Today my guest is Lillian Brummet, author of Purple Snowflake Marketing, Trash Talk, and Towards Understanding, which she co-wrote with her husband, Dave. Lillian is very active in teaching people how to live in an eco-friendly environment, and she is very knowledgeable in marketing. If you are at a loss as to which way to go with the promotion of your books, or even your business, then Purple Snowflake Marketing can help.
Lillian, thank you so much for being with us today.
It is a thrill, Brandi! I really enjoyed networking with you in the past and appearing on your May 11 - Guest Blogging at BK's Live Journal ( http://bk-walker.livejournal.com ) and the April 27 - Spotlight Feature at BK Walker Books ( http://virtualbooktourcafe.weebly.com ) - Your support of our work is certainly appreciated.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself...
Well, I'm a 40-year-old woman - I have a huge passion for the 5-R's of waste management (rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle), gardening and writing. Outside of this my passions involve camping, music and animals. On the hours off that I have away from both the office and home-based duties, I can be found hiking, bicycling or snowshoeing in our BC mountains, or canoeing one of the lakes in the Kootenay, Boundary and Okanagan regions, and rolling on the ground with my fur-companions. Our two rescued dogs are family to Dave and I, they go everywhere with us and we are constantly working with them to learn new tools, new ways of living. They are wonderful to be with and help me realize the amazing rebound affect that victims of abuse and neglect can go through when given a wholesome life.
What brought you and Dave to decide to work together as authors?
Our professional writing career started when we took our first writing course, where I was assigned an article project. I chose the genre due to my own passion on the topic (reusing "trash"). That was when Trash Talk began, just as a single article that I queried out and to my surprise got picked up as a column and within months was published internationally every two weeks. That was a lot of work, having to come up with a new topic in the genre and revealing as much as I could within the limited word count that one is assigned by publications. Dave jumped on board, gladly, and helped with editing proof reading, being a general soundboard and coming up with topics. Today we have had hundreds of non-fiction articles and poems and book reviews published as staff and freelance writers, song lyrics and music lesson projects released to the public, as well as our 3 books, 2 radio shows, newsletter and 2 blogs.
Is it hard co-writing with your husband?
I would love to be able to report that co-writing with a spouse is always lovely, and loving and super special with milk and cookies every day... (she laughs) - but in reality we've had to learn how to find compromises over the years. We've come to understand each other’s strengths and limitations, to have empathy for each other’s passions and obligations outside of the office and more. It can be hard sometimes to see Dave take on a big project when we are behind on one we haven't finished yet. It can be hard for Dave to wait for me to get off the computer so he can have his turn, or to be done with an interview so that he can discuss something with me. These of course are only examples, and the roles could be reversed from one moment to the next. After more than 10 years of working together, we finally were able to invest in a second computer (a Mac, of course) and a new digital voice recorder this year, which we expect will be a great boon to our level of production.
Dave’s strengths tend to lay in the graphic, diagram design related genre. He’s an award-winning photographer, and has enjoyed using them to accompany articles and poems we’ve had purchased by various magazines. He also designs the book covers, proof-reads and edits virtually all of the work that comes from the office. Actually, the pieces I’ve written that didn’t have his perusal first, show it. So I always appreciate this in him. His responsibilities also include web-design management, ad design, logos and audio, and other technical duties. He is also the face that most people see locally in person.
My strengths lie in being a strong keyboardist (I can type well) and good Internet research skills. I do most of the marketing and radio appearances, Online marketing, organization, querying and follow-ups, email management, hosting of the radio programs, and managing the blogs. I tend to create the drafts for our writing projects, including the research for them – and then we work together to fine tune the product.
What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
For me, writing has allowed me to feel like my life has value – that there is a reason for my lungs taking air in and out right now. “Why am I alive?” I used to ask myself. I came from an abusive, broken family life, was on my own at a very young age (13) and have been in a fairly serious car accident.
At that point, after the accident, I couldn’t understand why I survived all that I had only to have everything I worked for erased by this event. So after the chronic depression became manageable, I started to look at what kind of legacy I wanted to leave behind.
You might have heard others, who have been through similar shocks in life, that they begin to question the impact their life has had on the planet. What good have they done? What value lay in the fact that this person once existed?
So that same passion is behind everything I do… to the point where I was actually taken aside for a family meeting to be told that it was time for me to take 3 days in a row for myself every month. A commitment I have stuck to since then. You see, I was just doing too much and was reaching a breaking point. It can be hard to stop when the office is there, every day. I don’t leave the office behind when I am walking the dogs or mowing the lawn or filing in the office. My mind is always working on what guest we are having on the show, or how I want an article to sound, or how I plan on approaching a particular marketing opportunity. So that time away, has become essential for my own sanity and the harmony of the home.
How did you become such a guru on marketing?
You know its funny how that all started. You see, Dave and I have run businesses in the past (Drum-it Percussion & Incredibly Clean) as well as working in management positions – and as such we were often taking courses and reading books on management, business plan development and marketing alternatives. From that background we looked at writing as a business, and for any business to succeed one must have a strong business plan and a flexible, long-term marketing plan in place.
When people on forums began relying on me to respond to their many questions, people began fondly referring to me as their “guru girl” and their “pink bunny” – that last one came from a fellow who joked that our marketing efforts seemed tireless; that we kept going and going… like the battery bunny you often see on TV commercials. So the “pink bunny” I became. (She laughs).
What was the hardest part of writing Purple Snowflake Marketing?
Great question Brandi! Hmmm… I think the hardest thing was ensuring in my own mind that this e-book filled the gaps that other books in this genre have left. This involved a lot of research and re-reading some of our favorite writer’s resources to make sure that the product we were putting out was not only unique in the focus and content, but was also providing a real service. Another time-consuming aspect was the organization factor, making sure that the steps could be followed in the most efficient way. Because it is an e-book, we are able to update the content occasionally, and this allows us to increase the number of resources based on the things we’ve learned between publications. As such, the writing of this e-book will never be done. I always have several files going for new contributions for the next edition.
Can you tell us a little bit about your book?
Sure, I’d love to! Purple Snowflake Marketing really is a step-by-step guide that shows the writer who is working with a limited budget how to professionally and efficiently market every single book they write. There are about 19 chapters and 26 appendices that offer more than 900 links that the reader can access with a click of a mouse. This e-book shows everything that we have done in the 11 years of being in this career as professionals. It also offers encouraging advice and useful quotes from publishers, editors, writers, agents, book reviewers and others in the industry that we developed relationships with.
What dreams have been realized as a result of writing this book?
Well, for one thing I have my own marketing plan in a handy format! (She laughs) Honestly, it is the very tool I use for all our published works as well. So it is very handy for me, personally. I think the main thing I learned from releasing this book is that people definitely respond to how-to business and skill related books within the non-fiction genre, as compared to others that I’ve written in.
The benefits of releasing the book included reinforcing the networking relationships I have had over the years with various media and writing professionals. But really - the personally satisfying factor comes from hearing from publicists who tell me the appendices are invaluable tools for their careers; we’ve heard from authors who were lost in the maze and found their way out again. I’ve also noticed that this e-book has given us some clout when approaching new contacts with queries for articles and books; editors and publishers want to work with writers who are willing to do the behind the scenes work in the industry.
What advice can you give to new and aspiring writers/authors?
Where ever you are in your writing, research it. Research is the #1 tool for a writer. If you are querying a publication, for instance, you want to know what column you are aiming for (the garden column, the home repair column, etc) and who the contact is for that section of the publication. You want to know their circulation, and determine who their readers are through the focus of their articles and advertisement designs. Read several issues so that you know how they are speaking to their audience and reflect this information in both the piece itself, and the query letter you send out. Before your query letter is sent out your research should already tell you answers to common questions such as release dates and upcoming themes, suggested guidelines and word count requirements, lead-times and response times. So whatever you do, before you ask a question – see if you can find the answer yourself with the writer’s research skills that you already posses. People in the writing industry are so restricted for time that responding to common questions they’ve already addressed somewhere else can be frustrating for them and can result in a negative response.
What do you like to do outside of writing?
Outside of writing professionally and reading for leisure – I spend a lot of time gardening for pleasure and for practical benefits like nutrient-rich food production. Dave and I bought our first home only 4 years ago and have spent much of out time and finances on upgrades to the house and property. This year alone we’ve already had the lawn de-thatched and reseeded, compost bins turned, garden beds amended, underground irrigation installed (by an outside contractor) and fixed some drainage issues we had on 2 sides of the house as well as some cement work (creating a mow-friendly edge around our garden areas). This is only the beginning of a 2-page list of to-do’s that we hope to get completed this year! (She laughs) So most of our time outside of work is spent on one of the many items on the list. Dave and I love to explore trails and waterways and spend every moment we can get to refresh ourselves with these activities.
What is one thing your readers may be most surprised to know about you?
I’m not a huge fan of cooking – although I do get into the mood occasionally, normally this is a mundane chore for me and can actually spoil my appetite if I have to menu plan by myself for several weeks at a time. I’m a bit of a picky eater, avoiding deep fried foods and fatty meats, or what I view as “sea or land insects” (lobster, shrimp, crab etc). Dave however, loves cooking and is excellent at it (we just need someone to clean up the kitchen afterwards) – he’ll eat anything!
Because of the Incredibly Clean business I ran for 6 years prior to the vehicle accident we talked about earlier, I fine-tuned my already clean lifestyle, and I can get really bothered by things I haven’t done in a while. People that visit us often comment on how clean the house is, and this is important to me. One of my pet peeves is going out to a restaurant to find filth on their window blinds, window sills, the seats themselves or at the bottom of the wall along the floor – these areas are sometimes filthy in food establishments and any one of these is a tale tell sign as to what the areas are like that the public do not see. I’ve worked in the restaurant industry in the past and have seen it first hand, if the owners don’t notice those things in the front of the house – you know worse can be found in the back of the house.
…Does that surprise you? (She laughs)
Do you have any upcoming events you would like to share today?
Well, later on today I have a prerecorded interview with Motivational Minds Radio, but that won’t air for quite some time yet from what I understand. On May 20th I have Ina Hilldebrandt coming in to talk about youth literacy on Conscious Discussions Talk radio show (10 AM Pacific – http://blogtalkradio.com/consciousdiscussions) and on the 21st I have Debbie Nicholson dropping in to Authors Read radio show (9 AM Pacific – http://blogtalkradio.com/authorsread) to read from her poetry books. I’ll also be guest blogging with Alissa Grosso (http://alissagrosso.com) about how to work with another writer on May 21st. And to close this week on the 22nd I’ll be hosting the Sunday Gardening segment of Conscious Discussions radio, focusing on the topic of pollinators.
Do you have a parting comment?
I’d love to invite your readers to drop by my blog – Brummet’s Conscious Blog - where they can find the eco-tip of the day, quote of the day, conscious living tips, resources for writers and green living enthusiasts, writer interviews and more. http://consciousdiscussions.blogspot.com
Thank you so much for being with us today Lillian. It has been such a pleasure chatting with you. If you would like to purchase any of Lillian's books, please visit her website.
Lillian is on virtual book tour with Purple Snowflake Marketing, and by leaving a comment here today you will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of this fantastic tool. You may also visit her websites for her tour schedule, and by leaving a comment throughout her tour, you will be eligible for an entry to win her book.
Don't forget to stop in at her blog for tips and lots of information!