Greetings from rainy California! With Valentine’s Day around the bend, it’s the perfect time to feature Pamela S. Meyers, author of contemporary and historical romances! I’ve met Pam at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference, and she’s delightful. She’s full of creative promotional ideas, so read on!
How many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
Five titles altogether, including Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (my hometown), What Lies Ahead, a novella in a four-author novella collection called The Bucket List Dare, and my newest one, Second Chance Love.
You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2013. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
Patience and Flexibility
In 2013 my Love Finds You title was released. It was to be released in 2012 but my publisher was sold to a larger publisher, and the release was delayed to April of 2013. Then two months after the release, the new owner stopped publishing the Love Finds You Line. At the same time, the entire landscape of Christian publishing was changing. Some larger houses cut back on their fiction slots or curtailed them altogether and small presses came and went. Digital publishing was making it easy for writers to publish their own work without a middleman. It was suddenly more acceptable to be self-published. I’ve done both now—traditional and indie—so I am considered to be a hybrid, and I like it that way. Both have advantages and disadvantages. I’ve learned to leave it in God’s hands and let Him lead.
Always good advice! Especially in today’s fiction market. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since then?
In 2013 I received some help with promotion for Love Finds You in Lake Geneva. A publicist set up a book signing for me at a nearby Barnes and Noble, and she also lined me up with a sales rep who would be calling on retailers to encourage them to order my book. I learned from those experiences what is involved at the retail end of book promotion, but I also learned that, at least in my area (northwest ’burbs of Chicago) bookstores are not very interested in book signings unless you have a huge following or are a celebrity.
Today, several years later, the promotional end of things is largely left to the author, even if you publish traditionally or are able to hire a publicist on your own. Right now for my January 24 release, I’m very busy setting up blog visits and will soon be putting together a Facebook launch party to be held, probably in February. I also have worked craft fairs and authorfests. For the summer outdoor events I have my canopy and folding display table at the ready and boxes of my titles are always in my car so I can make a direct sale whenever someone asks about my books. It’s literally a small business and I treat it as such.
Sounds like you’re well prepared! What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?
I still think word-of-mouth is the best. Have a few people read your book and love it and they tell two friends and those people tell two friends, etc. The more four- and five-star reviews on Amazon you can get, the better the chances of seeing your sales numbers climb. I haven’t yet tried to do live interviews on internet radio. I’d like to give it a try though.
What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
Some people have had success with companies who will send out your promotional tweets to their mailing lists, but I have not seen a jump in sales from that. I’ve had moderate success by placing advertising memes on various Facebook reading group pages. Sometimes after I’ve done a blitz to a number of those sites, I’ve seen a bump in sales. One advantage of self-publishing your books is that you can go directly to your books’ sales records and see how many copies you’ve sold on a given day to measure the success of a promotion.
What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
I am on Facebook a lot and have connected with lots of readers that way. It seems to work better than my blog or website. I want to begin a newsletter and need to create a sign-up for that. You can’t just send one out to people without them asking you to do so.
Absolutely! Against spam laws and super-annoying as well. What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
I don’t know if you’d call it funny but I do laugh about it now. I was scheduled to speak at a retirement home about writing Love Finds You in Lake Geneva. The facility is located in the Lake Geneva area, and I was excited to do the slide show using Keynote, a PowerPoint-like presentation that is an Apple program. It was a very hot July day, and I left in what I thought was plenty of time to get there only be become stuck in construction traffic. I watched the dash clock tick off the minutes and knew my prep time to set up was being whittled down faster than I’d like. I arrived at the place with minutes to spare and dashed to the presentation room only to discover I’d left my laptop at home. I wanted a do-over. Fortunately I had the presentation on a flash drive as a backup and could use a PC with PowerPoint on it as Keynote was designed to open in PowerPoint. The PC laptop in the room had no PowerPoint. I was doomed. Cue the “cavalry” in the persona of a tech guy. He located a MacBook and, even though the Mac didn’t have Keynote, he somehow managed to get it to open to the program through a spoof of Keynote. Don’t ask, at least it worked. Without the slideshow, it would have been a very boring and short presentation. The ladies were lovely and I think they got a kick out of watching this young guy mess with technology to get me up and running. You can be certain I make sure now that I have the laptop with me and the backup flash drive.
And I’ve learned to always have a no-tech option, just in case! Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
God opened doors for me over the course of the summer of 2013. Lake Geneva is a tourist town and the summer is full of visitors. Since the story was set there and involved the building of a historical building in the town, interest grew. I had people coming to signings and booking me to come and speak to their groups. I also did readings on the front porch of a gift shop on a couple occasions. It was a magical year and I was especially blessed to have been able to set the story in my hometown.
What wonderful ideas! What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
Be as creative as possible. One thing I’ve learned is signings don’t always have to be in a bookstore. My best signing events were in a gift shop in Lake Geneva. Think of unique ways you could have your signing at a place that would be a tie-in to your character’s profession or special interest. Also, be open to special challenges like booking a radio interview or giving a talk. The talk doesn’t have to be about the book specifically but maybe about something you learned through researching for your book. I gave a talk at the Lake Geneva Library on what went into building the Riviera building. We authors learn a lot of facts about a lot of things through our research.
We certainly do! I’m so glad you’re willing to share your research—and your advice!
Writing for Him,