Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Brad & Mary Interview -- Part 4

I’m glad you’ve joined us for the fourth and final portion of the tag team interview between Mary DeMuth in France and Brad Whittington in Hawaii. Here’s the links to the other parts: part one, part two and part three.

Before we start, here’s a little about two more of their books (each of which have entered into these discussions):

Escape From Fred releases next month. New from 2004 Christy Award-winning author Brad Whittington. Mark Cloud (“the enormously appealing, literate, self-deprecating young hero,” says Publishers Weekly) escapes Fred, Texas, to relish the anonymity of college in the final book of this widely adored fiction series about a restless preacher's kid in the 1970s. But the proverbial time of his life skips a beat when a series of catastrophes leads him back home and then on a soul-searching road trip through America's heartland where his deepest questions have surprising answers.

Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God is a devotional aimed at the deeper issues of the heart and one that will provide a soothing respite amid chaos. Think of it as Oswald Chambers meets Busy Housewife. Writer, speaker, and stay–at–home mom Mary DeMuth creatively focuses on the gift of motherhood as she considers

* resting quietly in the Lord, even on crazy–busy days

*being thankful for the duties as well as the joys of being a mom

*offering God a heart to prune so that it can continue to bear good fruit

Personal stories integrated with scriptural truth and probing prayers will help everyday stay–at–home moms remain connected to the most amazing and extraordinary Parent of all parents.

Tag Team Interview Part 4 from 12/21/05

MaryD: Here’s where I am right now. The book’s been written, edited, endorsed, printed and is ready to rumble. Now comes the publicity element. Do you have any advice to give me in dealing with radio? Print media? Promotion stuff?

BradW: Get some.

MaryD: Thanks, I feel much better now.

BradW: Good. My work here is done.

MaryD: The reason I ask is that book number one didn’t have a publicist. But book number two and the two novels coming out this year do. So, I am readying myself for interviews. How did you handle that?

BradW: Well, aren’t you special?

MaryD: Oh very funny.

BradW: I can’t even spell publicist, much less have one. OK, OK, if you want to be serious, I can count the interviews I’ve done on one hand and still have fingers left over to pick my nose with.

MaryD: [Laughing] I guess that makes sense with fiction. But I do have a fiction publicist (NavPress ROCKS!).

BradW: Go ahead, rub it in. Broadman and Holman hooks up with a company that does a radio show interviewing novelists. I’ve done that twice, once for each of the first two books. But I’ve never heard a radio station that runs the show. Of course, I don’t listen to radio, so that might have something to do with it.

MaryD: Yeah, you think? So, here’s an aside to the listening audience. Listen in Detroit in January 2006. Sometime, somewhere I’ll be talking.

BradW: Oh, I forgot. I did one live radio spot in Honolulu. It was the morning drive show.

MaryD: Were you nervous?

BradW: Yes.

MaryD: Did you blather?

BradW: Yep.

MaryD: Well, at least I won’t be alone, then.

MaryD: Here’s another question. Who is that kid on your website. Tell me that’s not you.

BradW: It’s not me. But I’d love to meet the guy. He’s on the cover of Welcome to Fred. Great picture.

MaryD: I didn’t think so. You ought to get some horned rims though. They’re all the rage in France.

BradW: I’ll look into it.

MaryD: Good. I’m looking out for your image, Mr. W.

BradW: You’re all heart.

MaryD: Yep.

BradW: How about book signings? What has been your experience?

MaryD: Well, er, not many English Christian bookstores in Francy pants. I did have one when I flew home in March. It was a successful one, sold over forty books.

BradW: That’s a good signing. Getting in double digits is good for non-celebs like us.

MaryD: Yeah, but I neglected to mention (in my ego-pride-ness) that it was my mega-church’s bookstore and they publicized well. You? How many?

BradW: I did three booksignings in Texas and one in Honolulu for Welcome to Fred. For Living with Fred I did one at my church in Honolulu and one at the coffee shop where I wrote Escape from Fred, Common Groundz Cafe in Hawaii Kai. My experience is that the only people who buy a fiction book at a signing are people who were planning on buying the book anyway. Also, promoting for fiction and non-fiction is very different.

MaryD: Yes, that is true. Non-fiction is all about platform and branding, baby. But I’m naughty. My poor agent doesn’t know what to do with me.

BradW: Uh oh! No presents this Christmas.

MaryD: Coal this year from Pere Noel, I’m afraid.

BradW: OK, spill it. Wherein lies your naughtiness?

MaryD: I’m Anakin Skywalker, baby. Going to the dark side. From writing parenting books to venturing into risky faith.

BradW: Expound.

MaryD: I’m writing my last parenting book this winter and then it’s on to other things. Radical Christianity. How to exegete American from Christianity. Stuff like that.

BradW: Aha! The veil slips from my eyes. All is clear.

MaryD: Not that anyone’s bought anything yet, but I’m ruminating.

BradW: Well, Donald Miller doesn’t seem to be having problems so the time may be right.

MaryD: No, he doesn’t. And here’s the thing about the Donald: He didn’t sell much-a-nothing his first year. That is, until colleges picked up Blue like Jazz and went nutty. Now it’s a bestseller. So, if we can venture into marketing, here’s my thing. I think Malcolm Gladwell is onto something. He wrote The Tipping Point. It’s about getting your product (in this case your brilliant books or my tell-all tomes) into the hands of folks who will chat about it.

BradW: Yes, that is the key.

MaryD: They tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on and so on and so on.

BradW: So one hopes, at any rate.

MaryD: So, creating a great influencer list is important. I’m working on mine right now for the novel and the parenting book. And one guy, a good friend, has agreed to send the parenting book to 24 of his high-profile buddies. You just never know.

BradW: True. The problem is I, and many others like me, don’t have any high-profile buddies. Or even any buddies who do.

MaryD: Yeah, me neither. Maybe after Britney and Jennifer and the Donald read our witty posts here, we’ll be in.

BradW: I’ve wasted my life avoiding connected people. I’m a connected-o-phobe.

MaryD: You gotta get some new buddies! You will if you wear horn-rimmed glasses.

BradW: Gotta get the glasses. Speaking of glasses, it looks like it’s time for my coffee. As a night person, I’m amazed I’ve been coherent this long doing an interview in the morning with nothing but rooibos tea to sustain me.

MaryD: I’m not a night person, so I’m tired too [since it’s nighttime in France]. I need to turn in. By the way, I have one last question for you.

BradW: Shoot.

MaryD: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

BradW: That’s easy. To prove to the armadillo that it could be done.

Notice how these authors are grappling with how to get the word out about their books? It’s with good reason because there are many new books entering the market constantly. It’s hard to get the reader’s attention—but possible. It’s a cooperative effort between the author and the publisher. It’s not solely in the domain of either publisher or author. I’ve written a great deal about how to get publicity for your book and the necessity to market. If you want to know more of my thoughts, I suggest you use the Technorati search feature and enter words like “publicity” or “market” or “marketing” and you will easily find multiple posts on these topics. You can see whether you are in Hawaii or France or in the heartland of America, you can use a variety of means to get the word out about your books.

9 Comment:

At 10:14 PM, Blogger Darlene Schacht Left a note...

Interesting interview Terry, I enjoyed it. Being a book designer, I've always got my eye on the covers. It's rare that a cover will appeal to me like the Fred ones both did. I'm blown away with the unique design, and the fact that the designer pulled it off twice. Bravo.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger C.J. Darlington Left a note...

This interview has been great fun to read, and I've enjoyed getting into the heads of two accomplished writers. Thanks, Terry, Mary & Brad.

At 12:57 PM, Blogger Brad Whittington Left a note...

Darlene, I agree with you about the Fred covers, except one thing. The designer pulled it off three times. If you go to www.fredtexas.com you can see the three covers side-by-side. Each is unique while maintaining a continuity appropriate for a trilogy.

CJ, I hope it was as fun to read as it was to do. By the way, the Fred books have a character named CJ. It must be a sign.

At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...

Terry, I loved the tone of the interview. It's a great concept!
Nice job.

At 7:32 PM, Blogger Camy Tang Left a note...

Great interview!

I'm reading THE TIPPING POINT right now. The concepts are amazing. Very different from the social psychology classes I took in college.


At 6:47 AM, Blogger Katy Left a note...

Hey, do any of you have advice on how to be an effective "influencer"? I've been asked to step into this role, and I want to do it right for the author. My blog has a fairly large audience, so that's good. Any other ideas for how to help an author promote her work?
Katy www.fallible.com

At 8:50 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...


I do have some ideas about this influencer question. I'll put it on my list of future topics to address in an entry on the Writing Life. There are some great things that you can do to be an influencer. I wanted to put something here so it didn't begin a separate threaded conversation. Thank you for the idea and comment. In fact, I appreciate each one of these comments and insight.

The Writing Life

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Katy Left a note...

Thank you, Terry! I'm sorry for leaving a comment that might result in the temptation to begin a new discussion in the wrong spot. I'll look forward to your post!

At 7:24 AM, Blogger Mary DeMuth Left a note...

C.J., you used the word accomplished! Scary indeed. I have so much to learn, but, hey, since Braddio has used CJ as a character and has won himself a Christy, it must apply to him!


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