Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the honor of interviewing suspense writer, Linda J. White. I enjoyed meeting Linda at the ACFW Conference a few years ago and loved reading her new novel, Seeds of Evidence. What a page-turner!
I was a mom at home, raising three kids. When my youngest was ready to go to kindergarten, I started praying, “OK, God, what do you want me to do with the rest of my life?” I had done a lot of volunteer writing for churches and preschools, so it seemed natural to segue into freelancing for pay. I began trying my hand at magazine articles, devotionals, adult Sunday school materials and so on. One day, I had an idea for a novel. My husband said, “You ought to write that!” At first, I thought, “Sure, right.” But he dragged me over to the FBI Academy and began introducing me to people who taught me everything from probable cause to pistols. And I wove it all into a story. That book has not yet been published. In fact, I wrote three manuscripts before Bloody Point, which was picked up by an imprint of Cook and published in 2005.
My latest, Seeds of Evidence, from Abingdon Press, was released April 1. Words of Conviction comes out next April.
How did you get your first book contract?
I can’t say enough positive things about the power of face-to-face appointments with editors at writers’ conferences! I met the editor of Bloody Point at Marlene Bagnull’s Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. He loved the story and the writing, and within a year, I had a book out. Of course, that was after years and years of trying!
What has helped you promote your books the most?
With Bloody Point, I found the most success marketing it in non-traditional settings—festivals, fairs, and community celebrations, especially around the Chesapeake Bay region, the setting for the book. I was amazed at how open museums were to selling the book in their shops and how open festivals were to hosting me.
What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book?
I didn’t use social media well eight years ago. I’m working to change that now!
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
I was signing and selling at an oyster festival. Some relatives drove two hours to come see me, then decided they didn’t want to pay the five bucks a head to get in. So they stood just outside of the gate, waving at me!
Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
Be creative! Don’t overlook non-traditional venues. (See above). And see every event as a God-incidence and look for ways to minister and learn.
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
I got permission from Fawcett’s, a marine supply store on the City Dock in Annapolis, to offer books for sale in their store during the huge Annapolis Sailboat Show. Believe it or not, a tropical storm came through the day I was there and show-goers sought refuge in Fawcett’s … right by me. I sold a lot of books—some to dripping wet international cruisers who, I suspect, would never walk into a Christian bookstore. In fact, they’d probably never seen one!
Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work?
Prayer. The reality is, I can’t do it all. I have to pick and choose. So I’m asking God to not only direct me, but to bring the spiritual fruit he desires from my writing. Marketing wise, I’ve got a two-pronged approach—social media and face-to-face. In the first prong, I’m concentrating on Facebook, my web page, and a newsletter. Those are the social media channels with which I am most comfortable. In the second prong, I’m setting up events—signings, an appearance with a band (the young leader wrote a song for my book!), and presentations at libraries and book clubs.
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
- Don’t let it go to your head. It’s ok to be excited, but this whole deal is about Him, not you.
- Pray for spiritual fruit.
- Pray for opportunities to bless others.
- Understand that the chief purpose of your life is to know God and glorify Him. Writing is the icing on the cake—and a tremendous privilege.
- Plan to work harder than you thought you could for less pay than you ever thought possible. And then smile and thank God when readers begin interacting with the world you have created.
Great advice, Linda!
Writing for Him,