Shining the Book Promotion Spotlight on Historical Fiction Author Susan Spence

Susan Spence has always been intrigued with life in the west in the 1880s. She researched historical accounts and first-person narratives as she prepared to write A Story of the West. A lifelong resident of the west, she currently lives in Montana on an old sheep shearing station with lots of furry critters and one partially furry critter. This is her first novel, and she is busily working on a sequel due out in late spring.

You can visit her website at

Welcome to Book Marketing Buzz, Susan.  Can we begin by having you tell us a little about your book?

A Story of the West is set during the early ranching days in the American West. True to the difficulties of living on the frontier, it tells the struggles of not only overcoming daily hardships, but also the greed of others. The main character is forced to decide if his life is worth living after getting caught up in events that effectively ruined his life.

What is the first thing you did to promote your book once your publisher accepted your manuscript?

I self-published, so I haven’t had that experience. The first thing I did when

I completed the self-publishing process was to order a hundred paperback copies. Since I hadn’t told anyone what I was doing, I got to surprise my family and friends when, out of the blue, they received a book in the mail with my name as the author. Then I went out and peddled the rest of them.

After that, what happened?

I had a little bit of success. As a local author writing about the area’s history, there was some interest. I did a few book signings, some at book stores and a couple at fairs. One that I did fairly well at was the local museum. That was cool because the money they took in helps preserve the history of this area.

What did your publisher do to promote your book?

The self-publishing company I used did nothing to promote my book because I didn’t pay for that service. They tried to get me to, but all they offered was to list my book amongst thousands of others at book fairs, where it was unlikely to get noticed. It seemed like a waste of money.

What’s your opinion on blogging?  Do you see that it is helping sell your book or is it not making much difference in terms of sales?

I blog mainly for enjoyment. I think it’s helped a little, but my followers are mostly people who are interested in my lifestyle. I’ve often thought that I should do more writing for my blog, but since I like photography also, I post photos and tell stories around them. I might start another blog with a literary theme to appeal more to readers.

I understand using the social networks to promote your books is also an effective marketing tool.  Do you find it is or isn’t?

I sold a few books through facebook, but am no longer on it. I can’t imagine myself being a twitter person. If that type of networking is needed to become famous, I guess I never will (laugh). Recently I’ve come across two lists of book review blogs. I went through them and queried the ones who seemed they would be interested in reading A Story of the West. From that I sent off at least a dozen copies for review. I’ll have to wait and see, first of all, what they write, and then the overall effect on sales.

Besides blogging and using the social networks to promote your books, what other ways are you promoting your book?

At this point I am using only my blog and website.

If you had to pick just one book marketing tool that you’ve used to promote your book, which would you say has been the most effective?

The local angle, even though it’s limited, has created the most interest so far. People who live here, as well as visitors, are curious to read A Story of the West because it’s part of the history of this area and because I’m their neighbor.

What are your experiences with offline promotions such as book signings?

I did a few book signings, and for the most part enjoyed them. I don’t know what is considered successful as far as numbers sold, but I did sell some books. The problem I had was convincing bookstores to give me a chance, even when it cost them nothing. For the ones I did set up, I hung flyers, sent out press releases to local news media and whatever else I could think of. I can reach a lot more people online, but interacting with people and signing copies of my book for them is really rewarding.

Thank you for this interview, Susan!  We wish you much success!

You’re welcome. Thank you for the good wish and for having me.

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