2012 Writers and Readers Reach Out

Over the years I’ve challenged my readers at All Things Southern to join me in an annual benefit for the less fortunate. We’ve done everything from drilling wells in Africa with Life Today to partnering with World Vision to buy chickens and goats for needy families around the world.

Last year I became fixated with the exponential power represented by the fellow writers I meet in my travels. Knowing these wordsmiths all had a circle of readers that enjoy his or her work and interact with them via their websites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter, I wondered what we might accomplish by combining our individual platforms and multiplying our efforts. The dream led me to launch Writers and Readers Reach Out. The positive results fueled my desire to do more. For the second year, I’m asking writers and readers to embark with me on 30 Days of Thankfulness to coincide with the season of Thanksgiving.

I was in the planning stages of the drive and personally burdened by what I was learning about human trafficking when I read Passport through Darkness, by Kimberly L. Smith.  I knew immediately that Make Way Partners, the organization that Kimberly and her husbanded founded, should be the recipient of this year’s efforts. Make Way Partners works with individuals, churches, and organizations to help prevent and combat the evil of human trafficking and all forms of modern-day oppression.

If you’ll take the time to read just a few of the real-life stories on Kimberly’s blog of women and children who Make Way Partners has rescued from slavery, and for whom they provide long-term care, I believe you’ll want to participate in this beautiful journey of restoration.

Eight years ago, Kimberly began chartering small mission planes to fly her into the war zone where U.S. sanctions and Islamic regimes rendered thousands of orphans unadoptable. Providing food and opening a first-grade school in a lawless land with no other educational systems, MWP partnered with an indigenous leader to rescue and care for these most vulnerable orphans. Year-by-year, they have added a new grade to their school. Now, graduating eighth grade, the orphans of MWP have more education than many current leaders of their nation.  It is time to build a high school, making it possible to raise up the next generation of educated Christian leaders who will stop the cycle of violence and slavery.

Read about a few of these amazing students and the complete high school proposal here: http://kimberlylsmithblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/battle-cry-by-guest-blogger-matt-mcgowen.html

The quotes scattered here are those of the late Helen Keller.  Inviting Ms. Keller to share this journey with writers and readers feels right, for it was the power of a word written in the palm of her hand that unlocked Ms. Keller’s heart and mind and subsequently impacted untold lives around the world!

As readers and writers, no one knows the value of education better than we. Let’s dream big and build a high school for the world’s most vulnerable orphans!

Thirty days of thankfulness. It’s not a long time, but it’s a perfect time to join hands and do something grand, together. ~Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

Details for participating authors:

~Writers and Readers 30 Days of Thankfulness begins Nov.1st, 2012

~Each author posts the drive and invites his or her readers to join the effort.

~Participating authors and their websites will be credited and hyperlinked
on Kimberly L. Smith’s author site as well as the MWP blog and Facebook page. The Make Way Partners community is 15,000 strong, representing all 50 states and 10 countries. Kimberly will be blogging about Readers and Writers Reach Out and encouraging her supporters to read works from authors who are of the same mind and passionate to support the same things they care about.

(Authors, please contact audreym@makewaypartners.org if you would like to participate.  Please email Audrey with your name, blog site, Facebook page, website, or any other acknowledgement that you would like to use for your readers to track this opportunity.)

~Each author will be supplied with a button to use on your website, blog, Facebook wall, etc., linked to the donation button at Make Way Parners. You’ll notice the donation form has the following field: “How did you learn about Make Way Partners?” The software can easily track the efforts of individual authors by having the reader respond in that field with the shortened name of our drive and the author’s name. Example: WritersandReaders,authorJohnSmith

*The individual author will have access to how much he or she has personally raised but all other records will be private. There will be no public competition. At the end of the 30 days, we will publically announce the grand total raised, thanking all participating authors.”

Suggestions for participating authors:

~Please feel free to copy and paste this blog post directly, or use your own words to share the story.

~Instead of asking readers for a certain dollar amount, we respectfully suggest asking them to consider the weight of the subject. What would we be willing to do or give if it were our children and grandchildren being bought and sold?

~Strictly optional: On my personal blog, I enjoy having a giveaway in conjunction with the drive. Everyone who donates get entered in the drawing for a signed book, t-shirt, DVD, or anything else I decide to put in a goody bag. Last year I contacted one of my radio sponsors who gladly donated an Ipad for the giveaway! This idea might work for authors who don’t have a radio show, but do have a store or business in their area that would like to participate by sponsoring the author’s drive. In addition, Make Way Partners will give a free copy of Passport through Darkness to every donor.

~Keep the drive before your readers through your own platform during the thirty day focus, aiming to blog about it at least once a week and discuss it frequently via social media.

~Use your media contacts to schedule interviews to talk about Writers and Readers Reach Out 2012. If we can make use of your contacts but you’re unable to donate the interview time, please contact me. It may be that Kimberly or I, if not another of our participating authors, would be able to fill in.

~When twittering or pinning this drive please use hashtags #WritersandReaders2012 or #WR2012. Thank you!

Hugs, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson (twitter @shelliet)


This is your donate button:

Simply save the .gif to your desktop and insert it into your posts. The direct link you will be pointing to should be: https://app.etapestry.com/hosted/MakeWayPartners/OnlineDonation.html  

***UPDATE– Yes, bloggers are welcome and encouraged to participate, too.  Also, I’d like to thank LITFUSE Publicity Group for donating publicity efforts.

Stealth Marketing

Like many writers, I have issues with shameless self-promotion: I really hate blowing my own horn because isn’t that exactly what Christian humility tells us NOT to do?  Like every writer, though, I have to get myself into the marketplace to not only make sales and gain a readership, but also to spread the word that God has given me to share.

What’s a humble Christian to do?

One answer I’ve found is what I call ‘Stealth Marketing’ – marketing that doesn’t feel or look like traditional book selling yet still puts my name and book in front of new audiences I might not otherwise reach. Basically, I do non-profit events.

In particular, I donate books to silent auctions or hold a book signing to benefit a local charity. I’ve found that what I forfeit in cash revenue, I get back many times over in free publicity, good will, new readers, and a personal sense of contribution.

In the past year, I’ve donated books to local, regional, and national silent auction fundraisers. I started with the annual dinner auction at my children’s school, which is usually attended by some 300 people. I wrote up a brief sketch of the book and submitted it along with a photo to be used on the display card at the auction, as well as in the auction booklet. After the event, I had a call from another school parent who told me that she thought the books were such a great item idea, that she was going to buy a set of my books to donate to another group’s auction. I estimated that would double the exposure I’d just gotten from the first auction. Out of curiosity, I checked my website tracking to find that the number of hits clearly rose after the dinner. Good intentions and a book donation can go a long way, I realized.

Deciding I’d found a productive way to publicize my books and generate sales without the self-promotion I dreaded, I began to look for non-profit groups that corresponded with my target market – birdwatchers and mystery readers – to reach new audiences. In the past year, my books were listed in  programs for a variety of fundraisers, including the Raptor Research Foundation’s annual (international) meeting, the national conference of MIA/POW families, a Savannah (GA) Rotary Club, and the International Festival of Owls. After each event, I’ve seen increased traffic to my website.

Closer to home, I really enjoyed the book signing hosted by my favorite local eatery. It was a success for all of us involved: I asked customers to bring items for the local food shelf, and I discounted each book they bought. We collected bags of food to restock the shelves just before the winter holidays, the diner had increased business that morning, and I got free publicity in the bulletins of area churches that support the food shelf, not to mention that warm feeling of doing something good for my community!

Do you practice stealth marketing?

%d bloggers like this: