Today we deliver to you the second in our series with our keynote speakers where they answer your (and our) questions!!
A New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Denise Grover Swank, is well-versed in multiple genres, from contemporary romance to the paranormal. Denise and her Rose Gardner Mysteries series are nominated for several utopYA Awards this year, and we are looking forward to hearing her speak about how she overcame her insecurities as a writer so that she could become the person she always knew she wanted to be.
Do you think it’s getting harder or easier to publish books and get discovered by readers…and why?
Denise Grover Swank: Definitely harder. Discoverability is a huge issue. When I first published in July, 2011 there were far less published authors, and readers didn’t really know that there were traditionally published books and indie published books. They had new Kindles and ready to load them with books. Back in the day—like four years was so long ago, but in the publishing world it is—one popular pricing strategy was to price books at $0.99. Traditionally priced books are $9.99 and higher which helped drive readers to indie books.
The competition is much steeper now and there are so many more voices vying for attention, but the same principle applies to now as it did four years ago when I was trying to break into traditional publishing: Write the best book you can.
Name the one thing that happened that turned your publishing career around/brought it to the next level.
DGS: I was lucky to have “success” early in my publishing career. My first published book was Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes, the first book in my Rose Gardner Mystery series, but it was my paranormal series, Chosen, that took off. I’ve sold nearly 100,000 copies of the Chosen, the first book of the series.
But I feel like my Rose Gardner series pushed me to the next level, and ironically enough, it wasn’t until after I released the third book in the series. I employed a variety of strategies to increase discoverability.
What top three marketing strategies would you say helped your sales the most?
- BookBub ads
- Free novellas in my Rose Gardner series to my newsletter subscribers.
What has been your favorite thing to research?
I thoroughly enjoyed researching my Curse Keepers series. It was hard to find definitive information about the Croatan and Algonquian Native Americans and their spiritual belief system. Then add in researching the Lost Colony of Roanoke and present day Roanoke Island and the OBX area…it was my most intensive research but also my most enjoyable.
What is the most memorable thing a fan ever did to meet you? Who are you “fangirling” over these days?
I’m always amazed that readers will travel several hours to see me. My children definitely don’t understand it. I’m usually really moved when readers cry meeting me. I always hope I live up to their expectations.
Who am I fangirling? My girl, Jasinda Wilder. She got an amazing book deal and her readers love her. Plus, she was a vineyard. Enough said.
Is there any special thing you’d like to accomplish in your career over the next five years? If you flash forward in your mind to that time, what do you see your life like? In other words, what impact do you think that special accomplishment/goal you’ve set will have?
I’d like to debut on the New York Times list with a book and stay on the list for a few weeks. Or even pie-in-the-sky, hit #1.
I’ve debuted on the NYT list, but I think sustaining placement on the list means I’d be on my way to becoming a household name, which of course would mean more readers and more sales.
What would you say to someone whose dream is to start writing, but hasn’t yet done so?
You’ll never write a book until you start writing. But that being said, don’t self-publish the first thing you write unless you polish the bejiggers out of it. That first book could gain your readers or lose them forever.
Since utopYA’s theme this year is time travel, if you could only go back and see/re-live one day or event in your lifetime, what/when would it be and why?
I had to answer this question last because I just couldn’t come up with anything. I don’ think I have a day I want to see or re-live. There are too many wonderful memories to choose just one. On instinct, there are several painful days part of me would love to relive and try to change. But the fact is that all those days, the good and even the painful days I was sure I’d never survive made me into the person I am today. And I like who I am today. I’d rather look to the future, but I don’t want to travel there either. I like the surprise of what’s to come.