Valentine's greetings from Marti Pieper in warm and sunny Florida! Whether or not you're enjoying tropical temperatures right now, I hope the climate of your home and heart carries plenty of warmth and love.
Today, I have a special Valentine surprise for you in the form of YA novelist Sarah Jeffrey and her latest release. Let's get busy on the interview and allow Sarah to share her best marketing and promotional strategies. She's got lots of great ideas and practical wisdom to share.
I've always been a writer. From my earliest memories, I loved reading stories and creating my own. My sixth novel just released this month. My new one is still a YA, but because of the long hiatus between novels, I'm starting fresh in many ways.
You just had a novel release this month, right?
My latest title is Me and My Invisible Guy from Amazon Children's Publishing. It tells the story of sixteen-year-old Mallory and what happens when secrets are revealed, in the most humiliating way possible!
How did you get your first book contract?
My first one and every one since have come from writing conferences. I'm a huge fan of writing conferences because we should never stop growing and learning about the craft of writing. I come away inspired, refreshed, and with new contacts in the writing industry.
Sarah, what would you say has helped you the most in promoting your books?
When my first books came out, the Internet was far less connected than it is today. I'm finding social media to be a wonderful marketing tool; however, I didn't begin using social media in order to promote a book. I used it because I enjoyed it, and that helped me develop an online presence without promotion. I have a thirteen-year-old daughter who is far more connected with my target teen market, so she's been a huge help this go-around!
Everyone makes mistakes. What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book? Did those mistakes cause you to change? If so, how?
I probably made the same mistake that most authors make by thinking that having the book available and out there is enough. It’s not. Not by a long shot. I tried to do many things: handed out bookmarks and postcards, tried book signings, told people about the book. It was a little like throwing pennies in the ocean. I didn’t have a strategy and that hurt me a lot.
This time around, I still feel pressure, but I’m able to relax about it a little more. I developed a strategy, a handful of things I could reasonably do. Beyond that, I have to let it go.
What's the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
I'm not into gimmicks. : - ) But my daughter has developed friendships with a number of high-profile teens over the last year—completely unrelated to my book :-) So we simply offered these girls a copy and they eagerly accepted. We didn’t expect them to become such great promoters, but they were all very excited to get the books and posted pictures of the cover to their huge followings. A very unexpected, but pleasant, surprise.
What's the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
My daughter and I probably had our funniest moments the night before the book’s release when the photo popped up on Instagram and hundreds of teens were talking about it everywhere. Keeping track of the comments and posting was hilarious and fun.
That's great! Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
That remains to be seen. It’s so hard to tell what helps because you aren’t with people when they decide to make a purchase—or not make one. I’m trying to take a balanced approach: do all I can to let people know the book exists, but not stress about the results. I can’t control that. God's in control of that.
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
The friendships my daughter forged with the influential young women. The friendships are simply that, friendships. But the fact that they were eager and excited to receive and help out with the book was a tremendous blessing.
Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
Staying active online without letting it overtake my life. I’m still trying to learn to balance that! I probably should have already had the second book finished, but I don’t, and I kind of regret that now. Still, I'm taking every opportunity I can to simply share the book, and hope people like the story enough to tell a friend. That’s pretty much my main marketing goal.
That sounds so wise, Sarah. What are your top tips for writers who have their first book contract?
Focus on writing first and everything else second. I think that’s a mistake I made this time around is that I got sidetracked by many other things putting me way behind on my next novel. Which I will get back to ... right after I finish this.
And it’s always nicer to have other people talk about your book rather than yourself. So offering copies to influencers is by far my favorite strategy.
Thanks for having me! You can find me online!
Valentine's Day Blessings from Sarah and