Davalynn Spencer here, from Colorado, welcoming today’s pro, Sarah Hamaker.
Sarah, how did you get into writing, and what are some of your projects?
I’ve been writing since I was a child—my first “work” was a carbon copied “book” of poems and short stories by me and my best friend. Currently, I have two books traditionally published Hired @ Home and Ending Sibling Rivalry: Moving Your Kids From War to Peace, and four books self-published HomeWork, Boredom Busters, an e-book updated version of Hired @ Home, and Lady Elaine: The Journey to Camelot which is a children’s chapter book.How did you get your first book contract?
By sending letters—yes, actual letters!—to any nonfiction Christian publisher who might be interested in how-to books. I ended up at a small press after several very nice rejection letters.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
Giving talks related to topics in the book.
Did you make any mistakes or wrong assumptions in the marketing of your first book?
Relying too much on the publisher for promotion. For my second book, I developed a strategy to market the book, which at least gave me an idea as to where I was going with promotions.
What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
With nonfiction, it’s been hard to find promotional gimmicks that would draw attention to the book, so I haven’t done anything crazy…yet.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
This wasn’t exactly at a promotional event, but I have spoken at an evening event on how to help your children get along better and my own kids had a blow-out fight right before I left for the event. Talk about preaching to the choir!
Oh my – a perfect practice-what-you-preach challenge! Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
I think having bookmarks or postcards of your book is very helpful. The publisher of my second book provided quite lovely bookmarks and postcards that I’ve handed out all over the place, so I think having something to give to people who might not want to buy your book right then is helpful.
Did you see God opening unexpected doors for the promotion of your books?
This isn’t directly related to promoting my books, but I have had recent success in finding outlets for articles on parenting (in which I promote my sibling-rivalry book in my author bio) at a national newspaper’s parenting blog, so that’s given me added exposure as an expert—and helped with speaking engagements, which in turn generally lead to book sales.
Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work?
I think I’m still figuring this one out! Sometimes you have to try new things and keep with the old ones that work for you. For me, it’s writing my blog and other articles, and speaking to various groups on topics related to my book. I’m still working on using social media effectively.
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
- Don’t panic—marketing/promotion isn’t as scary as it sounds!
- Don’t act surprised when someone says they liked your book—it’s a good thing, so just smile and say, “Thank you,” before asking them what they enjoyed about it.
- And don’t think you have to do all the marketing suggestions you read in the first month, or even in the first year. Pick one or two ideas to focus on at first, then branch out to other suggestions.
Thank you, Sarah for your insight and suggestions.