Welcome, Pamela. Tell us a little about your journey to becoming an author.
Although I’d always felt a need to write things down—I asked for and received a diary when I was eight—I never took the idea of writing for income seriously until my writing professor where I returned to college to get my degree encouraged me to do so. I started with articles but quickly gravitated to fiction. Then I joined ACFW, got connected to crit groups, and attended writers’ conferences, honing my craft and submitting along the way. And I got enough rejections to paper my bedroom. Finally, after what seemed a bazillion years, I got “the” call from my agent that my contemporary mystery romance, Thyme for Love, had sold. That was in spring 2011.
How many books do you have published and what are a few of your latest titles?
At this point I have only a few books out. In addition to my debut novel, its sequel, Love Will Find a Way, released a few weeks ago. And releasing about the same time was Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (my hometown).
How did you get your first book contract?
Through a lot of prayer. The book began life under a different title. It’s a cozy mystery with a heavy romantic element and it was very difficult to sell it as a mystery. So I repackaged it and changed the title, calling it a romance with mystery. My agent shopped it around and still we received rejections until finally OakTara picked it up.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
With Thyme for Love I mostly utilized blog visits and influencers, along with a book trailer. Where I live the bookstores are not big fans of book signings and it’s been difficult to find ways to gather interest. A lot of my sales have come by my own word of mouth and making sure I have some copies of the book in the car in case someone shows interest in buying it.
With Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, I’ve been able to utilize a number of different avenues so far and have received support from my publisher which helps a lot. I have a large list of influencers who have been leaving book reviews on their blogs, Amazon, CBD, Goodreads, etc. On my own, I’ve booked an event at the Geneva Lake Museum for a PowerPoint presentation and signing which is coming up soon. I also have another signing the next day at a gift shop in town. I’ve interviewed with the editor of the local paper and an article will run in this week’s edition.
I’m working on an event at the local library that is yet to be scheduled. And at most of the events I hope to also be able to sell my cozies as they “ride the coattails” of my LFY book. Being raised in the town has certainly been a marketing plus as far as gaining attention. A regional magazine heard about the book and did a feature article. From that article came an invitation for a reading and book signing at a small tea and fragrance shop in Lake Geneva. The town is a magnet for weekenders and vacationers, and there are a number of specialty gift shops that cater to the tourist trade. I’m hoping to find more ways to make appearances to gain interest in my book.
What wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book? Have you made any changes since then?
With my debut novel I didn’t think it would be so hard to get sales from my efforts. I arranged a blog tour that took up most of the release month and received very positive reviews on the blogs and also on the online retail sites. I posted the book trailer and talked up the book and yet the numbers were not as high as I hoped.
I’m hoping the experiences I’m having with Love Finds You in Lake Geneva will translate into new ways I can promote the small press books as I learn by trial and error. One thing I want to try is holding a promotion party on Facebook.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
I think the funniest thing so far was at my launch party for Thyme for Love. I had a drawing for a gift basket that I’d filled with things for women—my target audience. I fully expected one of my women friends to win it. But one of their husbands won it instead. I think his wife actually made use of the basket more than he did, but we got a good laugh out of it. I’m doing a gift bag at my main event for Love Finds You in Lake Geneva in a couple weeks and the items in the bag will definitely be more gender neutral.
Is there anything that really helped you market your books?
The jury is still out on my current marketing blitz. Ask me in a few more months!
Did you see God open any unexpected doors in the promotion of your books?
I see most of the unexpected occurrences that have happened so far as “God things.” An example is the surprise interview for the article in At The Lake magazine that led to the invitation to do the reading later on. Also in that interview, the writer suggested I contact the editor to see if I could do some freelance article writing for the magazine. My schedule hasn’t yet allowed me time to do that, but I sure intend to.
I think networking is always a good thing and it seems God opens doors when I put myself out there.
Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
Making myself available and thinking outside the box. It’s getting more difficult (at least where I live) to schedule signings at bookstores, but why not a nice gift shop or a place that figures into the setting for the book or some other related interest people have?
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
See marketing as important as the writing of the book. When my first book came out I was surprised at how much time it consumed to get myself out there on the blogs and other places on the Internet. You need to block time to work on these things and you often have a certain length of time to grab the readers’ attention.
It helps to have an interview with questions prepared to send, but I’m finding lately more and more bloggers have unique questions that are not standard fare, or they want you to write an essay or devotional instead. Another unique type of blog post is an interview with one of your characters.
If you are blessed to have marketing support from your publisher, be sure to take advantage of it. The publicist that my current publisher is providing is worth her weight in gold. She is an adviser, and she also is out there working at landing me book signings and other events to attend. I’m working that angle, too, and we keep each other abreast of what’s happening.
There is so much more I haven’t yet tapped into, and I’m excited to see what I can do next!
Thank you Pamela, and best to you in your writing endeavors.
Visit Pamela at her website/blog: http://www.pamelasmeyers.com