Meredith Sage Kendall has used hybrid publishing along with an intensive self-marketing program. Learn how to best use beta reader feedback to improve your writing.
1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
My latest book is called My GiGi’s House: Finding Hope and it was my very first fiction book. I had already written a series of life recovery studies called The 180 Program, but I had been told for years that I needed to write a book about my adventures in ministry. I shelved that idea for a very long time and kept teaching and training. When I felt it was time to write it, I didn’t know exactly how it would start. But as I was sitting on a dock in southwest Florida, basking in the sun, I heard a couple across the canal arguing and that triggered something. The book literally downloaded itself.
My GiGi’s House: Finding Hope is the story of a young girl who has finally had enough of the beatings, especially now that she was pregnant and he (her latest boyfriend) had in passing threatened to kill her if she had ever become pregnant. Slipping out the next morning, she was making good on her promise to God. “If you allow me to live through tonight, I will search out help.” She knew that living in the Bible belt, and it being Sunday morning, the church would be a great place to find help. But shame and guilt, along with a little commotion she created, found her running away from the church. A chance encounter with a young lady at a coffee shop started her on a new path. But there was still the hurdle she needed to overcome: the appointment for the abortion was coming very soon.
My motivation for finally writing this was the fact that many may not ever sit through my 8-week life recovery study, but are more likely to pick up a book and read it.
2. How have your sales been?
I wish I could say sales were awesome, but I had just moved to a new town and knew no one. All my contacts for promoting, being invited to speak, having a huge launch party, and so forth were over 800 miles away. And my position at the time didn’t allow for travel. But now that I have moved back I am hoping to do something like a second relaunch.
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 used what they call a hybrid publisher. I keep all the rights to my book, but he has the contacts to get me into all the bookstores, shows, and even have my book in Ingram.
The negatives of self-publishing, even the hybrid, is that you are responsible for all your own marketing. And if you have a problem, self-marketing it is hard. But the biggest plus is that you retain all the rights to your book.
4. What sort of networking have you done as an author, and what have been the results?
I have been part of two major groups. One is CWIMA (Christian Women in Media Association). Being in the Nashville market, CWIMA allowed me to meet influential people who at times have helped by having me on for interviews or introduced me to someone else.
The other group is AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association). This by far has been the most “profitable” group, as in being able to write or be interviewed and then allowed a link for my books, blogs, podcasts, websites, etc.
5. Talk a little about the sort of marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been most successful?
I have done a little Facebook marketing, but it wasn’t as successful as word of mouth advertising. I also purchased pre-release copies to give away to a niche market. This was where I found my biggest success.
6. What are the most important things you’ve learned about publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
Luckily for me, I learned it prior to spending lots of money, but my publisher told me (before he was my publisher), send your book to five people who do not know you and do not know your story. Ask for feedback. I had sent my book to friends and family and they could read between the lines, because they had walked the past few decades with me. Not so with a total stranger. That was the best advice I had ever received.
But in reality, if you are afraid of self-promotion you don’t need to go the self-publishing route, unless you hire someone to take over your marketing. I can market for others all day long, but when it comes to something I have done, I have a real dilemma.
7. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
First, I may have listened to my editor and re-thought the name. Also, I would have made sure that Amazon would have my book in stock on release day. They finally got it in stock almost 45 days after release. This had to do with production and shipment, things I learned after I had done promotions and scheduled a launch party for the day it was supposed to be released. I would have also researched the bigger cost of self-publishing. The cost of going to shows (if you can even get into them), hitting the pavement, etc.
8. 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?
I would find a publisher that can get you into shows or join a network group like AWSA. Your book also needs to be available in Ingram. Most bookstores pull from Ingram. And if you can’t do that, then get 100 books, write up a nice letter and hand deliver if you can to bookstores and mail the ones too far away. You have to stand out to them. Why should they take a risk on your book? Also, followup is key.
9. What other projects are you currently working on?
I love writing so I have small deadlines coming up for devotionals and magazines. I am also in the process of relaunching my podcast. Book two from My GiGi’s House is almost complete, but I am not sure how I will publish that book, it may just be on-demand or an e-book. I also am working on a few more Bible studies/devotionals and am in the process of helping a young lady write her story.
10. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?
Overcoming and becoming all you were created to be.
11. How can readers learn more about your books?
My fiction book is on Amazon, but my personal website is where you will find everything from free downloads, blogs, podcasts, and you can navigate to mygigishouse.com and180program.net as well from there.
I am on Facebook as the180program and mygigishouse.
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