Good Things, Small Packages
Updated: Aug 3
No 4: April 20, 2019 ~
Today I am announcing my campaign, and I'm inviting you to sign up to volunteer. No, I'm not running for president, although it might be one way to get some attention. My campaign is an effort to generate word-of-mouth buzz about my book, The Darkest Eyes. (If anyone asks, you can tell them it's a dizzying adventure down a rabbit hole with a very different twist: "Communion meets Alice in Wonderland meets Indiana Jones.")
I know a thing or two about building a grassroots operation. A long time ago, I worked as an organizer on the campaign of an Illinois politician named Dan Walker. In a play on his name, he walked the entire length of Illinois, logging nearly 1,200 miles. Along the way, he met with voters in their living rooms and kitchens. Some of them walked along with him for stretches. You couldn't buy the kind of publicity that walk attracted -- not to mention the goodwill generated by all of those small-town stops along the way.
A political maverick, Walker beat the Democratic machine's candidate in the primary, and then defeated the Republican incumbent in the general election. There were murmurs of a presidential future. However, he turned out to be a lousy governor and failed to win re-election for a second term. Some years later, he landed in jail for bank fraud. The guy was a disappointment to his many supporters -- but oh those early days were heady. It was a textbook grassroots campaign.
Big money may have a lot of sway over who gets to hold the reins of political power, but there's nothing like a good grassroots effort to neutralize it. In last year's mid-term elections, there were many surprising wins by political candidates who were new to the game, who had no ties to the heavy-hitters and no money in their coffers. What they had were volunteers who who were willing to knock on doors, arrange coffee klatches, and spread their candidate's message any way they could.
As an indie author, I don't have the "big money" backing of a major publishing house, so I've decided to take a page out of the politicians' playbooks and mount my own grassroots campaign. I can't walk across the U.S., but with your help, I hope to make myself known in as many parts of it as possible.
I took my first small steps by dropping off copies of my book to little libraries in my neighborhood, including the one pictured below. I've received a warm reception -- I'll be making an appearance at a local book club meeting next week. I'd like to give copies of the book to many more little libraries, but like a political unknown, my campaign chest is hollow.
So I've come up with a more practical strategy. I'm ordering a large supply of bookmarks that will include a blurb about The Darkest Eyes and an invitation to email me for a free digital download.
I'm actively recruiting an army of volunteers to drop off bookmarks in little libraries, leave them in coffee shops or doctors' waiting rooms, tack them onto bulletin boards, or place them in any improbable but eye-catching location imaginable.
I hope you'll decide to enlist. To do so, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell me how many bookmarks you're willing to distribute and where I should send them.
I'd like you to get creative about where you leave the bookmarks. Take some pictures, post them to your favorite social media accounts -- and be sure to share your posts on my Facebook author page. Every two weeks I'll give away a free signed paperback copy of The Darkest Eyes to the person behind the "best" bookmark post that appears on my page. Selections will be made in an entirely arbitrary fashion, based on effectiveness in reaching the masses, grabbing attention, or making me laugh.
Along with launching this grassroots campaign, I'm ramping up for the wide release of The Darkest Eyes. I've decided to end my exclusive contract with Amazon, opening the door to many other channels for e-book sales. I'll also be releasing a new edition of the paperback in a handier size, which I hope to make available in bookstores everywhere. More on those plans next month.
I hope you'll join my bookmark brigade and help introduce The Darkest Eyes to receptive readers who otherwise might not find it.
Oh, and did I mention I'm working on a prequel?