Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the privilege of interviewing historical fiction author Roseanna White. I've enjoyed getting to know her on line, and love her skill with words and her sense of humor.
I've been writing since I learned how to put pencil to paper in primary school. It was a day when I was out sick with an ear infection that I realized I could entertain myself by scratching a story about a princess with a magical hair bow on some scrap paper--and there's been no stopping me since!
A magical hair bow--I want one of those. How many books do you have published?
I now have four books available and another five contracted. My most recent are Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland, set in 1783, and the just-released Revolutionary War spy romance, Ring of Secrets.
My first books were small press. WhiteFire Publishing is actually owned by my hubby, so we launched with my biblical novels to keep from experimenting on anyone else. Those titles have both done very well, but I kept pursuing contracts with the bigger houses as I worked for WhiteFire. Both my contract with Summerside and my series with Harvest House were the result of making a connection with the editors. Both actually rejected the first manuscripts they took to committee (both contemporaries), but liked my writing and asked to see other projects. The Lord definitely had His hand in that, leading me back to my first love--historical romance--in both cases.
What has helped you promote your books the most?
I've done blog tours and giveaways and all that fun stuff, and while I keep doing them, it's mainly just to get to that thing I've found to be most helpful--word of mouth. There's no "silver bullet" to marketing, nothing that will always work, so I write the best books I can write, pound the pavement to get them out there, and then pray the Lord will open doors to the readers who need them and close them to those who wouldn't be edified by my work.
What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book?
I think my biggest mistake early on was thinking I could make this happen. That I needed to sell. But the more I did, the more I realized it isn't about selling, it's about giving. Not just giving away free books, mind you, but giving back to my readers. Appreciating them. Praying for each reader. And basically realizing that no matter which marketing scheme I follow, my heart has to have the right focus, and that cannot be sales numbers or royalty checks. I really don't like when other authors try to sell to me--so why should I turn around and try the same?
What's the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
I briefly considered giving away a hand-drawn picture of one of my characters, and then realized no one but me would possibly want them. But I took the ones I'd done, framed and pretty, to book signings with me, and people kept asking if I was doing caricatures and how much I charged! Yeah, I think I'll stick with writing.
That is too funny! As for fun gimmicks I love the Create Your Own Spy Name feature on your website. (You may now call me Eliza Whitman.) What's the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
I signed on for an outdoor book tour, which was supposed to hit four major Southern cities. That turned out to be the hottest summer in the last decade, and we poor authors spent our day in a 110 degree, humid tent with no airflow. Misery at the time, especially when my poor little boy had to be rushed to the hospital for asthma issues. Looking back, picturing all of us in that tent, going to desperate measures for the slightest breeze--while all the customers stayed home--makes me laugh.
Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
The most exciting development thus far was an idea my best friend and critique partner came up with, for a novella that would come between Ring of Secrets and its sequel, Whispers from the Shadows. I didn't know if Harvest House would go for the idea, but they turned out to love it. We're preparing it now, and praying it's a great way to give something for free that'll get the series out there to a lot of new readers.
Did you see God open any doors in the promotion of your books?
He has! Because of my small press roots, physical bookstores have always felt out of reach. But with Ring of Secrets I've been blessed to gain the attention and backing of major retailers who share in my excitement about the book. It's still so new I have no clue what this will mean ultimately, but it was exciting to hear that I was a "recommended read"!
What do you find works best for you in promoting your work?
My new philosophy is to squeeze all the promotional stuff into a short period of time--interviews, guest appearances, giveaways--and then to just focus on connecting with individuals.
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
Let your marketing, not just your writing, be Spirit-led. You can't do everything, so don't try. Pray the Lord will lead you to the right opportunities, and more, that your heart will remain focused on Him throughout every step you take. That it won't be just about sales--it'll be about souls.
Such great advice! Thanks for visiting with us today, Roseanna.
Writing for Him, Sarah Sundin (aka Eliza Whitman)