Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! As children head into the summer doldrums, it’s a great time to interview Marsha Hubler, author of horse stories that kids adore! Also, Marsha shares about the Montrose Christian Writers Conference in July, where she’s serving as director—sounds phenomenal!
Marsha, how many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
I have twenty published books, including Snow, Phantom Stallion of the Poconos and Heartwarming Horse Stories (Edited and Compiled by Marsha Hubler)
You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2013. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
I’ve learned that there’s always SOMETHING to learn in this business; I’ve learned how valuable it is to have an agent; I’ve learned I could do much more than I thought I could, with the Lord’s help, when I accepted the directorship of the Montrose Christian Writers Conference in January of 2015.
What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since then?
I’ve found that blogging isn’t really bringing in the sales everyone said it would. I find more exposure and sales potential in Facebook and Twitter.
Marsha, you’re the director of the Montrose Christian Writers Conference. Tell us about the conference.
The 27th Annual Montrose Christian Writers Conference will be held July 17–22 at the world-renowned missionary and evangelist R.A. Torrey’s beautifully restored home and conference grounds in Montrose, northeast PA. This year we have a star-studded faculty, including numerous award-winning and best-selling authors, editors, and an agent. We have over 43 workshops, seven continuing series, and three work-in-progress seminars for writers of any genre and at any level of experience, including “newbies” to the writing/publishing world.
What benefits does it offer the new writer?
At MCWC, newbie writers, who might know little or nothing about the business, are always welcome. This year, we have a Major Morning track just for beginners (for four consecutive days) entitled “The Inspiration and the Perspiration,” presented by Roseanna White, editor and manager of WhiteFire Publications plus afternoon classes about writing articles, short stories, poetry, novels, or juvenile pieces. We also present classes on how to write short stories or articles, marketing and promotion, and submitting to editors. Our conference has everything a beginning writer needs to know to pursue publication.
What benefits does it offer the seasoned writer?
At MCWC, seasoned writers are always welcome. I’ve been attending since 1999 and now consider the conference more of a “reunion” of writer friends I’ve made over those many years who also have been coming for a long time. The conference schedule always includes classes and workshops for seasoned and published writers, who will be the first to admit, “There’s always something new to learn about writing and publishing.”
One of the nicest perks we offer every year to all conferees is the opportunity to sit down in a private meeting with an editor or an agent and discuss a work in progress, gleaning from the expertise of the faculty to improve the manuscript and make it more ready for publication.
We also always have a praise-and-worship time every morning and inspiring evening programs to encourage both faculty and conferees. This year we have a puppet show on Monday evening, a jeopardy-type game on Wednesday, and the Readers’ Theatre on Thursday when faculty and conferees are invited to read a three-minute piece of their own writing.
Every year, faculty and conferees alike leave the conference spiritually refreshed, determined to be published, and promising to return as often as they can.
To learn more about the conference or to register, please visit the Montrose Christian Writers Conference website. We’d love to see you there!
Sounds like a fantastic conference! What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?
Personal appearances and meeting fans who spread the word about you still seem to be the most effective way of promoting.
What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
I hate to say this because our brick-and-mortar bookstores are struggling so, but I’ve had numerous bookstore personal appearances and book signings that weren’t worth the time and money I spent to be there. I’ve sold just as many books at hardware stores or “horsie” events because farmers and “horse people” came to those places like the hardware stores when they were having a big sales day.
It’s great to have specialty stores that appeal to your audience! What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
I spend quite a bit of time on Facebook. I also always respond to my fans who write me emails or snail mail letters, which often prompt a few more book sales. But my favorite way is meeting the kids in person at book signings.
What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
Probably my craziest promotion was also the most expensive: I bought a Christian school/ Christian camp directory several years ago and sent one each of 100 copies of the first book, A Horse to Love (was then called The Trouble with Skye) in my Keystone Stables Series to a hundred different schools and camps in the USA. I only ever heard from one school (from CA). Its librarian thanked me for the book. Whether the other 99 ever checked into buying more of my books, I’ll never know, but maybe they did because the series is still a best seller after 12 years.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
One time I took a friend (not a writer) with me to a personal appearance/book signing. She had never been to any book signings, let alone any of mine.
I always have freebie gifts for fans who buy books. Well, my friend took it upon herself to step in front of my table, greet folks passing by, and give out the free gifts before any purchases were made. To say the least, I had to get her attention “right quick” and teach her about “wise promotion.”
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
I love when I hear from tweens who’ve read my books and tell me they’ve been “thinking more about God” or they want to “accept Jesus like Skye did in the book.” I then respond with the plan of salvation or Bible verses to encourage the kids to accept Christ or to live wholeheartedly for God. Sharing the gospel is the main reason I write.
What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
It takes money to earn money. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on travel, a cowgirl outfit, buying my own books from the publisher, purchasing free gifts for fans, and vending fees. Promotion is just that: promoting yourself in hopes that you can build your fan base, thus spreading the word about your books.
So true, Marsha!
Writing for Him,