Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the honor of interviewing award-winning novelist Lena Nelson Dooley. Her novel Catherine’s Pursuit was a finalist for this year’s CAN Golden Scroll Award! Lena is well-known and loved in the writing community for mentoring new writers and supporting authors on her popular blog. But what stood out to me during a late-night chat with Lena at last year’s ACFW Conference was her incredible heart for her readers.
Lena, how many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
Over 30 books. My latest titles are: Maggie’s Journey, Mary’s Blessing, and Catherine’s Pursuit in my McKenna’s Daughters series. Catherine’s Pursuit has recently won or finaled for three separate awards.
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 think we all are learning all the time. I’ve been published by three different publishers. When I was interviewed in 2009, I had only been published by two. I’ve learned a lot by working with Charisma Media/Realms on the McKenna’s Daughters series. The marketing department and I have partnered to maximize the reach of the books. And working with their graphic department to make sure that every detail of the covers match the story in the book was a delight.
What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since then?
Promotion/marketing is always changing. With the changing face of electronic media, authors must learn what will work best for them. We need to be open to new methods and be creative ourselves to reach the most readers we can.
What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?
I’ve had very successful book launch parties/book signings with all three of these books. I’ve partnered with the bookstore manager to maximize that benefit. This takes work on both our parts.
Utilizing Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ is a good way, if you work it right. Don’t overwhelm the sites with just promotion, but take the time to establish relationships with readers and fans.
I’ve started using Pinterest to raise interest in my books by pinning setting pictures, period clothing, and other interesting things I’ve found about the areas I use for a setting.
I still do blog interviews. The blog where I interview other authors and promote their books is still gaining a wider audience.
What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
Trying to help a friend by being on their blog when they don’t have much of a following.
What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
I love it when I receive mail from a reader. But I also like to connect on Facebook. That’s the best social media type to really connect with the readers.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
A young boy stopped at my table and started interviewing me about writing. Actually, I loved it, because I want to encourage young people if they have a desire to be a writer.
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
He’s always opening doors I never imagined. We just need to be tuned into Him, so we won’t miss them.
What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
Decide just how much you can afford to use for marketing, then make a budget to fit that amount.
Become friends with the people who work at bookstores near you, so when your book releases, you won’t be just coming in cold to try to get an event in their store.
If you want to use blog interviews to promote you and your books, do the research so you’ll know which blogs will give you the widest audience.
On Facebook, become friends with authors who have a lot of followers. Read their posts and make comments on them. That way their readers and fans will become familiar with your name.
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Lena!
Writing for Him,