Greetings from summer-steamy Mount Dora, Florida. It seems less steamy than usual, however, because of the almost-three weeks I spent on a mission trip in the tropical country of Panama during June and July. It’s all about perspective, right?
Today, we have an encore perspective from one of our CAN authors, the lovely Kathy Harris. Let’s see what she’s learned about book promotion since the last time we featured her here on our CAN blog.
Welcome, Kathy. I look forward to learning more about you. Let’s get started! How many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest?
One novel, The Road to Mercy (Abingdon Press, 2012), and several nonfiction anthology contributions.
Such a great title! You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2013. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
In 2010, I began interviewing writers and entertainers for my blog, Divine Detour, asking them about the detours in their lives. Since that time I’ve experienced several of my own, including being widowed and becoming the primary caregiver for my elderly parents. Through it all, I’ve tried not to lose sight of my writing goals. Or my passion for writing.
We often hear it said that God’s timing might be different than our own. But, I believe, if we will remain prayerfully connected to Him, we can be confident that He will help us complete what He has called us to do.
I’ve enjoyed your Divine Detour blog (and even had the blessing of being featured there with one of my books). And what are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since your last appearance on the CAN blog?
I’ve worked in marketing and publicity for many years, so when my first book was contracted, it seemed natural to do the publicity work myself. In the midst of that hectic release schedule, I realized I couldn’t do it all myself. At least not well. Next time I hope to hire a publicist. Not only to share the load, but to offer a unique perspective.
What great credentials! What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?
Cross-promotion. I believe it’s more effective when you promote two products together, whether that’s two books or a book and a related product, for example a music CD. It’s also more fun because you can help promote someone else’s work.
Well-targeted advertising can also be effective.
I’m seeing more and more cross-promotion in our industry these days. Sounds like a great idea. So what are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
In-store book signings are not always successful. Multi-author book signings are better than single-author signings, but I believe an author should schedule book signings sparingly and judiciously.
Most authors seem to agree. So if not through book signings, what’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
I enjoy email in personal life as well as business. I also like Twitter.
I’m glad I’m not the only email devotee out there (despite what my children tell me). What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
That would probably be my “unusual” bookmarks. I designed and printed four-color bookmarks with info about my book on one side and info about my dogs on the flip side. When people stopped me at the park to ask about my dogs (they’re a big, unusual breed), I could give them a bookmark with information about the dogs AND my book.
OK, now I’m curious about your dogs! I would love to have one of those bookmarks, so I guess you devised an effective promotional tool. Aside from all that, what’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
Prior to my book’s release, my publisher taped an interview with me for a marketing video. To say that I was nervous is an understatement. I dreaded seeing the results. A few days later I was told that something had gone wrong with the camera’s input and the audio was unusable. I’ll go ahead and admit now, I was very happy about that 🙂
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
Absolutely. I became acquainted with Lee Lofland shortly before the release of my novel. Lee is the force behind Writers Police Academy, and he invited my husband and me to attend the 2012 WPA conference. What an incredible experience, especially for a suspense and/or crime writer! I highly recommend it.
What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
Be creative, but don’t abandon the basics. Hone your speaking skills. If you’re good at it, speaking is a great way to put “personality” into your book promotions. Connect with other authors and/or another product to create cross-promotions. Promote your books in unusual venues. For example, if your book’s central character is a hair stylist, ask local salons if they would sell copies (perhaps on consignment) at their front counter.
Thanks so much, Kathy. I love your wise insights! God’s blessings to you as you continue your writing journey, divine detours and all.
For His Glory,
Marti’s Website: www.martipieper.com