Hello from the battered state of Florida. My TIPS FROM THE PROS front porch is propped up with 2 x 4s. The power was off for days, so the fridge and the freezer received a good cleaning. Our gas grill got a workout, cooking up all the thawing meat from the freezer. We lost several days of sleep and gained too many pounds to count. All in all, another day in…uh, paradise.
I do exaggerate a little, but we have to here is the land of blustery days and nights in order to keep our sanity.
Oh, by the way, the tourism industry wants me to tell you Disney is still here. The Pirates of the Caribbean have taken over the Magic Kingdom, however, so the price of rum has gone up considerably. It’s a supply and demand thing.
So, with this backdrop, it seems a little strange to be talking to someone who writes stories set in places that actually have mountains, creeks, deserts, ranches, and more. So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Margaret Brownley!
Margaret, I know you’ve been doing this writer thing a long time. How many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
I’ve published 40 books including my Rocky Creek, Last Chance Ranch, and Undercover Ladies series. My Christmas novella Do You Hear What I Hear? will be released this month and Left at the Altar will be available November first.
You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2013. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
It’s gotten a lot tougher. Many bookstores have closed since 2013, which means there are less sales channels. One of the biggest problems facing writers today is discovery. It’s hard to get noticed in this overcrowded market. One of the chief lessons I’ve learned is the importance of keeping my name out there between books. I used to publish a book every nine months—no problem. Readers have a shorter memory these days, probably because of being bombarded with so much stuff. I now work to keep my name out there by filling publishing gaps with novellas or shorter stories.
What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since then?
I learned that it seems like everyone wants to promote your book for a price, but few can do it well. Before paying money for book promotion, you have to do your homework. If the site isn’t forthcoming with metrics, it’s a waste of time and money.
That makes sense, Margaret. If they claim they can help you sell your book but have no real numbers to prove it, they’re like an editor saying he’s a good editor but doesn’t have any published titles to offer as proof. Good point. So, what are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?
In terms of selling books, I find that my newsletter is the most effective. I can actually track the number of click-throughs and watch sales spike. But there’s a trick to writing newsletters. You have to give readers something worthwhile. I’ve found contests helpful in getting readers to sign up for my newsletter.
What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
In general, I find Facebook and Twitter to be less effective. Mainly, because I have little control over who and how many readers see my posts. I’ve paid for ads on Facebook, but the click-throughs are never as high as they are for my newsletters.
What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
I enjoy connecting with readers through my newsletter and blogs. I don’t find personal blogs to be that effective. I prefer group blogs which bring in more traffic. I’m a regular blogger on http://www.hhhistory.com and http://petticoatsandpistols.com
What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
This past summer I attended the Romance Writers of America conference. To promote my Dog Days of Summer story, I made almost a thousand fleece tug toys for dogs. These were a big hit and went the first day of the conference. Someone even tweeted that I won the “bling contest.” It was a lot of work, but worth it. Some even sent me photos of their dogs playing with the toys.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
I don’t know if this qualifies as the funniest, but I took a bunch of my dog toys to the Librarian Meet and Greet event at the conference—and couldn’t give a single one away. Why? Because librarians, it seems, favor cats!
I guess that would be true. Cats are quieter, right?
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
Joining CAN has been a blessing in so many ways. It amazes me how dedicated members are to helping each other.
What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
Promotion can be overwhelming. I would say to pick out one or, at the very most, two social media sites and learn to use them well. It’s important to track the metrics to see what works and what doesn’t. Most important, relax and have fun. It takes time to build a readership.
Good advice, Margaret. We want it all, and we want it now, don’t we? Sounds very Varuca Salt-ish, if you ask me. And we remember what happened to her, riiiiiiiight?
Margaret, thanks for stopping by. When you drive home, please be careful. Lots of debris in the streets. Compliments of Matthew.
If you wish to get to know Margaret better, stop by her website @ www.margaret-brownley.com.
Thanks for dropping in.