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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Is the Thrill Gone? by guest blogger Karen Witemeyer


Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance novels for Bethany House and dearly wishes she had the funds to hire an assistant to manage all her promotion activities. But since she has three kids to put through college, she'll continue to bite the marketing bullet and do it herself. At least she gets the wonderful perk of interacting with readers and other authors. She wouldn't give that up for the world. You can find her online at her website.

NJ: Karen is giving away a copy of her new release, Head in the Clouds. To enter the drawing, just leave Karen a comment.

Is the Thrill Gone?

My first book, A Tailor-Made Bride, debuted in June this year, and like any proud mother, I went all out to celebrate its arrival. I hosted an elaborate launch party, set up blog tours, arranged interviews and book signings, spoke at writers meetings, visited area book stores, updated my web site with new content, started a monthly contest, created a newsletter database, set up a Facebook page, and I even broke out of my introvert shell long enough to do a television interview for a regional news program.

Over the next several months, I responded to fan mail, visited all the blogs that popped up on my Google alert, and kept an eye on reviews. It was an incredibly busy time, but a joyful one.

Then, just as things started to taper down and normalize enough for me to reestablish a good writing rhythm, the second wave hit.

I am fortunate enough to have two books releasing very close together, due to the fact that my second book was actually written before my first. Head in the Clouds started hitting bookshelves in September. This blessing offered me the chance to build my readership more quickly. However, I was so tired from promoting book 1 that it was hard to muster much enthusiasm for doing it all again for book 2.

Call it the pacifier syndrome. When you have your first child, you sterilize everything. If the baby spits his pacifier onto the floor, you get a fresh one from your bag. With the second child, you rinse it off first before giving it back. But by the time the third kid comes around, you simply check it for visible floor grit then pop that sucker right back into his mouth.

So how can we keep from losing the thrill when it comes to promoting our second, third, or twentieth book?

First, I had to buckle down and tell myself that just because I didn't feel like promoting didn't mean that I could let that responsibility slide. Didn't I love this second book just as much as the first? Didn't I want it to succeed? I couldn't let my lack of excitement translate into a lack of action.

Next, instead of trying to do everything under the sun, I decided to promote more strategically, using the wisdom I'd gained from my previous experience. For example, I didn't do my own launch party. Instead I opted to speak at a local book festival and later have a pair of signings at local stores. This took the pressure off of me to plan and organize the event. I also cut back on store visits and one or two blog tours. I updated my web content, but instead of creating six character vignettes, this time I put together only four. I cut back in some places, expanded in others, but overall, I sought to streamline the process.

Now that marketing Head in the Clouds is in full swing, my excitement has risen to match my actions. As fan mail starts coming in and positive reviews show up, it is easier to find the enthusiasm that was lacking earlier.

Perhaps when I settle into a one-book-a-year rhythm, balancing promotion and writing will be less of an issue since I'll have more recovery time between books. Until then, I'll continue doing the best I can to fake it 'til I make it.

So have any of you ever experienced this kind of emotional sophomore slump? How did you handle it? Any marketing tips for authors looking to streamline their promotion process? Leave a comment and be entered for a chance to win a copy of Head in the Clouds.


When a recovering romantic goes to work for a handsome ranch owner, her heart’s not the only thing in danger.

Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind.

When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America's wool industry, he never expected to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn't uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon--and intrigues him at the same time. But he can't afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate.

When Isabella's uncle comes to claim the child--and her inheritance--Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man's evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?

26 comments:

CarolM said...

My sister picked this up while waiting for tires at Sam's a couple weeks ago. She enjoyed it :).

Thank you for the insight on promotions!

Carol at carol moncado dot com

Karen Witemeyer said...

Thanks, Carol. I'm glad your sister enjoyed the story. Perhaps you'll win your own copy and the two of you can compare notes. :-)

MJ said...

I've always wondered what the debut author would cut back on the next go around--what seemed to have the most effect and what seemed to be "spitting in the wind."

rmjagears AT gmail DOT com

Pamela Meyers said...

I loved Tailor-Made Bride. The story is wonderful, but the examples of good conflict between the hero and heroine are outstanding. I was going to donate it to my church library, but changed my mind. I'm keeping it to study!
I have Clouds sitting here. A good friend loaned it to me. I'll be reading it soon!
Great job Karen and I enjoyed your comments on marketing.

Michelle said...

Hi Karen,

It's interesting to read about your perspective on the "promotion" process, what you learned, and how you've streamlined.

I don't have any tips, but I do thank you for entering me into the giveaway. I've been wanting to read this one! :-)

Blessings,
Michelle
scraphappy71 at sbcglobal dot net

Karen Witemeyer said...

Hi, MJ. I'm sure every author has their own "pet" promotions and their own idea of what works well for them, but I hope it was helpful to see areas where I cut back. It's a constant refining process.

Karen Witemeyer said...

Pam - Thanks for leaving a comment. It's always great to see you. And I appreciate your kind comments about my books. Hope you love Adelaide and Gideon as much as Jericho and Hannah.

Michelle - You're definitely in the drawing. Good luck!

Elise said...

Karen, thanks for sharing your writing journey. I'm an aspiring writer and it helps to read interesting tidbits that may be useful along the way. I absolutely loved, A Tailor-Made Bride -- it is one of those keep you up late at night books. I look forward to reading Heads in the Clouds.

Peace and grace,
Elise
ewilson1120@yahoo.com

Karen Witemeyer said...

Thanks, Elise. You are definitely entered in the drawing. Best wishes to you as you travel your own path on the writing journey.

Anonymous said...

Karen,

I love hearing your insight on the book writing process. I loved your first book and can't wait to read this one! Am hoping to get it soon!

Candice
valdezc_1@sbcglobal.net

Lisa Wingate said...

Congratulations, Karen! Your cute, quirky, fantabulous sense of humor shines through, as always. Glad you addressed the "second book syndrome." I think everyone goes through that ;o)

Can't wait to read the new book. Love that it's set in Central, TX!

Lisa Wingate

Karen Witemeyer said...

Hi, Candice. Thanks for stopping by today.

And Lisa - my sister Texan - so fun to have you drop by. Thanks for all the encouragement!

barbjan10 said...

Hi Karen, I'm so happy to see this giveaway for this book. It looks like a fun story. I haven't read "Tailor Made Bride" yet either and am looking forward to reading both of the books. I enjoyed your interview. Thanks for the giveaway and the chance to win this book. I hope I do!

Blessings,
Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

HandyFamily said...

I so enjoyed Jericho and Hannah's story! I loved how you presented vanity/beauty storyline! I can't wait to read Gideon and Adelaide's story. I am sure I won't be able to put it down :)

Wendi

wowendi{at}gmail{dot}com

Karen Witemeyer said...

Barb - I've got you entered in the contest. Thanks for dropping by today.

Wendi - I had so much fun with all the back and forth between Jericho and Hannah. I added more suspense to Gideon and Adelaide's story. Hope you like it!

karenk said...

a fabulous posting...i loved karen's first novel 'a tailor-made bride.' thanks for the opportunity to read 'head in the clouds.'

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Julie Hilton Steele said...

I can feel for you. Our second grandbaby arrives this week and I am interested in seeing how the kids will handle the second baby! There is that same mixture of excitement and now knowledge of what all that responsibility means.

I wonder if a lot of it is the fact that writing is such an introverted activity and promoting is so extroverted. And the fact that authors have to do their own promoting these days when that didn't used to be the case as much.

Blessings on Head in the Clouds and your journey.

Peace, Julie

jhsteele(at)bellsouth(dot)net

Jill W said...

Hi Karen,
I love your pacifier syndrome analogy. I think many of us experience that in our lives. Love the title Head in the Clouds! I look forward to reading it.
Have a great day and pass it on.
Jill
jweatherholt@carolina.rr.com

Cindy W. said...

I enjoyed your posting. While I'm not a published author I can fully understand that sophmore feeling. I love the cover of Head in the Clouds and can wait to read it. Please enter me into your giveaway & thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

Smiles,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

Jason and Emily said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences! Marketing and promotion seem overwhelming, especially to people who are introverts, as so many writers are.

I liked your idea of "streamlining" to keep things more manageable yet still stay enthusiastic about your projects.

Please enter me in the drawing! Your books sound like a lot of fun!

hendrickson_emily(at)hotmail(dot)com

Shellie said...

Hi Karen,

My first release comes out next spring and I'm so grateful for your promotional insight. I'm really looking forward to reading Head in the Clouds. It sounds wonderful. Thanks again, Shellie

Karen Witemeyer said...

Julie - you are so right about the intorvoert vs extrovert thing. I am definitely introverted by nature. I'd never make it as a salesman. I'm so thankful that we can do much of our promotion online these days. That helps quite a bit. It is still a struggle to manage my time efficiently, but I'm learning as I go.

Blessings,
~Karen

Karen Witemeyer said...

Hi, Jill. Can you tell I have three kids? LOL Fortunately they are all still alive and well despite my neglect with the pacifiers. Although it might explain why my middle son threw his away so many times!

Karen Witemeyer said...

Shellie - Congratulations on your first release! How exciting. I hope you do better than I did and enjoy every minute instead of stressing over how many books you sell at each signing. I've since learned to go into events like that with very modest expectations. That way, even if you only sell a handful of books, you can still view it as a blessing. Enjoy your debut!

Anonymous said...

I love the way you refer to your creations as though they are your children, so well said! Especially since many of us spend a lot more than nine months giving birth to them! I wanted to thank you for offering simple old fashioned sories I can read with my 19 year old daughter. As a child who was late in learning to read (but she never stopped after she learned how, and always has a book or two in her purse) she always told her friends that "Sarah, plain and tall" was far better than "Twilight"! LOL! There was something about the way it was written, the simpler times, and the message in your book that brought her back to that love she shared with "Sarah". Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Karen,
I can hardly wait to read your newest book. Please enter me in your drawing. I want to read it whether I win it or not.
Rachel K.
rkulp000@centurytel.net