Monday, March 8, 2010

Shrinking Violet Ideas in Action: THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS

It’s no secret that Mary and I are big fans of using the buddy system for just about every aspect of marketing, from booksignings, to blogging, to just general support. So it’s always very fun to hear from our SVP readers to see just how some of these approaches are working out for them.

This week, P.J., Jessica, and Jo are reporting in with Shrinking Violet readers on their newest venture, a group blog. As you will soon see, it’s not only a great way to add a new dimension to their promoting efforts, but also allows them to highlight others, another favorite Shrinking Violet tactic!


For those of you who haven’t heard of THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS, we’re three kids’ authors from Austin, Texas who have banded together to promote ourselves and our books while making a positive impact in the children’s literature community. THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS consist of PJ Hoover, Jessica Lee Anderson, and Jo Whittemore .

As to promoting the children’s literature community, every week or so, on our blog, we interview someone we consider a true sweetheart. This person is someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to helping the kidlit community. Some examples of our Featured Sweethearts include Jen Robinson, Mitali Perkins, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Alice Pope. Please stop by and visit!

So why a group, and how does this help with promotion? The biggest thing we’ve discovered is it is way easier to promote a group than to promote yourself. As readers of the SVP blog know, it’s hard to go up to people you don’t know and introduce yourself and talk about your book. It is worlds easier to walk up and mention a group of which your just happen to be a member of. THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS are taking advantage of this group marketing mentality by attending events like TLA, BEA, and ALA nationwide. And aside from the group marketing aspect, when you’re a member of a group like THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS, you have someone to walk the floor with at conferences like this. You are rarely left standing alone biting your lip, wondering who will talk to you. You have a team. You have a buddy!

And let’s not forget that your individual fanbase multiplies when you’re in a group. Yes, there will be overlap with common friends and organizations, but there will also be plenty of social circles that intersect at just one writer (picture a Venn diagram). If that writer joins a group, the other members now have access to that writer’s social circles and vice versa. Awareness of the writer’s work is increased on an exponential level, and as we all know, word-of-mouth is one of the most effective forms of advertising. Plus, other group members may have access to social circles not accessible to their cohorts. For example, Writer #1 might have no media connections while Writer #2 has a day job at the local paper. If the two combine forces, however, Writer #1 now has access to someone who works in print media and can utilize that to possibly finagle an article. Of course, there will also be a way for Writer #2 to benefit, maybe through a connection Writer #1 has to the school working as the principal.

With a group like THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS, there is an added bonus of a built in support network when it comes to things like brainstorming, career advice, and celebrating the highs and lows of this business. Reaching out via impersonal online social networks or at large meetings can be enough to cause a case of indigestion and the sweats, but it isn’t as overwhelming to ask your group for advice or encouragement. A small, intimate group provides comfort and fosters communication so when faced with daunting tasks like planning a book release event, the support is empowering. Your group can provide ideas and suggestions to make the event a success. Your group will be there to build you up, and knowing you have your support network cheering you on, even if just in spirit, can help you accomplish what might seem impossible otherwise.

The bottom line is groups rock! They offer built in support and the inherent ability to come off as much less self-serving. No matter what group you are a part of, become involved. Think of ways, as a group, you can promote yourselves or reading in general. And if you aren’t a member of a group, join one! THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS are just one small group, but in the kidlit community, there are more groups than Facebook author pages. Think SCBWI or critique groups, or debut novelist groups like the Class of 2k10. Become involved and you’ll feel enabled to break out of your introvert shell

We also want to announce our winner from last week's contest. WolfPaw6 has won a copy of Teri Hall's new book, THE LINE! WolfPaw, email Mary with your mailing info and she'll get that out to you!


PJ Hoover said...

Thank you so much for featuring The Texas Sweethearts, Mary and Robin. We have found our writing and marketing soul mates with each other!

Jo Whittemore said...

Yes, thank you, ladies! Another point I meant to add is that with groups, it's sometimes easier for people to remember your entity than your individual names (Tenners, Shrinking Violets, Blue Rose Girls).

tanita✿davis said...


It is so not fair. You really would never feel like you were on your own if your book buddies also were wearing the same clothes.

This is really neat.

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, Tanita! I love the matching shirts, too!

Anonymous said...

I second the recommendation for author groups. I've been lucky to find debut author groups (I was involved in the Classes of 2k9 and 2k10, as well as Debut2009 and Tenners, since my debut moved from '09 to '10). For local events, I've begun working with a new group of local authors, the Kidlit Authors Club. The moral support and networking are invaluable.

PJ Hoover said...

There is nothing like the support, is there, Jenn!
Can't wait to meet you in VA!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great post and great suggestion to ban together with a group to market. I don't know what I'm more scared of: getting rejections or trying to do a good job of marketing. Being in a group and getting support and helping each other sounds great.

Irene Latham said...

I am loving the Texas Sweethearts! You go, girls!! As an introvert, the group thing has been a wonderful surprise for me. I have always been so solitary as a writer... but then... Big Table Poets! Tenners! Class of 2k10! SHRINKING VIOLETS! Amazing all the unexpected ways it helps an introvert navigate an extroverted world. xxoo

PJ Hoover said...

The group experience has been fantastic, Natalie! I think rejections are way scarier :)

Groups really do have power, don't they, Irene! And the small number in the Texas Sweethearts has made it especially close!

Jessica Lee Anderson said...

I'm a bit late coming to the party, but thank you so much for featuring us, Mary and Robin! Thanks too for the comments.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

great post thanks :)

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, Shelli!

myletterstoemily said...

great idea, and great scripture
about a three stranded cord
being hard to break!

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, myletterstoemily! It makes a really nice visual, too!

Nishant said...

It is so not fair. You really would never feel like you were on your own if your book buddies also were wearing the same clothes.
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