Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the privilege of interviewing Marcia Gruver, a multi-published author of historical fiction set in "The Old South." Her latest novel, Hunter's Prize, was published this month by Barbour.
I taught children's church for many years. Unhappy with our curriculum, I began to experiment with writing my own. This exercise in creativity became my proving ground. After my last little chicken flew away to college, I nestled into my empty nest to whip out the "Great American Novel." With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, this venture into writing became an inspirational novel, one of six so far.
What are a few of your latest titles?
Hunter's Prize released July 1, 2012. It followed Raider's Heart and Bandit's Hope in the Backwoods Brides series. My first series is titled Texas Treasures and consists of Diamond Duo, Chasing Charity, and Emmy's Equal.
At the 2007 American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Dallas, Barbour Publishing editor Rebecca Germany stood to announce the recipient of their first-ever three-book contract. Steeped in a foggy cloud of yearning, it took a second to realize she'd just called my name. Years later, I still get a thrill recalling this life-changing experience.
I love these types of stories!! Marcia, what has helped you promote your books the most?
My husband's job requires that we travel extensively. Often we stay for extended periods in small, rural towns. This is such a boon for a writer, providing wonderful opportunities for exploring new settings and discovering new characters. Using the towns as settings and mentioning the local legends has afforded me whole communities of people who are excited about my work before the books ever hit the shelves.
I never realized, or perhaps never believed, that marketing would force me out of my reclusive shell. I'm a bit of an introvert and not so good at promoting myself. Little by little, I began to crack that shell and venture out. I signed on to teach creative writing classes, arranged a few book signings, began social marketing, created a blog, and anything else I could think of establish a writer presence. It hasn't been easy and I haven't arrived yet, but I consider myself a work in progress.
Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
Jesus taught, "Give and it shall be given unto you." I practice this principle in the realm of marketing by generously giving away my books. I give away every copy I can, because I believe that word-of-mouth promotion is the path to real success.
What's the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
At my first author event, the thought of speaking before the group had my hands trembling and heart racing. Noticing my distress, the kind-hearted organizer took my wrist and led me to the podium. She stood beside me, clutching my hand, while the audience urged me along with applause and good-natured laughter. With the help of gentle prodding and leading questions, I croaked out my nervous spiel, and then our hostess led me back to my chair. I was embarrassed yet deeply touched. Read a little further to learn the name of the compassionate woman who came to my aid.
What a perceptive and kind woman! Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
When my first book, Diamond Duo, released, I got an unexpected email from Kathy Patrick, the flamboyant founder of The Pulpwood Queens, "the largest meeting and discussing book club in the world." Diamond Duo is set in Kathy's hometown of Jefferson, Texas, and features Diamond Bessie, the notorious victim of an 1877 unsolved murder. Kathy, a tireless champion of literacy and a diehard supporter of authors, invited me to Books Alive, an inspirational book festival. Kathy showed me around town and gave me the star treatment. I'll never forget her kindness.
And she helped you through that first speaking event - that's amazing! Marcia, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work?
I can honestly say I haven't yet found what works best for me. I'm still an introvert and it's still difficult, but I'm eager to do better in the future. I'm looking for ways to become more comfortable at promotion, such as attending the CLASServices and Toastmasters to improve my public speaking. In the meantime, I'll continue to network, give away books, and connect on a personal level with as many readers as possible. The last is my favorite part because I'm finding them to be wonderful people.
That's one of the best parts of being an author - you meet some fascinating people! What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
- Don't assume your books will market themselves.
- Never take your readers for granted.
- Remember that if God brought you where you are, He has a plan for your writing.
Great advice! Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Marcia!
Writing for Him,