Lisa Marie Wilkinson’s writing career began long before this month’s publication of her debut novel, the historical romance FIRE AT MIDNIGHT. Before turning to fiction, she was an award-winning song lyricist who collaborated with composer Marti Schwartz and also served as a music critic for The Music Connection, a Los Angeles-based magazine. Fiction was something she worked on in her spare time, until the idea for what became her debut novel took hold and wouldn’t let go. As a fiction writer, she has gone on to win more than 60 writing contests, including the Maryland Writer’s Association Contest and the Daphne du Maurier award for unpublished authors, and her novel has received four stars from Romantic Times Book Reviews, which said “Wilkinson creates the right combination of believable characters, snappy dialogue and fast-paced storytelling.”
She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
Wilkinson has generously offered to send a free copy of her book to one of this blog’s readers. To win, please leave a comment in the comment section by noon Monday, March 30. I will pick a commenter in the afternoon and contact that person for a mailing address.
What were the top 5 things you did to market your latest book after publication?
The top 5 things I did were:
1. I rented publicist Pat Rouse’s list of booksellers and reader’s groups, and sent out a press kit and bookmarks to my targeted audience.
2. I purchased an ad in the RWA publication Romance Writers Report to advertize my book release.
3. I guest blogged on a number of romance-friendly blogs.
4. I’ve tried to be as active as time will permit in loops and groups to which I’ve belonged for a long time, such as Romance Divas, the RWA online chapter and various contest loops.
5. I’ve sent out copies of the book at my own expense to additional reviewers not on the list to be sent advance review copies by my publisher.
What was the best thing you did before publication to prepare?
I held a contest to coincide with the release date of my book. The prize was a signed copy of the book, and I’ve been able to begin my mailing list from the list of contest entrants.
Note: My entry form provided entrants with the option of being left off my mailing list. I believe the contest resulted in sales to some entrants who were interested in the book but did not win the contest.
What do you think had the biggest effect on your book sales?
There are so many different things that impact book sales. In addition to the mailings, contests and guest-blogging, there is also the effect of reviews and word of mouth to consider. Because I am a debut author trying to sell a novel in a down economy, I think the thing that is having the biggest positive effect on my sales is simple word of mouth.
Did you work alone on your book promotion strategy, or in conjunction with a publicist?
Oh, to be able to afford a publicist! This is all my own effort, with some help from family and friends (thank goodness for them!).
What do you know now that you wish you had known before you began promoting your books?
I wasn’t aware of the fact that there are so many blog owners who can be approached for the purpose of scheduling a guest blog or a book review. I have been lucky in that a number of blog owners have sought me out with an invitation to guest blog, or I would have ended up with very little blog coverage in advance of my release.
How do you balance writing with the business side of being an author?
I am struggling with this at the moment. I also work a full-time job in addition to writing, and I underestimated the amount of time that would need to be allocated to promotion. Still, without the promotion effort, I don’t think I’d have many sales and there would eventually be no need for me to make time to write!
Any other advice for newly published authors?
Take advantage of the generosity of established writers who are willing to advise and mentor you. I belong to the Medallion Authors Yahoo Group and my fellow MP authors have been wonderful sources of information and guidance.
Favorite item on your writing desk: A full-sized rhinestone tiara presented to me by the Contest Divas Group when I held the record number of wins/finals on the RWA chapter contest circuit in 2006.
Favorite way to procrastinate: I cannot seem to wean myself away from the Amazon ranking numbers!
Favorite literary character: Jean Valjean from LES MISERABLES
Favorite CD: I cannot name one favorite. It depends upon my mood at the time.
Favorite snack: A mocha latte from Starbucks.
For more information on Lisa Marie Wilkinson and her book, visit http://www.lisamariewilkinson.com/.