Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tying a Nonfiction Idea To Your Novel

Today Forensics and Faith is pleased to present a guest post by nonfiction writer and novelist Mary E. DeMuth. Mary's latest novel, Daisy Chain, is being publicized by a creative marketing idea that may spur you to some ideas of your own.
One of the cool things that happened to me this year was becoming a Cec Murphey marketing scholarship recipient. That gave me access to extra (outside source) marketing and PR people. Jim Rubart, a novelist who is a professional marketer, read my latest release, Daisy Chain, way before it was released. We spent time brainstorming creative ideas to promote the book. Together we developed the idea of creating a safe place for readers to share their family secrets. The issue of family secrets directly ties into the message and plot of Daisy Chain.

It took me awhile to figure out how to create a blog/website interface that wasn’t going to take a lot of work to maintain. And then I called up my friends at
Tekeme Studios who designed my site The Writing Spa. They crafted a perfect site, matching the tone and look of Daisy Chain. The site is called My Family Secrets. Folks who want to share a secret anonymously can click on the Tell Your Secret tab.

The idea is similar to the wildly popular
Post Secrets blog with two exceptions:

1. I don’t have to gather postcards, scan them into my computer, and post them.
2. The subject matter is purely related to family secrets.

My PR friends then capitalized on the concept of Family Secrets, created a press release with that slant, and sent it here and there and everywhere. This opened the door for some great interviews where I spoke as the expert on Family Secrets, offering helpful information for those struggling with their own secrets. These interviews afforded me the opportunity to talk about the book as well. This opened the door for an interview with Christian Retailing. You can read the article

How do I measure the success of this? I monitor the site stats—I’m averaging about 100 visitors a day. Not bad for a brand new site. And I’ve had a few interviews since the book’s March first release, with more on the way. The Christian Retailing plug was unexpected. But the best measure to me is reading folks’ secrets and knowing that they’re taking their first tentative steps toward healing.

I'll end with a story. Last weekend I spoke about my own family secrets. It wasn’t an easy talk, but I peppered it with hope and practical suggestions for ways to find healing. (You can
read my testimony on my website). One woman came up to me and said, “I have a secret I’ve never told a soul.” I prayed for her.

The next day our church had a non-traditional service where we could go to different stations and worship (writing confessions, lighting candles, experiencing communion, etc.) One station was a place where several people gathered, ready to pray for folks. Another woman that had heard my talk approached me afterwards. “Mary,” she said. “Another gal who heard you yesterday asked me to pray for her. She shared a secret she’d never shared before.”

I smiled because I knew that this lady had tentatively taken her first step toward healing, by bringing it to the light. What a privilege it is to tie a nonfiction message to my fiction book! And how amazing that God uses that message to set folks free.

My question for you: What nonfiction idea can you tie to your book that not only highlights your novel in a unique way, but also builds the Kingdom of God?


Mary DeMuth said...

Hey! I think it's super cool that the word verification I have to type on this comment is "chics." Because we are both chic, and we're chicks, right?

Anyway, thank you so much for hosting moi on your site. I'm looking forward to reading what your BGs say, particularly their own ideas for nonfiction tie ins.

Lynette Eason said...

Oh Mary, what a wonderful idea. My family is going through a world of hurt right now due to something that happened two days ago. It rocked our world and some of us are barely clinging to the edge of hope for restoration. I can see how anonymously giving that secret hurt to God would begin the journey toward healing.

Thanks for sharing this.


Mary DeMuth said...


I'm so sorry to hear about this. Jesus, be with Lynette and her family. Hold them close. Heal the wounds. Cradle them warmly in Your arms. Amen.

Anonymous said...

I'm praying for Lynette too. Thanks for this post, Mary.

Grady Houger said...

That’s a really a great project you have.
It’s hard to think up participatory side projects that seem remotely successful. The main thing a person can do if they want to let their project go further is to license it Creative Commons share-alike non-commercial. Then anyone could write study guides, pamphlets, lessons or anything else they want to.
I suppose getting one’s publisher to go along with it might be a problem, depending on how profit centered they were. CC licensing shouldn’t be come across as abandoning a low value piece, the ideal is making it a part of one’s brand/ministry/author identity where fans are encouraged to be creative with a work they loved. Real participation is valuable brand-wise, even if it means giving away work for free.

Mary DeMuth said...

Wow Grady. Sounds like we all need to pick your marketing/branding brain (though if Brandilyn picked it, um, she might literarally do that).

Tina, where two or more are gathered...

Lisa Faye Harman said...

I love this idea. It increases the take away value of the book when readers are encouraged to work through the theme of the book in a personal way. and
What a heart for Jesus you have.

Mary DeMuth said...

Thanks Lisa, I appreciate your words.