Greetings from Sarah Sundin on a crisp fall day that makes me want to cuddle up in a warm quilt – perhaps like one of the quilts author Diana Brandmeyer features on her website. Not only is she an extraordinary quilter, she’s a gifted writer with plenty to share with us today.
Diana, how did you get into writing?
Like many, I wrote stories when I was little, but it wasn’t until the birth of my second child I realized I could make a little money and share my faith with my stories. I started writing devotions for children, which led to taking a course from the Institute of Children’s Literature.
How many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
I have four books published and one coming out July 2011 titled We’re Not Blended We’re Pureed: a survivor’s guide from Concordia Publishing House.
My latest title is Hearts on the Road from Heartsong Presents, which will be repackaged in a three-book set called Wyoming Weddings released next spring. The other Christian romance is A Time to Dance, which is an ebook/print on demand.
How did you get your first book contract?
The first contract came because I belonged to ACRW—now ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). Through the friends I met there, I discovered Awe-Struck Ebook publishers. Through ACRW I also met my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray. She has been a blessing to me. She has this hidden inner tiger that isn’t afraid of conflict while writing contracts and yet, that tiger fights with love in its heart. I don’t have a tiger in me. I’m made of jello!
What has helped you promote your books the most?
Joining social networks and becoming a regular poster on sites like sparkpeople.com and a few hobby sites for sewing. I have also had –strangely enough—good results playing Facebook games and accepting neighbors who I don’t know. I try to not overload with marketing, but the opportunity is there every time you post a gift on your wall. There is a place to add a message and I try to do small things like—today spent working on the perfect hero, who’s yours? Or which name for a character do you like best: Joe or Amy. I get responses through my Facebook email filled with suggestions and stories to go with them.
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?
Since the first one was an ebook I didn’t realize having print materials just didn’t work. I sent out flyers and ink pens with my Christmas cards. It was also at the beginning of ebooks and no one knew what I was talking about. I did a lot of educating on the ebook reader of the day. I spent too much money having someone set up my website.
The second time I have been more cautious, aiming marketing to the audience that reads the books. Making sure I send thank you notes to those who send me letters is on the top of my list. I bought postcards because they can also be used as a bookmark. Before my book came out I started posting often to my blog—still try to do that at least twice a week.
Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
A magic answer? No. I’m learning. At my last book signing I was with another author who shared her methods with me. For this next book I plan to search out counseling conferences that have a connection with my topic and rent a booth or table.
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
YES! Oh my goodness! The local Christian bookstore has invited me several times to sign books, there is a Strange Folk Festival in my town and the library contacted me to be one of the signing authors in their booth. I see God pushing me out of my house more and into a life with real people. He’s given me the courage and words to say as I sign books. So I guess He really has opened the door for me!
Strange Folk Festival? That’s intriguing! So, now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
As much as I dislike this it’s the 30-second elevator speech. It is difficult for me and I still don’t have it down. At book signings people will ask, “What’s this book about?” It’s not good to stutter and say, “I don’t remember!” Yes, I did that! I explained all I could think about was the book I was working on at the moment. They laughed and bought my book. Yes, I have learned my lesson, be prepared before you go.
And we thought the pitch was just for the initial sale – nope! What are your top tips for aspiring writers with their first book contract?
Rejoice! Then write the book as fast as you can.
Do not dread the deadline. Think of it as your friend—one you can’t wait to see.
Enlist friends to pray for you.
Pick one or two friends who are your best encouragers as well as task masters. I have two and they know when I’m stalling by cleaning out the fridge or thinking about learning a foreign language. They get me back on track.
As you’re writing that first book, you’ll likely be slammed with even more fun and enticing stories in your head. Take five minutes and write them down, put them away until after you’ve turned in that contracted book.
My number one thing—Rejoice, praise God for that thrill of the call.
My Number two thing—pray for humbleness, there are many good writers out there without contracts. You were blessed, so stay humble and help others when you can.
Great advice, Diana! I couldn’t agree more that humility is vital.
Writing for Him,