Born in a tiny hospital in rural Virginia, tucked snugly away in a bureau drawer, Joanne Sundell ever cherishes her country beginnings. Fond memories of toddling along after her older sisters along the Appalachian Trail, catching tadpoles in the local creek bed, chasing after lightening bugs, or falling asleep to the evening hum of katydids, remain with her still, despite the family move to more urban Arlington where Joanne spent her formative school years, and then on to Richmond for college. Though nursing was her chosen vocation, her chosen avocation has ever been the romance novel. Joanne grew up reading romance, falling in love with heroes and heroines from Regency England to the American West, from London’s pubs to Colorado’s ski slopes, loving that moment when the hero and heroine meet and fall in love. That moment to Joanne is the moment when Jane Eyre meets Edward Rochester, when Elizabeth Bennett meets Mr. Darcy—that’s the heart-stopping, passionate moment for Joanne in romance. That moment is what led Joanne to attempt traditional, old-fashioned, historical romance. Her first sale was in 2005 and since then, she’s sold five more historical romances to Five Star-Gale, Cengage Learning, in their Expressions line. Her books have been reviewed nationally by such notables as Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and Romantic Times. With her three children grown and off on their own adventures, Joanne now lives part-time in Colorado and in California with her husband and their entourage` of felines and huskies. Joanne’s writing groups include Romance Writers of America, Colorado Romance Writers, Los Angeles Romance Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Women Writing the West. You can visit her on the web at www.joannesundell.com.
Joanne Sundell will be on a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours in September and is here with us today to give her impression of virtual book tours and online book marketing.
Thank you for this interview, Joanne. Can we start out by having you tell us briefly what your new book is about?
Joanne: Meggie’s Remains is a romantic suspense in which the heroine struggles with far more than meeting the man of her dreams. In fact, she’s scared to death when she does. Why? That’s the question I hope to answer in this novel. I hope to peel away the pretty layers in classic, romantic theme and character, and show the not-so-pretty events that can happen—the dark, complex, emotional path a heroine’s life can take, suddenly, without warning, and with no guarantee of survival.
Afraid of men, afraid for her sins, afraid for her sanity, and right now afraid for her life, Meggie McMurphy flees Boston once the fiendish terror so long stalking her in nightmares surfaces in the light of day. She escapes west to Denver, in the wild Colorado Territory, hoping to lose herself among the multitude of townsfolk. The year is 1874.
Twenty-five years old, alone, and near penniless, Meggie struggles to find honest work and to keep the dark secrets of her past just that: secret. Not so easily done when the handsome, formidable westerner Ethan Rourke stumbles upon her on a snowy Denver street. Why it’s as if he’d stepped right out of the pages of her beloved novel, Jane Eyre! Safe to encounter such a man on the page, it is certainly unsafe, even deadly, for her to encounter such a man in the flesh. Men belong . . . six feet under, six feet away . . . where to stay safe, the devil must stay!
Hired as a teacher, not in Denver, but in an isolated mountain town in rugged Ute country, Meggie is determined to make a home for herself in Hot Sulphur Springs. There she keeps up her masquerade as Rose Rochester, yearning for a normal life, for companionship and even love—all the while knowing it’s only a matter of time until the monstrous changeling from her nightmares will find her, killing any possibility of a life at all. ~
More and more authors are realizing the potential for sales that derives from virtual book tours. Can you tell us your personal reasons why you chose a virtual book tour to help get the word out about your new book?
Joanne: Admittedly a baby boomer by definition, I’m being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Internet century! That’s code for the reality that I’m challenged when it comes to smooth surfing on the Big Bad Net. Challenged though I may be, even I am aware of the benefits of virtual networking. I do have a website, a blog, a MySpace site, and an e-mail address, but am finding that virtual book-touring is the wave of the present and the future. Fellow writers are scheduling virtual tours. I’m plugged into sites such as Shelf Awareness and other Book Tour sites that alert me to where and when certain authors will appear. Most writers today do much of their own promotion. I suppose this is for economic reasons as well as common-sense-marketing.
In the past I’ve scheduled myself on several blogs, some more well-known than others, and it’s been a pleasant-enough learning experience. Learning is the key word here, as I have A LOT TO LEARN when it comes to linking here, linking there, linking and blogging everywhere! The main reason I’m choosing to virtually tour at this juncture with my fourth release is to help bolster my marketing efforts for Meggie’s Remains. I’ve recently made a part-time move from Colorado to California and its like starting all over again in terms of hitting bookstores, and querying their community relations personnel for potential signing events. Truly, I thought it might be more worthwhile, not to mention time-saving, to try a virtual tour, professionally done. The main market for my publisher is the library market, where most of my sales rely heavily on national reviews. Fortunate to be reviewed in the past by Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and Library Journal, and therefore have guaranteed sales, Meggie’s Remains has not been selected as yet for national review and I think a virtual tour will help get the word out about Meggie and Ethan’s love story. Fingers crossed.
Is this the first time you have heard of them?
Joanne: I found Pump Up Your Book Promotion by searching the members list of Virginia Romance Writers, a chapter of national Romance Writers of America, where I hope to promote my Civil War series next year. When I saw some of the wonderful promotion done by Pump Up Your Book Promotion for one of its members, I was hooked on the idea of a professional virtual tour. I’d just not put in any kind of “search” for this before. So far I’m quite pleased with how professional, patient, understanding, and down-right friendly the folks are at Pump Up Your Book Promotion.
What do you hope to achieve through promoting your book through a virtual book tour?
Joanne: In addition to what I’ve already stated, I hope to network with some of the frequently-hit blogs and get my name out there … wherever “there” is, heh heh.
Do you promote online through other means? Website? Blog?
Joanne: Yes. My website has all of the right information, but I don’t have a way of drawing a lot of traffic to my site. My blog is listed on my site and on MySpace but, again, I’m not linked with enough other blogs. In truth, I spend more time researching and writing, than I do actually marketing and learning on the Internet.
Do you promote through Twitter and Facebook? What are your links there?
What are your experiences with offline booksignings? Which do you prefer – online or offline and can you give us the reasons why?
Joanne: With my first three releases, all of my signings were in Colorado at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Tattered Cover, book clubs, and library events. I enjoy signings and find them relatively helpful in getting the word out. However, if you’re not Stephen King or Nora Roberts, it’s not so easy to get that queue out the door! I’ve enjoyed what virtual touring I’ve done to date, especially enjoying feedback over time. I’ve had folks sign up for my newsletter, based on blogging. The numbers are not great, however, but on some blogs there have been numerous hits. As example, when on petticoatsandpistols, a blog with a grouping of Harlequin writers, I had eighty comments back and forth.
Here’s a fun question. If money was no object, how would you promote your book?
Joanne: This one’s easy. I’d advertise in magazines, newspapers, and on the Internet and then . . . I’d advertise MORE in magazines, newspapers, and on the Internet!
Thank you for this interview, Joanne. Do you have any final words?
Joanne: I’ve enjoyed this opportunity to visit with you today. Hey, I’m here to learn and I appreciate all the help, insight, and thoughtful input I can get. I do wish there was an easy primer for us older-generation-types that would allow us to blog here, there, and everywhere … no problem. Ah well, in my perfect world. Perhaps if we visit again, I’ll be able to Twitter and Facebook with the best of ‘em!
If you would like to follow Joanne during September on her virtual book tour, click here!