (now ICRS). For Real Girls of the Bible: A
Devotional, I dressed in a Bible girl costume complete with bright pink
polka-dot tennies at a Barnes & Noble book-signing event.
What's the most
fun you've had during a promotional activity?
I love the
double-takes when I'm dressed in full Victorian costume for Sinclair Sisters of
Cripple Creek events.
What helps you
the most with marketing?
I'm still working
on it, but I'd say it's settling on who my readers are, and figuring out what
it is that draws readers to me and my stories and how to connect with them.
Have you seen God
open unexpected doors for book promotion?
my first two Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels (Two Brides Too Many and
Too Rich for a Bride) for a six-month exclusive print run before wide release.
Now that you've
been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your
work and why?
Being myself on
my points of connection (website, blog, Facebook, Twitter…). Not everyone
will care about me or my books, but readers who do relate to me will care, and
being me is how I draw them.
What are your top
tips for writers with their first book contract?
Add to your prayer team.
Meet your deadline.
Nurture more ideas.
Put together a realistic list of what you
can do in the marketing and promotions.
Write articles from your topic and
Start talking about your topic, setting,
theme… on your social media outlets.
Find a community of writers at all levels
Keep learning…keep growing as a writer.
Be prepared for detours and embrace the
Look to the One holding the whistle, and
stay the course.
Thank you, Mona,
for sharing your hard-earned experience with us, and best to you!
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Contact Davalynn at firstname.lastname@example.org