Greetings from Sarah Sundin! This past week I attended Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, where I roomed with one of my dearest friends – and this week’s interviewee – Sherry Kyle. Sherry writes for tween girls (8-12 years) and also writes women’s fiction. Her newest women’s novel, The Heart Stone, has an official release date of April 1, but is already available now!
When my children were young, I’d take them to the public library, and we’d check out a dozen books every couple of weeks. As we snuggled on the couch and read books together, I kept thinking how fun it would be to be an author. Finally, I acted on my dream and enrolled in the Institute of Children’s Literature, taking both the beginner and advanced courses. Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference and American Christian Fiction Writers have also been instrumental in helping me continue my education and learn the craft of writing.
I have one children’s book and two novels in print, with two more girls’ books on the way. The Christian Girl’s Guide to Style, Delivered with Love, and The Heart Stone are my current titles.
How did you get your first book contract?
Surprisingly, I received my first contract from an unsolicited submission. I called the publishing house and asked if they were still accepting submissions for an existing series for 8-12 year old girls. They were, so I tailored my manuscript and proposal to fit their format. The editor called me a couple of months later and told me they’d like to offer me a contract. I was thrilled!
What has helped you promote your books the most?
I’m not a natural marketer, so I have to make a real effort to promote my books. What has helped me the most is participating in blog tours. When a new book comes out, I make sure I fill out interviews, write articles, and post the links on Facebook and Twitter. I saw a huge increase in sales for my girls’ book when I wrote an article for MTL Magazine.
What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book?
I didn’t have a book launch party for my debut novel, Delivered with Love. Our family was going through a difficult time after the death of a family member, and my release date came and went. I regret not celebrating like I should have. With the release of my second novel on April 1, I’ve already planned a book launch party. I’m going to invite friends, buy a cake, and celebrate!
Have a wonderful time! What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
Delivered with Love is set in Capitola, California, a small coastal town where I live. I went to all the different places I talked about in the book, gave them a copy, and asked if they’d help me promote the book by displaying it near their cash register. Since I’m a local author, it worked really well.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
I had a book signing in a tiny bookstore. When I arrived, the owner waved me to the back of the store where they had a table with a dirty "Fourth of July" tablecloth set up – in October. I found a napkin and quietly wiped off the table before setting my books and things on it. The funny thing is the owners are the sweetest couple, not the cleanliest, but kind. Do you remember our book signing, Sarah? He even taped us for his weekly cable TV show.
That was a surprise! I had no idea we’d be taped. And it was definitely my most memorable signing ever. Sherry, what really helps you marketing your books?
I try to make the most of every marketing opportunity sent my way. I put my book in our local bookstore, library, and church. I offer to be included in book signings, scavenger hunts, reviews, and blogs. I’ve networked within the author community, and have made amazing friendships. We help promote each other’s work. What has helped me the most, however, is making a connection with readers. I treasure those e-mails and sweet notes we’ve sent back and forth. We’ll see if it’s made a difference now that my second novel is coming out. I hope so.
Did you see God open any doors in the promotion of your books?
I never imagined I’d have a secular bookstore asking me to have two book signings within a couple of months of each other. I live in a very liberal community, so this is an amazing opportunity to reach out. I know book signings aren’t typically successful in terms of sales, but if I can be a light for Jesus in my dark corner of the world, then the couple of hours I spend there will be more than worth it.
What do you find works best for you in promoting your work?
Be myself. What works for other authors won’t necessarily work for me. If I concentrate on who God made me to be, then my marketing efforts will be enjoyable and make an impact.
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
- Remember, you’re not alone. Network with other writers to help you along in this journey, and keep in communication with the marketing team from your publishing house.
- Start gathering your influencers early and sign up for as many marketing opportunities that fit your budget and personality.
- Give the book to God daily. He knows the outcome and the lives it will touch.
- Celebrate! Your first book will only be released once.
Great advice, Sherry! I know your heart for your readers, and I know they’ll be blessed by The Heart Stone.
Writing for Him,