A warm hello from Marti Pieper, writing from beautiful (and equally warm) Mount Dora, Florida. In this month of Thanksgiving, many of us are taking time to count our blessings.One of the blessings in my writing life is my friendship via social media and email with author Donn Taylor. We’ve never met in person but have enjoyed mutual support and encouragement over the past few years. I’m both grateful and delighted to share my friend with our CAN readers today.
Greetings, Donn! I’m glad to welcome you to your encore interview with CAN. Let’s get started. How many books do you have published?
That’s great. What are a few of your latest titles?
I have two suspense novels, The Lazarus File and Deadly Additive; a mystery, Rhapsody in Red; and now a historical, Lightning on a Quiet Night. I also self-published a book of poetry because I wanted to make a point about writing poetry of a kind different from current fads.
And I appreciate your poetry, too. You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2010. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
I can summarize that in one sentence: Learn marketing or die.
Succinct and, no doubt, true. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since then?
I’ve learned to be active on Facebook and Twitter, and by the time this goes on line, I’ll have learned how to do a Facebook book launch. None of this comes naturally to me, but I’m learning to do what is required.
Teachability makes a big difference, doesn’t it? What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?
Over the long haul, I think it has been getting known by teaching at writers’ conferences. That’s pretty much indirect, but the ad people say getting your product’s name known is important. (The most effective radio commercial I remember consisted of a voice stating the hour and adding three words, “Bulova watch time.”) As a private person, I’m kind of embarrassed by this kind of exposure, but I know it’s necessary. I’m just getting into promotion through social media, so on that method the jury is still out.
We’ll have to do a third interview one day, then, and you can let us know the verdict. What would you say are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
I have not seen any significant return from bookmarks and postcards, but there’s no way to measure their effect on sales.
What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
I like meeting them at writers’ conferences and I enjoy answering their e-mails. I also like working one-to-one with aspiring writers, some of whom are readers or become readers.
You and I have had quite the e-mail correspondence over the years, so I know you speak the truth. Because I know your sense of humor, I’m interested in your answer to this next question: what’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
Sometimes when I’m feeling stinky, I put bookmarks in the envelopes when I pay bills. If those folks are selling me something I have to pay for, why shouldn’t I irk them a little bit with my own advertising? I do that for the fisherman’s reason (i.e., just for the halibut), but I don’t expect any return from it.
Fishy as it sounds, I should have known that a Donn Taylor interview wouldn’t be complete without a pun. And I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. It would be interesting to know if any of the recipients of your bookmark bill-paying method have become readers of your work. Getting back to the interview: Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
My meeting with Terry Burns before he became an agent led to my submitting to him when he did become an agent, which led to a good contract for Rhapsody in Red. My serving with Eddie Jones on faculty at the Blue Ridge conference for several years led, after he established Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, to his re-issue of The Lazarus File and acceptance of Lightning on a Quiet Night. Several generous writers locally are helping me learn the use of social media. Concerning God’s actions, I don’t pray for commercial success. I pray that He will use my work in whatever way He chooses.
What a great prayer. Thanks for sharing it, Donn. In closing, what are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
1. The first requirement is to write a good book aimed at specific readers. 2. Attend conference classes on promotion. 3. Keep learning: The promotion field is not static.
Once again, we agree. Thanks so much for your time and answers, Donn. And congratulations on the release of Lightning on a Quiet Night. Thanksgiving blessings to you and yours!
For His Glory,
To learn more about Donn and his books, please visit: