Your Name: Lillian A. Brummet
Where you are from and where are you now?
Lillian: Originally, I am from California (USA) – However my family moved often so I’ve also grown up in Nevada (USA) and BC (Canada). I even worked up north in the Artic circle for a half a year when I was 18. Now, at 38 years of age, I reside in a sleepy little city of 6,000 in the South-Western area of BC with my husband, Dave - whom I've been with for 18 years. BC is the western most province of Canada and sits above the US states of Washington and Idaho.
How did you get started writing?
Lillian: I have always written for pleasure and as a healing tool, but I began writing as a career in 1999 with the column Trash Talk. I wanted to leave a lasting, positive legacy behind and felt that writing was the tool for me to do this. This continues to be the drive behind my various passions and endeavors.
What do you do when you are not writing?
Lillian: Dave and I purchased our very own home, our first home, nearly 3 summer seasons ago. It was a rental for about 20 years and as such needed a lot of tender loving care, which we provide with every spare moment (and every spare dollar) we have. I am a gardener at heart and I can often be found playing in the dirt. In between these things I am a wife that juggles caring for the house and yard with a drum teaching business that my husband and I operate. Besides writing, I am also a book reviewer and a radio show host. Dave and I produce 2 radio shows, in fact, through the Blogtalk Radio Station.
What would readers like to know about you?
Lillian: Readers tend to want to know what I’ll be doing next. I just completed a cookbook project for our families and friends to enjoy in CD format. Since then, I took a bit of a break on large writing projects for a while but have plans on returning to another project that was started about 20 years ago by my mother. This is an organic gardening guide that offers harvesting tips and a planting calendar for those who are interested in organic gardening using biodynamic, intensive planting methods. I’m not sure where this project will take us, but it is something I’d like to complete and help my mother realize her dream of sharing her knowledge too. Since the release of Purple Snowflake Marketing I've written approximately 24 poems; most of these have already been published in several magazines and read live on radio many times. Just this summer, one of the poems from Towards Understanding was converted into a song by the band Grooveyard for their recently released CD: Place in Time (www.grooveyard.ca). That was a wonderful experience, for sure!
What inspired your first book?
Lillian: Ironically, it was a client from a business I used to run that inspired our first book Trash Talk. She was telling me how afraid she was of being seen taking in the returnable bottles or going to thrift stores - even only to buy Halloween costumes – since she was of the upper middle class. Yet when blue box recycling began in her neighborhood, it was a really big deal to make sure that her items were put on the curb so that she would be “seen” as participating. This got me to thinking about false pride and the importance of helping people realize that living consciously is not always about saving a buck or two, it is about the kind of legacy we want to leave behind when our time is done. So I started with an article on the subject and quickly realized that this was a column in the making - which it proved to be. Trash Talk column ran internationally in a variety of publications and was translated into Spanish and French languages between 1999 and early 2007 – when the last article of this series was written. The articles continue to be picked up and used by various publications. Anyway, as time went on Dave and I realized that this column just was not large enough to allow us to share all of the information we had – that was the spark of inspiration for the book, Trash Talk.
How many books have you written?
Four books in total, but only 3 are available for the public. We are currently looking at the potential for e-commerce on our site for the family cookbook that I completed last winter and possibly for an upcoming gardening book project as well. We haven’t decided yet.
What are the titles of your books and what genres are they?
Lillian: Ok, the other two published books are Towards Understanding and Purple Snowflake Marketing. Towards Understanding is a collection of nonfiction poems; Purple Snowflake Marketing is a guide for developing marketing plans for written pieces (books, articles, etc).
How do you decide on that topic or genre? Why are you specially qualified to write about this topic?
Lillian: Well, a writing teacher once told us that writers should focus on topics they know well or have a genuine curiosity about. So that is where we started and how we continue to work with today.
How do you manage to keep yourself focused and on track when you’re writing a book?
Lillian: A healthy dose of self-discipline! People will also find that they may have to train their family and friends so that their writing time is respected.
Do you write to make money, for the love of writing or both?
Lillian: I tend to write for the pleasure of it although it has grown to be a tool that I use to leave a positive legacy with.
What are some of the marketing techniques you have used? Which were the most successful?
Lillian: Personally I feel any opportunity to build name recognition is an opportunity not to be missed. Every day I put in at least 2-6 hours into some aspect of marketing the book. The Internet has proven to be a powerful tool where an immense amount of information can be found from newsletters, publishers, forums and authors. Every on-line communication we have is an opportunity to plug our book by simply attaching an auto signature. We developed promotional materials (flyers, mini-posters, large posters, bookmarks, and labels) and, of course, galleys and sample packages for editors and booksellers. Most importantly, we had a great website built.
Having a plan of action for every project is vital. Every project should have an outline starting from the title through to the end. There should also be a market plan laid out. Who are you marketing to? How you are going about it? What will you do first? These are the most important tools of a writer.
Most people think of a writing career being one where you have lots of leisure time and creating with words. On the contrary, most of the time is spent marketing and organizing projects. For instance, we might write an article and query it to a market. That market may take a few days to get back to us, but it may also be as long as a year before we hear from them. In the meantime, that article is idle and we do not get paid until after it is published - often several weeks after it is published. Therefore, a writer must have many pieces of their work at various stages of writing and marketing at one time. They need to know where each piece is and its status, at a glance. We use the Excel program to take care of this.
The market plan that we use for our books will take us years to complete and is constantly being amended with new information, new contacts to broach. That is normal, actually. A writer must spend much of their time promoting the book for years after publication in order to keep sales happening until the contract with the publisher is finished. So the more work an author has ahead of them in their marketing plan, the better. Unfortunately, promotion and writing time are unpaid hours.
What are some unique methods of marketing you have used?
Lillian: Free promotional filler articles, book review projects and media interviews are the most
effective frugal marketing tools we have found to date.
Do you sell through a website? If so, what’s the address? If not, why not?
Lillian: We don’t currently sell our books ourselves – we let those in the industry do that for us. We are already overwhelmed with marketing and writing and do not want to take on the additional headaches that come with shipping and handling, lost orders, filling orders and all the taxes and international border issues that may arise from this. We are currently considering, as I mentioned earlier today, of doing e-commerce on our site in the near future with simple “buy now” buttons. The incentive to do this soon is there because of my husband's level 1 hand drum CD and the Grooveyard CD. We are excited about looking into this, but are a little apprehensive as well, because taking on yet another project like this means committing even more time to learn new things. It will, once again, boil down to finding that healthy balance.
Where can people order your books?
Lillian: Virtually anywhere. Trash Talk and Towards Understanding are paperback books printed on 50% recycled paper and are available to order through online and traditional retailers around the world. The books are stocked in numerous library systems in the UK, Canada and the US as well. My personal favorite online retailer is Barnes & Nobles due to their exceptional prices, shipping and speed of delivery - so I do recommend that online retailer.
Purple Snowflake Marketing is currently available as an e-book and as such on can purchase it at places like:
However, in late 2008 Purple Snowflake Marketing will be released as a second edition with 200 more resources and marketing opportunities for writers to access. I am told it will be available in both hard and soft cover format and will be accompanied with a CD so that readers can still access the convenience of live links.
What was the most successful thing you did to promote your books?
Lillian: Without a doubt the most successful thing I did was to build a strong name recognition foundation to work from. With that to work with, doors opened much more easily for us whereever we went. Without it, our marketing efforts would have been much less effective because even if people took the time to listen to or read the exposure we received; they would have had a difficult time finding us online or anywhere else.
What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own creativity?
Lillian: Reading other people’s work is a huge inspiration to me on a creative level. I am
constantly learning from others with every word I read.
What do you think motivates people to become authors? What motivated you to get into this unusual industry?
Lillian: The notoriety is probably a big draw for most people - people treat you differently when you are a published author. However the reason behind our books, articles and even our 2 radio shows as well, is to inspire others to live more conscious, proactive and positive lifestyles. In doing so we hope to create a ripple effect of good works or good deeds across the planet.
Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote any books.
Lillian: I really enjoy doing crafts, though I rarely have the leisure time (she laughs) and I put this to good use. I reuse breakfast cereal boxes and maps or wrapping paper and create bookmark displays for various applications. I then take these around during our travels and keep an eye out for a friendly counter or bulletin board. I found tremendous success through laundry facilities near high tourist traffic zones in town and also at a popular restaurant that has a display for maps in the front. These were very effective methods to reach those tourists coming through our small city. Because the displays are pretty and attract the eye, they are very effective. I have different styles for different applications and would consider that prior to taking a display in. For instance, if the store serves a predominately male clientele, I take in a display made from a map or wrapping paper with images of antiques. Travelers would enjoy the map design, while families and women would be more attracted to floral and ribbon decorations.
If a potential reader thinks that your book wouldn't interest them, what would you say to convince them to buy?
The answer would vary depending on the book and the targeted audience. For Trash Talk it might be “save money, reduce waste and green the planet”. For Towards Understanding it might be “an emotional journey of finding one’s self and pursuing their passion”. For Purple Snowflake Marketing, I might say “learn how to create a frugal and effective marketing plan for every piece you write”.
This interview was done in conjunction with Nikki Leigh, author of the Book Promo 101 series and owner of Promo 101 Virtual Blog Tours. For more information, visit – www.nikkileigh.com/promo.htm and www.virtualblogtour.blogspot.com
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