Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California, where summer has struck full force. What better way to usher in summer than with an author named Beach? No groaning please. Today I’m pleased to interview Shelly Beach, nationally known speaker and Christy-Award-winning author. Her ministry of encouragement to the hurting will inspire you—plus she has gobs of free ministry resources on her website!
Shelly, how many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
I have ten published books, including Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness, Trauma, and the Pain of Life (Kregel Publications); It Is Well with My Soul: Meditations for Those Living with Illness, Pain, and the Challenges of Aging (Discovery House Publishers); and The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk: Conforming Deadly Thought Patterns to the Word of God (Moody Publishers).
You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2009. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
Since 2009 I’ve co-written a number of books, as well as serving as managing editor of the Hope in the Mourning grief Bible for Zondervan. I’ve developed new skills as a writer and stretched myself in new writing endeavors. I also co-founded PTSDPerspectives.org and began consulting and writing on the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder. After coming out of a period of caregiving for my parents in my home, I began doing more speaking and consulting, and I learned that I need to be strategic about scheduling my time away from home in order to avoid exhaustion and remain focused on writing goals.
What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since then?
I need to become a better blogger and learn more about how to use social media to my best advantage. Because I’ve taken on so much co-writing over the past several years, I’m still on the learning curve with social media. My chief lessons are the ones I’m still learning: how to connect more effectively with my readers through blogging and social media.
What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?
I consider myself a great networker, and I believe my books carry a power message of hope to readers. So I look at “promotion” as networking with new and old friends in order to maximize the reach of my message. I love asking the question, “Who do you know who do think might need the message of this book? Would you be willing to tell them about it?” or “Who do you know whose radio/television audience need to hear this message of hope? Would you be willing to tell them about it?” People want to know about books that offer real hope for real problems.
What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
Some people might say book signings because I’ve done a number of signings where just one or a handful of people have come. But I see those signings as truly effective because they’ve given me the chance to sit down and really talk with just a few people who at those moments in time needed to hear a specific message of encouragement. I’ve done a few poorly organized book giveaways.
What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
I enjoy connecting with readers face-to-face. I love giving book talks and encouraging readers and writers at conferences and seminars.
What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
I’d love to come up with something, but I’m stumped. I did, however, do an impromptu book signing in the LA County jail after my co-author Wanda and I presented a devotional for several hundred incarcerated women. We didn’t have enough books for all the ladies who came to hear our message that day, and we were giving away our book Love Letters from the Edge. Things got a little crazy when the ladies discovered that not all of them would be receiving a free book.
Whoa. That’s scary-crazy! But what a great ministry! What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
Probably the oddest thing would be that inmates in one women’s prison told me that they ripped my book up to mail pages to their loved ones. This made me happy, actually, because it showed their thirst for truth and to have a positive influence on their family members by trying to teach them the Word of God.
I love that! Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
I’m a national speaker with Daughters of Destiny prison ministry, and I’m able to donate 100 copies of one of my books each time I speak in a women’s prison. This is an enormous blessing to incarcerated women who have very few possessions of their own. It’s an indescribable blessing to be able to use my position as an author to be able to speak into the lives of the nation’s most wounded and hurting women and to leave them with copies of books that will minister healing in their lives.
What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
Learn to connect to your readers through your blog. Find your tribe and create a sense of sisterhood and transparency among them that fosters growth and healing. If you build it, they will come. Stay updated on the tools of social media. Never forget the value of connecting with readers face-to-face.
Thank you for the great tips, Shelly!
Writing for Him,