Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the joy of interviewing Trish Perry, a multi-published, award-winning author of both fiction and non-fiction. She is well loved in the Christian fiction community for her support for her fellow authors.
Trish, how did you get into writing?
I went back to school as an adult to earn my Psychology degree. During that process, I found I really enjoyed the writing aspect of each of my courses. A number of my professors encouraged me to pursue writing beyond what I wrote for them. So I included several creative writing courses in my curriculum and decided to try writing fiction for a couple of years before coming back to get my doctorate in Psychology (which was one of the perks of having a husband who could support me). I loved writing, found some success in it, and never went back for my doctorate!
How many books do you have published?
I’ve published 11 books, nine of which are novels. I needed to go back to a day job after my marriage ended, so I’ve been on a temporary hiatus from writing for the past couple of years. My most recent novels were The Midwife’s Legacy, Love Finds You on Christmas Morning, and Unforgettable.
How did you get your first book contract?
The first step was finding my fantastic agent, Tamela Hancock Murray. Tamela was judging a fiction-writing contest I entered, and she awarded me first place and asked the organizers to have me contact her. I hadn’t yet completed my first novel, so she encouraged me to do that quickly so she could start shopping it around. She didn’t have to ask me twice! Eventually she got me a contract for my first two books for Harvest House Publishers. I’ve been leaning on Tamela ever since.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
That’s a tough one. I have a blog/website where I feature my books and those of other Inspirational Fiction authors, and when I have a new release, I take advantage of the exposure on other people’s sites and have done giveaways on those. I’ve taught classes, gone to seminars and conventions, joined writers’ groups and taken part in individual and group book signings. I’m on Facebook and Twitter both personally and as an author. I tend to think the cyber-social exposure is the most productive, but I don’t have test numbers to prove that. I just reach more people that way (without even getting out of my pajamas)!
What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book? Did those mistakes cause you to change?
I’m sure I’m not the first person to report that most authors can’t count on sufficient publicity from their publishers. It’s a bit of a Catch 22, in that the publisher usually puts most of its publicity dollars behind its strongest performers for the best return on investment. So with my first release, I put together a book signing with my local bookstore. The signing was well attended, thanks to a lot of my friends and their friends, but even a notice in the local papers and word of mouth didn’t drum up much beyond that. I suppose you could say my wrong assumption was that I could do it on my own. I found group book signings to be a little less awkward and more fun. Still, when I return to my writing, I believe most of my publicity will be via social media and other web venues. Times are different, and many readers seek their next book on the Net, not at the bookstore or local signing.
What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
Not terribly crazy, but: I think it was between my second and third book, I held a contest that entailed the entrants answering a very specific question that could only be answered by knowing what happened in my first two books. The prize was a $200 gift card. That brought a lot of attention to my books, and it was fun. I don’t know how many new readers I gained, but it did seem to help swell the group somewhat!
Clever idea! What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
At a huge book signing at an American Christian Fiction Writers convention, I was scheduled to take the stage with authors Camy Tang and Rene Gutteridge. The interviewer asked us, right there on the spot, to brainstorm an entire novel plot. I’m a very private thinker, not an impromptu idea spouter. So I sat in amazement as Camy and Rene laughed and came up with a ridiculous, awful plot idea. I thought they were hilarious and wonderful.
I can imagine with those two! Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
Some of the smallest teaching venues have led to the largest number of on-the-spot book sales. There’s nothing like sharing writing techniques with a group of readers and writers to stir interest in reading those techniques in your own work.
Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
As I mentioned, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been able to write new novels. I’m finding continued interest in my existing books by offering them for sale on Amazon—where people can purchase signed copies directly from me. I know many people criticize Amazon as the behemoth that killed the bookstore, and it certainly has played a large role in that. But for independent sales, you can’t beat it. I don’t offer my books for sale on Amazon if my publishers are still offering them there. But since I started publishing about ten years ago, I have several titles I can now offer signed and at a lower price. I have links to those Amazon pages on the Books page of my website, so many people who visit my site buy from me this way.
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
Write whenever you can. Never think of your current book as your last. If your mind is always thinking forward, it will operate more creatively, and new ideas will arise because of that deliberate effort. Keep turning your writing career over to God. He’ll provide success when it most fits with the life He’s planned out for you. Accepting His plan will keep you from stressing about your writing.
Great advice, Trish! Thanks for sharing!
To learn more about Trish and her books, please visit Trish’s website.
Writing for Him,