First of all, thank you for coming on the blog and congratulations on all your success.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m beyond thrilled to be here.
For those that don’t know your work, tell us about your books:
I write small town mysteries with a little bit of death and a lot of humor. I’m not someone who is going to make you walk away feeling exhausted or scared. I’m the one who wants my readers to open my books, escape into a world of mystery, quirky characters and laughing while doing it.
I’ve always said that I’m so grateful that at the end of a long busy day, one reader opens my book and escapes into my world. There is nothing greater than that for an author. At least this one J
How easy or hard has it been to get visibility and build a name in your chosen genre?
Great question! I get this a lot. It’s called HUSTLE! I love when writers ask me how I got the success or the visibility because I could tell them exactly what I have done or even gift them a copy of the Tricked Out Toolbox~Marketing Tools Every Author Needs, a non-fiction book I wrote a few years ago, but it’s the HUSTLE they don’t want to do.
I got out there and gave books away, interacted with the readers. I host reader events at every city I visit.
Attend reader events!!! I don’t waste my time at writer events. WRITERS ARE NOT GOING TO BUY MY BOOKS….READERS! READERS! READERS! Of course I know writers do read, but they aren’t going to go out there and promote like a true reader.
Starting out I would guest blog for blogs in my genre with a giveaway, send swag to conventions to put in their bags, sponsor items such as lanyards where my name is printed all over it at different conventions.
I also host other successful authors in the genre to my blog, bring their readers along. Or even promote them on all my social media. Give their books away to my readers.
The list is endless and I’m still working on it. But it all has to do with HUSTLE. No excuses for being an introvert or extrovert. With the internet, anyone can hide behind their computers and reach millions of readers.
What is the most successful promotional strategy you’ve used?
My street team by far!
Do you have a mailing list, and if so, what do you do to grow it?
I do. It started with my street team a few years ago. I ask for their mailing address because I send a lot of promotional items for them to pass out along with a little treat for them. I also send out holiday cards and monthly secret prizes.
For readers who aren’t on the internet (I KNOW…right?!) I keep an address book with me at all my “in person” events and ask them to join. What are they going to say? No. Okay. Generally they don’t.
I also participate in online giveaways where their mailing address is included. But I send a friendly note to them and ask them if they would like to be on the mailing list to email me.
I’m pretty active on mailings. And my readers LOVE it. Whenever I go out of town, the first thing I do is stop at the airport gift shop or gas station to get postcards and send some out to my readers.
What is one unsuccessful promotion tactic that you’d never try again?
I’m of the mindset that try something, if it doesn’t work do something different. I have had big success with some promotional tools along with big failures. None of the failures I see as unsuccessful. There is something that comes out of failure, maybe do something to tweak it or look at it from a different angle.
Most authors don’t want to fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to promoting. They want it written out like a fine plotted book and want solid results before they jump in. I’m not like that. I go in with blind faith and adjust accordingly.
Do you have any advice on how to get more reviews for your books?
I give out ARC copies of my novels and ask them to put up reviews (good or bad~I will take ANY review). I will list my novel on Goodreads before it’s released and most of my ARC readers will put their review up there before the book comes out.
Plus I’m always asking readers “if you’ve read one of my novels, please put up a review.”
I ask my readers to do a lot! And they do.
What do you know about self publishing now that you wish you knew when you first started out?
I self published when it was soooo not cool. I wasn’t lucky like some self published authors who had instant success, from which they came from the traditional side and already had an established group of readers.
I just thought I was going to put out a book, not become the entire publishing company.
Now I look at it differently. I see a big house with a lot of garages. If I don’t like something in my big house, I detach that garage.
For instance, HarperCollins just bought my USA TODAY bestseller A Ghostly Undertaking in a four book deal. It is a GREAT deal and I’m so proud of it because it is truly a ground breaking deal for self published authors. HarperCollins has been awesome. I can’t say enough about how great they have treated me. BUT if at the end of the contract, it didn’t go as well as we had hoped, I detach that part of the garage and move on.
Like I said, I’m the kind of gal who will try anything even if it is an epic fail. Self publishing is hard. You have only YOU to rely on for success. No publishing house, no marketing department. YOU. Hustle!
How has Free worked for you, and do you have more plans to incorporate free stories into your marketing plan in the future?
It’s been great! I’ve gotten new readers that would have never tried a new to them author. They aren’t cheap readers. They are readers who get a chance to sample my work and once hooked, they go and buy the entire list. PLUS they spread the world.
I consider A Charming Crime my lost leader to new readers. It’s paid for itself ten fold!
Currently, I do not have plans for future novels to be free.
What advice would you give to writers that are either just starting out and/or are struggling to get sales?
Of course it comes down to a great book and I believe in a GREAT cover. Invest in a good editor and a good cover artist. Your cover can make or break you. I can name three books that I loved and would have never picked up unless their publisher asked me too because their covers were so awful!
I hate to keep saying this but HUSTLE. How bad do you want success? Think outside the box.
What does one of your typical book launches look like–blog tours, giveaways, etc…?
All the above, plus twitter parties, Facebook parties, Kindle chats, Goodreads chat, google hangouts. . . .
You have been a part of a number of multi author promotions and boxed sets. How have they worked out for you, and how did you publicize those sets and promotions?
They have been good. It’s difficult to find a group of authors that is going to work as hard as you to get the box set out there. I’m pretty picky with who I work with, so one lazy one in a bunch will bring the entire box set down.
We all had to promote, promote, promote on every avenue we had with our own books.
We all had to come up with blogs, reviews, promotional ideas, parties, etc….and we kept a spreadsheet of it all. WE all would go and promote each blog, post, tweet, etc….Everyone had to do their pull equally.
Do you have any advice for finding success on other platforms such as Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo?
I make sure that I upload to every single platform. Reaching readers where ever I can. Each platform has reader pages all over the internet. Google your genre and find those pages. There is where you need to be.
No matter how much people hate social media, you HAVE to be there. Facebook has some really awesome reader groups for all the platforms. The readers are there to learn about new to them authors etc…When I have a party or giveaway, I make sure I announce it on all of those groups. It’s great!
What can we expect from you in the future?
More books, more books, and more books J Other than that….I have to keep a secret
Check out Tonya’s books HERE