Wednesday, December 17, 2008

THE BUSINESS OF BOOKS, with novelist Christine Wells

Christine Wells reached a turning point in her writing career when her Regency historical novel SCANDAL’S DAUGHTER made it to the final round of the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart contest for unpublished writers. Not only did the manuscript go on to win the 2006 award, it received offers from two editors. Wells, a former corporate lawyer, signed with Berkley and the novel debuted in September 2007. She followed its success with THE DANGEROUS DUKE earlier this year. Romantic Times says the novel satisfies “readers’ cravings for adventurous, sexy romance,” while Two Lips Reviews praises Wells’ ability to weave “a tale of danger, passion and intrigue.”

She lives in Brisbane, Australia, and her third novel, WICKED LITTLE GAMES, will be published in July 2009.

What were the top 5 things you did to market your latest book after publication?
I think the most important thing is to write the best book you can, with a marketable hook. THE DANGEROUS DUKE is about a duke who steals a lady's erotic diary, so I felt that was a strong hook and of course I did my best to write a book that would keep people turning the pages.

I did a blog tour on the Internet—that is always a good way to reach readers.

I sent my characters to do interviews instead of me and set up a blog where my hero and heroine interacted with each other and readers.

I spoke at writers' conferences and festivals, and took workshops.

I gave away lots of signed copies of THE DANGEROUS DUKE, as well as bookmarks, postcards, etc., including a mass mail-out to romance-friendly booksellers.

What was the best thing you did before publication to prepare?
I put a lot of thought into my Web site, but probably the best thing was starting a blog with some of the other 2006 finalists in the Golden Heart, called the Romance Bandits. They're a fantastic, funny group of women—so inspirational and supportive. So, while we're having a great time together, we're also promoting our books. A win-win situation!

Did you work alone on your book promotion strategy, or in conjunction with a publicist?
At Berkley, we're assigned a publicist and also I've recently employed an assistant, and she gives me great advice on promotion—what works, what doesn't.

What do you know now that you wished you had known when you first began promoting your books?
There's no magical key to what promotional strategy will work. It's different for everyone. Some things will capture readers' imaginations, and others will leave them cold. Writing the best book you can is more important than pouring all your time and effort into promotion. It's a cliche, but it's true.

Also, blogging by yourself is a LOT of work. You need to blog consistently and often, and you need to promote the blog as well. I learned I prefer to blog in a group.

How do you balance writing with the business side of being an author?
I tend to write when I have alone time and promote when I have a lot going on around me—two small boys are very rowdy and demanding, so promotion is something I can do in between.

Any other advice for newly published authors?
Don't bite off more than you can chew in the promotional arena. It's better to start small and work up to more than to start something that ends up consuming your life, especially when it's almost impossible to quantify the benefit to sales of doing all of this work.

5 FAVES

Favorite item on your writing desk: My Oxford dictionary, my Tigger and my silver bell-heart
Favorite way to procrastinate: Reading industry blogs
Favorite literary character: Lizzy Bennett
Favorite CD: At the moment, Cole Porter's “Night and Day”
Favorite snack: Chocolate chip cookies

For more on Christine Wells and her books, visit http://www.christine-wells.com/.

5 comments:

Christine Wells said...

Hi DeAnna, thanks so much for having me on Writerly So! I've been away at Heron Island on the Barrier Reef (yes, tough life, isn't it?) or I would have popped in sooner.

Isn't your cover gorgeous? I can't wait for The Belly Dancer to come out. The premise sounds so intriguing. Good luck with it!

Shauna Roberts said...

Thanks, Christine and DeAnna.

DeAnna Cameron said...

Thank you, Christine, for all your great advice!
And thanks for stopping by, Shauna! I missed you at the last OCC/RWA meeting :-)

Shauna Roberts said...

I had planned to come, but my elderly cat died that morning, and then I was in no mood for company. I'll be at the next meeting and hope to see you there.

DeAnna Cameron said...

I'm so sorry to hear that, Shauna. I wouldn't have been in any mood for an RWA meeting either. My condolences...