About the Episode
In today’s discussion, we chat with Victoria Deviney on how to leverage in-person events as a cornerstone of your marketing strategy for selling your fiction by building genuine, real-world connections.
Topics covered in this episode:
- Utilizing In-Person Events as Part of our Marketing Strategy
- Self-publishing Novels
- Email Marketing vs. In-Person Marketing
- Connecting to the Heart of Your Audience
- Dynamic of Self Promotion versus Partnership
- Selling In-Person versus Online
- Network Marketing with In Person Events
GET VICTORIA’S BOOK ✅CLICK HERE👉 https://amzn.to/45IulsA
About My Guest
Victoria Deviney is an Ordained Minister. She lived both stateside and overseas teaching English as a second language and training both Pastors and leaders . She has a passion for the written word and writes to encourage others in their own journey by pointing them to the love of God.
Grab Victoria’s book
Click for Transcript
Rachel: [00:00:00] But the thing that really I think we need to be more proactive about including in-person events as part of our marketing strategies, because there’s just something about being in the same room as somebody and sharing your heart and saying, this thing I made for you. It’s hard for somebody to not feel the heart behind that when they’re physically in the room with you, whereas sometimes that doesn’t translate across the screen or across the podcast or something.
Rachel: Welcome back to the podcast. Today I have with me my friend Victoria Devinney. Victoria is joining us to talk about her two novels that she self-published quite a few years ago, which is an interesting thing for me. I am excited to get into what that was like, back then, back in the day, and maybe what you have seen over the years has helped you sell copies as well as you’re, now you’re pivoting to nonfiction. And I think that’s interesting and I think that a lot of [00:01:00] authors, we think that we have to only write fiction or only write nonfiction, but the reality is that those are just tools in how we communicate a message to a reader.
And so I always find it fascinating when I’m interviewing somebody who does both. So thank you Victoria, for being on the podcast today. I really appreciate it.
Victoria: Oh, thank you so much for inviting me.
Rachel: So why don’t you share with our listeners just a few things about yourself before we get into your book and your publishing journey.
Victoria: Sure. I am a minister. I live both overseas and minister to stateside as well. Met my husband later in life. We’ve been married 13 years. Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina. But moved all over. And now we’re back into Lexington, North Carolina, just a few miles up from Charlotte.
And still doing ministry and working together now.
Rachel: So where did you live overseas?
Victoria: I lived in Eastern Europe, Hungary, the [00:02:00] former Soviet Union, Estonia, and ended my time there in Israel.
Rachel: Oh, wow. Wow. Okay. So quite a few different places. That’s fascinating. I bet you have a lot of great stories just from that experience.
Victoria: Oh, it was exciting. It was, it’s been fun.
Rachel: Yeah. So tell me what kind of led to your self-publishing these two books?
Victoria: I’ve always loved to write. And so when I worked in churches here in the States, I would write my newsletter, in the church newsletter. I would do monthly newsletters when I lived overseas to my supporters. So I always loved to write and share my thoughts. But it was after I got married in 2010 and we moved to Richmond, Virginia that I had some surgery. And during the recuperation process of six weeks, which I didn’t know I was going to do, I got more serious in saying, oh, now is a good time to write.
Because, in the past it was just too busy with [00:03:00] ministry to write a book. And so I just sat down one day and started writing. I had no idea it was gonna be Christian fiction. It just happened organically, the story just unfolded and and that’s how I started.
Rachel: I think that how, that’s how starts for a lot of us, if we’re honest, we’re like, there’s this idea and I just wanna play with it, right? And then as we start getting into it, we’re like, oh wait, there’s something here and now I want somebody else to read it.
Victoria: Exactly. It was interesting, it became an inheritance series because I had written a couple devotional books in the past that were called, “My Inheritance in Christ.” So the theme, was in these books too. So that, that was interesting the way that God did that.
Rachel: Like we said, like it’s a message and it’s a tool that you’re using. So that same message you conveyed in the devotionals first and then you conveyed in this fiction.
And I think it’s important to note that as fiction writers, we have this at our disposal where we can engage people more in the [00:04:00] logical, like thought process or we can engage them in more of the experience. Either way, it’s storytelling. We’re conveying a story to them in some way, shape or form.
Unless we’re writing like scientific journals, which I edited. So I do know those are like devoid of storytelling. No, that’s not entirely true because there are lots of pictures that told stories in those journals.
Victoria: I can imagine.
Rachel: I worked on a dentistry journal. It was some disgusting photos, but I digress.
Let’s get back to your stories. How did you go about deciding to publish them? Did you go like with it would’ve been called Create Space then, but like K D P, is that the route you went or did you do more of a hybrid publisher?
Victoria: Actually, I started with the idea of self-publishing when I did the devotionals. A friend of mine who lived in Florida where I was ministering, she was an author and a writer, too. She said Vicki, self-publishing is the bomb. It’s, it gives you the flexibility, it gives you freedom, that other [00:05:00] venues don’t have.
And so she connected me to create space and on Amazon, and then of course that went to Kindle Direct. Which they have now. And then I also went to an indie site called Smashwords. And started, actually started with them and then went to CreateSpace for the download and things like that.
Rachel: So you knew from the beginning you weren’t gonna go the traditional route. Was there anything that kind of prompted that decision or were you just I just want the flexibility, or were you like, it would be nice to be traditionally published, but I just don’t think it’s the right fit?
Victoria: Later on living in New York City with a ministry I was working with, I thought, I’m gonna go try this traditional route. And I sent some query letters and some of my manuscripts and I got some really nice letters back. But at that point I was so new to all this.
It was stepping out and in faith and not really understanding that, I just, I said, I think I’m just gonna keep on self-publishing right now, and do that.
Rachel: [00:06:00] So how do you sell your books? Like obviously they’re on Amazon, but do you sell them through speaking events or anything like that? Because you mentioned you’re in ministry, so I’m just curious if that’s like your main way of promoting that.
Victoria: Originally when I did the devotional books I was living in Florida and yes, I spoke at different churches, men, women’s groups, retreats, things like that. And I sold them there, and they went really fast and very well, and I did two volumes of those books. And then when I got back here, I started getting on websites that would allow me to do festivals, events, popup markets, just different things at churches that they had. That’s kinda how I did that.
Rachel: So a lot of in-person events?
Victoria: Yes. A lot of in-person events with a book table.
Rachel: And I want to point this out because I think when we think marketing, we immediately go to like social media marketing or ads or book [00:07:00] launches, online Amazon reviews, like Good reads, giveaways, like that’s where our mind tends to go in this day and age.
And we don’t really think about in-person events as our like first offense. And I do know that this was mainly back in, like you said, 2013 and 2017, when we were talking earlier about when you actually released these two novels, but even though I know that feels like a lifetime ago because we had this thing that happened in 2020.
But the thing that really I think we need to be more proactive about including in-person events as part of our marketing strategies, because there’s just something about being in the same room as somebody and sharing your heart and saying, this thing I made for you. It’s hard for somebody to not feel the heart behind that when they’re physically in the room with you, whereas sometimes that doesn’t translate across the screen or across the podcast or something.
So I think it’s really wise to mention that’s a way to do it.
Victoria: Yes. And I also was on the Enoch with Barnes and Noble. And interesting, I have put my [00:08:00] name into Google. You can find everything, and I found myself in Good Reads and all this other, even now, even today, which is interesting.
But the one venue that I thought was really cool was that I went to a brewery. They were having like a little festival and event right in the front, and I thought, oh, I wonder how this is gonna go down. But I had a lot of people come up and buy not only my Christian fiction books, but I sell my devotionals with them, so it was neat.
Rachel: Would you say that they’re companions to one another?
Victoria: I would. It gave me a chance to talk to them and it was real interesting because some people when they came up, and this is just something I’m adding to this. They thought I was selling someone else’s books.
Rachel: Oh. Oh, really?
Victoria: But when I found out I was the author, they were really excited about that and wanted a copy and need to autograph it and things like that.
Rachel: Yeah. Which is exactly what I mean by that. You just see the person’s heart for something. You’re like, oh, you wrote this that’s so cool. Let me get your autograph. There’s just something about [00:09:00] it that just changes for us.
Victoria: It sure does. So all those venues, you have to go after it yourself like you said, be the entrepreneur and go after those.
Rachel: Does that come easy for you?
Victoria: Yes it does. As far as being in ministry-
Rachel: I was gonna say did you have to raise your own support?
Victoria: I did for seven years when I lived overseas-
Rachel: Because you mentioned the newsletter and the support letter, and I just think that there’s a really specific skillset in that where you’re saying like, this is what I’m going to do and this is how you can partner with me in that. And that translates I think to that book sell, like I think some people think of it as like self-promotion. It’s not really about self-promotion. You have to tell the reader what’s in it for them and how they can partner with you.
This is how we can engage in a work together. I make this thing, you read it and there’s this story thing that happens in between. And so that skill of raising support I’m assuming, helped you in selling.
Victoria: It did. I was [00:10:00] thinking about last night I was meditating on this and I thought, self-publishing is the way I kind of view raising my support because it was a way to get others interested and like you said, being a part of what’s in your life.
Opening your life to them. And and getting them to journey with you and be encouraged in their own journey.
Rachel: Yeah, I actually just finished up an interview with somebody and she mentioned having to wrap her brain around the fact that this can be both ministry and business. Do you feel the same way?
Victoria: I do. I absolutely do. I don’t think there is any conflict in that at all. I think they partner real good together.
Rachel: Yeah. Have your books continued to sell even today?
Victoria: Yes. Yes. There are people are still buying them. And I even put some books up in a a little store uptown in Lexington. And notice that some people have bought them there.
Rachel: Oh, that’s so cool.
Victoria: Now I could do a lot more doing that you can do as much as you want, to get that word out and get your book sold.[00:11:00] So it’s a, it’s really up to the person.
Rachel: So true. And that’s a good point to make, that as business owners, we get to decide how much we market our current products, our past products, and by past products, I don’t mean that like it’s gone away, but just like a product that has a longer shelf life. So these books have been out for a while. You’re pivoting to some newer work that you’re doing with a collaboration with somebody, and we can talk about that in a minute. So you have to decide for yourself that for right now what is the goal for those two books, and how much effort do you need to put into marketing them to make those goals?
And that’s a business decision, right? And I think sometimes when we think about publishing our novel, we’re thinking like, oh my gosh, this is for my rest of my life. I’m gonna have to be talking about this book, and this is gonna be my whole world. And it might be for five, 10 years, but it might move into just a place where it’s just coming up in searches or maybe it’s just on the table at the event, and it’s not the main focus of your marketing, [00:12:00] but because we’re not marketing our products, we’re marketing ourselves and the business of not necessarily like promoting, oh, look at me, I’m so great, but hey look, this is the work that I do and this is how it can affect you. Because we do that. It doesn’t matter if we’re marketing that book or not with intentionality, that book still gets marketed. Would you say that’s true? Have you found that to be true?
Victoria: Oh, absolutely. You are right on with that, yes.
Rachel: So what kind of advice would you give to somebody getting started out in this journey of publishing and marketing and all those things, what kind of advice would you give to them?
Victoria: Just get out there. Get out there make it happen. Don’t be shy or afraid or scared.
Yeah. I used to do that when I first started raising support. I was a little embarrassed, and then someone gave me a real mindset of, Vicki, you are not asking for money, you are [00:13:00] asking them to partner with you, and it was such a different concept. So just get out there, make it happen, look for venues. You can do that now with your computer. And Google, you can look at, for popup markets, get on their websites like I am. I get ’em constantly. Here’s where we’re gonna be here’s how much the table’s gonna be.
Rachel: What if somebody wants to look that up and get on their website? What are the terms that they should be Googling?
Victoria: I would do events, festivals, pop-up markets, and you’re gonna find a lot of those and once you do some with them and once you get in there, they will put you on their website, their email, saying, here’s where we’re gonna be in Charlotte, or here’s where we’re gonna be in this area.
Rachel: So when you are doing that, do you pay to rent space from them? Is that how it works?
Victoria: Yes. Every event’s different. Sometimes the table may cost $50. Sometimes it’s 25. It just depends on how big the event is. You make that decision and determination each time, but then get out [00:14:00] there, look for other events that may be in local churches in your area that they’re having. They’re always having fall festivals, spring festivals, Christmas festivals, meet them and talk to them in person.
Rachel: And another thing too people don’t tend to think of is that some churches have like a bookstore slash gift shop. I know a few in our area have that. And that would be another place that they possibly could go ask about.
Victoria: That’s right. That’s so interesting you brought that up because I was just at the main campus of our big church in Kannapolis, and it’s a huge church and they have a great bookstore.
And it was closed at the time I went ’cause we were in revival services. But I asked somebody. You just do things like that are different.
Rachel: No, that makes perfect sense. You’re saying, do the legwork.
Victoria: Do the legwork, and like I said, it’s not hard now with your internet and it’s pretty easy.
Rachel: Do you have any other advice for us?
Victoria: When I first started I, what I did was I caught all the Barnes and Nobles in my [00:15:00] area and all the bookstores uptown in Richmond. And luckily for me, I got into Barnes and Nobles several times, which was quite interesting in a big place like that. I went into Lifeway Bookstore and got in there, and so also called the local bookstores that are still open.
Rachel: There are some independent Christian bookstores in certain areas.
Victoria: But I even went into secular bookstores. So don’t be afraid. Even if your book is Christian fiction and you’re just doing that, don’t be afraid to ask a secular bookstore because they’re very open sometimes too.
Rachel: Yeah, exactly. So now you had mentioned that you published devotionals, you published the novels and now you’re working on another nonfiction project with somebody. Have you found marketing the nonfiction to be any different than marketing the fiction, or do you feel like it’s the same thing?
Victoria: I think it’s one and the same, or it has been for me. Yes they are different because non fiction is more personal. It’s your journey. It’s [00:16:00] your thoughts and other people are seeing your personality in that. Christian fiction is something you create, where they can go along with that. But really the marketing has not been different for me.
It may be for other people. But when I go set up a table at any kind of event, whether it’s secular or in a church, I’m gonna put all my books out there, everyone that I did, and the more, the better.
Rachel: I love that visual that you just gave us. I have a table, I’m putting out all my products, right?
And I think it just goes back to that idea of we’re the business. These are our products that we’re offering to our customer and or our reader, however you wanna think about it. And sometimes we can get so caught up in that oh, this is my fiction novel and that’s what I’m marketing.
Nope, this is your table and these are your offerings. And so I love that visual so much. So I’m glad you stated that. This nonfiction thing that you’re moving into a collaboration with somebody else. Talk to us a little bit about this. Do you feel like you’re like having to [00:17:00] pull on new skillsets or do you feel like your storytelling is coming through and even in this project?
Victoria: Both, this book, if you can imagine has been seven or eight years in the making.
Rachel: Oh my goodness. You’re patient, woman.
Victoria: Yes. A friend of mine who I’ve known for many years, we played hopscotch together waiting for the bus, as a child. I was up in Richmond and they were visiting one weekend and we got this idea. So we began to pray about it and say, okay how can this be?
And so it has evolved over the years to be a little bit different. But we did a study on women in different age groups. We sent out a questionnaire to women. We went through the questions we asked them and they answered, and through that we wrote these chapters about women’s life stages, women’s journey, women’s relationships, how they change over the [00:18:00] years, women’s needs and things like that
And so, but now it’s evolved into more as we’re editing it, more the Christian mindset in that we’re going to after each chapter ask questions, okay, how can we view this in terms of what God is doing? And it may even turn into a women’s book verse and Bible study that you can do for women’s groups or, or book clubs or things like that. So it’s evolving differently in these eight years.
Rachel: I love how projects do that. I think that happens even with our novels. We’re like I have this idea, and then as you start working through it, through that creative process it just shapes into what it wants to be or what God wants it to be. And I just, I love that whole process. It’s just fascinates me. As you’re talking, I’m like, it’s almost like you, it’s like a mentorship. Like it’s almost like something that can be used for older women to mentor younger women.
Victoria: Yes. That’s exactly our focus. That’s funny. You that love it.
Rachel: I [00:19:00] love it. I love it so much. That’s something that’s near and dear to my heart. Like I think mentorship is something that really needs to be brought back in our churches between age groups. I actually was thinking about this totally a random aside, but I have even began to notice how our stories in our novels and our media, in movies, we watch, whatever. The different stories we consume, what I’ve noticed over the years is that there becomes a lack of a older figure mentoring the younger, it’s very peer mentoring that’s happening. There’s just something about when you’re mentoring each other, you’re not coming at it with the full picture. Like I can only help my friend based off of the experience that I’ve had so far, and I haven’t gotten past that side of it.
We’re at the same stage. Like I can’t help her get to the other side because I don’t know what the other side looks like. I’m making a best educated guess. Whereas another woman who has gotten on the other side of it can at least say to her, this is what it looks like [00:20:00] from my perspective. And that can help her and grow in her journey, in her faith and all those things. And so I would love to see more of that mentoring relationship happen in the novels we write. But I also want it to happen in our churches too. So I love this project.
Victoria: Absolutely. I never had a mentor until I got in my thirties, late thirties. So the Lord brought me a wonderful woman that was 30 years older than I was. Just real knowledgeable in the Lord, real prayer warrior. She helped me get to the next stages of ministry. We all need that.
Rachel: So I love that project. I love what you guys are doing. I cannot wait to see it come out. I just think it’ll be so neat. So I just wanna pivot a little bit to just some of the more nitty gritty details.
So when it comes down to publishing and marketing, what are some tools that you recommend a fiction writer have at their disposal?
Victoria: I [00:21:00] had a great lady that helped me with editing, I think you’ve got to have that no matter if you’re wonderful in English, and all the grammar and all that, which I’m not, as much, but have someone that can have friends that you can allow to read. To talk about, Hey, what do you think about this? I had a few people read some chapters of mine and say that’s, Hey, that’s great. Continue on with that or, switching around this way. Things like that. So using people as tools is great.
Rachel: Yeah. I agree.
Victoria: When I first started, like you said, things have really changed now. I didn’t have all the other things on the internet that could help me.
Rachel: Which I think we should applaud you for making the steps in that, making that progress you did. Because I was familiar with create space in around that time period, and it was cumbersome and it was very, hard to use and they’ve improved it a ton when Amazon bought it and it now is Kindle Direct Publishing. But they’ve done a lot to improve that [00:22:00] whole platform.
I do have to commend you for sticking with it and actually publishing two books through it because it was not easy at all.
Victoria: When I used SMASH words, the Indie publishing, they helped me get a person who was an artist that would do the covers for my books. So she did the first book cover of, “A Moment’s Notice.” And then my other editor, her husband knew all about the techie stuff. He did the second book, “Unforseen,” but I had to get someone to do the cover.
Rachel: You know where your limitations are.
Victoria: Exactly. So I had told ’em what was in my head, and they did that.
Rachel: If you were to do it all over again now, what would you change from what you did then, and what would you keep the same?
Victoria: I think I would change and try to see if I could get an editor that was nearby, or closer to me ’cause this lady lives several states [00:23:00] away. Or get more of a, maybe professional self-publishing what they have now, like on a trilogy of self-publishing, but they’ll do everything. It may cost a little more, but I think I would go that route. Instead of trying to do it myself, a little cheaper, so that’s what I would do to make it a little more professional. I have had some good critiques about my books and some have still found editing, grammar, things that was a little embarrassing.
Rachel: What would you keep the same?
Victoria: I would keep my going out the same, my pushing through, my going trying to get speaking engagements as well as events and festivals. I would do even more of those.
Rachel: Are you considering like re-releasing them at all?
Victoria: Oh, I never thought about that.
Rachel: Yeah, Like a second edition or something. Make those updates that you wanna make and then re-release them.
Victoria: Oh, that’s a good idea. I have considered doing [00:24:00] that with my devotional books because they’re not on Amazon. It was way before amazon, a few years before Create Space. I’m talking about, early two thousands.
Rachel: Like going to a print shop and getting them printed.
Victoria: That’s exactly what I did. And I used a Christian printer out of Nashville to do that, but they’re not online or anything. So I was thinking about re releasing those into volume one and two.
Rachel: You totally should do that. I will be here for it when you do. We’ll have you back on and you can compare notes on back in the day to now.
Victoria, I have appreciated this conversation. I think it’s a really interesting just look into, just publishing the longevity of it and that the fact that we just have to keep going at it and that just to think creatively and outside of the online space into the in-person as well.
So I think that will help our listeners in thinking creatively about what they could do as well. So I really do appreciate you being here. Before we go, please tell people how they can connect with you.[00:25:00]
Victoria: I’m on Facebook Vic piece or Victoria Vic, and I am on a woman’s Christian Women’s Ministry website, Victoria Devinney.
Just look me up. I speak and do retreats and of course you can find me on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Rachel: Thank you so much for joining us and sharing your journey with us. I appreciate it.
Victoria: Thank you so much for having me, Rachel.
Rachel: You’re welcome. And thank you for joining us today for another conversation on the business of Christian Fiction. Join us next week as we continue it.
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Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!
I help Christian fiction writers figure out how they can make an impact and an income from their storytelling while keeping rest a priority.
You can learn more about how I’m in your corner here.
And you can learn more about my personal journey here.
One last thing, if you’re looking for a bit more rest in your life, be sure to check out the Rest & Reflect guided journal.