Greetings from Sarah Sundin, currently in gorgeous Monterey for a retreat! But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to interview Tiffany Amber Stockton. Tiff is my website designer (Eagle Designs), a multi-talented and creative woman who talked me through a gazillion of my techno-idiot moments. She and her husband, Stuart Stockton – also an author – put together a fabulous interactive map on my website which is getting lots of raves. But Tiff is more than a techno-whiz – she’s a multi-published author of historical romances, with two new releases this month!
Tiff, how did you get into writing?
I have been writing since grade school, dabbling here and there in fiction and nonfiction, but it wasn’t until 2002, at age 26 and attending my first writers’ conference, that I realized I wanted to pursue this as a professional career.
How many books do you have published?
My first book sold in 2006 and at present, twelve books in print bear my name, with one more releasing in March 2013. My two releases this month are Stealing Hearts, book 2 in the Brandywine Brides series, and Colonial Courtships, a novella collection with fellow CANer Laurie Alice Eakes, and two other authors, Carla Olson Gade and Lisa Karon Richardson.
That came as a result of Jim and Tracie Peterson taking a chance on me as a new author. I sat down with Jim in 2004 at the Denver ACFW conference, and through a series of negotiations as well as revisions, the book I pitched to him sold in 2006.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
Word of mouth from those who read my books is by far the best tool, but Facebook and Twitter have helped increase awareness. I’m still working on tools to build my “tribe” who will help spread the word on every new release. Not doing such a good job in that department, so it’s still a work in progress. Trying to reach beyond the pages to connect with my readers, but my free time is quite limited with two little ones under the age of four at home with me, so I do what I can.
The fact that you can do anything with two little ones at home is impressive enough! What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book?
Looking back now, I think I relied on the book club distribution guarantee too much and didn’t spend enough time reaching out to my readers. I took for granted that my books would automatically be delivered to the doorsteps of club members and didn’t work as hard on word-of-mouth promotion. Now I’m attempting to be more personal and vulnerable with my readers so they can feel a connection to the author behind the stories.
What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
Wow. Answering these questions makes me realize I haven’t done enough promotion because I don’t have any crazy gimmicks. I’ve done book signings, meet-and-greet author events, and I’ve spoken at libraries as well as church groups. I’d be open to crazy gimmick ideas, though, if you think it might help. 🙂
Back to the fact that you have preschoolers – you’re already full up on crazy. What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
The funniest to me was taking part in a multi-author signing and having a customer ask me where the bathroom was. Then another customer asked me where I could find a specific author on the shelves – another author who wrote historical fiction, but that author wasn’t me.
Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
I don’t believe I’ve discovered this yet, but I’m working on it. So far, it seems remaining visible and keeping your name in front of readers works, but again, I’m fairly new and know I need a lot of work in this area.
Did you see God open any doors in the promotion of your books?
Without even asking, I had some bestselling authors write reviews of my debut novel, and the sales from that novel are my highest to date. The best promotion is the type that comes as a surprise. It humbles me and makes me grateful at the same time.
Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work?
Right now it’s Facebook and Twitter, and asking others to retweet or share the posts with their networks. My agent has also negotiated a higher number of author copies for each new release, so I have more to give away in the hopes that the recipients will write reviews, share the books, and spread the word. The personal connection is the best method, and all the gimmicks in the world won’t hold a candle to word-of-mouth.
That is so true. Tiff, what are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
Hone your craft and make your writing the best it can be by attending conferences, reading books on writing craft, and seeking critique partners or professional editors for your novel. Once you finish that novel, jump immediately into the next one, or you might lose momentum. There is also no such thing as too much promotion or publicity. Get your name out there, beyond just blogs of other writers or authors. Think outside the box to reach a broader audience. But don’t get so bogged down with publicity and promotion that you take away from your much-needed writing time. Strike a balance that works for you.
Balance is the key word. Thank you so much for sharing with us, Tiff!
Writing for Him,