Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the joy of interviewing historical novelist Roseanna M. White. I’ve enjoyed chatting with Roseanna at writing conferences and online, and I know you’ll enjoy hearing from her!
Roseanna, how many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
The Reluctant Duchess is my eleventh published title, following The Lost Heiress in the Ladies of the Manor Series from Bethany House. In September the series will finish with A Lady Unrivaled, and I also have a biblical-era Christmas story coming out the first of November, called Giver of Wonders. That will be a story of my Visibullis family, who readers met in A Stray Drop of Blood and A Soft Breath of Wind.
You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2012. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
Has it really been that long? Oh, wow. Since then I’ve put out a series of 5 stories (including 2 free novellas) from Harvest House, plus this series with Bethany House and a biblical love story with WhiteFire. And that transition between the two series brought with it one of those lessons. That no matter what we think we’re doing, where we think we’re going, sometimes this industry surprises us. Sometimes we have to reevaluate, rethink our plan, try new things. When those times come, we can either let them send us for a tailspin, or we can rest secure in the knowledge that it’s all part of God’s plan for us and wait to see where He leads us next.
What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since then?
So much has changed in online promotions since I started! Book giveaways used to draw huge crowds—now they often get very little interest. In this world of free stuff, it’s hard to get anyone’s attention. But some of the best advice I heard was “Don’t focus on what you can get from your readers—focus on what you can give them.” That’s not just about giveaways, it’s about offering them a little bit of ourselves.
What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?
I always do one big giveaway when a book releases—filled not just with books, but with items relating to the story. In the case of The Reluctant Duchess, that includes a CD of Scottish music, tea, cookies, chocolates, a necklace inspired by the one in the book, and a scarf I knit myself. This big goodie-basket style giveaways always have something in them to tempt most every reader, but they’re not as expensive as, say, a Kindle Fire. And they tie directly back to the story, which makes readers ask, “How? I wonder where that will come up…”
What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
Sadly, book signings. These have only ever worked for me when they’re paired with a very special speaking event. Which is a shame, because I had these visions of being a big-shot author with a line of people out the door waiting for me to sign their books . . . (everybody laugh with me now!)
We all share that fantasy. What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
I love chatting with them online, be it on my blog, via email, or through Facebook messaging. I think it’s so much fun to get to know them a little one-on-one, and let them get to know me. I’ve been known to exchange chats with someone off and on all day.
What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
I silk-screened some T-shirts to go along with my first novel. As in, by hand. With a silk-screen press thingy-ma-bob that my husband bought.
Yeah . . . still have boxes of T-shirts in the shed, seven years later. Though I did manage to give away most of them, LOL.
Hey, save some for the grandkids. What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
Last year I had the pleasure of speaking at a local historical house that has a tea once a month. Since this was the historic society, I decided to go all out—I donned my Edwardian hat and gown, did my hair Downton Abbey style, and away I went with my daughter, my mother, and my grandmother. Well, the ladies at this tea all though my mom was the author, and that she’d just brought her teen daughter (thank you, ladies! LOL) along in costume for fun. Made my day—and my mom’s.
How fun! Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
Back when my first books were releasing, I had to work pretty hard to create my own blog tours. In the last year, I’ve been blessed beyond measure when opportunities for interviews—on blogs, through Skype and Periscope, and on the radio—came to me. Much of this is due to the awesome team at Bethany House, and some is just from readers who approach me. All are so much fun, and such a blessing!
What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
Connect with the readers one-on-one! Respond to comments, reply to emails, do whatever you can to become a real person, a friend, to those who come across you. The more approachable and likable you are, the more likely strangers are to decide to give your book a chance.
So true! Thanks for the great advice, Roseanna!
Writing for Him,