Amanda Howard understands the pros and cons of self-publishing, as well as the need to effectively market your book. Learn what kept her going when she felt discouraged in her writing efforts.
1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
My novel, The First Gift of Christmas, is part of a series called the Maple Ridge Holiday Series. I am planning on writing at least six books in total. I am a dancer/dance teacher/choreographer, which was the main inspiration behind my book. My love of classic novels played a lot into how I write and develop my characters. Hallmark was also a huge inspiration as I wanted to write something that would be different from what they typically publish/film, but with the basic components of a really great Hallmark story.
The First Gift of Christmas is about a young dance teacher who is well-known for her annual Christmas performances in the small town of Maple Ridge, Massachusetts. This year, not only is she being considered for assistant choreographer with the prestigious Boston Ballet, but there is also a handsome newcomer that has captured her attention. She must struggle to focus on impressing the company while overcoming sabotage and her attraction to Maple Ridge’s newcomer.
2. How have your sales been?
I sold all my on-hand copies within a month and I’m still selling copies on Amazon.
3. You’ve chosen self-publishing. How have you liked it so far? Talk about some of the positives and negatives you’ve encountered.
I chose self-publishing because it was the easiest option for me at the time. My books are available as print-on-demand to keep costs down. It is nice to not have to pay an agent; I’m blessed to have my publisher be under the family business which means I get great royalties; and I am learning marketing tactics.
4. What sort of networking have you done as an author, and what have been the results?
I used ads on Facebook for a short time which were tailored to reach a very specific readership group. But eventually, that became too expensive for the small amount of progress. Thankfully, I built a community of followers in the dance industry, book lovers, and Hallmark fans before I published my book. I was also very blessed to be surrounded by friends and family that were able to beta-read my book for me and share the news with all of their book-loving, Hallmark-loving, Christmas-loving friends.
5. What are the most important things you’ve learned about publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
Being an author is not all sunshine and roses. Publishing a book is hard work! If you don’t market yourself properly or at the perfect time, you won’t sell as many copies of your book. If you choose the wrong title, cover, sizing, or layout, that could ultimately be your downfall. All of this was learned through trial and error and has definitely made me a better self-publisher.
6. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
I guess just making sure that everything is perfect during the proofing process before moving forward. There were a lot of issues with my first book that could have been prevented if I had taken the time to fully proof my book. I also tend to rush the process because I want it done quickly and that is something you want to avoid.
7. New authors face the challenge of getting their books into the hands of readers. What advice do you have for an author just starting out?
It is challenging to get people interested in your work. There have been so many times I have given up hope that I would ever sell any copies. However, what really helped me was joining groups on Facebook about authors helping other authors. This built some connections that helped spread the word about my book with author interviews, asking questions, helping other authors, and sharing milestones.
I recommend building that community before you even are close to publishing because they will follow you once you get there. Keep your readership updated on the regular, build an email list, connect with people who are interested in the topic you’re writing about, and use word-of-mouth to your benefit.
8. What other projects are you currently working on?
I took a break for the holidays, but I’m currently working on the second book in my Maple Ridge Holiday series. There’s no title just yet but I’m very excited to share all about it! I’ll also be putting forward my very first book, A Dancer’s Diary, for a spring book tour.
9. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?
I want to inspire my readers to cherish family, friendships, love, and health.
10. How can readers learn more about your books?
You can find me:
Instagram – @adancerforjesus
Facebook – @TheFirstGiftofChristmasNovel
Twitter – @doublea662