Fall felicitations from Marti Pieper in not-so-frigid Florida! We are having what we consider fall weather here in the greater Orlando area, although I’m not sure our temperatures qualify as truly autumnal. In any case, I want to invite you to pull up a chair, sit down with a cup of hot tea or apple cider, and enjoy this interview with brand-new CAN member, Kimberly Rose Johnson. Kimberly is new to CAN, but not new to writing, and I know she has some helpful book marketing tips. Welcome to CAN and to this interview, Kimberly!
First of all, let’s get to know you and your books. How did you get into writing?
I love to read and I’m naturally creative, so one day I just decided I wanted to write. I had a story in my head begging to be let out, and the rest is history.
Ha, I love that. So tell us, how many books do you have published, and what are a few of your latest titles?
I have three published books, all from Love Inspired Heartsong Presents: The Christmas Promise, A Romance Rekindled, and A Holiday Proposal. I have two more contracted books set to release in early 2015.
You’re a busy writer. That’s great! How did you get your first book contract?
I was targeting the Love Inspired line, but the editor my agent submitted to felt my voice would be perfect for their Heartsong Presents line.
That sounds like a thoughtful editor. What has helped you promote your books the most?
I’m not sure exactly. Last year my debut novel appeared in the CBD catalog and it sold out on their site, so if I had to choose one thing, it’d be their catalog. I also noticed an uptick in sales when I visit blogs.
I still remember the first time I saw one of my books in that catalog, so I can relate. But we all make mistakes. What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book? Did those mistakes cause you to change? If so, how?
I visited a lot of blogs with my first release. It was overwhelming for me as a newbie, so on my second book I didn’t visit as many blogs. That was a mistake because I think I cut back too much. I’m still trying to find the middle ground.
I think we all struggle with finding middle ground in marketing and in other areas. What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
This didn’t happen at the event, but shortly before. I was visiting with someone about my book A Romance Rekindled, and her husband chimed in that it sounded like we were talking about real people. It struck me as funny because these characters are real to me in my head.
Well, of course they’re real! Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
I’m still pretty new at this marking thing, but the only thing I’ve noticed that really made a difference is visiting blogs, the bigger the better.
And I agree. It gets your name out there and helps you support other authors, too. Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
I never expected to see my book in the CBD catalog. That was always a dream of mine and when it happened, it was pretty incredible. I tore out that page and used it in a shadow box with the book. It also came out in the next catalog. I saved that one as is.
It’s fun to see our work in catalogs as well as on bookstore shelves, isn’t it? Now that you’ve been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
For me, it’s visiting blogs. I don’t have the budget to do big giveaways, so I just give away a copy of my book.
And that’s one of the best things you can give your readers anyway. What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
Plan ahead and get organized. Complete interviews as soon as possible and keep track of when you turned them in. I suggest saving the interview, too, since things get lost in cyberspace. Have a group of core influencers who will review your books, and spread the word about your book.
Finally, take care of yourself. You won’t be able to do what you need to do, if you aren’t healthy.
Thanks so much for this sound, solid advice, Kimberly. I appreciate you practicing what you preach and returning this interview promptly, too. Blessings on you and your writing work.