Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the honor of interviewing Debby Giusti, multi-published author of romantic suspense, her most recent series focusing on the military. Her latest, The Colonel’s Daughter, released just this month. Debby offers unique insight into the military mindset – not only is she a self-described “Army brat,” but she’s also an Army wife and an Army mom. That’s quite a heritage!
Growing up, I loved to read and write, but I also loved science. My mother encouraged me to have a profession, so I majored in medical technology, and following graduation from The Ohio State University, I worked in the clinical laboratory.
I married an Army guy, and after our first child was born, I turned in my test tubes and Petri dishes to become a stay-at-home mom…although I didn’t really stay at home. I volunteered in my children’s schools, with the Red Cross, in my church, and in various organizations that helped young military wives transition into the Army way of life.
Early on, I published a few magazine articles and later wrote for medical publications. For over twelve years, I served on the editorial advisory board for Advance Magazine for Administrators of the Laboratory and wrote articles on emerging infectious diseases. Freelancing was reward, but I wanted to write full-length fiction and eventually sold to Love Inspired.
My tenth book, The Colonel’s Daughter, is in bookstores this month. The General’s Secretary will be available in January. Both stories are part of my Military Investigations series that features heroes and heroines in the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division. The Officer’s Secret and The Captain’s Mission are still available in print and e-book.
As well as being an Army wife, I’m also an Army brat and Army mom, so writing a military series has been very satisfying. Because of my laboratory background, I enjoy medical stories as well and have used the information I researched for my magazine articles in my Magnolia Medical series, published by Love Inspired.
How did you get your first book contract?
When the senior editor for Love Inspired spoke at my local Romance Writers of America chapter. I had an opportunity to pitch a story I had targeted for a secular romantic suspense line. The editor liked the plot and asked me to add a faith element. Although I have a close relationship with the Lord, I thought writing Christian stories might be inhibiting. Instead, I found it to be just the opposite, and almost immediately, I knew I had found my home with inspirational romantic suspense.
Once I made the changes the editor had requested, that story – and two others – were selected as finalists in three contests where Love Inspired editors were the final-round judges. I won all three contests, and each editor asked to see the full manuscript. Soon thereafter, I received “The Call,” and Love Inspired published my debut novel, Nowhere to Hide, in 2007.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
During my unpublished days, I got to know a few other Christian writers, and we supported one another online. I was the first of the group to publish, Mary Connealy was next, and then one by one the others got contracts as well. Five years ago, we started a blog called Seekerville to help writers on the road to publication. Today all fifteen original “Seekers” are published, and many of the guys and gals who regularly visit our blog have contracts. We’re really a family and offer lots of support and encouragement, as well as great information about the craft of writing and the publishing industry. We’ll celebrate our fifth anniversary in October and will be giving away lots of prizes, so I hope CAN blog visitors will visit us online as well.
What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book? Did those mistakes cause you to change?
When my debut novel, Nowhere to Hide, was published, I spent six weeks speaking and traveling around Georgia and Alabama to market the book. I love meeting readers and getting to know so many wonderful folks, but I realized I had to cut back on promotion in order to write my next book. From then on, I’ve tried to balance all the extra tasks authors need to do with the most important job of writing.
What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
My local town holds a Fourth of July parade each year. I decided to walk in the parade and pass out bookmarks with information about an upcoming book signing to those who lined the streets. That July was exceptionally hot in Georgia, and I was worn out by the end of the rather long parade route. Didn’t take me long to find other ways to get the word out about my stories.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
I recently gave a talk to a group of senior citizens. The men and women were delightful, and I was pleased to see a number of World War II veterans in the crowd and had them stand so we could applaud their service to our nation. About midway through my talk, I realized one of the gentlemen had fallen asleep. He seemed to enjoy his nap and appeared refreshed when he woke up. He even asked a few thoughtful questions at the end of the program.
Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
I have a wonderful church community that supports me, and a fantastic, independent bookseller who always hosts a signing for me when each new book comes out. That’s a win-win combination. I donate the proceeds from my local signings to various charities that often tie in with the story. The proceeds from my most recent signing went to Embracing Military Families, an organization that buys school supplies and Christmas and Easter gifts for needy children of deployed military men and women as well as Wounded Warriors. The turnout was great, and the wonderful folks who bought my book were thrilled to be able to support our military as well.
What a great idea! Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
He’s been there every step of the way; in fact, my kids laugh that God is my PR guy. So many doors have opened and opportunities have been made available to me because the Lord is guiding my path.
What are your top tips for writers awaiting their first book contract?
Start now to build an online presence. Join with other writers and create a blog. Build your Facebook community and create a website. After your book sells, there are so many things to do with the publishing house, such as working with the art department to create a cover, and doing revisions, that having established online sites helps.
Thank you for sharing with us today, Debby!
Writing for Him,