How did you get into writing?
It sounds like a downer, but a broken heart got me started writing. No worries, the Lord soon brought healing into my life, and a new sense of purpose, and joy.
About 14 years ago, I was reunited with the grown daughter that I had relinquished to adoption when she was three days old. Her name is Sarah. Seeing Sarah again when she was 20 years old was one of the most wonderful moments in my life, but it shattered my heart to relive the original loss of her as my child. I was unmarried when Sarah was born. And I did what I thought was best for her.
My husband caught me crying one day, months after the reunion, and placed a brand new journal and pen into my lap, and said, “Here, write it.”
Writing was cathartic at first, but then the Lord did His thing in my heart, and soon He was encouraging me to put the emotional and spiritual healing He had given me into fictional novels to help others.
How many books do you have published and what are a few of your latest titles?
At the time of this article, I have two books published as well as being
a participating author in a
non-fictional book, Thriving as an Adoptive
Family where I shared a portion of my birthmom story.
Books 1 and 2 of my series Twilight of the British Raj are Shadowed in
Silk and Captured by Moonlight. Book 3 is in the works, Veiled at
Midnight to be released 2014.
How did you get your first book contract?
Shadowed in Silk won the 2009 Genesis for Historical and received a fair bit of interest. Sadly, the major publishing houses didn’t want to take a chance on a slightly edgy topic with a brand new writer, even though they loved the book. I had to laugh—I had no idea I’d written an edgy topic. I was only writing what I thought pertinent to women today who are searching for true love in the wrong way.
Thankfully, WhiteFire Publishing, a small, brand new press was looking for exactly my style. While remaining true to the redemptive message of Christ, my book does touch on the sad subject of marital abuse, and a woman who looks for love in the wrong place—even to loving secretly in her heart, a man who is not her husband. That is until she finds Christ who changes everything.
As a young woman, I’d blown it morally, so I was writing to that type of reader—one who needs to hear the redemptive message of Christ.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
I would have to say belonging to CAN. In the few months since I have joined this network, my promotional abilities have doubled. I am so grateful.
Also helpful has been paying for advertising in some respected areas such as The Book Club Network and Christian Online Magazine. Entering my book in a few contests has been good. Shadowed in Silk not only won the Genesis but also the 2011 Grace Award and was a finalist in the 2012 Readers’ Favorite Award.
What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book, and have you made any changes?
Being afraid of social networking. I still don’t have a good handle on it, but I am learning how and yet trying to remain a human being and not just a walking, talking advertisement. If people only knew how human I am. LOL
What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
Local non-Christian book store author signing. Oy, what a failure! About six people showed up. I couldn’t wait for that afternoon to end. I’ve come to believe these are a waste of time. But book signings in a Christian book store make all the difference, especially on their church library nights.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
Nothing funny really happens, but I make friends on social networking, so that makes me smile and often laugh.
Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
I think it’s a matter of using all sorts of avenues and not just one. For example, some say that book trailers are a waste of time, but there are a few people out there who like to watch trailers. I wouldn’t pay for one to be made—I don’t have that kind of money, but having a strong bent in the visual arts, I taught myself how to make a video. Maybe I reach a couple of people who will buy the book. So, it’s worth it to me.
Also, being friends to people has been the best. I always try to be real to readers and other writers. So, I write on a lot of blogs as a guest, just trying to be the nice ordinary person that I am. Nothing fancy here, folks!!! Just plain ol’ me.
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
The most wonderful and unexpected was when WhiteFire Publishing was looking for a model for the front cover of Shadowed in Silk. The photos of models they sent for my approval reminded me of my birthdaughter, Sarah. So on a whim, I suggested Sarah.
What a joy it was months later to see my beautiful muse, that got me started writing in the first place, gracing the front cover of my debut novel.
That was such a God thing that continues to give me goose bumps.
Naturally, when Captured by Moonlight came out, White Fire was happy to let me have my own daughter, Lana on that front cover.
I’m not sure how this translates into book sales, maybe it doesn’t. But it affirms for me that God is in control of my writing ministry, and that’s what matters to me.
Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
Get the word out in every format you can handle. It’s not a matter of just using one thing. Do everything—trailers, Christian bookstore signings, be on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google, other people’s blogs, Goodreads, podcast radio interviews, and while you’re doing all that, try to remain a warm human being who really cares. Not easy. But pray and ask God to open up the door for you to show that.
The Lord has also opened up speaking engagements for me, and I’ve seen my platform grow. This year I’m starting a circuit with Stonecroft Women’s Ministries and at their luncheons or dinners I speak and afterward sell my books.
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
Stay calm. Realize that you have to put a lot of work into marketing. It’s necessary work, something I have learned is part of being a good steward of the writing gift that God has given me.
I also don’t need to tell you how to market. There is already so much good advice out there on that topic. So pray. Pray that God will help you do this aspect of writing that is so distasteful yet necessary. And He will help you. This has been the only thing to give me peace in something that goes against the grain of my soul.
And get started writing the next book. Mercy, there is so little time. So get going.
Blessings on you, fellow writer.
Davalynn Spencer's website.