Greetings from Marti Pieper in sunny, steamy Florida! Pour yourself a frosty glass of lemonade or tea and enjoy one of our encore interviews. No, we don’t recycle our blog material. Instead, we have the opportunity to gain from the fresh wisdom and insights of a longtime CAN author who’s appeared here some time ago.
Today, I’m delighted to present an interview with Jocelyn Green. Although she and I haven’t
met in person, I feel a unique connection with her. We’re both homeschool moms (well, I was until my youngest graduated this past spring) and have worked on collaborative projects. During the interview process, I discovered we have even more in common than I thought. I know you’ll enjoy learning from Jocelyn. Let’s find out what you have in common with her, too.
Welcome, Jocelyn! Let’s get started. How many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
Nine so far, with the tenth coming out in March. My most recent were Yankee in Atlanta (June 2014) and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition with Dr. Gary Chapman (September 2013).
God has given you some wonderful opportunities. You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2009. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
Well, I started writing fiction since then, so I’ve learned how much discipline and mental and emotional stamina is required for that job! Fiction is also so much more subjective, in terms of value to the reader, than nonfiction, so I’ve also learned that I need to choose wisely the voices I listen to when considering my own work.
I had never considered that factor. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since your earlier interview?
I’ve learned that book signings are usually ineffective unless they are paired with a speaking event, or with other authors also signing at the same location and time.
I’ve figured out how to do giveaways on my blog that don’t include the actual book I want to promote, but rather, themed items related to it.
I’ve also become much more discerning in how many blog interviews or even radio ones I’m willing to do. In the beginning of my writing career, I would bend over backwards to fit every single one in my schedule. Now, I protect my time much better. I do the ones that make the most sense, but I won’t scramble after every opportunity as if it were my efforts alone that determine my book’s success. I really don’t think I honor God or anyone else if I’m spread too thin.
Now, there’s some wisdom that speaks to all of us. What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?
Honestly, the CAN Spring Scavenger Hunt blog tour we did last spring was very effective and creative. Collaboration is always a great idea to cross-pollinate readerships.
I also participated in that hunt, and I agree. We had lots of response, didn’t we? So what are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
The aforementioned blog interviews or posts that take plenty of time but only reach the same readers that are in the same circuit. Many of these opportunities are very valuable, but not all. It’s a good idea to check number of followers and see what other kinds of books they’re interested in before saying yes just because the door is open.
That makes so much sense. Jocelyn, what’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
Ideally, face to face, in a book club meeting or library where I’m speaking. But Facebook and Pinterest are lots of fun, too.
I’m amazed at how social media connects us. What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
I considered dressing up as a Civil War re-enactor while visiting Gettysburg last summer and acting like I was the main character of Widow of Gettysburg (my second novel) but man! Those clothes are not cheap!
I bet it would have been fun, though. What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
The first time I went to ICRS to promote my first novel, Wedded to War, was also the first time I had a television interview. But to my surprise, the host only asked about my habit of making freezer meals. I’m pretty sure I didn’t make any book sales with that spot.
That’s hilarious. And interesting, because I also make freezer meals (I won’t ask questions about it, though). Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
Being asked to co-author The 5 Love Languages Military Edition with Dr. Chapman was a major boost. I was not at all surprised to hear that Focus on the Family invited him to Colorado Springs to be on their radio program. I was shocked when Focus invited me to come out as well. God opened these doors.
That’s wonderful in so many ways. What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
Find a way to connect with readers without every interaction being about you and your new book. Ask questions, talk about other things that you know they’re interested in (the time period or subject of your book, for instance) without being self-serving. Ask for advice if you can handle their conflicting suggestions. Share with them other great books you’re reading. Collaborate with other authors. And since we all know the importance of online reviews, make a point to post them yourself for your fellow writers. It never hurts an author’s platform to be supportive of another author.
Your ideas are so helpful, Jocelyn. Thank you for sharing from your experience and expertise. And congratulations on your new release!