Today I’m really excited to announce the first in a series of special author features, Donna Alward. What makes Donna special? She–along with everyone else on the special features list–was already interviewed on my blog over two years ago. Since then, she’s published several more books with multiple publishers.
Now she’s come back to discuss how her career has changed and what she’s learned since her original interview in 2011:
1. We last spoke in February 2011. Can you talk a bit about what your writing career looked like at the time?
Wow, I really need to think back. That was the year that I started a novella series with Samhain and also saw HOW A COWBOY STOLE HER HEART release, and that book went on to be nominated for a RITA. That was a super-exciting milestone in my career. I felt there was something special about that book when I wrote it. In 2011 I was still very firmly entrenched in writing for Harlequin’s Romance line and having a little fun on the side with my Samhain books, which were shorter, a bit sexier and about First Responders and not cowboys.
2. What is one interesting thing you’ve learned about writing since the last time we spoke?
Just one? Since 2011, there’s been a HUGE boom in self-publishing, which has led to authors having so many options. In some ways that’s a good thing, but trying to keep up with an ever-changing market is a challenge. I think I’ve learned that no matter HOW you’re publishing, the key is to keep true to the vision you have for your stories. Then you can work with that to sort out the best form of delivery to the reader.
3. You have two book releases coming up this year. How do you balance time to promote multiple releases with time spent on writing the next book?
Actually, I have LOTS of releases this year. February sees THE COWBOY’S VALENTINE from Harlequin American, followed by THE COWBOY’S HOMECOMING in May. My next Jewell Cove book releases from St. Martin’s Press on May 5, and in late June I have a fun novella called NOTHING LIKE A COWBOY out with Samhain. It’s part of a trilogy with Sarah M. Anderson and Jenna Bayley-Burke and it was a blast to write. TWINS UNDER THE RANCHER’S TREE hits shelves in November, and you never know if another project might end up on the schedule before the end of the year. ☺ Balancing time is really challenging sometimes, but I find that I focus my promotion on connecting with readers more than buying a lot of ad space or doing a huge blog tour. I really try to touch base with my readership via my newsletter, and I’m part of a group blog called The Chocolate Box (www.chocolateboxwriters.com) which is a lot of fun. I do other stuff as it pops up, and I tend to take a day at the first of each month to do up promotion and administration tasks so I can focus on writing better.
4. What’s your favourite social media network and why?
I love Twitter for fun stuff, but I use Facebook a lot. I have an author page where I share stuff and a personal profile where I connect with closer friends and family. I also love Pinterest, but I can get sucked into looking at stuff and lose HOURS. LOL!
5. Out of all the marketing tactics you’ve tried, which tactics were most successful?
I was just telling someone the other day that I ran a BIG marketing push last summer, and spent more money than I ever have before, and ended up with no noticeable uptick in sales (which could be due to other factors, but even so). By far the best reader response I’ve had, and the most fun, too, was this past December. I wrote a bonus scene as an epilogue of sorts for CHRISTMAS AT SEASHELL COTTAGE, based on feedback I’d had from readers. I sent out an advance notice to my subscribers that access to the scene would happen on a certain day, and then on that day they were sent a password to access the bonus scene. I got more hits and comments from that than anything else on my site, and it was a lot of fun too. The readers seemed to love it.
6. Where would you like to see yourself in another 4 years?
Not going bankrupt from tuition fees. LOL Still writing. Four years seems a long way away and I wonder what the industry will look by then? But I think I’ll still be writing the same type of warm, feel-good, down-home romances.
7. If this was your last interview ever, what would you really want to say?
Oh my. I think I’d want to say…spend your life doing something you love, and when you’re not doing that, make sure you’re spending your time with the people you love. Life’s too short to not be happy.
An avid reader since childhood, Donna always made up her own stories. She completed her Arts Degree in English Literature in 1994, but it wasn’t until 2001 that she penned her first full-length novel, and found herself hooked on writing romance. In 2006 she sold her first manuscript. Donna loves being back on the East Coast of Canada after nearly twelve years in Alberta where her Harlequin career began, writing about cowboys and the west. She’s a two time winner of both the Bookseller’s Best Award and the Colorado Award of Excellence, anda 2012 RITA finalist. Donna loves to hear from readers; you can contact her through her website at www.donnaalward.com,visit her facebook page, or through her publisher.