Monday, February 16, 2009

Interview with Multi-published Author Robin Jones Gunn

I'm very pleased to welcome Robin Jones Gunn author of 70 books. You can find out more about her at her WONDERFUL website

Writing Career Coach: What are some of the things you've done to help build your brand?
Robin Jones Gunn: I was first published over 25 years ago and back then writers were more invisible. We were coached to make the book titles or the characters more memorable to the readers than the author’s name. Things have changed in the past decade. While many readers recognize “Christy Miller” “Sierra Jensen” or “The Glenbrooke Series” or “Sisterchicks®”, they don’t recognize “Robin Jones Gunn”. That was always fine with me. Then I finally signed with an agent a few years ago and soon learned I had some branding work to do if my agent was going to be able to sell my next project. Publishers want to sign authors who have a following, not a series that has a following.
First thing I did was become deliberate about collecting email addresses to build my data base. I think this is the most important marketing step any writer can take. I now invite readers to sign up for my e-newsletter via my website as well as invite them to give me their email at all book signings and speaking events. At first I felt funny asking but now I don’t. While I sign their book, I invite them to sign my guest book. It feels friendly.
Then I hired someone part time to input and organize the data base and help put together newsletters. We’ve been doing this a little over a year and the rhythm of it is beginning to fall into place. The crazy thing to me is how the data base grew so quickly. The e-newsletter has become an excellent way to keep in touch with interested readers and offer giveaways as well as list where I’ll be signing or speaking. I’m using my name now as the “brand” or umbrella and all the various books fall under that one umbrella.

WCC: In addition to excellent writing, what have you done to connect to fans and potential fans?
RJG: Now that our two children are grown and living outside the home, I’m taking on more speaking opportunities. While they were home I didn’t want to be gone too much because I knew those years would go quickly – and they did! I don’t regret passing on speaking invitations in the past but now that I have more invitations I’m being selective and yet doing as many as I can. This is the best way to connect with readers. Again, it’s about being deliberate and making the best use of time and opportunities.
I receive a crazy amount of emails from readers. I make sure all of them receive a response. It may take awhile, but I want them to know they have been heard and that I appreciate them. I’m going to meet these readers in heaven. It’s a privilege to start the friendship now.
Facebook has been an easy way to connect with readers. Come be my friend! My ID is I also have been having way too much fun twittering! My twitter ID is RobinGunn

WCC: How did you get your start in writing?
RJG: The whole story is on my website Basically, I’ve always been a storyteller. I wrote kids books and articles when our children were little. It was a bit of a hobby then, I think. I saw writing as a fun way to make a little money and express a creative part of me that was not being used at my job at the bank where I worked for 6 years.
I wrote “Summer Promise” in the Christy Miller series as my first novel for teens because the girls in our youth group challenged me to write a book for them. They even helped me write it page by page. That first novel took two years to write and I received ten rejections so you can imagine how excited I was when the book was finally accepted. I thought that was it. One YA novel. I’m done. That was fun. But God had oh-so much bigger plans! I just turned in my 70th novel, “Coming Attractions”, which is book 3 in the Katie Weldon Series. Combined sales of all books is just over 4 million copies sold. Yes, I would say God had bigger plans than I did!

WCC: Tell us about your latest book.
RJG: “Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes!” releases in May of this year and it will probably be the final installment in the 8-book collection of Sisterchicks® novels. Writing this series has been a writer’s dream. My publisher gave me a travel budget with the last five books of the collection so over the past five years I’ve been to Australia and New Zealand, Paris, Venice, England and the Netherlands in order to do the all-important research for each story. I love to travel so this has all felt like a special gift from God.
I have loved hearing from midlife women who have discovered themselves inside the characters in all the Sisterchicks novels. So many have told me that the Lord used these stories to reignite their love for Him and to open their eyes to possibilities of what God has in store for them in their next season of life.
This is truly the message of joy for all of us. God has dreams for us. For all of us. When we surrender to Him completely, He makes His path known. Life happens inside the obedience. And it is an abundant life! Trust in the Lord with all your heart and hang on. His ways are definitely not our ways. But, oh, what wonderful ways they are!

I'm so happy that Robin Jones Gunn took the time to answer our questions. I hope that you'll take to heart what she has shared and that you will visit her website. It has beautiful layout, graphics and is very interactive. You fell like you're sitting in her living room.

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