Davalynn Spencer here, so happy to welcome our Pro for the week, Kathi Macias, who first introduced me to the Christian Authors Network. I’m honored to host this author of forty-seven books on her return visit.
Kathi, tell us a few of your latest titles.
A Christmas Gift; The 12 Days of Christmas; The Singing Quilt; The 40-Day Devotional Challenge
You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2009. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
I’m ALWAYS learning about the need to polish my writing and to “keep my ear to the ground” in order to stay on top of “what’s hot and what’s not” in publishing. As much as I might like to follow my “muse” (HA!), I’ve learned the importance of writing what readers want, not trying to force readers to buy what I’m inclined to write. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room to follow your heart when you believe God is calling you in a different direction from the current trends, but we need to be sure it’s God and not just our own emotions leading the charge.
What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since 2009?
I’ve been in this business/industry for more than thirty years now, and I’m always learning something! I think, since 2009, my focus has been learning more about social networking and blogging and other online promotion, such as Skype, etc. Some people take to that like a duck to water, but that’s definitely not me. My brain doesn’t wrap around modern technology, but I’ve learned that if I want to stay viable in the ever-changing publishing world, I have to stay flexible and go with what works instead of trying to hold on to what we did in the “old days.”
What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?
Although I’ve had some success doing radio and TV (national/international shows certainly don’t hurt!), and there’s a place for blog tours and book trailers, etc., I believe the most effective thing for me has been to write articles based on the topics in my books (homelessness, persecuted Church, human trafficking, etc.) and then get them published in popular online venues (Crosswalk.com, Believe.com, etc.). People who read the articles are usually interested enough to want to know more about the topic, and when they see you’ve written a book about it (and of course, I include the purchase link), they often will follow through and buy the book—and, hopefully, tell others about it too. Similarly, speaking events are quite effective for selling books, particularly if the books tie in to the speaking topic. I’ve learned to adapt my book table to the venue. Women’s events/conferences require more ministry-related books, while writers’ conferences tend to sell out my writers’ workbooks. My absolute favorite group to speak to is a book club. Even if it’s a relatively small group, nearly everyone present buys at least one book; most buy several. I once spoke to a large group of several book clubs at their annual meeting, and I sold more than 200 books and took orders for more! Finally, the MOST EFFECTIVE promotional experience I EVER had was when I co-authored a book with Rosey Grier. When we arrived for the book-signing, the line was out the door and around the block! Unfortunately he didn’t show up to help me promote my other books, so that was just a one-time fun event. LOL!
What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
At one time or another, I’ve thrown nearly everything at the wall to see what would stick. Some things worked on occasion but not consistently; others worked at one time but no longer. I would definitely have to say that although we did book-signings galore back in the 80s and 90s when I first started writing/publishing, I almost never do them anymore. (The occasional exception would be a multi-author event, which works out better than individual signings.)
What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
I tend to be a Facebook junkie, so I schmooze with readers there, though I also enjoy meeting them at conferences.
What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
I’m afraid I’m not as creative as those authors who show up in period costumes (Bob and Mona Hodgsen, you know who you are!), though it’s quite effective and lots of fun. I really don’t have any “crazy” promotional gimmicks to mention, though I’ve walked away from three-hour book-signings where I sold two books and told myself I was crazy for being there!
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
This past summer I was in Atlanta for ICRS, where I was onstage with Angie Breidenbach, Twila Belk, and comedian Tory Martin, doing a“string slam” (Angie’s idea) to promote our latest releases. It was hilarious!
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
Absolutely. One of my very first books, a devotional titled A Moment A Day, ended up being a bestseller when Dr. Dobson/Focus on the Family bought thousands of copies and promoted it on their daily program during the month of May as a Mother’s Day giveaway AND promoted it in their magazine. Had to be God! I couldn’t have made that happen in a million years.
What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
Make sure you have your social networking/blogging platform in place, as well as a strong network of other writers. Work with them to cross-promote, offer giveaways, etc. And keep your publisher in the loop, letting them know you’re open to suggestions.
Finally, if you can afford it, hire a publicist. Though your publisher has one in-house, that person is busy representing ALL the publisher’s authors, so the time and attention you receive will be limited. Shop around for a publicist with a good reputation and reasonable rates. They’re out there—and they’re worth their weight in gold!
Thank you, Kathi, for sharing your insight and wisdom with us.
Connect with Kathi online at www.kathimacias.com