Karen, how did you get into writing?
I never planned on being a writer, let alone an author. A misdiagnosis of lupus forced me into an early retirement. Unsure of my future I asked God, “What am I to do the rest of my life?” God then impressed on my heart to write. I finally said, “Yes.”
Not knowing where to start I began attending writers’ conferences. I met Susan Osborn at a conference and started using her Christian Communicators Critique service. I joined a writer’s critique group and began to learn the art of being a writer. Within that first year my lab tests showed no sign of lupus. I realized God had used that diagnosis to change the direction of my life. Today, when I look back at these events, I acknowledge God knew someday I’d have a passion for writing.
I have co-authored three books with Susan Titus Osborn, MA and Jeenie Gorden, MS, MA, LMFT:
Wounded by Words: Healing the Invisible Scars of Emotional Abuse, Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Victims and Survivors of Suicide, and Breaking Invisible Chains: The Way to Freedom from Domestic Abuse (Sept. 2013).
How did you get your first book contract?
Attending the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS), Susan Osborn and I met with Andrea Mullins of New Hope Publishers. It was agreed upon that we would send a book proposal. I still remember how joyful I felt when we began the work on that proposal. Finally the proposal was complete and sent in. Our proposal passed committee and a year later the contract arrived.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
When I have a speaking engagement I always request a book table. People attending seem to enjoy interaction after I’ve spoken. I always make sure I have my personal cards on the table. They have my name, phone number, website, and email address.
What mistakes did you make with the marketing of your first book?
In the beginning I was under the wrong assumption that all the marketing needed would come from our publisher. I have since learned it is a combined effort.
How did this cause you to change?
I look at my mistakes as a learning experience. Actually, I am still learning. I really enjoy speaking with other authors and learning how they began their writing careers and the gimmicks they have used to promote their books.
What is the craziest promotional tactic you tried?
I left book flyers in my beauty salon. As a result, one book was sold to a customer. And later, I sold a book to my hair stylist.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
At a book signing the elastic in my new slacks snapped and I had to use a safety pin to keep them from falling down. I was fearful that if I moved around too much the safety pin would bust. At the same function my ink pen ran out of ink, fortunately I had a couple of extra writing pens with me. At the end of this event my face was bright red! I didn’t laugh until later.
Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
In December I participated in an author event at the Bible Bookstore in Hemet. There were seven other authors in attendance that day. It was so much fun to get to know each other. We all sat at a long table with our books displayed in front of us. Customers seemed genuinely excited about meeting so many authors at the same time. We all sold books and shared a very fulfilling morning.
Did you see God open doors you never expected in the promotional activity?
Yes. Through an author friend, I was invited to speak at a book club. I gave a short testimonial about Wounded by Words, answered several questions, and sold books. Also this year, an unexpected announcement from New Hope Publishers disclosed that Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Victims and Survivors of Suicide is now in Polish.
Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
Like I stated, I am still learning, but speaking engagements, bookmarks, flyers, a personal website, and Facebook are all good promotional tools. I orchestrated a seminar called “Voices of Victory” at my church and had a good attendance from several churches. Susan Osborn and I were the speakers. The reviews were excellent.
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
You may want to use a literary agent.
Be sure to read the entire contract.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate.
Check the out-of-print/rights-reversion clause.
Thank you, Karen, for sharing your insights and discoveries with us. To learn more about Karen and her books, visit her website at http://www.renewalofhope.org/