I Won a Publicity Consult in 2011: What I Learned

Coming on Thursday, September 6: WIN A MARKETING CONSULT FOR A FRIEND!
Susan Raab of Raab Associates (http://raabassociates.com/) has kindly offered 10 FREE marketing consults.
The catch? You can’t enter.
You can only enter your friend’s name. See the posting at 12:01 a.m. September 6 for full details–you’ll have 24 hours to enter.

Guest post by Debby Edwardson

Debby Edwardson

I like the idea of Random Acts of Publicity. I like the fact that it connotes Random Acts of Kindness. Writers, especially children’s writers are a kind, supportive bunch. We mentor each other and help each other but we promote each other a lot less than we should. Sometimes we are just overwhelmed by the scope of good books written, afraid that if we promote one and not another, someone will feel slighted. And few of us have an unlimited writing time so we guard what little time we have for writing like jealous lovers. But

That’s why time devoted to Random Acts of Publicity is a good thing. If we were all to reach out just a bit more, it will help all of us. It’s easier to think of it as just I week or two.

I used the idea of RAP to launch my blog, Words from the Top, the first year Darcy started it. Last year, the competition for a marketing consult motivated me. And I was delighted when I won a consultation with Raab and Associates.

I took careful notes. My book, My Name is Not Easy, was just coming out. It was historical fiction, set in the 1960’s in bush Alaska in a parochial boarding school in which the majority of the students were Alaska Native. I knew, of course, that this was pretty unfamiliar territory for the average teen reader. Raab gave me a lot of ideas about how to make it accessible, how to get it out there.

Since the story was based on my husband’s story and since I had lived within the Inupiaq culture for the majority of my life, they suggested that I offer both of us for media interviews. I took that idea and created a book trailer with both of us talking about the book.

If you can’t see this video, click here.

The big takeaway for me was this: I needed to find a way to connect my book—remote historical fiction–with today’s readers. Raab asked me to think about what readers could learn, fifty years later, from this piece of history. Of course I hadn’t written it to teach anyone anything but now, after the fact, what did this story offer contemporary readers? It was a story about dealing with adversity coming out at a time when adversity was on people’s minds. How could I capitalize on this? What kinds of strengths do people need to face adversity, to make a difference? In my notes, I wrote this:

The characters do XXX the real story is XXX and this is relevant today because XXX

It’s a pretty good marketing formula.

National Book Award Nominee

Then my book came out and I was delightfully diverted: My Name is Not Easy was named a finalist for the National Book Award. Suddenly the book was marketing itself and I barely had time to breath, much less consider publicity.

I used the ideas I got from consulting with Raab when I did interviews and blog appearances.

So what is the lesson here? Think carefully about marketing and hope your book earns a major award? Sure, but even if you are as fortunate as I was, this is hardly the end of the story.

The effect of a major award is great, don’t get me wrong. It piques interest. But the real truth is that all of the lessons I learned from the marketing consult are still there waiting to be implemented and still relevant–maybe I should quit writing blog posts and get back to work, supporting my books. All of them.

But wait—what about Random Acts of Publicity Week? What if we start looking at each other’s books and thinking deeper about marketing other books the way my marketing consult make me think about My Name is Not Easy? What is it about that book I read recently read and loved—the one thing that will recommend it to other readers? Often readers can see this clearer than writers can. And as wonderful as awards are, they are also transitory and somewhat serendipitous. Sometimes, for whatever reason, really good books fail to get noticed by the award committees. Maybe a certain book wasn’t even submitted for an award.

We need to celebrate those books, too. I blogged about this, too.

(Of course we can also celebrate award-winning books, too.)

Bottom line: we can use our power as writers who are also readers. It’s a lot of power.

Note: The contest rules will go live at 12:01 tonight. You’ll have 24 hours to enter your friend’s information.

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