Sandy Hill is the author of Tangled Threads. In this interview she discusses her book along with her marketing efforts to book clubs and success with word-of-mouth marketing.
1. Tell me about your book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
Tangled Threads is a historical novel set in an 1890s North Carolina cotton mill village and briefly in a nursing home in Virginia in 1957. It tells the story of two lifelong enemies whose lives intertwine through the years until one woman calls the other back to the village to share a secret. It’s about forgiveness and how we want to end our lives.
2. How have your sales been?
Considering I so far have no website or blog and don’t tweet but am relying mainly on word of mouth, I’m satisfied. Slow but steady.
3. You’ve successfully sold books by reaching out to book clubs. How does one go about doing this?
First, I included book club discussion in the back and mentioned that it was good for book clubs in my Amazon tags and on my business cards. Then I asked women I know in book clubs if their club might like me to speak. Club members could read the first chapter online at Amazon for free and see my style, which reassured them about the quality of a self-published work. Slowly, word is spreading as club members mail a copy of the novel to friends in other states.
4. What has your experience with traditional publishing been like?
I had three different agents for three different novels, was seen by major publishers and got “glowing rejections.” Finally, I decided since I believe in my work, I would self-publish.
5. Overall, how do you like self-publishing?
I like having control of the product. It is a lot of work if you want to be more than a small fish in a big pond.
6. You were invited to speak at an author’s conference next spring. How did that come about?
A friend sent a copy of my novel to someone who puts on an author weekend every year. The woman loved the novel and invited me to read.
7. What sort of marketing techniques have you used to sell your book, and which ones have been most successful?
Mostly word of mouth. I also have passed out business cards at all kinds of gatherings. I am waiting to see if the Historical Novel Society Online will review it. I sent e-mails to all the book clubs listed in the local library database but that resulted in not one single invitation to speak. That was least successful.
8. Are there any marketing techniques you have intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
No. Still need a website and blog, areas I know nothing about.
9. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing?
Having been a newspaper editor, I was naive about how hard it is for a self-published author to get reviews in mainstream publications.
10. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your book, what would it be?
Probably would have gotten a website and blog set up first.
11. Independent authors face the obvious challenge of marketing their books without the resources of traditional publishers. What advice do you have for an indie author just starting out?
Know how much work you are willing to put into marketing your book so you’re not surprised by what it requires.
12. What projects are you currently working on?
A new novel set in the world of Tangled Threads, carrying forward the story of one of the secondary characters.
13. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?
Metaphor-rich novels, often set within the last 100 years, that explore complicated relationships among fallible people and view them with compassion.
14. How can readers learn more about your book?
Available through bookstores, Amazon, Kindle and directly from me. You can read the first chapter online here. You can also email me at email@example.com. Update 4/3/12: I finally have a web site; please visit tangledthreadsbook.com.