Today we have the distinct pleasure of interviewing Hope Ann, whose name you might just recognize as she’s been part of our writing team for a while now! She’s the author of two novellas, the second of which released about a month ago, and is talking with us today about her experience with writing novellas and marketing them. Her first novella, Rose of Prophecy, is available for free in digital formats, and we’re doing a giveaway for her second novella, Song of the Sword, at the end of the interview. So read on to learn what advice Hope has to give on novellas and marketing!
Hope Ann: I’ve dozens of stories inside my head and I simply have to write them down because they’re too exciting not to share with others. I’ve loved stories and written for as long as I can remember, though it’s only in the past four or five years that I’ve become systematic and steady about it, with firm goals about how I want to inspire others with my writing.
KP: Who has influenced you most as a writer?
Hope Ann: Everything I read, watch, listen to, and see in the world around me influences and inspires my writing, but the greatest personal influence comes from my father. He’s always encouraged me in my writing, even if, at the same time, he sometimes points out things that sound too much like an unrealistic scene in a movie. He reads all my writing (at least everything that I deem written well enough for others to see). He lets me talk about writing even though there are times my ramblings are confusing even to myself. And, while expecting me to help around the house, he also understands that writing is my self-imposed job and makes sure I have time to do it.
KP: You’ve currently published two different novellas. How is writing a novella different from writing a novel, and which do you prefer to write?
Hope Ann: At 25,000-35,000 words, novellas are normally half or one-third the length of a normal novel. I like them because they’re long enough to tell a full story, with realistic character development and a few twists, but they can be written in a few weeks. I do like novels better because, the longer a work is, the more in-depth I can go into a character and the more subplots and twists I can include. But one can still tell a decently full story in just the 10-12 chapters of a novella, and the time factor is much less.
KP: What’s the biggest thing you learned while writing Song of the Sword?
Hope Ann: My goal in writing is to present abstract ideas, like true joy coming from Christ, in an allegory type of format which shows readers how such things look like in real life. But one can’t write about what one doesn’t know, and so I’ve been learning alongside my writing. The idea of our source of joy being founded in Christ’s sacrifice and promise to us took on fresh life in my own mind as I mulled over the various scenarios and implications while writing, and then editing, Song of the Sword.
KP: How long does it typically take you to write a novella from start to finish? What does that process look like?
Hope Ann: Song of the Sword took me one week to write. I got the crazy idea to write 5,000 words a day, and I did it too. But normally I’ll spend two or maybe three weeks to write a novella. That’s just the rough draft; then I’ll read it over and spend two to four weeks changing and correcting the novella once or twice. After that, I’ll send it to a friend or two for initial thoughts, spend another two to four weeks on corrections, send it out to beta readers, and then spend the next month or two polishing, smoothing, going over beta reader corrections, and finally, reading the whole novella out loud to myself or a sibling once or twice. The whole process takes me five to six months.
KP: I saw you had a rather impressive number of sites that you went to with your blog tour for your recent book, Song of the Sword. How did you initiate the blog tour, how did you choose your sites, and what was the general response you got from it?
Hope Ann: Song of the Sword was the first time I’d ever done a blog tour, so I don’t have much to compare it to. I set up a sign-up form on my blog for people to join, and posted about it in a few Facebook groups as well. I was excited about the response I got. There were eleven or twelve people who signed up, I believe. And, if they signed up, they were in. I didn’t have much of a criteria, though I did glance over the entering blogs. The general response was good; I got a number of entries into my giveaways and it got the word out to other like-minded readers.
KP: What other marketing strategies did you have when releasing Song of the Sword?
Hope Ann: I had a $0.99 sale to encourage people to buy the novella in the first three days. In the future, I’d probably only have the sale run for one day. I also posted about the sale on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as sending out an e-mail to my newsletter mailing list.
KP: What have been the differences in your marketing strategy with Song of the Sword and your first novella, Rose of Prophesy? What did you learn from marketing your first novella?
Hope Ann: I frankly didn’t do much marketing for Rose of Prophecy. I price-matched it down to free so people could read it and get drawn into the series and then (hopefully) buy the next book. Once it was free, I posted about it in a bunch of Facebook groups and other social media sites. It’s a lot easier to give something away for free than sell it, so I reached number one in one of my subcategories and have stayed in the top twenty on some of the free categories for a number of months now.
KP: And, for my final question, what’s the most difficult part of writing for you?
Hope Ann: Editing and polishing. I am not the best at either grammar or spelling. Reading my work out loud helps me pick out rough spots, but even then I’ll find a stray misspelled word or two, or a missing comma. Typos hound all my writing and it’s a lot of brain-numbing work to try and iron them all out.
Ready for the Giveaway?
Hope Ann is sponsoring a giveaway of her novella, Song of the Sword. To be entered in the giveaway, click the widget below and login with either Facebook or your email to see all the possible ways to enter. The more options you choose, the more entries you get, and the greater your chances of winning!
This giveaway will run from September 14th to 20th, so enter while you still can!