Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Creating a Buzz for "Saving Audie"
When my editor contacted me to ask if I'd like to write a book about one of the pit bulls rescued from the Michael Vick dog fighting operation, I hesitated at first. Did I want to learn the details of this canine nightmare? I had purposely not read the articles in the newspaper about it because I feel so strongly connected with animals. But then I decided that the story needed to be told because many of these dogs had been taken in by caring people who knew how to help them heal thru love and education.
After finding Linda, who had fallen in love with Audie while fostering him, my photographer Bill Muñoz and I flew to the San Francisco Bay Area for a whirlwind visit to get to know Audie and Linda and to see BAD RAP (Bay Area Dog Owners Responsible About Pit Bulls), the organization that had been instrumental in the Vick dog rescue, in action. I had never developed an aversion to pit bulls, and my experiences in California confirmed my belief that a dog is a dog--with few exceptions, the love and training a dog receives are what make it well behaved around people and other dogs, not the breed it belongs to. BAD RAP provides obedience training for pit bull type dogs every Saturday morning. The classes are very popular and have waiting lists. I saw perhaps 75 dogs that day, and heard not one growl or snarl.
Once our book was in production, Bill and I decided we'd seek out whatever means we could think of to publicize it. We knew from personal experience that publishers today rarely do more than send out books for review, so it was up to us to let the world know about our book.
We set up a website and Face Book page for Audie. The latter has been especially rewarding, as we've "met" new friends such as Cherry, a Vick dog who looks almost exactly like Audie. We've also gotten about 2,000 friends and many heartening posts from dog lovers as far away as New Zealand.
I made sure I said "yes" when asked if I'd write a guest blog post or agree to an interview about the book. I'm in the children's writers' group on Linked In and volunteered for an interview through that connection. Another guest blog post came from a Writers' Digest blogger. Publisher's Weekly interviewed me, Bill, and our editor, Emily Easton, for an especially nice article in their online newsletter. I've sent emails to animal rescue organizations about the book, quoting its favorable review in Publisher's Weekly, and after I made the suggestion, my publisher paid for a targeted email ad from Ink Think Tank.
Bill made a trailer for the book, posted it on YouTube and made sure it was linked on the publisher's website. We also did our best to create links to and from the sites we had included.
I don't know how much all these efforts will contribute to book sales, and there is really no way to find out, but these days writers have to pony up and be creative about how to get their books "out there." Most books will have some kind of connection to the world--organizations, clubs, websites, National Parks or Monuments--use your imagination to find the people who will want your book. You will never know how much your efforts help sales, but your own life will be enriched by the discoveries you make in the process.