"SundinGreetings from Sarah Sundin in California. Today I have the joy of interviewing novelist Marlene Banks, who has written both historical and contemporary novels.

"CANMarlene, how did you get into writing?

I have always loved writing since childhood. I have written all my life but only considered doing it professionally in the last eighteen years or so. I realized I was a divinely designed storyteller and writer to serve God’s Kingdom. Writing is my foundational gift and calling. So with little to no knowledge of what it took, the industry or the particulars of the crafts (other than the mere basics), I started writing. I taught myself through trial and error (a lot of error), but I was guided and anointed by the Holy Spirit. It
was an intense learning experience in a time in my life when much was being disassembled. Writing allowed me to focus on it and not just my problems. I was grateful for the distraction. It took years to get an agent and a few more years to get a contract. Father knows best, and He demonstrated that to me in
some very real and startling ways.

"CANHow many books do you have published?

I have three novels out and three being released starting the end of this month. The three are being released in October, November, and December as part of my Bea Happy Romance series. They are different from my historical romances. These are contemporary, humorous, and thought-provoking stories about one woman’s exploits with dating and romance from a realistic Christian perspective. The first title is Happy Anniversary, which will be followed by Happy Thanksgiving and then Happy New Year.

How did you get your first book contract?

How? The short answer is Jesus. The longer response would be blood, sweat, and a lot of tears. My agent worked hard for Ruth’s Redemption contract with Moody Publishing /LEVB. The enemy tried to block it, but it was God ordained.

What has helped you promote your books the most?

The favor of God and the marketing efforts of LEVB, which included bookmarks, social media, a darn good book trailer and website, and their vast marketing reach.

What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book?

One wrong assumption I made about marketing was thinking that established publishers did most of the marketing work for you, allowing you to spend most of your efforts producing good stories. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I’m told it used to be like that way back in the day but no more. It’s a shame, because good, extensive, and focused marketing takes a lot of time and energy. It can be counterproductive for prolific writers.

What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?

I forgot the name of an important but not major character while on a live radio interview talking about a novel. My mind just blanked out…brain freeze. I had to stumble and verbally grope, then in humiliated inability to remember I begged the audience’s pardon on account of having a senior moment. The radio
show host joked about hers and smoothed it over very nicely. I was so embarrassed and have been afraid of that happening again, but it hasn’t, thank the Lord. If it does, I think I will be able to be honest, humble, and apologetically work around it.

Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?

For Ruth’s Redemption I think the trailer was exceptional and helped a great deal.

Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?

Everything that happened concerning my three historical novels with LEVB was God opening doors. You’d better believe it.

Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?

I have no idea. I try whatever I am able to do, hoping for some positive results. My promoting efforts are like a buffet table more than a designated course meal.

What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?

These are my three Keepsakes for a first contract. Keep your day job, keep your expectations low (reasonable), and keep in prayer being thankful for the privilege.

Those are great Keepsakes, Marlene! Thank you for sharing with us.

To learn more about Marlene and her books, please visit Marlene’s website or Marlene’s blog.

Writing for Him,

Sarah Sundin

Sarah’s website

One thought on “Tips from the Pros: Marlene Banks

Marti Pieper

October 17, 2013 - 20 : 03 : 43

Great interview! You are so right about the enemy fighting against us as we right, Marlene. And, sad to say, I can identify with your false marketing expectations for the established publisher, too. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!


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