I stumbled my way in because I didn’t know what I was attempting was impossible. It’s a rather long story and you can read full details on my website, but I sent a poorly typed manuscript of three chapters to an address I did not know for sure published books. They accepted, and I had a contract in my hand within three weeks. The advance check saved the family farm. I was not yet thirty at the time.
Depends on how you count them. Through the years, there have been six titles by traditional publishers. There are a couple of books to which I contributed chapters. One book saw life when a publisher combined part of my work with parts from three other authors and issued it under a new title. About three books have been printed in maybe ten different languages. I have several booklets, one self-published, and six more I recently posted on Amazon as e-book downloads.
What are a few of your latest titles?
The Happy Housewife was the first. My most recent is Spiritual Trailmix, a story compilation available as an e-book. How to Hang Loose in an Uptight World is still in print. Wanting to Follow; Forced to Lead was the hardest to write because it came from the heart and was written to women who face life spiritually alone. My favorite is probably my one novel, The Assignment. It’s available as an e-book on Amazon or through my website.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
Learning the system. It has been a huge uphill battle understanding blogs and Twitter and websites and publisher requirements and networking and on-line magazines and e-books and Facebook and information management systems for storage and retrieval of my work and on and on and on. Each of these is part of the promotional/writing/business puzzle, and you can’t know which one will work for you best until you experiment with them. The learning curve is steep but necessary.
And then when you’ve got it mastered, something new comes along 🙂 So, 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?
I started writing so long ago. Those were the days when publishers did the marketing, and writers did the writing. (Aw, the good ol’ days!) I have had to change with the shifting times. My biggest mistake was assuming I could regard marketing as a minor issue. Wrong.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
I purchased a ton of honey-candy to use in book signings for the book Personality According to Pooh. The publisher pulled the book from production just days before promotion was to start. I’m still eating that yucky candy. LOL!
Find some teenagers–they’ll eat anything! Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
Yes, but it was not a bright idea or special technique. I forced myself to carefully read Zig Ziglar’s book On Selling. The experience changed my attitude about promotion by examining the concept through a Christian perspective. This book gave me freedom to do what needed to be done with a positive attitude rather than the oh-poor-me embarrassment that had me chained.
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
The place I see God’s hand and open door has been through one-on-one ministry. A book finds its way to a person who needs it at a critical moment in time. Since I mostly write problem-oriented non-fiction, when a particular heart is ready for a certain book, the convoluted path God uses to make the connection between book and reader can be amazing. I don’t hear those stories often, but when I do, the fresh wind it puts in my sails can last for months.
Now that you have been writing for a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
Focusing first on the quality of the writing. Promotion flows from the point of passion, and unless I know the work is quality, I won’t have the necessary passion to keep promotion rolling.
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contracts?
Tips? What a difficult question! After thirty-five years in the field, I still feel like a novice. The field of publishing changes so fast, no tip remains the same for long. Electronic media turns everything on its head at least biannually. I suspect the only tips that remain valid over time are those that apply to the writer rather than the work. From that viewpoint, I would say, “Do the best you can to be faithful with what God has put in your hands, and then be satisfied to leave the results up to Him.”
Timeless advice! Thank you for sharing with us today, Elizabeth!
To learn more about Elizabeth and her books, please visit Elizabeth’s website.
Writing for Him,