Davalynn Spencer here in summertime Colorado. I’m happy to welcome prolific author Marion Stroud this week for an encore visit with a few great tips for marketing our books.
Welcome Marion! How many books do you have published and what are a few of your latest titles?
I have published 26 books in all, most recently Dear God It’s Me and It’s Urgent and It’s Just You and Me Lord. These two books of conversational prayers for women are published in the US by Discovery House and in the UK and other parts of the world by Monarch Publishers, an Imprint of Lion Hudson.
You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2012. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
When you are an established author it is easy to “rest on your laurels” and stick to the tried and tested ways of doing things. But I was challenged recently at a conference to get out of the box and make my words “Lighter, Newer, Deeper, Wilder, Louder, Bigger, Funnier, Amazinger” … you get the drift. If you want to read more of that take a look at my blog for the Association of Christian Writers on June 22nd “No Half measures.”
What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since then?
Don’t expect people to remember your name. They probably won’t. Don’t annoy your friends and potential readers by referring to your book in every Facebook post. I’m still not sure what is the optimum number of times you should post in a week but do make your posts interesting, fun, and on topics other than your book at least 50% of the time.
What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve discovered?
Making friends with booksellers! In the Fall of 2013 everywhere I went in the normal course of my life, I checked out whether there were any Christian bookshops in the area and called ahead of time to ask if I could pop in and visit. I asked THEM about the history of the shop, their hopes and fears and problems, took a photo of one of the assistants holding my book and then blogged about the shop on my blog. This gave them publicity and helped to make people aware of the riches that are to be found in a bookshop. Unfortunately my husband had surgery on his knees in the first half of 2014 and then I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer so I couldn’t pursue it last year. But I hope to return to it.
Speaking engagements – If you enjoy speaking this is a good way to let people get to know the person behind the book.
What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
Having a launch team. Sadly many of the people didn’t follow through on their commitment to review the book and publicize it to their networks
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
I was invited to speak to “ladies who lunch” about my life as a writer. I put a large box of my books in the car and drove 50 miles to deliver my carefully crafted talk. My hostess put a cup into my hand and thrust me into the coffee-drinking throng while she arranged the books on the top of her grand piano. One of the guests, who must have thought that I looked a little lost, took pity on me and came over to chat. Having asked where I came from, she didn’t seem to think that it was at all strange that I should have traveled so far, but lowered her voice confidentially.
“Do you know anything about this woman who’s speaking today?” she asked. “They say she’s written a lot of books, but I haven’t read any of them, have you?”
Struck dumb for a moment, I realized that there was no point in trying to hide, and croaked, “Actually I AM the speaker!”
She wasn’t one whit abashed. “Well!” she said, looking me up and down in a way that rivaled any makeover host’s most caustic assessment of their television victims. “To think that there is someone like you behind all those books over there!”
I never did find out what she had expected. A Barbara Cartland look-alike perhaps, all in pink, or an “earth mother” type, since I’d written a lot about relationships? Whatever caused her disappointment, it merely confirmed my suspicions that for the most part, “A writer’s place is in the wrong.”
Thank you Marion for sharing such a candid look at the real world of book promotion.
Connect with Marion on her website, www.marionstroud.com