Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Cause-Related Marketing

by Kay Kendall, @Kaylee_Kendall
Everyone knows the publishing world is in upheaval and it’s a dog-eat-dog world as far as promoting books is concerned. At first the various ways to connect through social media seemed to be heaven-sent, yet now, after only a year or two, folks on authors’ chat groups across the Web lament that book sales are flagging. They say that the kinds of promotions that used to work are not as effective anymore.
What’s an author to do?
 My own debut mystery DESOLATION ROW was published by Stairway Press of Seattle just this spring, and of course I have been going full-tilt with online marketing. Lately I’m turning the bulk of my attention back to mystery number two, but when I write for days on end and let the promotion slide, my sales figures fall. So, like a yoyo, I pop right back to do more online marketing.
You know the drill. Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, blogging and/or guest blogging. And now, as if all us authors didn’t have our hands full already, Everyone says that an author has to add Google+
What is a poor besieged author to do?
In an earlier incarnation in life I was a vice president of public affairs with American Express. This was in the late eighties when the company was pioneering the concept called cause-related marketing. Now I have begun my own version of that, and I suggest that you at least consider it. It isn’t something you will have to do daily. The concept is no longer brand new in the world of marketing, but it is not yet old hat in the book world.
Simply put, you as an author know what charitable causes have resonance with you. Find one that also relates to something in your book. Then promote the fact that you will donate a part of your royalties to that worthy cause. Both sides of the equation win. Even if this does not sell more of your books today, you show your true colors as a caring person about something that is not frivolous, something that is near and dear to your heart. The homeless, arts in your community, a hospital funding drive. The list is truly endless.
For example, DESOLATION ROW is set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. In 1968 a young bride from Texas uses her CIA-honed skills to catch the real killer when her husband lands in a Canadian jail for murdering the draft-resisting son of a United States senator. Read the whole book and you will find that the overall thrust is pro-soldier and anti-war.
Because of that ethos, and because I have supported the organization for more than 30 years, I am choosing to donate a portion of my royalties to the Paralyzed Veterans of America.  When I talk about that, I not only share with readers where my heart lies but also profile a worthy organization that does essential work.  Remember: the connection between your writing and your cause is key.
I urge you to look at your writing and your own causes. See what will work to make both sides of that equation gain prominence and profile. A position that is win-win for all concerned is always best. And as we used to say back in the day—slightly amended to what I am doing now…WRITE ON!
Kay Kendall is an international award-winning public relations executive who lives in Texas with her husband, five house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. A fan of historical mysteries, she set her debut mystery during the Vietnam War, a key conflict of last century not already overrun with novels. Kay says her mysteries feature women caught in their own battles during that unusual war era. "In Desolation Row I explore what life was like for a typical young woman--not a headline maker, not a Hanoi Jane or Angela Davis, but a moderate who nonetheless got swept up by history's tides during the turbulent sixties. All that turmoil lends itself to drama, intrigue, and murder." Kendall's now working on her second Austin Starr mystery, Rainy Day Women.