C. Kevin Thompson
Hello from the abnormally warm south! A temperature of 81 in January is hot, even by Floridian standards. Something about high pressure blocking cold fronts from getting here…. Yay! The mosquitoes will be spared!
Well, it’s time for another edition of Tips from the Pros! And this go ’round, let’s welcome Jackie M. Johnson to the front porch.
Hi, Jackie! Glad you could make it. So, tell us, how many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
As an author and blogger, I write books and blog posts (mostly for women) that offer hope and encouragement to readers worldwide. Women today seem more stressed and discouraged, overworked and overwhelmed than ever. I want to offer godly wisdom and biblical advice—in a way that’s easy to understand and apply to everyday life. My books include:
- Power Prayers for Women (a topical book with practical, biblical inspiration and prayers for every area of a woman’s life)
- When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty (a helpful resource for healing a relationship breakup)
- Praying with Power When Life Gets Tough – releases January 17, 2017 (a topical book with hope-filled, encouraging stories and dynamic prayers when life is hard)
You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2013. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
The writing life can be rewarding, but it’s not always easy. You need to have tenacity and perseverance—and a lot of passion for your writing. You will get tired and discouraged at times, but passion will fuel you with the energy you need to complete that next chapter or get that next book proposal out to your agent.
I’ve also learned how interactive the writing life can be since social media allows authors two-way communication to convey a message to an audience, grow that audience and receive feedback from readers in unprecedented ways.
What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since then?
Know your audience. Target your audience. Interact with your audience. Find out how to promote your books and author brand. There are a lot of resources out there. Being a member of CAN has been a helpful resource. Try different media and see what works most effectively for your readers. Bottom line: You are not only an author you are also a marketing person. So you need to learn how to promote your books or hire someone to do that for you.
What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?
For my readers, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have proved to be the most popular social media outlets. I’ve discovered that Facebook ads are great and low cost way to grow your audience.
What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
Years, ago I sent postcards to bookstores (with a cover of the book on one side and promotional text on the other side). I didn’t have much success with that promotional effort at the time.
What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
Mostly, I connect with readers through my author Facebook page or on Twitter. I know a lot of people talk about building an email list, but I have not yet done that. One thing that keeps me from doing so is that I get so many emails from other companies and I don’t want to annoy others with emails I send. I think if it’s done right, and you don’t “bombard” people with email, it can be effective.
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
Yes. When my first book was released in 2007, the publisher had some wonderful distribution opportunities for Power Prayers for Women with Walmart and with Choice Books (who distribute to airports, grocery stores and other places). I had friends from around the country—many of whom I had not heard from for years—call to let me know that they had seen my new book in a Walmart in Michigan, or a store in Pennsylvania, or at an airport bookstore in Tampa or at a grocery store in Colorado. As a new author, I was so amazed that my first book had national appeal—and then I discovered that I also had an international audience.
I began to get letters, emails, Facebook messages and tweets from readers around the world—India, Brazil, England, Australia and other places.
I was very excited when I learned that my books would be translated into other languages. Some of them are available in Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese and soon Spanish. It is a blessing and a joy to know that men and women all over our planet can find hope and encouragement through the books I’ve written.
What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
Start early. Don’t wait until your book is published before starting to build your author platform. Consider your author brand. How do you want to be perceived as an author? Create a website. Build social media and interact regularly. Tell your website and social media audience that you have a new book “Coming Soon” (include the book cover image once you have it). Ask your publisher’s publicity staff about their plan is for promoting your book. Do a book blog tour. Guest post on blogs related to your book’s topic. Attend conferences for writers since they’re a great place to learn about marketing and promoting your book. Have a book release party in your home, at a friend’s home or a local coffeehouse. It’s a great way let your close friends, family and others be a part of the celebration (and become “word of mouth” ambassadors for your book).
Jackie, thank you so much for stopping by and telling your story.
If you wish to connect with Jackie, you can find her here:
Take care and keep writing!