Categories
Author Interviews Writing craft

Tip From the Pros – Nancy Mehl

C. Kevin Thompson
C. Kevin Thompson

Welcome from C. Kevin Thompson! The more I write, the more I become appreciative of those who have gone before me and “blazed a trail,” if you will. It’s no small feat to write multiple books, especially when it was done before the advent of the modern self-publishing phenomenon. I know of many people who tell me they’ve started a book. It’s the finishing that’s the hard part.

That’s why writers like our guest keep me writing. They’ve shown that good, old-fashioned hard work, perseverance through times both good and not-so-much, and a persistent pursuit to hone their craft pay off in the end.

Allow me to introduce to you our guest for today, Nancy Mehl.

Nancy Mehl
Nancy Mehl

Nancy, it’s great to have you on the Christian Authors Network Blog. So, let’s get to it. How many books do you have published now?

Twenty-five books so far!

Amazing. For our readers who are maybe not so familiar with your work, what are a few of your latest titles?

Some of my latest titles are Gathering Shadows, Deadly Echoes, and my newest, Rising Darkness. These are all titles in my Finding Sanctuary series. I also have two recent books with Guideposts. These are in the Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries series. The first book is Blessings in Disguise. The second is Simply Vanished which will be released any day now.

You’ve been busy since you were last featured on the CAN blog in 2012. What are some of the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?

Rising Darkness by Nancy Mehl
Rising Darkness by Nancy Mehl

Discipline is paramount! I’m writing for two different publishers, so I have to work hard to pre-plan my writing goals. I use calendars and plan out each book by daily word counts and weekly goals. If I didn’t do this, I’d be sunk.

I’ve also begun to understand how important good editors are. Editors who are brutally honest, but can also encourage their authors, are worth their weight in gold.

What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since 2012?

To be honest, I can’t drive myself crazy with promotion. I don’t have the time. I do have a street team, and recently, I hired a young man to help me with promotional duties. He is a whiz at what he does, and I am truly blessed. Writers need to write. We just don’t have time to spend on a lot of promotion.

That said, I do have some social media outreaches. My main emphasis is Facebook, which I enjoy. And I work with some other authors on a blog called the Suspense Sisters. I do intend to learn more about Twitter after the first of the year. I also intend to become more involved with CAN. I realize it’s one of the best tools available to authors.

You and me both (the part about CAN). I really haven’t even scratched the surface on how this organization can help. Once my newer works come out, a crash course I will need. What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?

Honestly? My most effective means of book promotion comes through my publisher’s promotional activities. On a personal level, Facebook has been quite helpful.

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

Book signings. When I first started writing, all my newbie writer friends and I dreamed of book signings. It didn’t take long for me to see that they just aren’t worth the effort if your emphasis is sales. But…I do try to have a book signing every once in a while – just for readers who want to meet me. If you want to schedule a book signing, I recommend joint signings. It helps when other authors bring in their readers. It gives an author a chance to make new contacts.

I’ve participated in some of those joint signings, and you’re right. They do work better. Makes it more effective for readers to have more than one writer in the building, unless your Ben Carson or James Patterson, I suppose. On that note, what’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?

Probably through Facebook. It gives us a chance to connect on a more personal level.

What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you’ve ever tried?

I don’t know if it’s crazy, but the most nerve wracking is something called “Book Banter,” a promotional event my publisher manages. It’s done on Facebook and draws in a big crowd. It’s fun to connect with so many people, but you move a mile a minute, trying to answer questions and stay on top of things. By the end, I’m usually exhausted!

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

There have been several – all of them at book signings. One that sticks out in my mind is the woman who couldn’t wait to tell me that I really needed to be writing books for children – about buses. She was adamant about it. LOL!

Buses, huh? A mystery/suspense writer creating children’s books about buses? I’m afraid by the time mothers around the country finished reading it, their children would become car riders the very next school day. Sometimes, people need to think things through, you know? Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books, besides the possibility of a new school bus genre?

I love Charisma magazine and have been a subscriber for years. Imagine my surprise when I opened it one month and found myself and my newest book mentioned in a feature about what was happening in the Christian community! I about fell out of my chair. My best friend called me as soon as she saw it. “I had no idea you were so famous!” she said. That was not only a surprise, but a real thrill.

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

First of all, write a great book. It’s not hard to promote a well-written book.

Secondly, reach out on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. But be a real person. There’s nothing worse than someone on Facebook who is obviously trying to promote themselves. I usually “unfollow” people like that. Don’t be obnoxious – be yourself. If you care about the readers you come in contact with, you’ll have made a lifetime friend – and a lifetime reader.

Nancy, it’s been a pleasure having you stop by and take time out of your busy schedule. We wish you well on your present and upcoming works.

If anyone wants to catch up with Nancy, she can be found at the following online locations:

Website: nancymehl.com

Suspense Sisters Blog: suspensesisters.blogspot.com

 

Thanks for stopping by, Everybody!

_____________________________

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.

A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, he is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (Winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge – A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24 , The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

 

Website:           www.ckevinthompson.com

Blogs:               www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com

Facebook:          C. Kevin Thompson – Author Page

Twitter:            @CKevinThompson

Goodreads:        C. Kevin Thompson

Categories
Marketing Writing Business

Risk to Reach

 

In this ever changing world, it is easy to want to sit back and watch others sink or swim. Have you ever been with a group and you all want to do something that appears fun, exciting, thrilling—like jumping off a rock ledge into a lake on a hot summer day? There is a moment when everyone dares everyone else to “go first”. Finally, the bravest (or maybe just the craziest) runs and jumps in!

Often new options of social media feel this way. There was a time when Youtube, Vimeo, LinkedIN, Facebook, GooglePlus, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Periscope were new—and there will be MORE NEW options!

So why would we try to learn and use social media?

Because we all want to reach people with the hope and help offered through a personal relationship with God. We also want to strengthen individuals, marriages, families, churches, businesses, and communities (and countries!)

The Apostle Paul put it this way:

Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. (1 Cor 9:19 NABRE)

As writers, speakers and book store owners—social media does handcuff us to the populous. It is time consuming, and many days we might even feel “enslaved” to the digital world.

But we do it (Likely not all forms, but a few favorite forms) because it is another road to reach some for Christ.

Yes there is a learning curve—yes, learning it will be time consuming, but just like learning to swim, when we learn it, we can enjoy using this skill! When we learn a few favorite social media methods,  we can use it to reach others. However, no matter your chosen favorite social media, to learn how to use it best, you have to jump in and SWIM.

We can take “swim lessons” from others who seem capable:

  • Leaders we can observe – We gain principles as we read and survey their choices.
  • Leaders we can help – We gain network friends and see the more inner workings as we participate.
  • Leaders we can become – We gain wisdom as we try—and maybe fail some and succeed some or swim and tread water somewhere between.

Bill and I are “jumping in”. In conjunction with the release of our newest books:

 

We will host a 7 Day Celebration of SIMPLE SUCCESS. Each day we will share a SIMPLE SKILL, a SIMPLE SUCCESS TOOL and a SIMPLE SUCCESS TIP. We are weaving together a “life raft” of social media to keep our Simple Skills ™ message afloat for 7 days.  We invite you to take a dip and jump in with us!

Go ahead, jump in with us, and we can all learn together! 

We will share videos, tweets, Facebook posts, infographics, images, quotes through the 7 days of emails—and in our social media.
Ways to jump in:

Lastly– you try a campaign too! And invite me to jump in on your team too!

Ready, set  . . . jump!

Bill and Pam Farrel
Bill and Pam Farrel

Pam and Bill Farrel are international speakers, authors of 40 books, and Co-Directors of Love-Wise.com

Categories
Author Interviews Marketing

Tips From the Pros: Rebecca Ondov

C. Kevin Thompson
C. Kevin Thompson

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 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?

Rebecca Ondov
Rebecca Ondov

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 Fun

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

Great Horse Stories for Girls by Rebecca Ondov
Great Horse Stories for Girls by Rebecca Ondov

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/

Kevin Thompson

Categories
Marketing

Be Quotable

Do you highlight quotes as you read a book? Do you copy down favorite sayings on to sticky notes and post on your mirror or computer? Do you share graphics of favorite quotes on facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest? Yep, me too!

And that is the goal of a writer or speaker—to be quotable. To share nuggets of wisdom people can easily grab and grow with.

In your books and speeches, be sure to place short and simple quotes under the 100 characters (#plusyourname #your website). Be “tweetable!”

Tweet this: When VERTICAL relationship with God is healthy, your HORIZONTAL relationships with people are healthier @pamfarrel #7simpleskills

As you travel, look for photos you can take, so you own the image and can turn it into a beautiful memorable graphic. (Or if you see a great snapshot on facebook page of a friend, ask for permission to use and give them credit (like this awesome photo of a tree taken by my friend Abby) to which I added the most quoted phrase from my book, Woman of Influence.

woi 1 ordinary woamn

In my more recent books, I asked the publisher to have pull out quotes, already in a graphic so people couple even Xerox and place on their mirror, or bedside or in the Bible to give them strength for life’s journey. In Brave New Woman these are called “Winning Wisdom” and in my newest book, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success for Keeping it All Together, they are “simple sayings 4 success”. My friend, Christin Ditchfield (also an author) created a simple branding graphic template I can place any quote on for social media and instantly people can recognize the source of the quote. (You can create images free on places like www.picmonkey.com  or www.canva.com)

 

While I look for quotes to use as I write a book, I also enjoy that first read through of my own book before my first interview as I take a highlighter to mark off quotes to share verbally in the interview but also to use on my various social media platforms. And I usually run a contest on my social media with my friends, or my launch group and I ask them to place their favorite quotes on images I can use on social media too. It is nice to see what others deem quotable.

Lastly, google your own name or your own book, or search through Amazon or Good Reads, chances are others have quoted you in places all over the web—and rejoice if you see your quotes captured on an image, or selected to share in reader groups or other platforms.

 

Two of my happiest days as a writer were when I was given a calendar of quotes of Inspiring Women of God—and I turned to find several by me! The second was when a woman in one of my audiences asked if she could quote from my books for her daily text message devotional and I replied, “Yes, but only if you sign me up for them too!” then one day, when I was really struggling with a spiritual attack on the future of my ministry, at 6 am my cell phone text beeped and one of my own quotes from 10 Best Decisions a Woman Can Make was exactly what I needed to read to give me to courage to face my day!

 

May your quotes bless others—and may they boomerang back to bless you too!

Pam Farrel
Pam Farrel

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of 40 books and she prays she will be quoted long after she is dead, gone and in heaven with Jesus! www.Love-wise.com

Categories
Marketing

Annoying Marketing

C. Kevin Thompson
C. Kevin Thompson

Grace and Peace to you from C. Kevin Thompson!

Does anything annoy you when it comes to authors marketing their own writing? A barrage of Facebook posts, perhaps? Sent out like Hootsuite clockwork to all the pertinent reader groups? “Buy my book! Buy my book! It’s only 99 cents for another two-and-half-days.”

Or what about constant twits from the infamous Twitterverse? “Buy my bk! Buy my bk! Only .99 4 2.5 more days.”

Okay, so I jest. A little bit. We’ve all probably been guilty of this kind of annoying marketing at some point. It’s one type, according to Jonathan Gunson, fiction authors should never do on a regular basis.

Categories
Writing Business

Organizing Your Facebook Contacts

Headshot-Small Hi all!

I’m Cat Hoort. I hope you are all enjoying a sunny spring!

Recently, I wrote a post about the difference between a Facebook page and a Facebook profile. The key difference between the two is purpose: the purpose of a profile is to communicate with friends/family whereas the purpose of a page is to promote your product to fans. If you’re like me, you probably started with a profile and (over time) have realized that the profile has been used for both business and personal endeavors. As a result, your personal contacts and your business contacts are all blurred together. Sound familiar?

One option to separate your personal and business contacts is to create a page and invite your business contacts to “like” you on that page, thus creating two different Facebook platforms organized by audience-type. If you’re not ready to create a page, however, what are your options? Is there anything you can do on your Facebook profile to help you start separating friends and business contacts?

Good news. The answer is YES.

It’s called a Friends List. The Friends List feature organizes your profile friends into categories assigned by you. Once a list is established, you can use it to speak directly and simultaneously to members of that list (but not to your other friends at the same time).

Here’s a quick guide on how to set up a Friends List:

1. Go to your profile. Under your profile picture, click the Friends link

2. Click Edit Friends box in the upper right of screen

3. Click Create a List

4. Name your list in the field that says “Enter a Name”

5. Add people to your list either by typing their name into the search box and/or by clicking on their name in the scroll down. If you have a lot of friends to choose from, scrolling through might take a while so searching for specific names might be easier (assuming you know the specific names you want to include).

6. Click Create List

To send a status update directly to that list (and only to that list), type a message into your status bar. BEFORE YOU HIT SHARE:

1. Click the down arrow right next to the send button and select “customize”.

2. Under the heading “make this visible to” select “specific people” from the drop down

3. Type in the name of your list in the field below. Your list should pop up. Click on it to select it.

4. Click save setting.

Now, when you click the share button on that particular status, only friends on that list will be able to see that status on your wall. All your other friends (and their friends) will not be able to see that status so you can be more specific in who you talk to. Each time you want to talk to a specific Friend List, click the drop down and follow the four steps above before you hit Share.

Last Note: Your lists are private to you and your uses, but there are also Featured Friends Lists that make your lists public on your profile. Whether or not you are considering the move to a page, Friends Lists can help you improve how you use Facebook by organizing your Facebook contacts. Anyone out there use Friends Lists? Comment here and let us know if they’ve been effective for you.

Cat Hoort has worked with Kregel, Abingdon Press, and Worthy. She’s provided this as writing industry article as a guest post.

Categories
Marketing

Marketing Lessons from the World of Retail

Arches headshot CAN

Tracy (T.L.) Higley here, posting another marketing lesson I’ve learned from my years in online retail sales. As I mentioned in previous months, I’m currently in the midst of an experimental year, applying principles from my retail business to the marketing of my fiction. If you’ve missed earlier posts, and would like a better explanation of my background and what these posts are about, please see Principles #1 through #3 here.

So, on to Principle #4…  Repeated contact through social networks drives sales.

Categories
Marketing

Marketing Lessons from the World of Retail

Arches headshot CAN Hi all,

Tracy (T.L.) Higley here, posting another marketing lesson I’ve learned from my years in online retail sales. As I mentioned last month, I’m currently in the midst of an experimental year, applying principles from my retail business to the marketing of my fiction. If you missed last month’s post, and would like a better explanation of my background and what these posts are about, as well as Principle #1, you can find that post here.

 

So on to Principle #2:  Build a List.

 

As promised, I’m going to continue to give you real numbers and stats from my experience…

 

I believe this second principle has been the greatest factor in building our online craft and hobby supply retail business. When we started with our first website five years ago, KoolStuff4Kids.com, we were diligent in capturing the names and email addresses of people who visited the site, both those who became customers and even those who did not. Our primary means of collecting names was through a monthly contest in which we gave away free products.  From that beginning, the mailing list for that particular website has grown to over 28,000 names.  (We currently run four different websites, with a total of over 78,000 names in our database.)  Later we began offering customers an “instant coupon” when they signed up for our mailing list – an autoresponder email set up to send them a coupon code immediately.

 

Building a list is becoming increasingly critical in the “social marketing” world in which we now live.  People want to be involved with the companies, products, and people they follow in new and creative ways. The idea of a building a following, a “tribe,” is spreading through the marketing world, and is especially conducive to writers. Why? Because tribes are about ideas. They are about people connecting to each other because of a shared interest or cause. And writers are fabulous at explaining ideas and getting people passionate about interests and causes! People are looking for information, and we’ve got it.

 

So, how am I applying my own advice this month?  I looked back at my statistics of list-building through the months of March to August of this year.  In that six-month period, on my website related to my writing, I collected 120 names for my mailing list. These are people who came to my website and gave me their email address because they wanted to be on my list.  That’s an average of about 20 names per month.  I have no idea where that number ranks in relation to the rest of you. No doubt some of you get many more, and some less. But in the month of September, I applied my own list-building principles.  The result?  95 names added to my mailing list during the month of September.

 

Here are the multiple ways I’m currently building my list through sign-ups:

1.   Running a contest

To promote my new release, Guardian of the Flame, which features the Lighthouse of Alexandria, I’m having a contest for a lighthouse wall hanging.  (To see the contest I am running, simply visit my website and an entry form will appear. Feel free to enter!) 

2.   New Release Reminders

My website includes a simple form people can fill out – First Name and Email Address – to receive a reminder when I have a new release.

3.   Mailing List Sign Up with incentive

I also have a direct sign-up for my mailing list, and have it set up with an autoresponder that contains a free short story.  This is a short story I wrote some time ago, still retain the rights to, and can offer as an incentive to join my mailing list.  It was easy to set up, and is the most effective tool I have used thus far.

4.   Enter a book drawing when you give input

I am currently writing the Seven Wonders Novels, and have a page on my site inviting readers to cast their vote about which of the Seven Wonders they’d like to read about next.  This gives me valuable input, but also helps readers to feel they are part of what I’m doing.

5.   Referencing my website everywhere I can

I spoke to a group of church librarians this month, and I was sure to give them a chance to sign up for mailing list, which would also enter them into my current contest.

I also mention my website in any interviews and blog tours I do, and in the backs of my books. I have tried to fill my website with interesting and entertaining content, which gives readers a reason to come looking.

The key is to give readers a reason to come to your website, and once they have come, give them lots of reasons to sign up for your mailing list.

A word about Facebook:

Facebook is a terrific social marketing tool, and you can use it effectively to build your tribe. But one word of caution:  There’s a good chance that Facebook will eventually go the way of MySpace and all the other sites we can’t remember.  Something cooler will come along, and people will begin jumping ship to join the next new thing. Make sure that you are getting the email addresses of the fans you are amassing on Facebook. Find a way to get permission to add them to your email mailing list. If and when Facebook becomes passé, you won’t know that you’ve lost contact with those readers. They will simply fade away, stopping checking their Facebook page.  While email addresses can change, at least you have a shot of continued contact with people, after the fad of Facebook has moved to something else.

To conclude, here’s an article I read recently on some ways to add to your mailing list. Perhaps it will jumpstart your creativity. 

Remember, come up with as many creative ways as you can to capture the visitors you receive on your website, and build that list!

I’d love to hear comments about the great ways all of you are building your tribes!

Coming up next month: I’m building a list. Now what do I with it?