Thursday, April 23, 2020

Interview with Glenda Manus, Best Selling Author

Glenda Manus

Glenda Manus, author of the bestselling Southern Grace Series of 8 cozy mysteries SET in SC!

How did your writing journey start? How many years have you been writing since the first book?

My writing journey began with a year-long daily diary given to me by my older sister when I was in fifth grade. I found that it was too small to put all my thoughts down and I filled it up within a few months. She was impressed so she gave me a large journal. The newness of it wore off for a while, but when I was in high school, I took up journaling again and I have over fifty books of journals that I’ve filled up over the years. I basically chronicled my life in those journals and it’s both thrilling and embarrassing when I go back and read them. I wrote poetry and short stories but it was always in the back of my mind to write a book. About ten years ago, I decided to make it happen. I subscribed to Writer’s Digest and ordered self-help books on writing. I studied the craft with a passion; I challenged myself with writing prompts and after about two years, I felt I was ready. And one year later, on December 24, 2013, I self-published my first book, Sweet Tea and Southern Grace.

What made you decide to write Christian cozy mysteries?

I’m both Southern and Christian and I’ve always loved a good mystery. I just decided to write what I know. I really didn’t think about them being “cozy” but somehow that label resonated with my readers and I got branded as a Christian Cozy Mystery author.

How do/did you plan your series? Does the Rev. Rock Clark character continue in every volume?

I’m a member of a small Presbyterian church in a quaint little town. I don’t think my books would have been quite so successful if I lived elsewhere because I patterned the town of Park Place after my own town.  We had an endearing pastor at the time who was married. I patterned Rev. Rock after him, but I made him unmarried, much younger and much more handsome because I wanted all the unmarried ladies in town to be slightly in love with him.
  Our pastor was much too old for that sort of thing. It just sort of snowballed from there and Rev. Rock took on a life of his own. He is featured in all the books, but in four of the eight books, he is not the main character. 

How did you learn to indie publish on Amazon?

In mid-2013, when I had finished writing the first book, I began to explore my options on how to get it published. I queried an agent and she responded. She loved my book but as we talked, she told me the process of getting a publisher and getting it published could take up to eighteen months. I was 65-years-old and I didn’t want to wait that long. And what if she couldn’t find a publisher? I would be back to ground zero! I read in Writer’s Digest where more and more authors were publishing through CreateSpace, a division of Amazon. I also read that Kindle books were outselling physical books by leaps and bounds and when you self-publish through KDP, your royalties are 70%. I loved 70% compared to what the agent had offered me. A traditional publisher does a lot of work for you though. Hiring an editor, a cover designer, and someone to format your books can be expensive, but you can price around and find some talented people out there who supplement their income doing side jobs and I’ve been blessed with the people I’ve found. Here again, just as in learning the writing craft, you have to be willing to work hard to make it happen. It was a huge learning curve in 2013 to self-publish. Amazon has made it so much easier now.

What kind of marketing have you found most successful?

Indie authors have more marketing flexibility than traditionally published authors. I run a few Facebook ads from time to time on my author Facebook page, but the one thing that’s worked best for me is to discount one or more of my kindle books each month and use a marketing site like Faithful Reads, BookGorilla, or Bookbub. You pay for a one-day promotion. They send out daily emails to their reader subscribers. With a series, when a reader likes the book you are promoting, they almost always buy the rest of the books in the series.

a.     How important/lucrative has it been to write a continuing series?
As I stated in the answer above, once you hook your readers on one book, they usually buy the whole series. They get to know and love the characters and think of them as old friends. I never leave a book with a cliffhanger. Each book is a complete story.

b.     Do you do a lot of social media marketing and/or paid ads?
I haven’t done any paid Amazon ads but I’m not adverse to doing so. I have a dedicated author Facebook page and sometimes use a $10 paid ad to reach more people, but mostly I just use it to inspire my readers. I post something inspirational nearly every day and I give updates with teasers on my latest writing projects. On the last page of my books, I do an author letter where I invite my readers to like my Facebook page and I provide them with my email address.

What was your greatest writing problem/roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

I’m an impatient soul and my biggest problem has been learning patience. I have a tendency to want to be lax on the editing process but fine-tuning and getting your book print-ready is the most important thing you can do if you want to be successful as an indie author. A book filled with mistakes is very grating on the nerves of avid readers. Edit, edit and edit some more! It’s my least favorite thing to do, but I’m blessed to have a friend who was a magazine editor before she retired. She beat this advice into my head constantly and I’m so glad she did!

I’ve also experienced writer’s block. The best way I’ve learned to deal with that is to just sit down and read. Writers need to read books in the genre they write in order to study and fine-tune the craft. The Bible is a great source of inspiration. “Be still and know that I am God.” Quiet times of reflection can help get you back on track.

How has God guided you through your writing process?

God has guided me all the way. I find that when I don’t seek his guidance or I try to write something that he wouldn’t approve 100%, he dries up my words. When I’ve decided on a plot and begin outlining my book, I seek out scripture verses that I think would speak to the plot. I make notes of them to use as I create my story.

 Do your stories or characters ever come to you in your dreams?

I dream all the time, but I must say that my dreams are so crazy, I would be hesitant about writing a story about them! Maybe I should try. I wake up quite a bit at night and have trouble falling back to sleep. The quietness is conducive to some heavy thinking during those hours, so I keep a notebook and pen beside my bed and if a good story idea comes into my thoughts, I write it down. More often, my story ideas come to me when I’m washing dishes of all things! So, I wash dishes a lot!

 How did you build an email list (if you have)?

I haven’t used email as a marketing tool yet, but I think it’s a good idea. I have built a list through giveaway contests on Facebook. A requirement for the contest is for the contestants to give their email addresses through a private message. On the back page of my books, I encourage my readers to email me their thoughts or questions about my books and many of them do. I add those to an email list to possibly use at a later date.

What are you working on now?

I am working on two books at the present time. One is the ninth book in the Southern Grace series. It is a spin-off from one the characters I mentioned in my last book. The character is Anabelle Porter, a forty-five-year-old spinster. When Anabelle was in her twenties, she put her life on hold in order to care for her invalid mother. Her mother has passed on now and Anabelle is ready to get her life back. She is lonely and wants to find love so desperately that she ends up falling for someone who is just trying to get into her bank account. Or is he?

The other book is historical fiction, a genre I love to read but have never written. The story follows a young couple as they migrate west during the 1850s. I’m a big Louis L’Amour fan. His books always feature a strong male protagonist, but mine features Dorine McCade, a feisty Irish lass whose common sense and strength of character rescues her little family on more than one occasion as they cross the country seeking a new life. I’m almost finished with this one and it will be in the hands of my editor by the first week of May. Writing in a new genre has been a fun, but somewhat bumpy ride.

 How can your readers get or stay in touch with you or purchase your books?

I have several ways for people who want to connect with me.

Glenda's Bio: 
Glenda Manus is Southern born and Southern bred which means she says yes ma'am and no ma'am, sends thank you notes, bakes casseroles for sick friends and funerals, and likes to visit her neighbors over a glass of sweet iced tea. Her writing is both inspirational and Southern which in her opinion are one and the same. The characters within the pages of her books are filled with grace and charm but they're not perfect by any means. The fictitious town of Park Place, South Carolina is where it all begins. It's an idyllic, sleepy little town where rocking on front porches, drinking sweet tea out of heirloom glasses while indulging in a little innocent gossip is a way of life. It's much like the little town where Glenda, her husband, and their cat Theo call home.
Glenda's novels are part of The Southern Grace Series, but each novel can be read as a stand-alone with its own unique blend of characters and plot and they are sure to satisfy a Christian's thirst for clean family fiction.