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Wide Open Spaces: Mary Connealy Interview

Wildflower Bride smTo kick off this series of posts interviewing some awesome novelists, I’d like to welcome Mary Connealy! Mary writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is the author of the Lassoed in Texas series: Petticoat Ranch, the Christy Award-nominated Calico Canyon, and Gingham Mountain. Her newest series is Montana Marriages:  Montana Rose, The Husband Tree, and upcoming book three, Wildflower Bride. A stand-alone romantic comedy with cowboys, Cowboy Christmas, released in September. Black Hills Blessing, a 3-in-1 collection of sweet contemporary romances, is in bookstores now.

What do you wish you knew about promotion before your first novel came out?Black Hills Blessing sm

Well, the main thing was what a surprise it was. I just had no idea it would be such a big part of getting a book published. I’ve tried very hard to do my share of promotion, but I really didn’t expect it to be so many hours of my time. I’ve found I enjoy it though, so a NICE surprise.

Which has worked best for spreading the word about your novel, online promotion (website, email lists, social networking) or offline promotion (direct mail, booksignings, media ads)? Why?

I felt like so much of what I learned came through ACFW, American Christian Fiction Writers. I learned so much about all of those things from that group. I do a large amount of promotion online, through my blogs and a newsletter and social networking, I consider it all part of the job. I also do book signings and I’ve done radio and newspaper and magazine interviews, but those seem to be far more work for the people you reach.

If you could only promote your novel in ONE way, which way would you choose?

Blogging I suppose. I have three blogs and between them we are getting up to six thousand hits a day. I don’t think I get any better connection in any other way.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to promote a novel?

Hmmmmmmm…Crazy, huh? Well, I’ve given speeches to school groups and I throw candy at them. Not TOO them, you understand. At them. Lots of excitement there, sometimes that gets a little bit crazy. I went to Husker Harvest Days in a town about five hours from my home and gave speeches to a mostly empty tent for three days. I followed a cowboy poet who just PACKED the place. A lesson in humility. I wish I could tell you I did something like rented a plane to sky write my book’s title across the sky, but nope. Nothing that exciting.

Tell me about your latest novel. Does it have any special challenges for promotion or interesting marketing angles?

I’m in the middle of a new series. I had so much fun with The Husband Tree that most of the promotion for it is just pure fun. I love this book. And the third book in the series, Wildflower Bride, is coming soon. The challenges are, I guess, keeping it all together. Keeping up with all the things I want so badly to do to give my books the best launch possible.

A final fun one: What fictional character (film, TV, or literary) do you feel is most like you? Why?gilligan

I should probably give this more thought, but the first think that popped into my head was Gilligan from Gilligan’s Island. The dorky, funny one who always messes up. That describes me pretty well.

A little bit about The Husband Tree:

Belle Tanner buries her third worthless husband and makes a vow over his shallow grave. She’s learned her lesson. No more men.

Silas Harden just lost his second ranch because of a woman. The first deserted him when times got tough. Now he’s had to quit the whole state of New Mexico to avoid a trumped-up shotgun wedding and the noose of matrimony. He’s learned his lesson. No mHusbandTree smore women.

Belle needs hired hands to move a cattle herd late in the season and there’s no one around but seemingly aimless Silas. She hires him reluctantly.

Silas signed on, glad for the work, though worried about a woman doing such a thing as hiring drovers, only to find out he’s the lone man going with five woman, including a baby still in diapers. After the cattle drive is over, he might as well shoot himself to speed up the process of being embarrassed to death.

A fast approaching winter.

The toughest lady rancher you’ve ever seen.

A cynical cowboy who has to convince five women he’s right for their ma . . . and then convince himself.

And one thousand head of the crankiest cattle who have ever been punched across the backbone of the Rockies.mary_pic

Find Mary online at:
Petticoats & Pistols
Her Blog
Her Website

Pros and Cons of Blog Tours – Part 3

The third (and final, at least for the purposes of this series) type of blog tour I’m calling a Progressive Tour. Rather than focusing on a specific day, or three days, or week – like the previous tours we discussed do – this tour can stretch out for weeks, even months.

How progressive tours generally work is you ask bloggers if you can write a guest post for their blog. You create a schedule so you have a guest post appearing on a different blog every (or every other) weekday for a set time period. Each post is unique and based on the blogger’s needs. Many ask interview questions. Some may want to review your book. Others may be more writer-focused and would like you to share some tips.

This type of tour requires a lot of work, but since the posts come out gradually you don’t need to write them all at once (though it’s helpful if you do have them finished before the tour starts, or at least a general idea of what you’ll be writing about). You’ll also have more time to comment and interact with readers of each post.

If you have your own blog with a good amount of readers, you’ll want to keep them informed about the tour, which can get a little tricky if you’re not used to posting every day (it’s a great way to help you get started with that, though!). You’ll want to create a teaser blurb for each post, and link directly to the post after it’s live. You’ll also want to include a “master list” post that shows all the stops on the blog tour.

Camy Tang is a talented author who has progressive tours down to a science. Here’s the master list from the blog tour for her latest novel, Deadly Intent.

If you choose to do a progressive tour, remember – every day of the tour you’ll need to:

  1. Post on your blog with a teaser blurb and permalink (no, you can’t schedule this because you need to wait until the post goes live to get the permalink)
  2. Update your master list post with the permalink
  3. Visit the blog after the post has been up for a little while to thank the blogger and respond to comments

So which kind of tour is right for you and your novel? I don’t know – maybe you’ll be adventurous and try all three! But I hope these posts will help you make an informed decision based on how much work is involved and how you want to reach readers. I wish you great success in your novel promotion!

Pros and Cons of Blog Tours – Part 2

The second kind of blog tour I call Participation Tours. Like cookie-cutter tours, they focus on posting about your book on a certain day or series of days. However, bloggers don’t have content to cut and paste (though some still paste information like back cover copy), so the posts require significant more work on the blogger’s part. Media copies are usually still provided, and you may be asked to provide unique content for specific bloggers.

You can see that this type of blog tour may get time-consuming, especially if you’re getting interview requests from ten different bloggers that all need them within the week. Usually, however, this type of tour has a smaller number of participants than the cookie-cutter tour.

Another aspect (not always present) of a Participation Tour is linking to other bloggers on the tour. While this would make little sense in a cookie-cutter tour, in a Participation Tour every blog has unique content. There is often a list of links to the other blogs on the tour at the end of the post, and bloggers are encouraged to comment on other posts in the tour.

This type of tour may not generate the sheer quantity of Amazon links that cookie-cutter tours do, but it outclasses them in quality. People will be actively discussing your book. One drawback to this is that their opinions may not always be positive. They (usually) invested time to read your book, and if they hate it, they’ll let you know. Or at least point out a few things that may make you squirm.

Don’t response in anger if a blogger doesn’t like your novel. If you can’t reply civilly, ignore the post. Often, if the remarks are unjustified, other bloggers on the tour will come to your defense.

If you have the time (and if you don’t, try to make it!), comment on all the tour posts, thanking the bloggers and addressing any questions that may come up. You may want to wait until the day or two after the tour so others have time to comment first.

I belong to one Participation Tour group, the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour.