Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the privilege of interviewing acclaimed Bible study teacher Kathy Howard. Kathy is a popular speaker and has penned many Bible study books. Her website also contains a wealth of Bible study aids and plans.
Kathy, how many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
Lavish Grace, my seventh book, will be released by New Hope Publishers on August 1. The two previous books, Unshakeable Faith and Embraced by Holiness are also Bible studies.
You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2012. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
Probably one of the most important things I’ve learned is that I must schedule time to maintain and develop friendships. Writing is often lonely. You spend hours and hours by yourself. I actually found myself spending more and more time by myself and less and less time with others. So I have been more purposeful in getting away from my desk.
Such an important thing to learn! What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since then?
One lesson I’ve learned is that things change so rapidly I must constantly educate myself to keep up. New social media channels and changes on existing channels flow at a fast pace. I’ve also learned that a diversified promotion strategy will reach more people. For instance, my newest book promotion activities will include social media, blogs, radio, e-newsletter, and even old-fashioned direct mail!
What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?
Word of mouth is always the best promotion. Recruit “outspoken” people who loved your book for your launch team. They don’t have to be authors or widely recognized names. For me, key people are active on social media, or women’s ministry leaders, or book lovers who post reviews.
For Fed Up with Flat Faith I had a Facebook launch party. I had a few hostesses helping me. We shared virtual party food via recipes and photos of our favorite high heels. (This last thing makes sense if you’ve seen the book cover!) The hostesses kept things moving by asking questions related to themes of the book. The FB party generated a lot of buzz for the book.
That sounds like it was a blast! What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
In my experience, author signings at brick-and-mortar stores are a frustrating waste of time. I’ve had to compete with Bob and Larry from Veggie Tales’ fame as well as direct shoppers to the Beth Moore studies. Definitely humbling.
What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
I love one-on-one communication through email or message. Readers regularly reach out to me with questions about living a life of faith, prayer needs, or just to let me know they’ve read one of my books. While I don’t have all the answers, I readily share what God has taught me, pray for them, and encourage them to seek additional counsel if needed. Sometimes the correspondence encourages me and sometimes it breaks my heart for them, but it always impacts me.
What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
I don’t know if “crazy” is the right word, but for my newest book I am using a promotional tool that will definitely be the most fun thing I’ve even done so far. I have commissioned three coloring sheets to go along with Lavish Grace. Readers will be able to download the sheets from my website then enter one of three giveaways by coloring the sheet then posting a photo of it on Facebook or Instagram with the hash tag #LavishGrace. I can’t wait to see them!
I love that idea! What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
Once in a LifeWay store someone actually asked me if I was Beth Moore. She was sorely disappointed with my answer.
Too funny! Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
Sam’s Club stocked my devotional book God is My Refuge. I had to make a special trip just to see it in the store!
What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
- Don’t rely on your publisher to do it for you! Make plans and implement them.
- Recruit some help. Find people to do things you can’t do yourself. For instance I hired an art student to create the coloring pages for Lavish Grace. Build a team for areas where exposure is important like social media.
- Don’t be afraid to “ask.” For instance, ask if you can be a guest on someone’s blog or radio program. Ask friends to help you stuff and address envelopes.
- Try something new. The same old strategies will yield the same results. If you haven’t been happy with results in the past do something different.
- Know your audience so you’ll know where they are!
Thank you for the great advice, Kathy!
Writing for Him,