Melonie Johnson‘s exclusive cover reveals for Smitten by the Brit and Dared by the Bad Boy, books 2 and 3 in her Sometimes in Love series will take place on October 24th on the USA Today’s Happily Ever After page.
Barbara Raffin will be presenting a program at the Kress Family Library in DePere, WI on October 20, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The presentation will be a hands-on workshop on utilizing the lesser-used senses in your writing. Book signing to follow.
Recently, I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference (ACFW) in Nashville. If you are hoping to publish in Christian fiction, this conference gives an overview of the inspirational market. The Christian fiction market is growing due to its loyal readership and the hope these novels bring to a chaotic world.
Historical Romance and Romantic Suspense remain strong genres in the Christian market. Contemporary Realism is trending due to the news of the day (bombings, school shootings, suicide) seeping into novels. Legal thrillers are on the rise as well.
Unfortunately, my genre of Biblical fiction barely received a mention at the conference. Librarians and readers love Bible stories, but publishers are still shy in pursuing this genre. The cry for more Christian YA still goes unheeded by publishers. Where do your teens shop for books? In the small religious section?
Retailers are seeing more time slips and “sister” stories in the market. Diversity is increasing, but at a slow pace. A call was put out for more diversity not only in race, but also in religion. Retailers would like to see stories with older characters, characters that struggle with weight, and more Middle Grade stories for boys.
Shorter series are getting hotter. It is difficult for reviewers to comment on books in a series if they haven’t read previous installments. The term “duology” was new to me. Readers are preferring shorter, two-book series. And, more indie-published books are making it into the “Top 10” in categories on Amazon.
I attended a panel on whether an author should only write in the genre in which they are published. A couple of authors said you shouldn’t jump ship. Another author said she writes the stories God places on her heart regardless of genre. I like to think there is some wiggle room especially with the use of pen names. Some genres are similar in nature and have reader overlap. What do you think? Is your path wide or defined?
While authors are working on their novels, they should mind their social media followers. One agent liked pre-published authors to have an aggregate of 5,000 followers among their social media platforms. Instagram seems to be the hottest media at the moment. Non-fiction authors should shoot for a total of 10-20,000 followers or have a special tie-in to their story that might bring credibility and endorsements.
The job demands of being an author are increasing. We should never forget to enjoy the creative process and find joy in our writing journey. What’s hot or trending this year in Christian fiction may be on the back burner next year. Embrace your characters and your story. Only you can bring your novel to life.
Barbara M. Britton lives in Wisconsin and writes Christian Fiction for teens and adults. She has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Barb brings little known Bible characters to light in her Tribes of Israel series. She is a former board member of WisRWA, and a member of RWA, SCBWI, and ACFW. You can find out about Barb’s books on her website, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
I spent nine years getting ready to birth a book. I would have preferred it take nine months, but everyone’s publishing journey is different. I like to think I gained some wisdom after surviving my debut launch. Wisdom I will share with all of you.
A good friend of mine debuted her first novel in March. She was busy planning for the big day. Blog posts. A party. Popping champagne. I think I startled her when I told her she wouldn’t have a launch day, she’d have a launch year. Yep! Once that novel goes live on Amazon, you will be banging the promotional drum for the rest of your life, or at least one year. We place pressure on ourselves for “the day” and we need some hoopla, but authors need to be connecting with readers and increasing discoverability for months, not days.
The publishing world has changed dramatically since I first put pen to paper. Thousands of books are placed on Amazon every year. Some authors don’t need to work on discoverability because everyone knows their name and is waiting breathlessly for their next novel. The rest of us have to build our reach organically. Is it work? Yes? Can it be fun? Most of the time.
How do you get readers to know you have a book in the digital world? First, you have to know who your readers are and where they hang out. I write Christian
fiction. I make a point to be on Christian blogs a couple of times a month. I will also guest on podcasts about writing topics or topics that connect me to readers. I survived breast cancer and I talk about that aspect of my life since it intersects with launching my debut novel. Readers may not be able to relate to writing a book, but they probably know someone who battled cancer.
I didn’t know any podcasters when I signed my first contract. I met podcasters at writing conferences and on Christian publishing loops. Opportunities abound in writing communities.
Have you visited your local libraries? Not to check out books, but to ask them to buy your books. Repeat after me, “The reference librarian is my friend.” Libraries don’t return books to your publisher. When they buy a book, it’s sold for life, or until it’s placed in the Friends of the Library sale. Walk into your local library and introduce yourself. This is your homework for the week. Hand the librarian a sell sheet and politely ask them to purchase your book. Would your book sell well in a different region of the country? Call a few libraries in that geographic area.
Also, visit local bookstores. Even those “Big Name” stores. You are a local author and customer. If you won’t ask them to carry your book, send a relative. My mom is one of my best marketers.
Don’t sweat your launch day. Enjoy the experience and be proactive every month to reach your readership. That first year will fly by.
Barbara M. Britton lives in Southeast Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. Barb writes romantic adventures for teens and adults in the Christian fiction and Mainstream markets. She is published in Biblical fiction and enjoys bringing little known Bible characters to light in her Tribes of Israel series. Barb is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate.
Barbara M. Britton will be at The Columbus Books & Beer Book Club at the Black Kettle Pub in Columbus, WI on March 22nd at 7 p.m.
Barbara M. Britton and Laura Iding (w/a Laura Scott) will be participating in a book signing and panel about Christian fiction at the Barnes and Noble in Brookfield. The event will take place February 10 from 12-4 PM. The panel will begin at 2 PM.
Each month, WisRWA will announce the new books our members have published. We call it New Release Tuesday.
Congratulations to the following WisRWA members on their new releases this month.
Tying the Scot by Jennifer Trethewey (DEBUT!)
Jerusalem Rising by Barbara M. Britton
Sweet Devil by Lois Greiman
For Queen and Country (part of the The The Victor Anthology) by Kayla Bain-Vrba
Missing My Heart by Tina Susedik
(Sur)real by Melissa Haag
Blood’s Song by Tempeste O’Riley
Loving Winter by Lyn Cote
Permanently Yours by Paisley Kirkpatrick
Hunt Mates by Mary Hughes
The Cattleman’s Bride by Maxine Douglas
During the run of its 30th season premiere SEX WITH STRANGERS, Renaissance Theaterworks will shine a spotlight on Wisconsin authors. On Saturday, October 28th the company will host a Mini Book Fair in the Studio Theater lobby of the Broadway Theater Center from 3pm to 10pm featuring members of WisRWA. As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance asked them questions related to the various issues and conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason. Here is the second interview of the series.
Barbara M. Britton
Award-Winning Author of Romantic Adventures from Ancient Israel to Modern Day USA
Barbara Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Southeastern Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. Barb writes romantic adventures for teens and adults in the Christian fiction and mainstream markets. She enjoys bringing Bible characters to light in her stories. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America, and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. You can learn more about her books on her website.
RTW: In the play, the character Olivia partially blames the failure of her first book on her editor’s choice in covers. How important do you think covers are to a book’s success or failure? Have you always been happy with your editor’s choice for your cover?
BARBARA: Covers can make or break a book. Olivia is right! Most readers do not know that covers are specific to genres. Vampire romances will be shaded in black, white, and red hues and have a dark feel. I write Biblical fiction, so my covers are attractive women wearing head coverings. Also, the author usually has no say in their cover art. Gasp! I was fortunate that I love my covers. The president of my publisher designs them herself and she does amazing work.
RTW: Do you let other people read your writing before you submit it to a publisher or an agent?
BARBARA: You bet I do. Every writer should have one or more critique partners to review their work. Before an agent or editor reads a manuscript, an author should have beta-readers scour the entire manuscript for errors, plot holes, and character development. Its best to have several eyes on a story before it goes to a publishing professional. Writing contests are excellent sources of feedback too.
RTW: How important are reviews to writers and why?
BARBARA: Reviews help readers understand if a book will fit their reading preferences and that is beneficial. Unfortunately, the number of reviews a book receives has become the end all for getting books noticed by certain companies. Marketing tasks and creating discoverability have been added to the writer’s busy life. So, if you like a book, please review it. This leaves more time for a writer to write.
WisRWA is teaming up with Renaissance Theaterworks in Milwaukee to host a mini book fair on October 28th in and around the performances of Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of Sex with Strangers.
From Renaissance Theaterworks website: “When frustrated forty-ish novelist, Olivia, meets fast-talking, twenty-something, blogger and memoirist, Ethan – known more for his sexual prowess than his prose – she worries that she will become just another chapter in his little black book. Their funny and passionate union blurs the lines between rewrites, romance and royalties – proving you can’t judge a book by its author. Sex with Strangers was one of America’s top ten most produced plays from 2014-2016. In addition to playwrighting, Laura Eason is also a producer/writer for the Emmy Award-winning Netflix series House of Cards.”
Eight WisRWA authors will take part in the signing, and we’ll have other WisRWA members on hand to answer any questions about WisRWA that we can. The authors participating are:
Starting tomorrow, each week, we will feature a Q&A with one of the authors.
Sex with Strangers runs October 20-November 12, 2017 but WisRWA will only be there on October 28th. Come support local theater and local authors! For more information, visit Renaissance Theaterworks.
Hope to see you there!
WisRWA members, Mia Jo Celeste, author of Other Than, and Barbara M. Britton, author of Providence and Building Benjamin, will be talking about book launch parties (both actual and virtual) at the June WisRWA meeting in Milwaukee. Jennifer Rupp asked them a few questions about their first year as published authors.
Jen: Brenda and Barbara, you’ve both released your debut novels within the last twelve months. Did it come as a shock how involved you would have to be in the marketing of your own book?
Brenda: Yes. Although I’d heard a lot about marketing, taken some classes and been a blogger for years, I was surprised about the time and financial commitment. That said, I like marketing—something I never imagined I would.
Barbara: Yes, definitely. Publishing has changed so much since I started my journey ten years ago. I knew I would have a hand in marketing my books, but I didn’t know I would be the driving force behind getting the word out about my novels.
Brenda: It varies. Usually I check Twitter and Facebook every couple of days and I’ve been trying to appear in cyberspace a couple of times a week, either on my blog or someone else’s. For me, it’s a lot like student teaching. Because so many tasks are new, they take longer to figure out and complete, but I’m sure that I’ll get faster and I’ll figure out which tasks are the most important to complete.
Barbara: I feel I do some sort of marketing every day because of social media. Certainly I am more involved right before, during, and after a release. With Pelican Book Group, I have an e-book release date that is different than my print release date. Twice the fun—and work. I would say my average is 5-10 hours a week.
Jen: Now that you’re a published author, do you write with more confidence?
Brenda: I hope the adage “practice makes perfect” works. Because I write more, I’m more comfortable writing and, God willing, my writing is getting better.
Barbara: Yes and no. I feel I have the basic craft of writing down pat, but doubts plague me as a published writer. I’m thinking my work isn’t good enough, or my success was a fluke. I have to silence those nasty voices and tell myself that I am writing solely for myself. If no one sees my book, that’s okay. I’ve enjoyed writing it and learning through my research.
To hear more from Brenda and Barbara, please join us at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, Lower Level) on June 17 from 9-11:30 AM. It’s sure to be a great time.
Barbara M. Britton will be a panelist at the WEMTA Author Fair on March 19, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells. She will also be at the New Berlin Public Library on April 1st, 2017 from 10:00 AM –1:00 PM their Local Author Fair. She will be celebrating her print release of “Building Building: Naomi’s Journey.”
Lois Greiman will be signing books and giving a workshop called ‘Writing From the Heart’ at the Rosemount Writers’ Festival in Rosemount, MN on March 18th.