Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California. Today I have the joy of interviewing new CAN member, novelist Sharon Srock. Sharon has already made herself much loved in the Christian writing community for her upbeat attitude and how she helps promote other authors on her lovely blog.
I tried to write for publication twenty-five years ago and never really succeeded. I had a few poems and short stories published in Star Trek fanzines, but the novel I wrote never saw the light of day. I know now that God had another direction for my writing. Three years ago a new employee stopped by my desk at work to introduce herself. In the course of that conversation, she mentioned that she was a writer. I told her that had been my dream at one time. She looked at me and spoke five words: “You gave up too soon.” It was like my wake-up call from God. That night I began Callie’s story.
How many books do you have published?
How did you get your first book contract?
I went to the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference in 2011. I came home with requests for my work, so excited that someone finally took me seriously. Three months later, when none of those contacts even bothered to reject me (If you don’t heard from us in 90 days, we aren’t interested), I found one of the few publishers left who would take an unsolicited submission. Six weeks later I had a contract for the first two books in my series. There are a lot of little reasons that lead me to believe it was a total God thing. I’ve found a home at Harbourlight and the best editor in the world.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
Determination and single-mindedness. Actually I’m still learning. I’ve only been published for about six months. I’ve learned to tweet, but not really to use Twitter. I have a Facebook page that I’m starting to see some improvement on, and I love doing my blog. The feedback from my blog is the most fun and obvious success. I’m exploring some different options with this second release.
What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book?
That if you wrote a good book, people would buy it. Well, I wrote a good book, 5 stars in any review forum I’ve seen. I didn’t leave it at that, of course. I did all the things I listed above, but my first quarter sales numbers were not what I expected. So this time around, I am trying to reach out more to readers. I’m doing some online things geared to that end—a Facebook launch party, and I’m participating in some of the groups on The Book Club Network. Time will tell.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
The women in my stories eat a lot of cheesecake during their Bible study sessions. As a prop for my table at events I bring this beautiful artificial cheesecake. It has the most realistic strawberries and other fruits on it. I’ve lost track of the people who have stopped by to drool over the cake who have no interest in the book.
Think how many would stop by if you had real cheesecake! Sharon, is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
People love a freebie. My publisher helped me assemble a free PDF introduction to the women in my series. It offers a look into their lives and, hopefully, makes them curious about the books.
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
I have a couple of opportunities in the next couple of weeks with the ladies organization of my church. The first is a state-level event. If it goes well, I’m hopeful that they’ll invite me back for the larger event in the fall.
Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
For now, Facebook and my blog. That answer might change in six months as some of these new directions bear fruit.
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
Not to be afraid to stretch out of their comfort zone. And don’t give in to disappointment. It took me three years to write that first story. I can’t expect success in a matter of weeks. Marketing isn’t just one thing—it’s one thing layered on top of another. Experiment, be persistent, do what you can do. If you’ve done all you can do, God will fill in the gaps.
Great advice, Sharon!
To learn more about Sharon and The Women of Valley View series, visit Sharon’s website.
Writing for Him,