Greeting from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the privilege of interviewing Candy Arrington, whose nonfiction books have helped countless people through difficult times. Candy has plenty to share about how articles help promote her books and extend her ministry.
Candy, tell us about your books.
While my list of published books isn’t long, my first book, Aftershock: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group), has been in print for eleven years, which is somewhat unusual for the current market.
That is unusual! You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2010. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
I’ve realized life circumstances have a tremendous impact on my creativity and productivity. My mother died in 2010 and for the next two years, my time was consumed with settling her estate, cleaning out her house, renovating her house, and processing my grief. During those years, my creative stream dried to a mere trickle. Since then, I’ve written lots of articles, devotions, and blog posts based on what I experienced and learned during those years. I believe the difficulties we face in life deepen our writing. We reach readers at a new level if we are able to distill lessons learned and present them in a manner that ministers to them rather than screams “poor me.”
Interesting how crises both drain us creatively—then recharge us creatively. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since 2010?
It’s beneficial to keep promoting books, even though they have been “out there” a long time. The topics remain relevant and people are still searching for information and help on these subjects.
What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
I enjoy talking to readers at conferences. Because I write primarily on tough topics, readers often share their situations with me. I’m glad to be able to offer support and encouragement, when possible.
What a wonderful ministry. What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
I had a basket of candy on a book signing table and watched a man walk back and forth in front of the table until he thought I was occupied with someone. Then he dashed past the basket and grabbed a handful of candy and sprinted out the door! I guess he thought since he didn’t buy a book he had to “steal” the candy.
Too funny! Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
I have had many opportunities to speak, do radio programs, and television appearances because, unfortunately, the topic of suicide is often in the news. These avenues provide a chance to discuss overarching topics like rejection, hopelessness, forgiveness, and restoration from a Christian perspective.
Candy, since you write a lot of articles, how have you used articles to promote your books?
I look for major topics and sub-topics in my books that lend themselves to articles. A number of Christian publications use theme lists. I study these lists to see if there is a fit. If there isn’t a direct connection, I look for a ways to match the theme with some element of my books. Also, magazines and newspapers look for articles in conjunction with various “awareness” months. Query publications well in advance of an awareness month that connects to a topic in your book. Try to offer the editor a fresh slant on the topic.
Have you found your articles increase the shelf-life of your books? Have they helped you extend your ministry reach?
While I don’t have a way to quantify the effect of articles on shelf-life, certainly articles, blog posts, and devotions on topics pulled from your books keep the subjects tied to the books and to the author. For example, caring for aging parents is never going away, so continuing to write about eldercare topics like locating important papers, researching care facilities, medication management, knowing when to take over your parents’ finances, and honoring aging loved ones ties me and my book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, to these on-going topics. And, tragically, the topic of suicide isn’t going away either. Any time suicide is in the news locally, nationally, or internationally, I look for ways to get something published online about the suicidal mindset, reaching out to those left behind, the unique issues regarding teen suicide, or recognizing suicidal tendencies.
When planners or reporters are looking for information on one of those topics, my name and books show up because I have published articles online. A number of contacts have resulted from web searches that produced my name and book titles. And the more articles you have online about a subject, the higher your name rises on the list.
What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, pay attention to news stories nationally and around the world and see if you can find a correlation between current events and a theme in your book. Then write an article, blog post, or devotion using that theme. Make sure the connection to your book isn’t too much a stretch and is an appropriate fit. Include the title of your book in the article or in a bio line at the end.
Great advice, Candy! Thank you for sharing.
To learn more about Candy and her books, please visit Candy’s website.
Writing for Him,