I receive all sorts of blog posts in my e-mails, thanks to several subscriptions. Recently, a post by Michelle Garren Flye (if you are a regular reader of Type AJ Negative, then you recognize the name) titled Sometimes Magic Happens made me think about readership and getting a slice of that pie. In her post was a link to an interview of one Molly Gaudry. After reading Michelle’s post and Molly’s interview, I wrote my own piece on it, Pimping the Prostistories… Or Maybe Doing Some Marketing. I referenced both articles in my post. By doing so, the opportunity to interview Molly came about. She visited the Donor Center and bravely let Herbie poke her arm with a needle. The results are as follows:
AJ: Who is Molly Gaudry?
MG: My high school English teacher’s only criticism of me (in her letter of recommendation) was: “Molly is more of a follower than a leader.” She added to this, “But this does not mean she won’t champion her causes or take stands for what she believes.”
I think, all these years later, she’s still right about that.
AJ: That’s quite a curious assessment considering that you are the founder of The Lit Pub and Cow Heavy Books, the founding editor of The Willows Wept Review and co-founding editor of Twelve Stories right? How does a follower do all these things?
MG: Oh, I am definitely following in the footsteps of writers that came before me. Twelve Stories (and WWR) came first. I loved the energy of the online magazines, and my BFF, Blythe, and I had talked about editing a mag together as undergrads, so the timing seemed right and we put one together — just like Blake Butler had Lamination Colony and Scott Garson had Wigleaf.
Cow Heavy (originally Willows Wept Press) was the next logical progression — a way to make physical word objects. A way to make some money, maybe. A way to provide real books for authors I love. Not unlike Blake Butler’s No Colony.
Maybe The Lit Pub is the first real thing I’ve ever done. Maybe I’m all grown up now. I’m still uncomfortable with the idea of being a “leader,” though. It just makes me scrunch my eyebrows and go, What? Me? Yeah, right!
AJ: I think everyone follows in someone’s footsteps, but some choose not to walk along the same path. Being that you have taken the initiative to create these online sites shows that you have the leadership ability. But, being that you said The Lit Pub may be the first real thing you’ve done, tell me about it for those who don’t know.
MG: The “Lit” in TLP stands for literature and the “Pub” stands for Publishers, Publishing, Publicity, and Pub, and it’s the last of these that has proven, most of all, to resonate most with our audience in the short time we’ve been alive. Pub, as in “gathering place,” is really what we’re becoming. Let me explain:
On June 1st, when we launched, we said we were a publicity company and an online bookstore. We haven’t sold a lot of books, and we haven’t contracted any authors/clients for publicity. Not yet, anyway. I think it’s too soon for that in any case because it’s only been a short while and people are waiting to see if we are worth all the hype.
But since we’ve had our website up, we’ve heard from readers who have shared about their stillbirths. We’ve heard from readers who write letters to both mourn and grieve; we’ve heard from readers who keep journals as a way of spiritual recovery; we’ve heard from readers who are extremely up-to-date on their gender politics and eager to talk about the sexism inherent in today’s publishing industries.
Our website, in such a short period of time, has proven to be a place for community, for sharing, for thoughtful and serious discussion.
Going in, I had certain expectations — find clients, sell books — but I did not expect to be so deeply moved, every day, by the high levels of intimacy and bravery shown by the readers joining us and leaving comments on our site.
AJ: So does that mean, in the short time TLP has been around, it has served as a healing spot, an oasis in the desert, so to speak?
MG: I think the website is establishing itself as a place to share painful stories, yes, and find sympathetic listeners (readers?). The website is also a place for thoughtful, critical content relevant to the themes of the books we’re featuring. But if this means the website is TLP “heavy,” then our Facebook page is definitely TLP “light.” We’re talking about the same post at both sites, but at Facebook you’re getting the easy version. Check it out to see what I mean.
AJ: With either heavy or light situations, if you are connecting with folks (and possible readers) then you have a better chance of having them come back time and time again. So many places, both in the real world and online, have a strong disconnect feeling to them and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a place where one can feel comfortable and relax.
When we touch someone emotionally, we connect with them. And isn’t that the goal? To connect with readers in order to bring them back time and time again?
MG: You’re right, yes, the goal is to touch everyone who visits our site, emotionally, intellectually, and for the emotions or brains that reach out to be inviting and respectful of newcomers.
In the past few days we have seen a lot of commenter-loyalty, a lot of the same names that keep coming back to us, as well as a lot of new names, all of which are great because everyone is leaving amazing comments.
AJ: Essentially, isn’t that part of what you want to do for both writers and readers alike? Reach out, touch them, and bring them together?
AJ: So, let’s touch on that for a moment. Bringing writers and readers together. As you’ve stated in a previous interview, getting published is easier than ever, but getting part of that audience is a bit harder. How does TLP plan on bringing the two together?
MG: Oh yes, in that same interview, I believe I said that Facebook, Twitter, and a blog may really be all a writer needs to get their name out there. Consider Ethel Rohan, one of our featured authors this month. She received her MFA from Mills not too long ago, she had a simple WordPress blog for a while, she’s active on Facebook and Twitter, she recently switched over and got herself a website where she now blogs, and she’s got two books and several awards and nominations. Also worth noting — she’s never worked, to my knowledge, as an editor anywhere.
Ethel’s doing great on her own — I knew about her book long before TLP was even a seed making its way toward an idea. But my hope is that TLP can help in addition to everything Ethel’s done, to bring more awareness to her book. Not to mention, provide a little mini-website for her book — a go-to destination for all things related to Cut Through the Bone. Her author bio is there, the blurbs, the reviews, interviews, trailer, reading tour, and all those archived feature articles about her book. At any time, tomorrow or ten years from now, anyone can find the CTtB page and begin engaging with the content there. It is our goal to always keep those pages up-to-date, so that our authors always have a great one-spot stop to send their fans.
Now, your question is: how are we going to find those potential readers, those potential customers? You’re saying, Hey, it’s great if the author’s doing this and TLP has this super-efficient website, but how are regular people outside of the books world supposed to find the TLP website or the author’s blog/website/Facebook/Twitter?
First, word of mouth. Tell your friends and families and co-workers and strangers you meet in cafes about us because we need all the help we can get. Second, we’re working our butts off behind the scenes to partner TLP with indie-friendly companies that are going to help make TLP far more visible in bookstores across the country, on mobile devices, at film festivals, and the list goes on. We’re still verynew, and things like this take planning and a lot of legal legwork. We’re hoping for the best, and we’re hoping that over time TLP will just keep expanding its reach on behalf of our authors, publishers, readers, and partners.
AJ: From the way it sounds, you guys have done a lot of research and have developed a plan for you, the writers and the readers. It sounds like TLP is a developing marketing network. Am I reading into this right? TLP and the author, in conjunction with one another to get the most out of the marketing effort?
MG: That’s true, yes, we have done a lot of research but, of course, we still need to do more, and more, and more. Our plan is to keep evolving our plan, so that as time goes on we continue to reach more and more readers. So yes, we are a developing marketing network. And yes, our authors are an important part of this network.
AJ: Being that I’m a writer, if I wanted to take advantage of your services, how do I go about doing that?
MG: Let me pitch you with the advantage of having a Featured Book at The Lit Pub. If you go to our homepage, you can see book cover images. Click on any of the book cover images and see that Featured Book’s permanent URL, a web address that never goes away, that holds all of the relevant information about your book (bio, blurbs, trailer, links to reviews, interviews, reading tour dates, and all the article archives).
If your book is featured at The Lit Pub, we give you a one-spot stop to send all your friends and fans. This page is always updateable — if your book wins an award of course we would want to announce that on its page; if it is reprinted, of course we’d update that page. And its URL will always work — so if you wanted to print up fliers or postcards for your book, you could always put that URL on those handouts.
(If you’re on the homepage and look below the book cover, you’ll see “Recent Post,” and if you click one of those you’ll see that the URL is that article’s individual URL. The point is — you have a place to show off your book, forever. And we will always keep it up to date for you.)
So, now. If you’re interested, you have a few options:
1. Featured Book campaigns run anywhere from one to three months. Once you decide that you’d like your book to be featured at The Lit Pub, you would want to contact either me or Chris, depending on who you want to work with. We’ll let you know our rates, and then the next step is for you to send us a copy of your book to read and consider.
(When we consider it, we are hoping for a book that resonates with us, a book we would recommend to our friends and families, a book we can read over and over as we work together on the campaign, a book that we would be eager to revisit every day as we write our articles about it.)
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and Chris at email@example.com.
2. Your publisher may always request a spot on our site as a guest publisher, which rotates every 2 to 4 weeks. If you would like your publisher to be one of our rotating guests, just have her or him contact firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a date.
AJ: Terrific information, Molly. Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers out there about The Lit Pub?
MG: How about just this? We are very young and we’re just getting started, just trying to learn how to figure our way through these early days, and of course we don’t have all the answers but we are trying, we are trying harder every day, and we’ll take all the help we can get spreading the word. If you know anyone who likes to read, anyone who is in a book club, anyone who might like what we’re doing at The Lit Pub, please tell them about us because we’re eager to see new names and hear (read) new voices in our comments.
AJ: Very good, Molly. Thank you for your time and for letting Herbie poke you with a needle. I think you’ve given enough blood for one session. Maybe we can have you back here at the Donor Center after you’ve had a few months under your belt. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for you and all those involved with The Lit Pub.
MG: Hahha, Thanks AJ, I’d love to come back. Thank you! And thank YOU for your time and energy… I’ve conducted interviews for a few years myself, and while I always prefer interviewing the authors themselves to writing reviews of their books, it’s still slightly more work, given the back-and-forth nature of it. So I appreciate your time. Thanks again!!!
(Herbie’s note: Word of mouth is an essential part of marketing. You tell someone and they tell someone else and so on. We all need a little help along the way. Pay a visit over to The Lit Pub, browse around a bit, then spread the word. Tell them Herbie sent you…)