Happy New Year from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the honor of interviewing Andrea Boeshaar, a familiar name to Christian writers. Not only does Andrea have dozens of titles to her credit, but she’s also worked as an agent and currently works as a writing coach and substantive (content) editor. Andrea has great advice to share with us today!
Andrea, how did you get into writing?
I started writing as a little girl. I wrote in diaries, penned letters to relatives, and created songs and plays. In the fourth grade, I even wrote a book called “Little Miss Mouse.”
When I first began writing romance novels in the 1980s, I envisioned myself a writer like Johanna Lindsay or Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. But God had other ideas. In 1991, I trusted Christ and my perspective changed—so did my goals for my writing.
Jesus does that kind of thing, doesn’t He? How many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
To date, I’ve written 31 books. My latest titles are: Seasons of Redemption series (a 4-book historical series); Fabric of Time series (a 3-book series); One Way to the Altar (co-written, historical, and in the Convenient Bride Collection); Seasons of Love (a contemporary novella collection); and my latest brand-new historical novel, A Thousand Shall Fall (book one of the Shenandoah Valley Saga).
Impressive list! How did you get your first book contract?
By 1992, I was reading all the Christian novels I could get my hands on (by the few authors that were around at that time). Then I wrote my own book. Using a writers’ market guide book, I submitted my manuscript to several Christian publishers, and Heartsong Presents (Barbour Publishing) purchased my very first novel. After that, I continued to write for Barbour and its imprint until 2008 when I began writing for other publishers. However, I occasionally still write for Barbour.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
Blog tours and guest blog posts. Also social media, especially when reviewers assist in getting the word about my books circulated.
What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book? Did those mistakes cause you to change?
I’m not good at “blowing my own horn,” as the adage goes. I wish I was better. It seems that authors who figure out what to say online about their books and post dozens of times a day have better sales.
Also, investing in my career has been vital. The LitFuse Publicity firm earned each penny of its money. That team is dynamite. And convincing my publisher(s) to get involved with marketing my book has been key. Too many companies leave the marketing aspect up to the author. I know from experience, that a title will just fizzle and die if publishers don’t facilitate and involve themselves in their authors’ publicity.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
Again, I’ve been too self-conscious to put myself out there—which is a problem I need to get over. However, I can tell you the most fun I’ve had publicity-wise.
It was the afternoon of my very first online tea party with author Carrie Pagels and the gals from the Colonial Quills site. I got into character, thinking of Aunt Ruth in my story A Thousand Shall Fall, and pretended I was hosting a tea party in 1864 in the Shenandoah Valley. Readers responded, warning other ladies not to soil their lace gloves or stand too close to the hearth with their hoop skirts. I was laughing in my office with new friends and readers. I was by myself, in front of my computer, but I certainly didn’t feel at all alone—I felt like I was at an amusing tea party!
That sounds like fun! Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
I think when authors can meet readers in real-time promotional chats or blogs, have been a true blessing for me—more so than in-store book signings. For me, the latter have not gone well—but I live in Wisconsin, not the Bible Belt. Selling Christian fiction up here is difficult. But online book launch parties, etc. are a great way to meet readers from all over the country – and the world!
Since I began my writing career, the world has become a smaller place with the advent of the internet and social media. As authors, I think we need to think globally in terms of our book marketing. I recently received an email from a newly-saved Christian living in Russia! She had been blessed by my book Broken Things (revised from its original 2000 edition and reprinted by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). She obtained the book online and was using it to learn/read English. She said she read a page or two of my story each morning and it helped her get through the troubled times she’s facing in her personal life. For me, that email was the biggest blessing I’ve had in a long while. Touching readers’ hearts in a way that glorifies God is, for me, what writing is all about.
That’s a wonderful story! What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
In addition to being a published author, I’m a former literary agent and now a writing coach and substantive editor, I have several tips based on my own experiences and/or what I’ve observed.
- Don’t let your first book contract get to your head. Remember that pride goes before destruction. Stay humble.
- Don’t argue with your editors. They know what their publishing companies expect and what sells well. Instead, thank your editor and make the changes quickly and without complaint!
- Don’t burn any bridges. Personally, be careful not to alienate the friends who prayed or encouraged you along the way to publications. You may need them someday. Professionally, if a situation does arise with an editor, one in which you feel that your story is being altered too much or in a way that changes your vision for it, approach your editor or editorial manager politely and professionally.
- Don’t get discouraged! Many writers become one-hit wonders when a second contract doesn’t come for various reasons or a publisher doesn’t re-sign them after one series. They get discouraged and walk away from writing. Just remember that you’re not alone on your literary journey. Join groups like CAN and lean on your e-loop friends and other supportive individuals. Ask for prayer regarding your next projects and your career. Persist. Most importantly, rejoice because God is at work even in the valley of your writing career. It won’t be long before you’re on top of the mountain again.
What excellent advice on so many levels! Thank you, Andrea!
To learn more about Andrea and her books and editing services, please visit Andrea’s website.
Writing for Him,