Davalynn Spencer here, welcoming multi-published author Stacy Hawkins Adams for an encore visit to the Christian Authors Network.
Stacy, tell us how many books you have published and a few of your latest titles.
I have ten books nationally published – nine women’s fiction novels and one nonfiction, spiritual devotional. My most recent title is a novel I released in March 2013, called Finding Home. It is the third book in my Winds of Change series, but as with the first and second books in the series, it is a stand-alone title, so you can start with any one of them.
Other recent releases include:
Coming Home ( Book 1 in the series)
Lead Me Home (Book 2 in the series)
Who Speaks To Your Heart? Tuning in to Hear God’s Whispers (my devotional book, released in 2009)
You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2013. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
In 2013, after the release of my ninth book, Lead Me Home, and obtaining a master’s degree in women’s leadership and empowerment, I took a break from writing to refill my “creativite well.”
What I learned during that season is that living a full life is an important part of the writing process, because when you take time to enjoy the particular season you find yourself in, or at least be present in that season, even if it’s challenging, you’ll find there are seeds or kernels of wisdom that eventually resonate with you enough to bring to life through the written word. You may not write about your personal experiences in any way; but living life, and watching others on their journey, will indeed impact you, and strengthen your writing, if you’re open to digging beyond the surface to assess what each experience is about and how you (or others) can learn and grow from it.
What sound advice. I personally relate to your mention of being “present in that season.” What are some primary lessons you’ve learned about promotion since 2013?
Since I took a writing break during that period, I didn’t do a lot of formal promotions for my books, but I made a point of staying connected to and engaged with my readers through social media and by sending occasional author newsletters via email. What I learned during that season is that readers are loyal, and as long as you reach out to them and let them know they matter to you, they’ll be there when your next project is ready to launch.
Indeed, connections are important, and learning that readers are loyal can be a huge encouragement. Aside from that, what are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?
I’ve tried a range of ideas, including some specific to each book’s theme, and I’ve found that being creative about how and where to reach readers with each distinct book pays off differently with each book. For example, my novel Worth a Thousand Words featured a secondary character who happened to own a hair salon. Because she was one of my readers’ favorite characters in a previous book, I centered the Worth a Thousand Words book signings around her, by hosting them in hair salons throughout the mid-Atlantic region. This tied in well with the book’s theme, but also, what better place to reach women who are in need of something to read than those who are at a hair salon for an hour or two? The book tour was very well received, and I connected with quite a few readers who remain on my author newsletter email list today.
What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
Believe it or not, the least effective have been the traditional book store signings. When I have hosted a book launch party of some sort and heavily promoted it, those signings have been wonderful and books have nearly sold out. However, when I have chosen a random date to show up for two hours at a bookstore and sit and greet incoming customers, I’ve sold fewer books than worth the effort. So I’m a big fan of hosting book events or themed signings, to get readers excited about coming out and learning more about the themes or messages beyond the blurb on the back of the book.
What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
I love connecting with readers on social media – specifically Facebook () and Twitter (www.Twitter.com/Shadams). My goal before summer is over is to refine and better use my Instagram account (www.Instagram.com/StacyHawkinsAdams), so stay tuned!
I write an inspirational message several mornings a week to encourage and inspire friends on my Facebook page, and I often tweet inspiration and advice as well, while only occasionally promoting my books. I hope the routine connection reminds readers that all words hold power, and whether they’re reading a social media post or one of my books, I hope they know the messages are heartfelt and meant to touch them at their core, no matter how long or short they are.
What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
Hmm… I’ve been promoting books since my first novel’s national release in 2004, so it’s hard to remember them all! Lol I’m not sure this counts as crazy, but when my novel The Someday List was released, featuring a character who sought to create a list of things she wanted to accomplish to give her life meaning, I asked my readers to do the same, and to consider hosting “someday list parties” with their friends, so they would have some accountability partners.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
One Sunday in 2006, when I was promoting my second novel, Nothing But the Right Thing, at a Richmond, Va., church (where I am based), a man approached and informed me that he had the same name as one of my prominent characters, and he was a deacon in the church, as that same character in my novel. He graciously bought a book, and when I signed it, I stated in writing that he was NOT the Melvin Gates featured in the novel, despite any striking life similarities!
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
Oh yes, many times! I met an editor from Zondervan at a Christian writers conference back in 2007 who happened to hear me speak and loved the theme of my message. She visited my website and saw that I had a speech to accompany my first novel, Speak to My Heart. Based on the description I outlined in that speech, she tapped me to write my sole nonfiction book, Who Speaks To Your Heart? Tuning in to Hear God’s Whispers, and it was released in 2009.
Also, in 2008, a women’s conference planner read my novel Watercolored Pearls on a flight to a funeral and was so touched by the inspirational message in the book that she contacted me and invited me to give a talk based on the themes in the book at her September 2009 conference in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
Nothing but God at work, in both of these instances!
What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
I coach news authors on a regular basis through an online membership community I curate called Focused Writers (www.authorinyou.com/focusedwriters), and what I often tell them is that the absolute best promotion is to write the best book they can. When you write a book that wows readers, they can’t help but tell other readers, who also want to be wowed and share that story with even more people.
Beyond that, my next best advice is to establish an online presence, whether through social media or a blog, and stay in regular contact with readers, so that when they’re ready to launch their book, they’ll have a loyal audience ready and willing to buy the book and enjoy it, because they’re already familiar with the writers’ voice.
Thank you, Stacy, for these great tips.