Aloha from Karen,
I'm interviewing Cheri Cowell, a dear friend and someone who worked hard to create great sales for her first book. She planned her own tri-state book tour and build an incrdible database of churches.
Welcome Cheri. Let's find out more about you and what you did to market your books.
How did you get into writing?
I first attended CLASS thinking I would be a speaker, but I soon found my real gift is in writing and speaking is my gift for promoting my writing.
How many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
My first book is titled Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life and my second book, set to release July 2010, is tentatively titled, Ponderables: Reaching the next Generation Through the Language of Story. I’ve been published in over ten anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul.
How did you get your first book contract?
I attended 2-3 writers’ conferences a year for seven years. My first contract offer in year one was pulled when a new editor replaced him, so I decided to become an article writer (I was still following God’s lead into the writing field, right?) because it was less painful, I reasoned. But God had other plans. I’m grateful He didn’t listen to me whine.
It’s important to be persistent in following your dream. Seven years of confences sounds like a lot, but Cheri sold many articles, stories to books, and built a network. I met Cheri at the Florida Christian Writers Conference.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
My speaking ministry.
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?
My biggest mistake was my website. I spent a lot of money and got a nice site, but it costs me every time I want to update it. I also made the mistake of not making my book site a page or link to my CheriCowell site. I’m trying to go back and fix that now.
Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
I created my own tri-state book tour with messages focused around themes in the book.
Why and what did you o to get started with a book tour?
I set it up because looked at marketing venues and determined I sell books when face to face with people-best way
Sent email to every person I knew, including family and friends
I let them know that publishers don’t pay for book tours for most authors and I planned to go on one. I asked if they would please commit to two things.
1. Willing to hand speaking packet to someone in their church
2. Would they let me sleep on their sofa?
You might be surprised at how many friends are willing to hope you in any way they can. Yu won’t know until you try.
Then, how did you plan the tour?
I emailed to people in six states and then looked at my responses and took the following steps.
1. I chose to go to 4 states and mapped out a route/tour with a stop every 5 hours of distance. God provided a church and place to stay at each stop.
2. Once I received an engagement I did google search and made phone calls around that area-will be there on a book tour-they got excited and had multiple engagements in each community-some speaking/some book signings at stores/
3. Teamed up with friend as travel partner and did it together/similar theme
From the possibilities Cheri got realistic in her planning. She had to fund this trip , but speaker fees and sales help that.
How many books did you bring?
That was a big guess. I know I sell books to about @2/3 of the number attending and worked with the meeting planners to get estimates of how many people would be attending each event.
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
I was blessed to have Jeanne Dennis join me on my book tour and we were able to promote both of our books. Her gift of singing was a perfect compliment to my message, and we had a lot of fun!
And Jeanne said she learned a lot from doing this tour and helping Cheri.. She also sold quite a few of her own books.
Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
When I dipped my toes into this arena, I thought I would become a famous speaker/Bible teacher like Beth Moore. Now, I realize I am a writer who speaks. When I can get in front of an audience, I sell books because I’m able to reach deep into people’s hearts with a message that resonates.
It’s good to assess your strengths and realize what you do well. Then you can build on the strengths and not waste time on what doesn’t work for you.
You did find that building a Data base helped you a lot. How did you create it? How do you use the database?
I dug through internet for it-denominational web sites (It took 4 months to update as I have 1100 churches in Florida alone/)
I make and send out flyers and about 1.5 months later follow up with phone calls
How have the results been?
Some people on list for 3-4 years began to recognize the name (don’t know where they know it from) AND RESPONDED. It does build your name and you are plowing the soil
I snail mail a 3-piece mailer with a brochure, cover letter, flyer on latest book. I receive about a 20% return for direct mail.
Those are great figures for responses. And that will increase with each new book or speaking tour. And now Cheri sells her database for others wanting to do a tour in the southeast.
What are your top tips for aspiring writers with their first book contract?
• Attend writers conferences.
• Determine you are in this for the long haul
• Keep on growing and trying
• Assess your gifts and allow them to point you to the areas of marketing that fit your particular character. There is not enough time or energy to be good at everything.
Thanks Cheri. To find out more about Cheri,
I hope this has been enlightening.
Karen Karen's website