We are a group of writers who belong to CAN, the Christian Authors Network, who are passionate about writing. As published authors, we long to share our victories and struggles with regards to marketing and promotion. No one really ever told us about this part of the business of writing, so, like you, we are learners. Won't you learn alongside us?
Greetings from sunny, steamy Florida! Pour yourself a frosty glass of lemonade or tea and enjoy one of our encore interviews. No, we don't recycle our blog material. Instead, we have the opportunity to gain from the fresh wisdom and insights of a longtime CAN author who's appeared here some time ago.
Today, I'm delighted to present an interview with Jocelyn Green. Although she and I haven't met in person, I feel a unique connection with her. We're both homeschool moms (well, I was until my youngest graduated this past spring) and have worked on collaborative projects. During the interview process, I discovered we have even more in common than I thought. I know you'll enjoy learning from Jocelyn. Let's find out what you have in common with her, too.
Welcome, Jocelyn! Let's get started. How many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
Nine so far, with the tenth coming out in March. My most recent were Yankee in Atlanta (June 2014) and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition with Dr. Gary Chapman (September 2013).
What do Olympic athletes and contestants on reality music competition shows have in common?
They both practice their craft intensely. Knowing that swimmers, runners and artists who sing their hearts out practice for hours each day, humbles me; it gives me pause to think about my own dedication to the writing craft.
Over the years I’ve written books, articles, blog posts, marketing collateral and other material. Like those athletes and artists, I’ve have to make hard choices.
When I am writing a book, I judiciously guard my time. If I didn’t remove distractions and focus, I wouldn’t meet my deadlines. But, it helps to keep in mind that it’s only for a “season.”
Whether you write professionally or on a freelance basis (either full-time or part-time)—or, you’re a writer wanna-be—it is essential to choose to make time for your writing. Easier said than done, right? Life happens. I get it. Despite our best intentions, we get busy with family, friends, church activities, sports, hobbies, work, travel and more.
How do you find time to write even when life is full? Here are some ideas to consider:
Schedule time to write. Yes, you may have heard this before. But, don’t freak yourself out. The key here is to start small and build momentum. Whether it’s a block of one hour or ten minutes, put something on the calendar for writing time.Then, just start. And, as you do, you will find yourself writing more and increasing your time working with words.
Some writers I know block out entire writing days or weeks. Others don’t have that luxury. No matter what your life looks like, schedule a few hours a week on your calendar. They could be all at once, or one per day, or whatever works for you.
Here’s the thing. Some people find their efforts stalling, like a car on the freeway, when they attempt to write and edit at the same time. Instead, just write—no matter how good or bad it is—then return to the piece later and edit what you’ve written.
Find “pockets” of time. I am notorious for jotting down ideas on a napkin at a restaurant or on the smallest possible scrap of paper because I don’t want to lose a good idea. Keep pen and paper (or electronic device) in your purse, in your car, near your bed, in your kitchen to capture your thoughts before they fleet away.
Create a writing place. Some writers set up a desk and deem that their “writing place.” Others write on their laptop or other portable device while sitting on the couch or lingering at a coffee shop. Find what works for you so when you get there, it signals, “Time to write.”
Deal with procrastination. Recently, I heard a good phrase that is supposed to help people do something they don’t want to do: Do it anyways. The key to getting things done, in my opinion, is to break the task into smaller pieces. I mean smaller pieces. Go buy a few reams of paper. Turn your PC or MAC on. Sit in the chair. Write something, anything, just to get warmed up. Baby steps can be helpful for people who just need to begin.
Make your writing a priority. If you want to write and you never seem to get around to it, then your writing is a back burner item. It’s an afterthought, and you need to make it a priority. Put it on the front burner of your life, like a pot of soup that’s bubbling over. You need to attend to it now!
Limit your social media. This may be hard for some people, but if you’re going to make your writing a priority—and your life is already full of activity—then cutting down on social media can shave minutes (or hours) from your jam-packed schedule and free up time to do what you say you want to do: write. Set a timer (like the one on your kitchen stove or smartphone) for a set number of minutes. Engage in your social media, and then stop. Don’t keep checking your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop or other device. It’s time to focus.
Create a prayer team for your writing life. We need the power of God to work in us and through us to be efficient and effective, even when life pulls us in myriad directions. A number of writers I know have created a prayer team for their writing life—or for a specific project (like while you are writing a book). I do this too.
Ask a few friends if they would be willing to pray for you and your projects on a daily or weekly basis. Send email to update them on your progress and your prayer needs. You may want to ask for specific prayer items (such as time, energy, creative ideas, and for God to order your steps) or keep it general; it’s up to you.
Before the busy fall starts, decide when you will write. Set appointments with yourself. Make it a priority.
It all adds up to this: If you want to write and you’re too busy, then you’re too busy. Something’s got to give. You’ve got to want it. Add to your passion for writing the other steps of planning, prayer and perseverance.
It’s about choices. Choose wisely, and watch your writing life come alive!
Jackie M. Johnson is an author, freelance writer and book publishing consultant. Visit her blog, A New Day Cafe, or website for more information.
It's amazing to me that compiled books are still being published. Even what is most likely the longest running series, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, is still taking submssions and printing books. Years ago, a publisher invited me to start a compiled series called God's Vitamin "C" for the Spirit and I caught the fever. I ended up compiling and editing about a dozen books in the series. Every once in a while someone contacts me with an idea for a compiled book and I still contribute to those as I can. Because of the successful books in my series, I could call myself "a best-selling author" and those books helped put my two children through college.
Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the joy of interviewing someone I consider a good friend—even though we haven’t met in person! Bonnie Leon and I have been critique partners for several years, and I’ve enjoyed learning from this extremely talented, experienced, and generous multi-published author.
Bonnie, how many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
I’ve published twenty books—nineteen novels and one memoir.
My most recent title is Where Eagles Soar, it is a memoir I wrote for a woman who grew up in the Alaskan wilderness. The series, Alaskan Skies, released prior to the memoir. The titles in the series are Touching the Clouds, Wings of Promise, and Joy Takes Flight.
Golden Parsons here, writing from Central Texas where the weather is beginning to feel a bit like fall. Believe me, that is unusual for this part of the country. Football games begin this next week -- from Little League to major college events. This is Friday Night Lights country, and there is excitement in the air. Fall is a popular time for retreats, so I thought we might spend a little time discussing that.
Snowflake Tiara Releasing Sep 1, 2014 2 Christmas romance books in 1 set in Helena, MT against the backdrop of MT's new statehood in 1889 & MT's 125th anniversary in 2014...What if you were caught doing good, but the man you loved didn't see it that way.
Angela Breidenbachis a captivating speaker, coach, and author. Some of Angie’s books include A Healing Heart, from Abingdon Press in the Quilts of Love series, Charm Chats for Teens: The secret of awesome! (teen Bible study from Choose Now Ministries, Aug. 2014),Snowflake Tiara (Christmas historical romantic fiction from Choose Now Ministries.
Hello, Davalynn Spencer here, from Colorado sharing some great tips from award-winning actor, screenwriter, comedian, and author, Torry Martin, who currently resides in Sparta, Tennessee.
Welcome Torry. Please tell us how you got into writing and give us some of your latest titles.
My desire to be an actor has always come first. I fell into the writing thing completely by accident. The two skills certainly complement each other however. Knowing how to bring a character and story to life on the stage helps me to do the same on the page.
I have nine books published and have contributed to at least a dozen others including Inspired by Tozer by Lauren Barlow, and Writing with Banana Peels by my dear friend James Watkins. I’ve also written nine screenplays with my writing partner, Marshal Younger, and numerous humor columns for a variety of Christian periodicals including Clubhouse and On Course. What I am most known for is my work with “Adventures in Odyssey” which is produced by Focus on the Family. I created the popular character of Wooton Bassett for the audio series and it is my proudest accomplishment.
Shameless Self-Promotion for the Christian Creative is my most recent book and it is getting some great reviews. I’m also excited that the screenplay I co-write with the incredibly talented Marshal Younger and Michelle Cox has been turned into a book by the amazing Rene Gutteridge and Michelle Cox. They did a tremendous job with the novelization and I hear it is selling very well. I’m hoping that book sales will translate to getting a movie sale so Marshal and I can partake in some of the financial rewards. Pray!!!
How did you get your first book contract?
I was approached by a publisher at the GMA Seminar in the Rockies after winning the grand prize in the scriptwriting category. I think one of the best ways to get a contract though is to build a relationship with publishers and editors by attending a Christian writer’s conference. That has helped open a LOT of doors for me. It truly is all about networking.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
The fact that I’m an actor, comedian and speaker has helped provide me with some good opportunities for press which in turn increases the ability to promote my books. I know that a lot of the questions most writers have are about promotion, but the best promotional thing you can do for yourself is to learn the art of networking and start building relationships in the industry.
Below I’ve included a few of my favorite quotes about networking, along with a few tips for networking successfully to help equip my fellow CAN members.
TORRY’S FAVORITE QUOTES ON NETWORKING
"The successful networkers I know, the ones receiving tons of referrals and feeling truly happy about themselves, continually put the other person's needs ahead of their own." Bob Burg
"The way of the world is meeting people through other people." -Robert Kerrigan
"More business decisions occur over lunch and dinner than at any other time, yet no MBA courses are given on the subject." - Peter Drucker
"You can use your business card to get the other person's business card. As far as I'm concerned, this is the one truly legitimate benefit of business cards."- Bob Burg
"Strangers are just friends who haven't yet met!"- Peter Rosen
“The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.”- Keith Ferrazzi
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit; but in humility consider others better than yourself!" -Philippians 2:3
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” -Romans 12:3-5
"In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:12
TORRY’S TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL NETWORKING
As you start your writing career, keep the following tips in mind:
Ask for advice. When you meet professionals in the publishing industry, don't be afraid to ask for their advice. It's good to be respectful of their busy schedules, but you'll never know if they have a few minutes to talk unless you ask.
Help others. Put in a good word for someone else when you have a chance. They'll remember you, and perhaps someday they'll be in a position to return the favor. The publishing industry is tough. It's good to have allies.
Keep in touch. Don't let a good contact go. Networking is not just about making friends—it's also about keeping them. That takes a little work. But it's worth it.
Have your book proposal. All the networking in the world may do little good if you don't have something to show for yourself. Your book proposal or a writing sample should always be at the ready. It should advertise your skills to potential employers.
THE CARE AND FEEDING OF YOUR NETWORK
Making contacts is only the first step in networking. The challenge is cultivating and maintaining those relationships.
Record your contacts.
You can’t stay in touch with someone if you don’t have them in your system. Immediately after a writers conference or event, go through the contacts you’ve made and enter them into your contact database. Make notes about the person and what you discussed. And remember who introduced you—it’s important that you be able to trace and maintain the results of that connection.
Nothing beats face-to-face contact for strengthening relationships. Call and invite your colleague for lunch, coffee, a book-reading or event, or even a round of golf. This kind of social interaction can help boost the business relationship and also create an opportunity for true friendship, which is personally what I like best.
Educate each other.
Take time to understand the businesses and abilities of those in your network. And make sure you educate them about what you do and what your goals are. The more you understand the intricacies of each other's businesses, the better able you are to share ideas and contacts, and to contribute to each other's growth.
Remember, you’re not going to be able to network with everyone you know. Prioritize your contacts. Get in touch often with those you can help the most and those that can be most helpful to you—they’re your inner circle. Offer them advice or call them for advice; you’ll alert them to a potential opportunity and they’ll alert you; pass along an article of interest to them and they will be doing the same in return. But no matter what happens, don’t burn bridges—even if you are no longer a useful business connection to them or they to you. You should still be able to maintain a personal relationship and pray for each other or share the latest news with someone and offer encouragement and support. Of course you can’t stop a person from burning a bridge to you. That hurts when it happens, but it happens.