Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lessons I've Learned ~ Stephanie Landsem

by Elizabeth Ludwig

Stephanie Landsem
Stephanie Landsem writes historical fiction because she loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s explored ancient ruins, medieval castles, and majestic cathedrals around the world. Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband, four children, and three fat cats. When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, avoiding housework, and dreaming about her next adventure—whether it be in person or on the page.

How many books do you have published? What is your latest title, and what do you have coming up? 

Howard Books, 2014
The Well, which released last June, was my debut novel and the first of The Living Water Series published by Howard Books/Simon & Schuster. In February, just in time for the Easter season, The Thief was released. The third book in the series, The Tomb, is on my editor’s desk and will be published in February, 2015. 

You were last featured on Novel Rocket in 2013 when your debut book, The Well, released. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then? 

Writing is hard work! And it is often discouraging. I’ve learned that my interactions with readers lift me up and give me the encouragement to keep at it. It really is a great blessing each time I hear from a reader who has been touched and inspired by one of my books. 

What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion? 

I’ve learned that the ‘big’ venues are important – Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and the like. But so are the smaller interactions. And sometimes they are the ones that open doors to amazing promotional opportunities. A conversation at lunch, responding to a reader’s email, or meeting with a small book club has often led to bigger opportunities like speaking engagements or important contacts that I never would have known about otherwise. No effort is small if I am connecting with readers. 

What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried? 

Before The Thief released, Howard offered a promotion of The Well e-book for a reduced price of $1.99. It was a great way to get my name out to readers who were interested in biblical fiction. The promotion was shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Bookbub and resulted in a huge spike in sales. And since the first chapter of The Thief was included at the end of The Well, I think it really helped stir up interest in The Thief when it released the next month.
 What are the least effective promotional activity you’ve tried? 

It’s my own fault, but I am not good at Twitter. I keep hearing that it is an excellent venue for authors, but I’m inconsistent about using it and feel like I don’t have much of a connection with actual readers. It’s something I plan on working on because I can see Twitter’s potential; I’m just not enthusiastic about using it. 

What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers? 

I’m an introvert, so I really like one-on-one, in-person conversations. My favorite thing is to visit small book clubs and really get a chance to talk to a reader in depth. I also enjoy writing blog posts about my historical research and hearing from readers in the comments. Talking history is one of my favorite things and I’m always looking for like-minded history buffs. 

What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried? 

Howard Books, 2013
For the release of The Well, I drove into Minneapolis to an incredible Middle-Eastern deli. I loaded up on pita bread, hummus, olives, dried figs and every other biblical delicacy I could find. I made gift baskets for my release party filled with all sorts of delicious food and a copy of The Well. I also did an on-line giveaway of food and the book that was well-received. I’m kind of a foodie, and I love to let my readers enjoy the actual tastes of biblical times. 

What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity? 

Just a few weeks ago, I went to a local book club. Instead of a ‘the dog ate my homework’ story, one of the members had a ‘the dog ate my book club book’ story. She came in with pictures of how her dog had found her copy of The Thief and chewed it to shreds! Luckily, she had already finished reading the book. 

 Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books? 

I’ve seen God’s hand in my writing journey from the very first moment and I know he’s got the promotion angle covered as well. It’s hard to see at the time, but I have confidence that every opportunity has come about through a loving nudge by the Author of Life. 

What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?

Don’t get discouraged! It’s a tough job and it takes more than a book launch to build a base of fans. Start a newsletter list. Don’t rely on Facebook or Twitter for your followers. Have your own database of dedicated readers even if it only starts out as 20 people. Treat them like friends: share your news with them, give them first shot at giveaways and promotions. They will be your most loyal fans. And of course, the best advice I ever got was to do what you do best: write the best book you can write. None of the rest matters if you aren’t making that next book everything you and God want it to be. 

Thank you, Stephanie. We've enjoyed visiting with you today! To learn more about Stephanie and her books, visit her at:


Elizabeth Ludwig is the award-winning author of the EDGE OF FREEDOM series from Bethany House Publishers. She is an accomplished speaker and teacher, often attending conferences and seminars where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Along with her husband and children, she makes her home in the great state of Texas. To learn more, visit ElizabethLudwig.com.


Heather Day Gilbert said...

I'm so glad I found Stephanie's novels and I've enjoyed both immensely. Anxiously awaiting The Tomb! Such a great new angle on biblical history...God has truly given you a gift, Stephanie! Thanks for this interview today, ladies.

Stephanie Landsem said...

Thanks, Heather. It's especially encouraging when other writers like what I'm doing!

Elizabeth Ludwig said...

My agent told me about a debut author who'd sent some sample chapters in and who was looking for endorsements from published authors for her book, THE WELL. Boy was I glad I signed on!! I've been a fan of Stephanie's work ever since. :-)