Monday, November 21, 2011

Welcome Guest Jennifer Hudson Taylor!

Missy, here. I'm so happy to welcome back my good friend, Abingdon and Barbour author, Jennifer Hudson Taylor! Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a copy of Highland Sanctuary Jenn is generously offering today. And now...Jenn!

The Journey from Book 1 to Book 2
By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Authors are often asked to write about their journey to publication, while seasoned authors discuss their entire writing careers. Today, I’d like to talk about my journey from book 1 to book 2, right after leaving unpubbed island.

Timing Does Make a Difference
Highland Blessings was my debut novel in May 2010, while Highland Sanctuary was my second novel in October 2011. It was very different having a spring release compared to a fall release. I felt like there was more excitement centered around my first book, not just from me as a new author, but from others as well.

I think there are lots of people who want to help new authors and promote them on their first book. Everyone knows how hard it is to get started and so lots of people have concentrated their efforts in this area—sort of like a community support system. I wonder if any of you other authors noticed this on your debut novel? This is great news for those of you still on unpubbed island! (Congrats to all the Seekers for moving OFF unpubbed island!)

Timing seems to be key with most things, and the release of a novel is no different. With a spring release lots of people are looking for vacation reading material. They need something to read on the plane, on the beach, and in the car on long road trips. Lots of teachers, school staff, and students from high school and universities have more free reading time during the summer.

The fall has been different. They are all back in school and vacations are over. Everyone is busy trying to help their kids keep up with school schedules, planning holiday parties, and saving those dollars for special Christmas gifts. Therefore, I think a spike in sales for all books will start hitting in mid-November to December for the holiday orders. This is one of the reasons I ran such a long blog tour over a period of a couple of months rather than just the first 30 days.

Also, I’m hearing a lot more about how people are cutting back on their spending. I’m not a forecaster or an economist, but I’m sensing that a lot of people are struggling more in 2011 than they did in 2010. People are still buying, but they are slower to make buying decisions. Many who bought Highland Blessings the first month it was out, waited until the second month to buy Highland Sanctuary. I’m referring to my online sales through my website, since I can’t speak for store sales.

The Road to Both Books
With Highland Blessings, I was able to take ten years to finish it and rewrite it as many times as I wanted while I wrote other books. I had no deadlines, only self-imposed ones I set, if I set any. I had no pressure to market this book or other books because I wasn’t a published author. I could blog if I wanted…or not. The only pressure I had was the learning curve of how to be a better writer so I could be a published author. Learn and practice…Learn and practice…Learn and practice.

With Highland Sanctuary, I had to finish it in a year to meet my deadline. When my macro edits came back, I had to juggle them with writing two other contracted novellas. By this time I was still promoting the first book, because one never stops promoting one’s work once it is published. I signed a contract for 3 more books and received an offer on a 4th. My next book has to be finished in six months, so I must keep writing on the new book, while I do all the promoting of Highland Sanctuary.

And I do still work a full-time job outside the home.

Experience is Invaluable
The one thing that you have on the second book that you didn’t have on the first is a bit of experience. Authors have more of an idea what worked well and what didn’t. Therefore, one knows what not to waste time and money on. However, most of us keep trying new things. I had a big two-week contest that I ran on my blog with the second book.

It was…interesting.

No one wanted the gift certificates that I offered for Chick-Fil-A or Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Everyone wanted the gifts of multiple printed books, tote bags, assorted coffees and mugs. This shocked me. I really thought they would want the gift certificates. I gave them choices and by doing so, I learned about what readers want. 

With my blog tour I offered more guest posts on my second book so there would be more variety since it ran longer. While this is better for the readers, it is definitely more time consuming, and for me, it was hard due to the timing of other unexpected things that hit my life.

My father-in-law died two weeks before Highland Sanctuary released. I got behind on everything from blog posts to mailing out books to people who had won them and were buying them. To make matters worse, I got very sick a couple of weeks after my book released. I ended up missing a major book signing where I did very well with the first book. I had to miss a writer’s conference I was supposed to speak at and then another one was cancelled due to lack of registrants. Right after I was well, my 14-year-old daughter went into the hospital. So I’m gaining new experiences with this second book release.

These were things that were out of my control, and as a seasoned Christian, I know to turn it over to God and that is what I’m trying to do. If I had been published when I was younger, I don’t believe I would have had the maturity to do this. I would have fretted and worried MUCH more. Again, God knows the best timing for us—on everything!

My advice is to plan what is reasonable to YOU and not compare yourself to other authors and what they do. We plan for our book releases 6-8 months in advance, but we never know what might strike our lives when that time actually arrives—so pray when you plan. Listen to the Holy Spirit guiding you, especially if something doesn’t feel right and you think you might be taking on too much. You may not know what is in your near future, but God does so try to listen to Him when you pray about planning your schedule.


Jennifer Hudson Taylor is an award winning author of historical Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas and a speaker on topics of faith, writing and publishing. Her work has appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Romantic Times Book Reviews, and The Military Trader. She serves as the in-house Publicist at Hartline Literary Agency and co-owns Upon the Rock Publishing, an e-publishing/publicist company. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Journalism. When she isn't writing, she enjoys spending time with family, long walks, traveling, touring historical sites, hanging out at bookstores with coffee shops, genealogy, and reading.

Jennifer's fiction is represented by Literary Agent, Terry Burns with Hartline Literary Agency.


Vince said...

Hi Jennifer:

I think return for author marketing efforts is highly unequal.

I think someone needs to do a marketing analysis of the effectiveness of author promotions. If your book is a Love Inspired with national sales in WalMart for 30 days, I’m not sure that author efforts will amount to more than 1% of your sales. These authors might best simply do a little promotion but spend most of their time writing more books. Selling books that readers like, especially books in a series, is the best way to build a platform of ‘auto-buy’ fans.

If your books are ebooks sold mostly through your own efforts, then author efforts may account for over 95% of your sales. These authors must always be promoting.

Just as authors need to spend their money wisely, they also need to spend their time just as wisely.

I don’t see any evidence that this is being done. What do you think? I know you are experienced in marketing.


P.S. Loved your first book. It has my favorite heroine. I’ll buy your current book for Christmas. Right now I am reading Christmas romances one after the other. The fall may be the best time to launch a Christmas romance.

Missy Tippens said...

Hey, Vince! You're the first to visit! I guess we'll wait and see if Helen shows with coffee. Of course, I'd have to have decaf this late!

I look forward to Jenn's answer to your questions.

But for now, I'm off to bed. Will see y'all in the a.m.

Ausjenny said...

Dont enter me as I have read both books and really loved them. Jennifer I missed the launch I for one being an aussie would have gone for an Amazon gift voucher, or a signed book. But I do like vouchers.
Vince I would love to read more Christmas books now but the barbour novella's and alot of the other Chrsitmas books haven hit Australia yet. I am actually getting frustrated as it takes 6 weeks from Christianbook to come. Also most are not on kindle here in aust.

Jennifer Sorry about all the illnesses etc you have suffered too it really does slow one down. I am hosting you next week (I hope you got my email)

Virginia said...

I really worry about this kind of thing- which is silly since I haven't been published AT ALL! But I worry that IF I get published, the first one will be completely different from the second, and the secodn from the third, etc., ad nauseum.
But now that I know it's true I feel like those patients on that OCD show: I've faced my fears and I feel... better!
6-8 months between books means that life WILL be different. And the Holy Spirit is the to carry us through.
Beautiful post, and I'm saving this one.
You know, Shannon Hale (of the Princess Academy and lots of other books) blogs on her life as a mom to four young kids (twins babies) and writer. She mentions very often that it's never quite the way we think it's going to be. Ever. And we just better let go and let God. :D

Helen Gray said...

Coffee's ready, and there's decaf for Missy!

Another invaluable inside look at the crazy world of publishing. Thanks.


Carla Gade said...

Hi Jen from colonial quills! This post is so timely for me as my first two books release shortly within a few months of each other. I'm sorry for all you've gone through and thank you for your words of encouragement as I, too, have been enduring similar hardships including the death of my step-dad. I congratulate you on your hard work and thanks again on this awesome post.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Hi Vince, It's great to hear from you! I've missed your posts. I agree with you about marketing for a category novel vs a single title, especially by small publishers with fewer in-house marketing dollars.

Here are my thoughts on a few things:

Blog Tours
I think too many blogs have the same readership and we end up guest blogging to the same readers via multiple blogs. Having said that, I do believe blog tours can be very beneficial if done well. It requires a lot of time, personal research and creative strategy. If an author uses a publicist, I think it would be beneficial to use a different publicist with each new book to gain access to a broader reach. One publicists will have a set of readership and another publicist may have a different set. Authors need to reach beyond the scope they've set for each succeeding book--as funds allow. Funds are the HUGE kicker here.

Giving Away Free Books
I think this must be limited. I do believe it can be beneficial in helping to spread the word about one's books by word of mouth, but I also think authors have to be careful not to build a following of people who only want free books.

Book Signings
Some authors and publishers feel that book signings are a waste of time, but I do see small benefits from them. My name doesn't draw a line of readers that extends out to the parking lot, but I usually pick up at least one new reader per signing. Who knows how many other readers that one will influence. I usually sell anywhere from 3-50 books depending on the type of book signing.

Also, for those of us who may not be on the shelf of every book store, a book signing gets the store to order books and they usually allow authors to leave behind signed copies. Those signed books don't typically go back to the publisher as returns. I'm guaranteed to have books on those shelves where otherwise I might not.

Hope these thoughts are helpful and answer your question.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...


I'm looking forward to being on your blog next week. I did receive your email and your questions. I'm sorry, I'm still so far behind in my email. I'll be working on them this week. So sorry it takes so long to get books to Australia. That would be frustrating to me as well.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Virginia, I worried about the same thing BEFORE publication--mainly b/c of my day job to pay the bills. Once reality kicked into my brain, I realized being published wouldn't change much to my financial status and would end up only bringing more work and stress. The reality of my fears have come true and so one of my prayers each day is that God will give me the grace to handle what I must until HE sees fit to change my financial circumstances. In the meantime, I must not grow weary, bitter or resentful when I hear other authors talking about their day of writing and all the progress they've achieved when I had to spend my whole day giving to a company that I feel doesn't appreciate me. It's a constant struggle for me--and to not complain and whine to God about it, especially since I NEED my job and I'm BLESSED to have it.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Carla, Great to see you over here! I'm sorry for your loss and all the sickness you've endured lately. I pray you are on the mend and back to perfect health soon!

Lindi said...


Lindi here! First you know I really like your cover. I just have to get that in there. And second--I loved this book. For all of you who haven't read this, I say you must! Don't enter me in the drawing since I've read it. Thanks for the great advice as I transition to having my second book out next spring. It sounds like that's a great time to have the book released. I'll keep in mind all those other things you talked about. Thanks, Jenn!

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Lindi, I love Abingdon's covers. They do such a wonderful job of working with the authors on their covers. And I'm glad you enjoyed Highland Sanctuary! Congrats on your second book.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Jennifer, Welcome to Seekerville and thanks for joining us.

Great advice and insight. You're right about all the attention for the first book. The second, third and fourth are just as important. Congrats on having those already in hand.

I loved your advice to turn it over to God. I'm so guilty of jumping in and taking over instead of consulting Him first. smile. Would save a lot of work.

Thanks again for sharing with us.

Waving to Missy.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Thanks, Sandra! Yes, the succeeding books are just as important. blessings,

PS--To everyone, If I don't respond for the next several hours, it's b/c I'm at work and I'll be tied up in a conference call for a while.

Missy Tippens said...

Jenn, I'm glad to see you made it here before work! I hope you have a good conference call.

Jenny, that must be so frustrating not to be able to just order something off Amazon! I'm glad, like we were talking about the other day, that you're having some great writers come out of Australia. Maybe that'll make it easier to get their books!

Virginia, thanks for the recommendation of Shannon Hale's blog! I'll check it out.

Helen, thank you!! I knew you'd show and give us something to kick off our day. :)

Carla, thanks so much for stopping by. I'm sorry for your loss.

Good morning, Lindi! I can't wait for that 2nd book!!

Waving back atcha, Sandra!

Kav said...

Found this really interesting -- and Vince's comments as well. I've often wondered about the effectiveness of some marketing strategies for book releases. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

I've read Highland Sanctuary (you went on my author 'hit' list after I read Highland Blessings!)and LOVED it! It's definitely a keeper shelf book. :-)

Kirsten Arnold said...

Hi Jennifer,

Thank you for the valuable information. While I'm not published, yet, I think the idea of the second book scares me more than the first. Mainly, for the reason you pointed out in your blog when you're writing for yourself you have all the time in the world. When you're under contract it's a whole new world.

I would also think it would be a bit intimidating from book one to two since now an author has a following who expects certain things in a book by you.


Bridgett Henson said...

You said, "Experience is Invaluable."
How true. As of now I'm unpublished, but I'm learning the more I write, the quality of my first drafts improves greatly which means less editing. :)

FYI: I'd have wanted a gift certificate.

I loved both books, so you can leave me out of the drawing.

Ramona Richards said...

Hi, Jennifer! Glad to see you on Seekerville. Some great insights, and I hope other authors take note of your experience. Thanks for sharing.

Missy Tippens said...

Kav, aren't her books wonderful?!

Kirsten, yeah, deadlines are a scary thing. There's just something about knowing your name is signed on that dotted line! :) But don't get me wrong. Even though it's scary, it's the best feeling in the world as well. I'd sure choose to have a contract!

Bridgett, I agree! The manuscripts get better the more we write. That's why I wish I hadn't spent so much time re-writing the first ones over and over.

Missy Tippens said...

Ramona! Welcome! I'm glad you stopped by.

For those who may not know, Ramona is an editor at Abingdon Press.

Sherri Shackelford said...

What a wonderful and timely post.
My first book comes out in June and I've been booking blog posts and writing them. Also working on book two and waiting for proposal approval. Not to mention line edits, and art facts! Then life happens :)
Thank you for sharing your story.

Susan Anne Mason said...


Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience. I know it will come in handy for a lot of authors.

I especially love the part about God's timing and listening to the Holy Spirit. Great advice!

Your books look wonderful and it sounds like you've got a lot more ahead of you. You sure will be busy!

sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Linnette R Mullin said...


So glad to see you on here. :D I absolutely LOVED Highland Sanctuary!!!

ATTENTION EVERYONE! If you want a thoroughly enjoyable book to read this winter, Highland Sanctuary is a must addition to your list! If you haven't read Highland Blessings, you have to get it, too! :D They're 5 star books!

As to marketing, just the thought of it invigorates me and makes me tired all at the same time. LOL


Julie Lessman said...

JENNIFER!!! SOOOOO great to have you here, my friend, and THANK YOU for sharing the benefit of your experiences from book one to book 2, all of which I heartily concur with.

The line that jumped out at me, however, and one we need to give mantra status to is: "My advice is to plan what is reasonable to YOU and not compare yourself to other authors and what they do."

Amen and AMEN!!! We lose the joy (and the gratitude) of writing for God when we compare ourselves to others AND when we measure and pin all of our hope and joy on book sales, good reviews and contest wins. Unfortunately, this is NOT something you can teach a new author because no matter how many times we hear it, we can't fully embrace it until we are in the trenches ourselves, experiencing it first-hand.

My heart goes out to you with all the heartaches you've endured during the release of this book, but in a way, it puts priorities where they should be -- on God and family instead of the success of a book, which is never HIS priority in our lives. :)


Carol Moncado said...

If you still have that Chick-fil-A gift card hanging around, I'll be happy to take it off your hands ;).

So sorry to hear all the stuff that's going/gone on at the same time as the release. All that stuff is stressful enough without a release on top of it.

I would love the opportunity to win a book.

carolmoncado at gmail dot com

Gwendolyn Gage said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Jennifer, and I can see how far behind you could get in marketing efforts when life happens. Thank God that we have the Holy Spirit to help us and guide us through it all. Thanks for sharing, and God bless you! :-)

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Jennifer,

Sometimes it seems like we unpubs are so geared up for that first book that we forget another one is just around the corner. Thanks for this look into the second one!

I love highland stories - Highland Blessings has been on my "to-buy" list for awhile. I think you're right, this year people are more careful about how they're spending their money. I hope you get a lot of Christmas sales....

hmmm, maybe my MIL would like your books...

Janet Dean said...

Jennifer, welcome to Seekerville! The new book looks terrific! Thanks for sharing your experiences. I admire how your faith has kept you strong with the illness and loss you've experienced while still holding down a day job and writing books. God bless you.


Missy Tippens said...

Term Paper, thanks for stopping by!

Sherri, sounds like you've gotten in the groove! :)

Sue, Jenn does have a lot going. Several books and two publishers. But she's amazing in how she gets it done! I'm always impressed.

Missy Tippens said...

Linnette, I agree!!

Julie, I think learning not to compare ourselves to others is going to be a life long lesson!! LOL

Missy Tippens said...

Carol, gee thanks. Now you have me craving Chick-fil-a!! LOL

A grilled chicken salad...and since it's too hard to resist, maybe some waffle fries on the side. ;)

Missy Tippens said...

Gwen, amen to that! I'm so thankful for God's guidance.

Jan, you'll love her books!

Missy Tippens said...

By the way...

Jan is sharing a recipe for Whoopie Pies over at the Yankee-Belle Cafe today! Don't miss it!!

travelingstacey said...

Hi Jennifer...I was so excited to see you on Seekerville today! I just finished reading Highland Blessings about a month ago and loved it. I haven't read many books in that setting and really enjoyed it. I'd love to be put in the drawing for Highland Sanctuary!
I can relate to what you said about taking your time in writing you first novel...writing and learning and feeling little to no pressure. I am right there. I wondered, though, with being able to be so relaxed with your first novel, was it hard to switch gears so fast when you had to write a second one? Or was it energizing to be published and jump right in?
Thanks and God bless~Stacey

Missy Tippens said...

Janet, I agree. I've admired how she's handled everything with grace.

Jeanne T said...

Jennifer, what an insightful post. I have a couple of friends who have their debut books just out or coming out next spring. I've heard a little bit from them of the challenge of juggling everything that is required of a new author. I especially appreciated your reminder to pray about schedules and timelines. You are right when you say that God knows the future. Trusting Him is pretty key, isn't it? :) Thanks so much for sharing with transparency this part of your writing journey.

I don't have time to read everyone's comments right now, but I plan to come back. :)

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Kav, I love the idea of being on your "Author Hit List" thank you for including me!

Kirsten, I agree. Once people have read and experienced your first book or couple of books, you've set a standard and expectation. My next full-length book is Path of Promise, a Quaker historical and completely different from my first 2 books and I wonder how folks will respond. Since I have a Quaker novella coming out in April, I'm hoping that will be the ice breaker in that direction. Of course, I plan to eventually tie them together with a Scottish Quaker story like my ancestors.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Bridgett, I'm still surprised over the gift certificates. Personally, I love them! Thank you for reading both my books. I'm so glad you enjoyed them.

Sherri, Congrats on your debut novel in June! Hold on, because you're in for a wonderful ride. It's a wonderful experience in spite of all the hard work and other distractions. So very worth it!

Mary Connealy said...

Vince the trouble with marketing analysis of this type is, a lot of marketing, while it may not show direct sales results, it MAY influence a publisher to make that next sale.
A solid, lively online presents is definitely a factor in contracts if not exactly in sales.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Ramona, Thanks for stopping by! I'm so looking forward to the new Quilts of Love series coming out next year.

As Missy said, Ramona is my editor at Abingdon Press. When I received my macro edits on Highland Sanctuary, I was so blessed to be able to meet her at a nearby writers conference. We went to lunch and she put me right at ease over all the necessary edits and rewrites. Thank you!

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Susan, Thank you! God is still working with me on accepting His timing for things, but I'm getting better at it. When He whispered to my heart "Do not despise small beginnings", I wanted to cry, b/c I'd learned enough about God to know what that REALLY meant. And yes, I'm blesses and thrilled to have more books coming out with Abingdon.

Linnette, You've already read Highland Sanctuary? Seems like I just dropped it in the mail. And thank you, I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

Carol, My family ended up using the Chick-Fil-A card since no one wanted it. I had 2 of them. We love Chick-Fil-A!

Gwendolyn, Thank you. We miss Winston very much. The holidays are definitely going to be different this year. I didn't mention it in my post, but my mom has been fighting cancer as well. She may need more surgery in a few weeks, we'll know on Nov 29th.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Julie, I'm remembering your awesome advice about not comparing myself to other authors and I'm taking it to heart. You are a wonderful friend and a great inspiration to me! God is using you in so many ways!

And yes, these hardaches force us to put things into perspective. I'm a doer, and I stay so busy that I believe sometimes God is holding me by the back of my collar, while I've got my hands and legs spinning in circles. He's telling me to wait b/c He has something better planned, and I'm in jeopardy of ruining it if I don't stop meddling in His plans for me--and others in my life.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Jan, The economy is really hitting so many people and those who aren't hit are trying to help loved ones who are and/or are fearful and counting pennies, just in case.

Thanks for putting my books on your "to read" list. And I hope your MIL will enjoy them as well.

Janet, My faith has brought me through a lot--from my childhood as well. I have another whole testimony there, but I'm not ready to tell it. Maybe one day.

Stacey, That's a good question. I've lived the kind of life where so many unexpected things have been thrown at me that I'm quite flexible--I had to learn to be to survive.

During those ten years of learning, God molded me from a panster writer to a plotter. I HAD to make this transition in order to make writing work for ME and work my day job and find time for hubby and daughter w/o losing all my sleep. Plotting and planning gives me notes so I'll know exactly where I left off when I pick that manuscript back up 6 months or a year later. I may not stick to my outlines like glue, but I use them as a guideline. Doing this helped me work on 3 different manuscripts last spring--all at once.

Dianna Shuford said...

Great post, Jennifer! I responded once before, but blogger must have been hungry. It ate my post...

Loved your first book, and I can't wait to read your second! You're an amazing person. I hope you and your daughter are feeling better. It's hard to keep pushing when you're sick or worried or in pain.

You brought up interesting points which I hadn't really thought about. I've heard about the push for deadlines and working on multiple projects from other pubbed writers, but I haven't really focused on that aspect because I'm still in the push to be published the first time. Guess I need to start praying on how to deal with those pressures before the time comes, huh?

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Jeanne, Thank you. One of my goals is to be transparent so my experiences will not be for naught, but used for God's glory. That's why I know I'll one day share my childhood story, but not now.

Mary, Great point. Publishers really do want to see us out there building that online presence. We may start out with a small platform, and some publishers are fine with that, but they want to see us keep building and adding to that platform. They see authors as a partner, b/c it really is a partnership, and I'm grateful for the chance to work with both Abingdon and Barbour.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Missy, Thanks for holding down the fort while I was away this morning--and for hosting me! I'll swing back by a little later.

Audra Harders said...

Jennifer, welcome!

I love your post on the second book. Doesn't it seem like your life becomes ho-hum on the second book as compared to the excitement and support and yes, parties, associated with the first?

And I can relate to all the debris spread across your path when trying to ready yourself for releases of new books. How in the world can so many unexpected catastrophes pile on you at one time?

Really makes me shake my head.

Sorry to hear about your FIL. God bless him. I'm sure he's missed.

Keep up the grand work!

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

What do you mean I might have to keep working my full-time job after being a published author? And that my plans might not work out because I'm not in control? ;)

Thanks for this post, Jennifer. I know many of us are still working toward that first book, and I personally like to think that everything will be perfect after that first one finally does come out. Thanks for the reminder that God is the one writing OUR stories, and He controls the action, not us.

I haven't read either of your books and would love the chance to win one. Or a gift certificate. But not one to Chick-Fil-A. We don't have any of those in Nebraska.

Have a wonderful day!


Myra Johnson said...

Hi, Jennifer! So nice to find you in Seekerville today!

Oh, my goodness, you are SO right on target about the differences between book one and book two! I think one of the biggest challenges in a writer's career is maintaining the quality as new contracts come in and deadlines get closer together. We just don't have the luxury anymore of entering the same ms. in a bunch of contests and getting critique feedback year after year while we hone our craft.

Vince said...

Hi Marketers:

Marketing has so many variables that general rules are very hard to sustain.

What would a publisher be more interested in when it comes to offering a contract to an author?

An author with a 200 day a year online presence or an author who can deliver four saleable books a year (instead of two books at best).

What is more important?

Current sales and sales history
or the extent of promotional efforts supporting those sales? (For some authors these will be directly proportional and for others there may be very little relationship.)

Promotional efforts are a way to underpin sales, especially for a new author, but if you already have high proven sales, (relative to the type of book you are writing) then non-existent promotional efforts might offer the publisher the lure of even greater sales given added promotional efforts on the part of the author.

If promotional efforts are not producing cost and time effective results, but are needed to impress future publishers, then doing the least time demanding promotions with the largest visible footprint would be the way to go. (Like they say in golf: “Drive for show, putt for dough”.)

Here’s something that would be helpful for authors to know.

What would be your baseline sales if you did no promotional work at all.

What would be the maximum additional sales you could expect with an all out time intensive promotional effort.

Say it was like this:

18,000 sales with no promotional efforts (WalMart, Target, Kmart, Library, Subscription sales, Publisher wedsite discounts, Amazon)

18,500 sales with 300 hours of promotional efforts. (In this case, it might pay an author to simply buy those 500 books herself and give them away.)

But what if it is like this:

10 books with no promotional efforts
2000 with maximum efforts

These two authors are nowhere near alike in the marketing choices they face. I’m not sure one should follow the other’s advice at all.

In TQM they say, “Don’t expect what you don’t inspect”. It is also said, “If results are not measured, it’s not science.”

I’m just saying: Don’t believe everything you read and don't run out and do everything that seems to make sense. : )


Vince said...

Hi Ausjenny

I wish you could get more Christmas novels in time to read them over the holiday. I read twice as many romances between November and January and they are almost all Christmas stories. Things are better now than they used to be with online downloads but in past years, I was buying Regency Christmas romances and even Christmas vampire romances.

Have you tried buying Mary’s “A Home For Christmas?” You’ll get two 5-star romances for just 99 cents! If you can’t get that in Austrilia, well that would be criminal.

I also recommend Walt’s romance in the “Hot Cocoa for the Heart” anthology. I didn’t see one typo in the whole book. What a great editor they must have! It’s a bargain, too.

I wonder if you can’t buy a book on line from Amazon, if you would be allowed to borrow it? Kindle will sometimes let me lend books for two weeks. Maybe we could lend books to the underserved readers in far away lands. : )

Really, this Australia business just drives me nuts. I actually get emails from Mills & Boon offering discounts on ebooks and when I try to download them,(after I give them all my credit card information) a message comes up telling me that “You are not authorized to buy this book”. I’m just glad they don’t call INTERPOL on me.


Mary Connealy said...

Vince thanks so much for mentioning my ebook.

Did you all know you can get a FREE app for your computer that lets you download ebooks to your computer.
Even if you don't like reading at your computer, if you ever DO get a Kindle or Nook, the books you bought, or grabbed because they're free, will be there, waiting and when you buy the device those books will just SNAP onto your computer.
It's a little scary.

Mary Connealy said...

Stephanie, sweetheart, just relax, once you get that first contract, there are NO MORE PROBLEMS EVER. LIKE IS ENDLESS BLISS.

Insert sarcasm at will.

Mary Connealy said...

I remember Ruthy saying to me once (while on a rare break from GIVING ME A HARD TIME!!)
That we do NOT have as much time (ten years) to write that second book, HOWEVER hopefully, we've gotten a little better so the first eight revisions are maybe not necessary.

Missy Tippens said...

Hey, Jeanne and Dianna! So glad you stopped by!

Stephanie, you tongue in cheek comment really cracked me up! :)

Audra, when you mentioned debris spread across your path, I thought you were talking about the mess spread around my work area! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Vince, I think you make a great point. The problem is, no one wants to try out your theories! :) I'd rather do all the promotion I can and hope it makes a difference. I'd have a hard time being the guinea pig on the "doing no promo" category! :)

Although, I did back off a bit on blogging a few months ago, trying to do more writing.

Missy Tippens said...

Wow, Mary, did Ruthy really take a break from giving you a hard time??!! I must've missed that!


Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Audra, That's a great way to put it ho-hum. I don't why so many things seem to happen all at once. Perfect for the phrase, when it rains, it pours.

Dianna, I'm sorry your post was eaten by the Blogger gremlins. It hate it when that happens to me. Thanks for your persistence! You'll figure out how to handle all the pressures when they arrive. Don't fret over it yet--just be aware and brainstorm on a few ideas here and there.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Stephanie, LOL, that's me! Control freak. God is constantly putting brakes in front of me and if I'm not listening, He'll get my attention the HARD way.

Hi Myra, my new Carolina buddy! Yes, maintain quality is a HUGE concern of mine. That's sort of what I was referring to when I mentioned our first books setting the standard and a certain expectation from there. I could see where it would be tough to switch genres. I hope it's okay if, as an historical author, I want to write in many different historical eras. My first 2 were 15th century, but my next one will be 1858, and then the next one colonial. I even have one planned for 1929.

Vince, I see your point on the marketing aspect. As one who has worked in marketing on some level all my life, I do believe in it's effectiveness and relevance. I'm just not certain about percentages b/c I think it varies from author to author, season to season, genre to genre, etc.

Virginia said...

Vince, usually marketing talk givse me a head ache, but I loved that post. And like Missy said, nobody wants to try the theory, hahaha!
But the point is, every author is different and the marketing has to fit the author.
Also, I think it has to be said about the 'lively internet presence' that it's FUN! At least, I think it would be sort of fun because I sure enjoy visiting the writing blogs and always seem to find new and different blogs. When I find someone new, and see old friends, it doesn't make me think they're rehashing old topics (although I did see that once) but usually have something new to share.
I've never guest-blogged, but I love when familiar faces show up as guests. Maybe some people inssert a standard post they circulate around, but I've only seen new and different questions/ answers, which helps me get to know the writer and their writing better... Not to mention if they prefer chocolate or need vats of coffee to wake up, etc.

Virginia said...

Vince, about not seeing a typo in the whole book... I was re-reading an old favorite of mine (Suzanne Collins) and suddenly saw a HUGE typo I'd never seen before. I was so surprised! It was just a missing word, but my brain had always filled it in before. Ignorance is bliss, I guess. :)

Ausjenny said...

Good news the barbour christmas novella's are on kindle now so I have 3 of them (I did order on from America which should come by christmas as it wasn't on order at the aussie bookshop) I have a few books to read first but will have them to take away with me at Christmas time. earning 2 $10 giftvouchers sure helped me buy them.

Thanks Vince, as mentioned I did get some yesterday. I have and have read Mary's book and have the review up. I have a few older LI christmas ones I am going to read. Oh and from goodreads have a couple of this years mainly Janet Tronstand's But have read a few others also.
I agree with the copyright laws. I have no idea why ours are so strong its annoying. we have to wait 2 years for LI ebooks. now at least LI books come in around 2 months only I dont get to the city often. Amazon will send much quicker than Christianbook but also charge more than double the cost to send here like 2 LI books can cost over $20 to post on amazon where as I just bought 5 books around $28 worth and the cost is $10 for postage at christian book it just takes a bit longer.

Jennifer thanks for letting me know you got the email. looking forward to hosting you. I am building up a readership of aussies now.
Your comment about giveaways and some readers following just for giveaways does make sense. I have changed the way I put a giveaway on my blog as before I felt bad if only one or two entered and thought it looked back for the author also have a few readers I know dont like to post on an open forum like a blog. I am amazed at the number of entries I now will get for a giveaway from readers of my blog who dont post publicly. I do wish some would still comment.

Pam Hillman said...

Jennifer, thank you for sharing you journey from your freshman book release to your sophomore release.

Like you, I've learned that you never stop promoting your books.

Looking forward to reading everyone's comments on this topic.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Ah, Vince makes a valid point. Of course he always makes valid points, so I'm not surprised.

Balancing marketing.... Writing.... edits.... promoting....full time job... husband/wife....

But I LOVE IT THIS MUCH, so the balancing act is only getting better and better.

Jennifer, welcome to Seekerville! I couldn't get over here this morning but being an Irish gal the idea of Celtic anything just makes me beam with pride. ;)

We made butter toffee today... With Ghirardelli chocolate coating. I'm leaving some for the lot o' youse....

I love Thanksgiving week!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Carol, you're begging for the Chick fil A card to send to ME, right?

Since I never get to go there and you want me to be able to experience it once I pass near one. Right, honey???? ;)

The life happens thing isn't just an author thing. It happens to everyone. But authors don't have back-up folks to fill in the blanks. So we need to be ahead of the game.

Jennifer, great examples of staying the course as it unwinds before you!

MaryC said...

Sneaking in the door at the end of the day and hoping someone's still around.

Jennifer, this has been a fascinating read. I'm sorry it was such a difficult time for you, but what a learning experience!

As a teacher, I have to agree that spring is a much more auspicious time. By this time of year, the books are stacking up but there's so little time to read them. Summer has much more potential.

I'm shocked SHOCKED that no one wanted the gift cards. If I'm not in B&N more than once in a week, you know it's been a very bad week.

Hope your daughter is on the mend. Best of luck on your sales. I'm off to check them out on my Nook.


MaryC said...

Oh - Vince - absolutely on the Christmas romances now. Read Mary's last week and I'm reading Ruthy's now. Love the holiday books.They put me into the spirit more than any store decorations. (Maybe because I avoid the stores at all costs - EXCEPT bookstores.)

Debby Giusti said...

Jennifer, how wonderful to read your publication story for book 1 and 2. Sorry about your loss and your illness and daughter's hospitalization. A tough time, for sure.

Giving thanks for you and your success and for all the dear Seekervillagers! Does everyone have their turkey?

Debra E. Marvin said...

Jennifer protesteth too much. Because there really are two of her. Otherwise, I don't know how she does it all. My gosh!

I've known Jennifer since we first swapped critiques in an online group, and I have been following her ever since. She's one busy gal!

I happened to be the winner of one of Jen's gift bag of books. And what an assortment it was! I got the one I asked for (it helps to be up at 4am when it's first come first served.) and now I own both of Jen's books. Actually I read the second one as a beta reader, so I have to go back to the first one. I've heard a lot about that heroine.

Jen I hope your season of sickness and hospital visits are done and that your daughter has had a lot of improvements with her migraines!

Thanks for a great post!

Jason H-M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Great to see you here Jennifer! Wonderful insight! I can't wait to read Highland Sanctuary! If anyone missed reading Highland Blessings, it was fabulous! Although you will lose sleep - it's so good you can't put it down :) Anyway, I hope from book 2 to book 3 things smooth out nicely for you Jennifer :)

Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

Tina Radcliffe said...

I love it when there are evening pop ins. Makes my lateness not so obvious.

Welcome back to Seekerville Jennifer and congratulations on your latest release. What a lovely cover.

Jackie said...

Hi Jennifer,
I'm so sorry to hear about how hard your fall has been. I hope things are going better for you now.
Thanks for sharing, and I hope your book does well.
Happy Thanksgiving!
Jackie Layton

Cara Lynn James said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Jennifer. Fascinating blog. I have to agree the second book experience can be very different from the first. I liked the first one better, and it seemed to get more attention. But I think my second books is as good as the first and maybe even better.

Natalie Monk said...

Hi, Jennifer! I enjoyed reading about your journey from book 1 to book 2. Your mention of God's timing was a much needed reminder for me. Thank you for this encouraging post!

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Pam, I like your analogy. Now I'm a sophomore again!

Ruth, We have Scots-Irish roots. And lots and lots of fiery red hair in our family!

Mary, Don't worry, we're both sneaking in during the evening. It's when I catch up on things if I don't come home from work and crash first.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Mary, Thanks for validating my thoughts on the spring vs fall readership. My daughter is doing better. Thank you!

Debby, It's good to hear from you again. Been a while since we connected since I didn't make it to conference this year.

Debra, What in the world were you doing up at 4AM? Let me know how you like Highland Blessings!

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Eva Maria, Thank you! So glad you liked Highland Blessings. I think once the holidays are over, things will calm down for us.

Tina, You're not late, you're fashionably on time!

Jackie, Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to you! This year it falls on my hubby's birthday. We froze half of my birthday cake and will thaw it. My husband made it of my first 2 book covers. If you didn't see the photos, I posted them on FB in Oct.

Cara Lynn, I understand. This promotion business isn't easy and there is no formula that makes it all work perfectly.

Natalie, You're welcome and I'm glad it was encouraging.

Missy Tippens said...

Jenny, that's interesting about the entrants you get who don't comment. I've wondered about that before. Have sometimes even let people email me to enter and have gotten quite a few that way.

Interesting! I guess people either don't want to leave an email or they're just timid.

Missy Tippens said...

I had a "clean out the pantry/freezer" dinner (baked sweet potatoes, green beans, biscuits and sausage gravy.) The kids grumbled but ate it up like crazy! :)

I've also been to Zumba, so feel better about eating that gravy! LOL

sherrindaketch said...

I loved Highland Sanctuary! LOVED it! I loved anything Scottish. Give me a fierce lord as a hero, and I swoon! Thanks for sharing your journey and advice. Invaluable stuff!

Missy Tippens said...

Anyone ready for something sweet tonight??

Why do I keep talking about food?? Maybe because Ruthy popped in? She always makes me think of baked goods!

Ausjenny said...

Missy, some of the commenters i have talked to like in emails and they dont like leaving any info on open forums. like if they put there name through blogger the name may be traced to them. even on places like facebook they have everything set so tight no info can be found on them.
even with the form some dont leave an address unless they win but will leave an email. I have also notice some who enter lots of contests and use to comment now just enter and dont post a comment at all that I find sad. I think its nice to leave a note for the author.

Anonymous said...

I'm late getting here tonight, but Jennifer, so much of what you said rings true for me. Especially the
excellent advice to not get bogged down by comparing yourself and/or career to others. Thanks for the post.


Walt Mussell said...

Wow. You went to Elon. I grew up a few minutes from there and my aunt in on the Board there. It's a wonderful place.

Although I'm still pushing to get that first book out, I find what goes on between the first and second book the interesting. It's almost like the learning curve that has to happen between the first and secon dbook is the steepest of any curve for an author.

Missy Tippens said...

Walt, is that your aunt who is a speaker and who has the hilarious CD's?

KC Frantzen and May the K9 Spy said...

Late to the party Jennifer.

First off, congratulations!! I am in between books 1 and 2 and thus appreciate your voice of experience.

Very wise about God's timing. Sounds like you passed the test.

Also, I'm so sorry for the passing of your father in law. May you and your family have the peace that passes all understanding as you celebrate Thanksgiving.

I've not read any of the comments so am probably missing something major here. Will have to catch up on this later.

Please enter me, if y'all have not drawn already. As I say, I'm late (but wow - sold a bunch of books this weekend. It was fun!)

Janet Kerr said...

Hello Jennifer,

It sounds like an exciting journey!
Your cover is lovely.

Please enter me in your draw. I would love to read your book.

Jan K.

DaisyTea said...

Thank you for sharing with us. I enjoyed the simplicity of your words -- and the encouragement to simply trust in the Lord for all our well-laid plans to be in His hands. I appreciate the reminder. Your books look lovely, by the way. I love stories set in Scotland & Ireland.

Glenda Parker Fiction Writer said...

Great post! I learned quite a lot. Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. I know we on unpub island think once you get a book contract everything is rosy. Good to hear others experiences.
Glenda Parker

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Jennifer, I am SO GLAD to catch up on what is going on with you. We are so blessed to have you as a contributor over at Colonial Quills and are SO looking forward to your upcoming colonial releases, too! We have all been praying for you at Colonial American Christian Writers and have missed you during this difficult time in your life. The evil one never sleeps and the more you do for the kingdom the more you come under attack. Thanks SO much for sharing your expertise, Jennifer. I had already decided that when my MSes do sell I am not willing to put myself nor my family under that type of time pressure. Julie is right - we each have our own way that works for us and with our families. And as you mentioned one cannot plan for tragedies, either, such as you recently experienced. Big hugs!