My first Christian writers’ conference led to my first publication. Things just clicked after that conference, because I finally understood the concept of targeting my audience. Then I began having articles, stories, and greeting card verses published. Since then, I have published eleven books and contributed to several others.
How did you get your first book contract?
Since I was writing for a niche market (parents of teens being homeschooled) within a niche market (homeschoolers), it was hard to place my first book. I was beginning to get discouraged when someone asked how many publishers I had contacted. When I said five, Lin Johnson said, “You’re just getting started.” That encouraged me to press on. Within a couple of months, Emerald Books had contracted the book, Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for College Admission, which is now in its second edition.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
My first publisher sells books at homeschool conferences, so the best promotion happened when I was a featured speaker where they were selling books.
What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book?
I think all first-time authors believe the publisher will market their books for them. With my first book, my publisher did a great job of marketing, but with my other books, that was not the case. For one set of children’s books, which were choose-your-own plot books, my co-author and I made a flyer with choices for children to make based on biblical principles. We also made a puzzle booklet to pass out at book signings. For my picture book about a boy obsessed with a video game, I put a list of activities that children could do instead of playing video games or watching TV on the back of a picture bookmark. Honestly, I don’t think any of these ideas helped with book sales.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
It wasn’t exactly funny, but I found it surprising and delightful when I did a presentation and book signing at a new store in a small town for my children’s books, and people of all ages came, from young children to grandmothers.
Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
Speaking was probably the best thing, but that only increased my direct book sales, not my royalties or sales numbers.
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
I never expected to become a web TV host. As I was trying to build my platform and continue to encourage families to live out and pass on the biblical worldview, the TV show just developed. That ministry has just begun its third year, and we have interviewed over 100 other authors, including some NY Times bestselling authors.
Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
Networking with other authors seems to work best. Also, speaking at small churches in smaller towns results in more direct book sales.
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
Publishing that first book is just the beginning of the steep climb to success as an author. Make sure you have a good marketing plan in place before you market your proposal. Know who your audience is, and make sure they know who you are. If your book doesn’t sell well, you’ll have a harder time convincing
publishers to publish subsequent books. It’s also important to understand why you write. If it’s to make a lot of money, then you’re in the wrong business writing Christian books. Remember to do all to the glory of God and allow Him to guide you in all you do. For a believer, the only true success, the only lasting joy, comes from obeying God’s will.
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Jeanne!
Writing for Him,