Jocelyn, how many books do you have published, and what are a few of your titles?
Twelve, with my thirteenth releasing March 1. The Mark of the King; Refresh: Spiritual Nourishment for Parents of Children with Special Needs; and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition (with Dr. Gary Chapman).
You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2013. What have you learned about the writing life since then?
I’ve learned that, even though I naturally want to focus with all my heart on just one thing at a time, that isn’t realistic for a thriving writing career. I need to be thinking of ideas for new stories, writing a book, and promoting releases all in the same amount of time.
I also learned how important it is to keep feeding the creative side of me. Reading great literature, enjoying movies, going for walks, visiting museums—all of these things give me creative energy that I will need when I pour back into my books.
What great suggestions for refueling our energy levels. Have you any chief lessons you’d like to share about promotion?
- Not all promotional opportunities are created equal. In other words, I don’t have to accept invitations to be interviewed on every single blog that asks.
- Video posts on Facebook are given priority in people’s newsfeeds, so I learned to do a little more there.
- I’ve also learned that I can only do so much promoting. I have to trust God to help my books find the readers He already has in mind.
What are your most effective means of book promotion?
I’ve gotten better at working with influencers in the last year or so. The four best changes I’ve made have saved me so much time:
- I used Google Forms to have people apply to be influencers. It collected all their contact information, their Web sites if applicable, which social media platforms they were active with, and what they were willing to do in terms of promotion. Having all of that information in one place was heavenly!
- I created a closed/secret Facebook group for my influencers. It was an easy and fun way to communicate with them, and made it easy for them to share posts/graphics/links to their own circles of influence.
- On the FB influencer page, I invited my influencers to ask me any question. Then I answered all of them in one long document, which I sent to them. Then, when it was time for them to post reviews on their blogs for my release, they could also pick and choose from the Q&A document I’d already sent them. It was so much simpler than me doing 25 separate interviews!
- Instead of supplying books for the bloggers who have individual giveaways, I held one grand prize giveaway from my own website, and the bloggers simply directed all their traffic to that page. The grand prize did not include the book itself, but was a collection of book-inspired items. This is so much simpler than managing a number of separate giveaways all at once.
This year I also participated in a Ryan Zee multi-author giveaway promotion. Doing so resulted in doubling my newsletter subscribers!
What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
This may be specific to my particular audience, but when my co-author and I offered pre-order incentives for our devotional book for parents of kids with special needs, no one took us up on it. I don’t know if the trouble was that we didn’t get the word out about it enough, or the incentives weren’t amazing enough, or perhaps people did pre-order but just didn’t want the hassle of contacting us afterward to get their free goodies. Our readership is really, really busy caring for their children, so it didn’t surprise me too much. It did seem like a waste of time on our part, though.
How do you like to connect with your readers?
My absolute favorite is in-person, like joining a book club for dinner and discussion of the book. That doesn’t happen all too often though, so other than that, Facebook, and Goodreads. I love seeing what others are reading!
What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
To help promote The Mark of the King, my publisher and I found these cute gold fleur-de-lys temporary tattoos, which we thought would be perfect, because the heroine is branded with this symbol by chapter one. So we ordered a bunch of them and I sent them to my influencers, and I plan to have them available on my book table, too, when I do book events. But I’m sad to report that when we tried one on my son’s hand, it looked all wrinkly and started chipping away within hours. Not the highest quality!
Anything funny happen during a promotional activity?
Once, when Dr. Chapman and I were guests on a radio show to promote The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, I shared a recent story from my own marriage to illustrate a point from the book. Dr. Chapman was so amused by our mishap that he laughed and laughed, which I thought was really surreal and hysterical. It’s not often that I confess a marriage foible on a national radio show and have Dr. Gary Chapman laughing about it.
Did you see God open unexpected doors for book promotion?
I never expected to be flown to Colorado Springs to be on the Focus on the Family Jim Daly Show. I was only there because I was co-author with Dr. Chapman on the love languages book, but it was still a great highlight of my writing career, and one which reminded me of God’s grace.
What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
I would say, whatever you do, do with excellence. Make sure you are presenting the most professional image of yourself and your book that you can. If you are making graphics, use high-quality photos and legible fonts, or ask if your publisher’s design team can create some things for you.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask readers to post reviews. For example, if a reader emails you or messages you to say they enjoyed the book, thank them and ask if they’d consider leaving a review for you, explaining that each review is a big help, and it doesn’t have to be long.
Thank you, Jocelyn, for visiting with us again, and thanks for sharing your experiences and insight.
For more from Jocelyn, connect with her at her website, www.jocelyngreen.com