When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, a very good friend went looking for a book to teach her how to help me through the cancer ordeal. She inquired in bookstores, went to the Internet, asked relatives and friends, and tried every avenue available in her quest for information. She came up empty handed each time. After a year of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, I sat down and wrote the book she was looking for. I titled it Lessons from a Bald Chick: How to Help Yourself or Someone You Know Through Cancer.
Upon release of the book, I immediately focused on making contacts for book signings and media interviews. We all know selling even two books at a signing is considered successful. At my first signing at Barnes & Noble, I sold 42 books. I then contacted local cancer support groups, cancer care centers, hospitals, oncology offices, nursing groups, and churches, telling them about my book. What resulted is an unbelievable schedule full of speaking engagements and signings. Each event brought more speaking requests from participants spreading the word about my book and talk in their ‘circles’.
For instance, after speaking to a group of 300 women at a church dinner, a woman who was visiting from out of state attended a nursing meeting where it was discussed they needed a keynote speaker for a huge New York event. She shared my name and contact information and the result was an invitation to speak to 1000 participants at a fashion show fundraiser with Nordstrom from New York.
After speaking at a hospital cancer support group, a participant told the women’s ministry director at her church in another state about my talk. The result was an invitation to speak at her church women’s group.
After speaking at a book study group, I was asked to be the keynote speaker for the American Cancer Society and Ford Motor Company’s survivor celebration.
I contacted the coordinator for the surrounding 12 counties for The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and was granted permission to set up a booth with my books at each Relay. Then I was asked to participate in other American Cancer Survivor events with my book, as well as speak at events.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation graciously permitted me to set up at the Walk for the Cure in Cincinnati, Ohio and then asked me to speak at their events.
I contacted bookstores and worked with the managers on getting my books on their shelves and keeping the shelves stocked when they sell out.
I partner with a very active, local non-profit organization created by a cancer survivor who was granted permission from her governing board to include me and my books at every event the foundation is involved in. The foundation events I find myself selling my books at include local minor league baseball games, high school class reunions, Broadway shows, and every imaginable breast cancer fundraiser event from Ride for the Cure (horses) to Shoot for the Cure (Skeet),
I created bookmarks, which I give out ìlike candyî as my husband says. I have given out 3000 bookmarks to date. When I meet individuals working in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other medical venues, I give them a stack of bookmarks to place in their reception areas. The bookmarks tell where to buy the book, and include my contact information.
I hired a newly graduated out-of-work graphic design major to create a website for my book at a great discounted rate: http://www.abaldchick.com. Interested parties can see all of my book events and dates available on this site, as well as learn more about me and the book.
I was asked by KY Monthly Magazine to represent the state in a photo shoot for breast cancer awareness. The interview accompanying the photo shoot described my journey, including my book. The magazine has over 350,000 readers.
Upcoming events include speaking at book study groups, cancer support groups, survivor celebrations, fundraising events, churches, women’s retreats, medical events, and political events. I bring my books with me to each event and sell them for three dollars less than the bookstores. I personalize each book that I sell.
Because my schedule has become so full, I now charge a speaking fee at each event.
By day, I am a high school guidance counselor. By night and on weekends, I am an author. With my schedule so full, I am rethinking the guidance counselor part of my life and considering focusing on my book full time. Having too many book events is a great problem to have!
Mary Beth Hall lives at the very tip of Kentucky, near Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband of 20 years and two tall teenage sons. By day she is a high school guidance counselor at a school of 1200 students. By night and on weekends, she is an author and public speaker. Mary Beth started Bald Chick Ministry, which donates the proceeds from her Lessons from a Bald Chick book, to individuals and organizations battling cancer. When not writing, counseling, speaking, or raising money for Bald Chick Ministry, she enjoys riding her unicycle. Contact Mary Beth at meffle-at-insightbb.com. Visit her website at http://www.abaldchick.com.