Hello, this is Mildred Colvin with my first interview. To quickly introduce myself, I write romance for Heartsong Presents and have a 3-in-1 reprint just out this month titled Prairie Hearts. In fact I thought you’d enjoy seeing the cover of my book rather than my face this time. M. J. Conner is the pen name my sister and I used when we first started writing. This book will likely be the last one using that name.
I’m interviewing Janet Lee Barton, a sister Heartsong Presents author. Welcome Janet. Let’s learn more about you and your efforts to market your books.
How did you get into writing?
I've wanted to write almost as long as I can remember, and it was with my husband's encouragement that I really became serious about it.
How many books do you have published?
At present I have 12 novels published with another coming out in September, and five novellas.
What are a few of your latest titles?
My latest titles are: A Love For Keeps, A Love All Her Own, and A Love to Cherish.
I heard through a writer's loop I was on that Barbour was looking for novellas having to do with the harvest. I happened to have a wip that I felt would work with a little revising and sent a proposal in. I was notified by email that they wanted to see the complete and I sent it in. It sold and was put in a collection called Harvest Home.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
I believe there are all kinds of ways to promote a book, but 'word of mouth' by others helping to tell people about a book helps the most.
What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book?
I'm not sure I made any mistakes with my first book, because, thankfully, I'd already learned through writing groups I belong to that I needed to do some promoting on my own. I contacted a Christian bookstore and set up a book signing with them and contacted my local paper to let them know I had a book coming out. From those two contacts, I was asked to do two different newspaper interviews and a radio interview and had a great first booksigning!
Even without making mistakes, did your first experience cause you to change? If so, how?
I've realized that one must help promote their own books and that social networking is very important to a writer.
Social networking is an area I need to learn more about. I know there are several such as twitter and facebook to choose from. Do you have a favorite “best” site that has helped you promote your books?
I like Shoutlife, Facebook and Twitter. I probably have promoted more on Shoutlife up until now, but mostly that's just putting my new releases on the site. I haven't been on Facebook and Twitter all that long, but I do believe the social networks can help an author get the word out about their work. If writer friends promote each others books on those sites, that would help, too. I am trying to get better about all of that.
Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
Other than the things mentioned above, my cousin hosted a book signing for me at Barnes and Noble in Albuquerque and invited every friend she had there. It was a sell out and the manager was astonished. I learned from my cousin that personal invitations do wonders and I believe having that personal connection with readers helps more that we know. After all they are the ones who are going to tell someone else about our books.
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
Oh, I believe God has opened any and all doors, but with my very first book, I was asked to do a radio show that promoted the first book signing I ever had at a Family Christian Book Store. I didn't expect my church family to drive fifty miles to be there to support me, but they did. What a blessing that was!
Yes, I can imagine.
Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
To let people know your work is out there, and get the word out about any book signings, print or radio interviews, etc.
You mention social networking. Is that one way you let people know your work is out there and get word out about books signings and interviews? How else do you spread the word?
Social networking is one way, my webpage, and blog are others. Word of mouth through my family, friends and church family has also been very helpful.
What are your top tips for aspiring writers with their first book contract?
Get the word out about your book—use Facebook, Twitter, and any groups you belong to. Set up a webpage if you don't already have one, and if you blog, tell about it. Ask your friends to mention it to their friends. Participate in book signings, do print, web, and radio interviews, if asked. Be willing to talk about your work.
Thank you, Janet.
To learn more about Janet check out her website and blogs.