Greetings from Sarah Sundin, all refreshed from a wonderful writers’ retreat in beautiful Monterey. Today I have the privilege of interviewing author Ava Pennington. Ava’s first book, One Year Alone with God was published by Revell in October 2010, but Ava also has a long list of magazine articles to her credit and two children’s books in the works.
Ava, how did you get into writing?
I began writing as an extension of a teaching ministry. When I started writing as a serious pursuit, I had a passion to write non-fiction. However, the advice I received was that without a significant platform, I had little chance of being published. I had also developed a children’s picture book series, but was told that there was no longer a market for picture books. I dropped both projects and switched to writing fiction, but my heart wasn’t in it.
After more than three years writing fiction, I heard a keynote speaker at a writers conference speak about writing your passion. I realized I had been listening to everyone except the quiet voice that had been speaking to my heart. I began a new non-fiction devotional project on the names of God, and revived the children’s project with a co-author. Within a year, both projects were under contract!
What are a few of your latest titles?
One Year Alone with God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God was published by Revell Books in October 2010. In January 2011, two children’s books co-authored with Crystal Bowman will be released by Standard Publishing: Do You Love Me More? and Will I See You Today?
How did you get your first book contract?
I met the acquisitions editors for both publishers at the Florida Christian Writers Conference (FCWC). As you can imagine, I’m a strong proponent of writers conferences!
Me too! What has helped you promote your books the most?
Since One Year Alone with God released October 2010, I’m still learning what works and what doesn’t. I’m using social media (Facebook, Twitter, ShoutLife) and I’m participating in a blog tour. I moved my blog from WordPress to my website to increase traffic to the website. I’ve scheduled a launch party and book signing, with other book signings planned as well. Since I’m a speaker and teacher, I’ve also arranged to speak at different churches for women’s events.
What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book?
Since One Year Alone with God has only recently released, I’m not sure what mistakes I’m making yet, but I’m sure I’m making some!
I’m blogging for the CAN blog the second Wednesday of each month on the subject of marketing – not from the perspective of an expert, but from the perspective of one who is learning as she goes. Hope you’ll follow my posts, because that’s where I’ll be noting what worked and what didn’t work in my marketing efforts.
Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
I stepped out of my comfort zone and asked for celebrity endorsements.
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
Yes – Kay Arthur endorsed One Year Alone with God!
Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
I’m glad you phrased the question “promoting your work.” I’ve been uncomfortable with marketing because it feels like I’m saying, “Hey, look at me!” But when I focus on the book and what God will do through it if I do my part to tell people about it…well, then it’s not about me anymore – it’s about Him!
Ava has a fantastic blog post on this subject: Promotion – A Christian Author’s Dilemma which really spoke to me.
What are your top tips for aspiring writers with their first book contract?
Treat your writing as a profession. If you don’t treat it as your business, no one else will.
And don’t neglect the marketing portion of your writing career. If you want a publisher to invest in marketing your book, you should, too!
Great advice, Ava!
To learn more about Ava and her books, please visit Ava’s website. Thanks for visiting with Ava and me today!
Writing for Him,