Greetings from (this week) sunny central Florida. While we rejoice that our temperatures have now climbed back into the 80s, we also realize many of you are hoping yours will soon reach double digits. As I post, I’m praying God will send some of this area’s warmth to the less-than-sunny climes.
But no matter what the weather where you live, you’ll enjoy today’s interview with novelist Anne Greene. Not only does she spell her name the right way (all L.M. Montgomery fans know about "Anne with an e"), but she has some interesting experiences and ideas to share as well. I know you’ll appreciate her wisdom.
How did you get into writing, Anne?
I have always wanted to write. My late husband noticed a writers’ conference about fifty miles from where we lived and he suggested I attend. As required, I submitted three chapters of the first book I’d ever written. The publisher at the conference liked my work and asked if I could finish the book in nine months. I did. He published it. That was God.
We’d all love to have a story like that, wouldn’t we? So how many books do you have published and what are a few of your latest titles?
I have four books published. That first book, an inspirational historical, was titled Trail of Tears, published by Moody Press. Then life interfered. Years later, in 2010, my second book, Masquerade Marriage, an inspirational Scottish historical romance published by White Rose/Pelican Book Group, released. The same publisher released my second book, a contemporary, A Texas Christmas Mystery, in 2012. In November 2013 my fourth book, a sequel to Masquerade Marriage, Marriage by Arrangement, released, again by Pelican Book Group.
Since you said you life got in the way between books, how did you get your second book contract?
I came in second in a contest. My publisher, one of the judges, asked for the full manuscript. She contracted me and very soon my second book released. I highly recommend entering contests.
Thanks for that encouragement. What has helped you promote your books the most?
That is such a good question. I wish I knew. I think the cover on my second book was too dark, and I think covers are vitally important, but Masquerade Marriage still sells well. I have advertised with quarter-page ads, but I don’t know if they boosted sales or not. I write for many, many guest blogs, and I think they are good ways to promote books. Winning published writer contests adds the authority that the book is good, so I think that is a great way to promote books. I mention my books on my own blogs and think that might help. I think online reviews might help. I love doing book signings and know they boost sales. I also love speaking to book clubs and teaching classes at conferences.
The number and variety of your promotional activities seems like a key to success. But 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?
I was such a new writer and not acquainted with any writer groups. I did no promotion at all for Trail of Tears. My publisher aired the book on Christian radio which probably sold a lot of books. The book went into three printings so I think it did very well. My mistake was thinking I would write a book and people would flock to buy it. They did, but it was only because Moody had a great distribution plan. So after my next book released, I knew I had to promote, promote, promote. The first three months after Masquerade Marriage released I wrote nothing and spent all my time promoting. Now I know I’ll spend at least the first three months after a book’s release promoting. And I write a bi-weekly blog to give writers great tips on writing and keep my name out there.
What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
To me all promotion is crazy and outside my comfort zone. I do wear a Scottish outfit to book signings and conference events.
I would love to see a picture of the Scottish outfit (although I’m not sure it qualifies as crazy). What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
I don’t know if it’s funny to anyone but me. I’m an introvert, and the weeks before a speaking event, I get really nervous. But once I realize that my God goes before me, and He is with me and makes the way smooth, I get peace. Then, when the actual event arrives, I find I love interacting with my audience. Book readers are special people.
Those are good words for introverts and extroverts alike. Now, is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
I think joining the Christian Authors Network and taking advantage of all the organization offers helps tremendously with marketing my books. I’m also reading books on marketing that I think will give me fresh insight on new opportunities to market.
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
The other authors in my publishing group have taught me everything I know about promoting. I never expected help from this lovely group of authors. Authors helping authors is such an unexpected joy.
That’s one thing I love about working in the CBA and with organizations like CAN. For the most part, we don’t hesitate to share our knowledge. So, in line with that, what are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
Join an organization that knows how to market. Learn from them and apply what they teach. Put together a prayer group that will be faithful in praying for the success of your books. Trust God.
Join other authors in promoting each other. It’s so much more fulfilling to promote someone else than to try to promote yourself.
And that last word is part of the reason CAN exists, Anne. Thank you so much for sharing your hard-earned wisdom, and blessings on your writing and marketing efforts.
If you’d like to learn more about Anne Greene and her work, check out the following:
Christian Historical Fiction Blog (Anne posts on Day 14)
Blessings in Christ,