Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Wedding season is upon us, so I’m thrilled to chat today with Deb DeArmond, a popular speaker and author of books about marriage and in-law relationships. Her most recent title is SO intriguing!
Deb, how did you get into writing? How many books do you have published?
I’ve always been an avid reader, and I speak for a living. I love words. But like many good/God things, writing came as a surprise. An unexpected gift. For nearly 20 years, three people in my life, my husband, brother, and a good friend, asked me constantly, “When are you going to write a book?” Honestly, I had no clue what they were talking about. Until God tapped on my heart and dropped a topic there. That was in 2012. I’ve published three books since then: Related by Chance, Family by Choice (Kregel, 2013), I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last (Abingdon Press 2015), and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! (Abingdon Press 2016).
I just adore that new title! How did you get your first book contract?
I attended my first writer’s conference in the spring of 2012 and made pitches to both editors and agents. I had several requests for proposals, and the interest of the one agent I met with, Barbara Scott. I had missed my appointment with Barbara due to feeling ill. She graciously invited me to meet with her prior to the dinner hour for 15 minutes and then to join her at the table she was hosting. At the end of our evening she said, “A speaker who writes is an agent’s best friend. If you write like you speak, I want to read you. Send me your proposal. She signed me the following week, and sold my book about four months later.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
Fabulous launch teams and social media. It takes a true tribe to help get the word out. I’m blessed to have friends, family, and readers who have helped make my work heard in a very noisy world. As much as social media can be a time waster, it has also been very valuable, as well.
It certainly has—and it’s fun too! What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book? Did those mistakes cause you to change?
I was blessed to have a couple of mentors who warned me ahead of time of the need to not rely on publishers to do the marketing and promoting. So I knew that going in. But I was ignorant of all the wonderful tools out there to create your own memes, run contests, etc. And I waited to update my website – earlier would have been much better.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
Like many others have experienced, book signings don’t always go as planned. The only people who showed up were the tried and true – and most of them share my last name!
Thank goodness for family! Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
I am meticulous about keeping the name and contact information from every single radio show host, supportive blogger, TV contact I had from Book 1 – and then I mined that gold for books 2 and 3. I followed up every interview with a personal thank-you note.
I also ASKED for endorsements – from some of the heavy hitters in my genre (marriage and family). I gave myself a LONG lead time, sent notes, scoured my contacts who could put me in more personal contact, and sought permission to send my work for possible endorsement. Focus on the Family and Dr. James Dobson both said YES!! Don’t be afraid to ask.
Proof that it never hurts to ask—the worst they can do is say no. Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
I’ve had a chance to pray with so many couples and parents struggling in their relationships. What a privilege.
I’m now coaching writers! I’ve been a professional coach for 20 years. It was a natural transition.
Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
Because I write in the Christian Living / Marriage & Family arena, I am transparent, candid, about truth telling. I don’t write from a PhD./licensed counselor prospective – I am neither of those things. I am a Jesus-loving speaker and executive coach. I’m married 41 years to my high school sweetheart and our three sons and their families are serving God. Those are my credentials. We many not have it all together, but together we have it all. I don’t write from an “I’ve got this all nailed, and you should just do it as we do” way. I share our life – the good, the bad and the frustrating. I want to be that “come alongside” mentor to my readers.
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
- Celebrate, briefly. Then get serious about getting really good stuff on the page. The real work begins when the ink’s dried on the contract.
- Edit fastidiously and then hire someone to do it when you’re done doing it before you send it to your publisher.
- Seek feedback. Without it, you are right now as good as you ever will be. Feedback is the lifeblood of excellence. Without it, you may accept “good enough” when you could be so much better.
- Find a mentor. Hire a coach – someone ahead of you who can help you navigate the process. The path is not always obvious, and you will benefit from the journey of others.
Great advice, Deb! Thank you for sharing with us.
To learn more about Deb’s books and her speaking ministry, please visit Deb’s website and blog.
Writing for Him,