Collaboration: The Heart of Random Acts of Publicity

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Many Hands Make Light Work – or How Two Heads are Better than One

By Barbara Fisch and Sarah Shealy, friends who together run Blue Slip Media


Barb & Sarah of Blue Slip Media

Barbara: On 20 Years of Collaboration

Sarah Shealy and I have worked together for over 20 years. We started out by job-sharing—dividing the work week in two and collaborating on publicity projects at Harcourt Children’s Books. We learned early on that openness and communication were key to making the job-share work. When an author called to find out when her interview was scheduled, we could easily find that information in our shared work basket. It was—and still is—imperative to shed any ego when working together, so we let go of any pride or possessiveness over any particular project. When you work in a marketing department, you learn quickly that it helps no one to be territorial—and in fact, it’s better to share ideas and be open to soliciting others.

A colleague of ours had a favorite saying, and she’d often muse aloud as she walked by the marketing area, “Many hands make light work.” And it was so true that it became our motto. If there was a publicity mailing that had to be done, everyone stopped and pitched in to help. If someone in the department needed ideas for an ad, everyone would contribute something. We found that collaborative attitude was an exercise in a new kind of math: one plus one was MUCH more than just two.

That kind of mindset can be enormously helpful when it comes to brainstorming ideas for book promotion with your friend. Think of ways that can you divide the work and conquer. Are there friends you know who can contribute a blurb, a connection to an influential librarian, a lead to an important media contact? Can you help with the practical things, such as packing or mailing books? Can you help pull together a list of folks who would attend a launch party?

Sarah: Practical Ideas for Random Acts of Publicity

As usual, I agree wholeheartedly with everything Barb has said! Her comment about the launch party has got me thinking . . . this is an area where a friend could really be of tremendous help. One thing that’s nice about being a publicist is that we get to brag about our clients and sing their praises to others— a job that is sometimes very awkward for the author to do him or herself.
How much better does this sound: “Have you read Jane’s new book? It’s fabulous! I love how complex her characters are!”

vs. this: “Have you read my new book? It’s fabulous! I love how complex my characters are!”

Tooting your own horn can be difficult and it’s hard to do it in a way that’s not off-putting. Third-party endorsements are always more desirable—that’s why we’re so focused on reviews in this industry!

A launch party is a great way to develop grassroots support for a new book with a core audience. It’s important for an author (let’s stick with the hypothetical Jane) to build contacts in her local market, to connect with fans, and to establish herself as a local author. A great project to do for your author friend Jane is to throw a launch party for her around the pub date of her new book. It’s so much easier for you to contact your local bookstore, newspaper, library, area teachers, family, and friends on Jane’s behalf than it will be for Jane to do so on her own. Hold the party at a local bookstore or library. Create a craft or tasty treat that’s in keeping with the book’s theme. Invite everyone you know and everyone in Jane’s address book. Post it on your Facebook page. Tweet about it. Take photos of Jane at the event. Send them to your local newspaper with a little write up on the party and to Jane’s publicist (house or freelance) so she or he can submit them to Publishers Weekly (especially a photo of Jane with the bookseller/s).

What a lovely gift you’ve given your friend! And think of all the contacts you’ve made! When it’s time for your book to launch, I bet Jane will want to plan your launch party and you can just hand her the file. Ah, collaboration. It’s literally how Barb and I do business.

Win a 15-Minute Consultation with Blue Slip Media

Blue Slip Media has offered a free 15-minute marketing consultation to one lucky person. This one-day opportunity ends at midnight on September 7.

Here are the rules:

  • Winners will be selected on a random basis.
  • You must put your friend’s name, book title and website (if they have one) in the comments below. Deadline: Midnight September 7, 2011.
  • By entering your friend in this giveaway, you agree that you have the friend’s permission to do so.
  • Phone consultations will be done at a mutually agreed upon time.

Random Acts of Publicity Week was created by Darcy Pattison (www.darcypattison.com), writing teacher and author of Prairie Storms (www.facebook.com/PrairieStorms) , as a way to help create an atmosphere of fun and collaboration in marketing books. It occurs each September, the four days following Labor Day.

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33 Comments
  • Ana Maria Rodriguez
    September 7, 2011

    I am delighted to help my friend Marianne Dyson get word out about her book “Space Station Science”. It’s good timing now that the Space Station is on the news for having problems receiving supplies. This is the blog I wrote:http://anasnonfictionblog.blogspot.com/. Thank you and I totally agree; helping others promote their books is not only much more rewarding but easier than promoting self!

  • Elizabeth
    September 7, 2011

    My friend’s name is Carol Fisher Saller, and her book is Eddie’s War (namelos, August 1, 2011). (I think it’s time for me to plan her launch party!)

  • Rachel Belin
    September 7, 2011

    My friend (and sister) is Shana Burg. Her book title is LAUGH WITH THE MOON (pub date June, 2012). Her website is:www.shanaburg.com

  • Joy Chu
    September 7, 2011

    My friend’s name is Ivey Wallace. She is the editor overseeing a fully-illustrated definitive signing dictionary for the very young through a world-recognized academic press. This is the first title they are producing that has trade crossover potential, as it’s really for all ages. A preliminary intro to the possibilities would be awesome.

  • Gail Handler
    September 7, 2011

    Here’s the info on my friend and her book. Thanks!

    Your Friend’s Name: Fiona Page
    Your Friend’s Website: http://www.fionapage.com
    Book Title & Publisher: Bettina the Bold: A Blind Butterfly Learns How to Make Friends.
    Publishers: Seescape Press

  • Meredith Davis
    September 7, 2011

    My friend’s name is Lindsey Lane, her book is Snuggle Mountain, and her web site is: http://www.lindseylane.net

    Thanks so much for this post. Lindsey and I live in Austin, and we’re an awful collaborative bunch here!

  • Jodi Wheeler-Toppen
    September 7, 2011

    I’ll put Amber Keyser out there. Her book is Angel Punk, coming out next summer (2012). It’s YA, but she also has some great science books. You can see all her stuff at http://www.amberjkeyser.com

  • Vonna
    September 7, 2011

    I’d like to tell everyone about Varsha Bajaj’s beautiful picture book, T is for Taj Mahal. You can visit Varsha at http://www.VarshaBajaj.com

  • Cynthia Leitich Smith
    September 7, 2011

    My friend is Nikki Loftin, and her debut book is THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY (Razorbill, summer 2012). Thanks for this terrific initiative!

  • Cynthia Leitich Smith
    September 7, 2011

    P.S. Nikki’s website is: http://nikkiloftin.com/

    Thanks again!

  • Christina Mandelski
    September 7, 2011

    A great post! I’d like to add Miriam King to the mix, her picture book is LIBRARIAN ON THE ROOF!(Albert Whitman, Fall 2010). Her website is http://mgking.us/Site/Home.html
    Thanks!!

  • Miriam King
    September 7, 2011

    My friend Christina Mandelski recently launched her debut novel THE SWEETEST THING (Egmont 2011). Her website is http://www.christinamandelski.com/ She’s always been a great cheerleader for other writers, so I’m happy to have a chance to submit her name!

  • Lynne Kelly
    September 7, 2011

    My friend is Christina Mandelski, author of the YA novel THE SWEETEST THING, (EgmontUSA); her website is http://www.christinamandelski.com/

    Thanks!

  • Shana Burg
    September 7, 2011

    My friend’s name is Margo Rabb. Her book title is MAD, MAD LOVE. Her website is http://www.margorabb.com. Thank you!

  • Linda Leschak
    September 7, 2011

    My friend is Kathryn Magendie and her lovely book is named Sweetie.

    You can find Kathryn at KathrynMagendie.com

  • Marianne Dyson
    September 7, 2011

    No one deserves to win this contest more than my amazingly talented friend Ana Maria Rodriguez. Her book, The Iron Butterfly, is a true story that shows how a positive attitude can overcome even the depths of poverty and lack of education. Her website is http://www.anamariarodriguez.com.

    BTW, there’s a typo in your quote “Many hands MAKE (not might) light work.” They certainly do, and thanks for providing this opportunity!

  • Monica Vavra
    September 7, 2011

    I’d like the nominate my awesome friend and agent-sister Lynne Hoenig. Her gorgeous book is titled CHAINED (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2012), and her website is http://www.lynnekellybooks.com.

    Thanks!

  • Nikki Loftin
    September 7, 2011

    I would LOVE to enter my friend Jessica Lee Anderson. Her book, CALLI, comes out September 13th, 2011 by Milkweed Editions, and her website is http://www.jessicaleeanderson.com .
    Thank you so much for doing this! How exciting.

  • BeckyR
    September 7, 2011

    My friend Laurie Calkhoven is an awesome writer. Her second book in the Boys of Wartime series (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2/12) is Michael at the Invasion of France, 1943. Her website is http://www.lauriecalkhoven.com

  • Laurie Calkhoven
    September 7, 2011

    I’m happy to nominate Kekla Magoon, author of ROCK AND THE RIVER, CAMO GIRL (both Aladdin) and the upcoming 37 THINGS (Holt). Her website is http://www.keklamagoon.com

  • Colleen Ryckert Cook
    September 7, 2011

    I’d like to nominate Kelly Ramsdell Fineman and her picture book At the Boardwalk (Tiger Books, March 2012) http://kellyrfineman.blogspot.com/2010/09/breaking-waves-e-book-is-now-available.

    Randomly publicized on facebook
    https://www.facebook.com/reqs.php?type=19#!/colleen.r.cook

    thanks ladies!

  • Deb Lund
    September 7, 2011

    Check out Stasia Kehoe’s AUDITION:
    When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training… This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent.

    http://www.stasiawardkehoe.com

  • Mimi Vance
    September 7, 2011

    My friend’s name is Andrea White. Her wonderful book is Windows on the World. Her website is http://www.upcitychronicles.com.

    Thank you!

  • Natasha Wing
    September 7, 2011

    My friend’s name is Teresa Funke. She self-publishes books for adults and kids about WWII. Her website is: http://www.teresafunke.com.

  • kathy stemke
    September 7, 2011

    Taconi and Claude – Double Trouble
    My friend’s Name: Margot Finke –
    http://www.margotfinke.com

  • Jamie Weil
    September 7, 2011

    My friend, Charlie Price, is a gifted YA mystery writer. He has won numerous awards for his novels and writes about topics that are so under-represented in teen literature yet so prevalent in their lives. He won the 2011 Edgar Award for The Interrogation of Gabriel James (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010). His website is http://www.charlieprice.info.

  • Abigail marble
    September 7, 2011

    My friend Sarah Brannen has several books coming out:
    The pertinent books are Mathias Franey, Powder Monkey (Twin Lights Publishers) and The Pig Scramble (Islandport Press).  And Uncle Bobby’s Wedding (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). http://sarahbrannen.com

  • Liz Illenberger
    September 7, 2011

    The Meetings of Great Minds

  • Varsha Bajaj
    September 8, 2011

    My friend Bethany Hegedus’s book “Truth with a capital T” published by Delacorte in 2010 is touching, humorous and relevant. You can learn more about her at http://www.bethanyhegedus.com

  • Charlotte Corday
    September 8, 2011

    My wonderful friend, Katie Roberts, is writing a book called Spilled Ink.

  • Emma Stephens
    September 8, 2011

    My talented friend is Elizabeth Laing Thompson, and her novel is THE THIRTEENTH SUMMER. Her website is http://www.thirteenthsummer.com. She is an amazing author!!!

  • Kristi Schipper
    September 8, 2011

    My dear friend Mimi Brian Vance is the author of a collection of baby sign language books: Words by the Handful. You can check her out at: http://www.wordsbythehandful.com Great as a gift to new parents, or for your own collection with your little one!

  • Emma Stephens
    September 8, 2011

    My talented friend, Elizabeth Laing Thompson wrote the fabulous young adult novel, THE THIRTEENTH SUMMER. Her website is http://www.thirteenthsummer.com.