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Aug 03

Curiouser and Curiouser: Hilary Weisman Graham on Instructor Kirsten Cappy

As we mentioned in our last post, The Writing Barn is thrilled upon thrilled to have children’s book marketing guru Kirsten Cappy instructing the first The Writing Barn Presents class, “Discovering Your Readers: A Low-Residency Course in the Sane Self-Promotion of Children’s Books.”

Long-time fans of Kirsten’s out-of-the-box ideas, we know how brilliant she is. But don’t take our word for it. Hilary Weisman Graham, author of the upcoming young adult novel Reunited, wrote us about her experiences with Kirsten. And we’re delighted to have her.

Hilary Weisman Graham

Hilary Weisman Graham

Here’s what Hilary had to say:

I knew I’d found a kindred spirit when I met Kirsten Cappy of Curious City.  I was at my very first New England SCBWI event when I just walked up and introduced myself, babbling enthusiastically about the crazy marketing scheme I’d devised for my soon-to-be-released young adult novel, REUNITED, which tells the story of three ex-best friends who take a 2,000-mile road trip to see the one-night-only reunion show of their all time favorite band.

My plan?  To create REUNITED’s fictional band, Level3, and bring them to life online via songs, music videos and a robust social media presence.  But I needed guidance — someone to tell me if my madcap designs were even feasible, and if so, how best to implement them. To my great delight, Kirsten not only liked the concept, but she jumped right in with several deliciously zany ideas of her own, transforming my offbeat marketing plan into a full-on meta-fiction universe.

Yes, Kirsten confirmed, my plan to bring Level3 to life online was a good one, but why stop there? According to her, my fictional band needed to take it up a notch — to connect with fans person-to-person, through text messages and in real life too.  And what better way to do that than go out on tour?  “And how exactly does a fictional band go on tour? ” I asked, slightly skeptical.  Kirsten wasn’t totally sure yet, but she promised to give it some thought and get back to me.

A few weeks later, after she’d assembled her team of librarian/musician superheroes for a late-night brainstorming session, Kirsten called me with her plan.

ReunitedStep one:  reach out to librarians to see if they’d be interested in hosting a music-based teen event.  After librarians across the country quickly responded with a resounding “Yes!”, Kirsten moved on to Step Two, hiring indie rocker Dilly, Dilly to appear as Level3’s opening act, where she’d be responsible for making a series of wild excuses for Level3’s absence along the tour and offering them lots of freebies (MP3s from both Level3 and Dilly, Dilly, free REUNITED book chapters, and a chance at a $50 Ticketmaster gift card) in return for the missing band. Plus, with the creation of a life-sized Pea Pod* photo booth (*the nickname of the van the girls take on their drive cross-country), teens could take pictures of themselves to share on Facebook and Twitter.

Since my publisher, Simon & Schuster, was as excited by these new, interactive ideas as I was, Kirsten moved on to Step Three: reaching out to her wide network of librarians and making the formal pitch. Of course, the librarians were all in on the joke, knowing full well that the headlining band was sure to be a no-show, but thrilled to have such a dynamic great way to engage their teen readers. Step Four involved launching the tour with as much press as humanly possible including all local media outlets, as well as getting Simon & Schuster on board to reach out to the national press.

Today, I’m happy to report that Kirsten’s plan is working perfectly. Dilly, Dilly is currently on the road, hitting libraries from Boston to Austin, REUNITED’s getting great media coverage, and my fictional band’s even starting to get some radio play!

Without Kirsten’s help, I’d have a book with an interesting marketing hook. But thanks to her vast expertise and creative thinking, I’ve been able to create a fully fleshed out meta-world that actively engages REUNITED’s readership, whether they’re already fans of the book, or potential ones. No longer is my book’s “bonus content” just something to look at and listen to – it’s something readers can actually participate in.

Hilary Weisman Graham is a screenwriter, Emmy-nominated TV producer, filmmaker and the author of Reunited (Simon & Schuster), her debut young adult novel.  Visit her at:  Hilarygraham.com.

For more about Kirsten, visit the Curious City website. And don’t forget to check out the awesome Discovering Your Readers course Kirsten will be hosting at The Writing Barn.

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