Day 6: Give More Than You Get and You'll Get More Than You Give

Pay it forwardReciprocity is my favorite word when it comes to social media.
Pop quiz: what I wrote in an earlier piece? What is the operative word in “social media”? Answer: Social
Being social means being generous. After all, who wants to be social with someone who’s only all about him- or herself? I know it’s easy to be selfish! I can fall into that flaw so easily. But what I’ve found over the last few years, is that I feel so much better when I promote other people. And then what I discovered was that I was getting promotion for my own work. Like most lessons, it all goes back to what you learned in kindergarten: treat people the way you want to be treated. In other words, online interaction is just like in-person interaction: do unto others.
A great example of reciprocity is author Mitali Perkins. Yes, she is a wonderful marketer of her own books, but she also knows how to support other writers’ work. Personally, I think she’s a crazy genius. She’s so good at it that she created Twitter Book Birthday parties. The day your book is born to the world – that is, the publication day – everyone registered with the site will automatically tweet a happy birthday message to your book. That means that all of that person’s followers will see your book being celebrated. Not only does it get your title in front of whole sets of new eyeballs, but it feels good to get a congrats on such a special day! In turn, you will be doing the same for everyone else’s books on their book birthday. You can even set it up so that it tweets it automatically or manually.
So not only has Mitali set up this wonderful reciprocal book love for everyone else, she has also gotten some major press from her effort.
Bamboo People book coverI really appreciate what she’s done for everyone in our community of children’s writers, and wanted to reciprocate and give her a little public adoration so I thought a mini-interview might accomplish that. I asked Mitali a few questions about the idea…
When and why did you get this idea?
Last year, with our industry in so much flux, I was noticing that an author doesn’t get that much fuss on publication date—unless he or she is one of about a dozen huge names. For the rest of us, a book birthday can mean a quiet day at home in yoga pants, eating chocolate and googling ourselves, with maybe a few congratulatory emails. But the release of a new book is *always* something to celebrate. Each story winging out into the world—especially into the hands and hearts of young readers—deserves a communal “HURRAH!” I decided to try tapping into the power of Twitter (since I’m an avid user) to spread the excitement about new books for kids, teens, and tweens.
Can you give us any wonderful stories that came from Twitter Book Birthday Parties?
Generally, authors have felt celebrated, and the word about their books has spread, which was my intention. One specific example is an author whose book birthday party happened to take place at the exact moment her next book was under consideration during an acquisitions meeting in New York. Someone at the meeting googled her and discovered the party, and the marketing folks were convinced that this was an author who knew how to spread the buzz. My author buddy signed her contract the following week.
What kind of ripple effects have you experienced? Invitations, speaking, press?
Katie, I honestly don’t know. I love social media and am sure the tools have greatly helped my writing career, but tracking the ripple effects can drive you nuts. The connections and community give me joy, so I indulge. With restraint, so that I can keep writing.
Mitali is showing restraint so I’ll brag for her.
Shelf Awareness reported on the parties on 9/29/09 with a piece by Jennifer M. Brown called Happy Book B’day to You, Tweet Tweet.

Publisher’s Weekly
covered the parties with a lovely article by Judith Rosen on 8/13/09.
School Library Journal featured a piece called, “Toasting New Titles on Twitter” on 2/1/10.
Here are tweeted comments by authors who were feted:
Buy Cool Dog, School Dog
Cool Dog School Dog
Deborah Heiligman (COOL DOG, SCHOOL DOG): Biggest story for me on twitter: #bookbday for Cool Dog, School Dog. I had to upgrade my website ’cause of traffic!
Buy The Miles Between
Mary Pearson (THE MILES BETWEEN): Usually pub day is pretty quiet but with #bookbday I felt like a brass band had shown up at my door to help me celebrate. I’m still smiling.
Buy Hate List
Jennifer Brown (HATE LIST): I was blown away by my #bookbday! So many well-wishes, so many great new followers! It was a real party & made my big day even more special.

Buy Bug Boy
Eric Luper (BUG BOY): Usually launch day is a quiet Tuesday, but thanks to #bookbday, it was exciting and action-packed!
Buy The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z

Kate Messner (THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z.): Went hiking in the Adirondacks to celebrate my book’s release day and returned home to an explosion of happy #bookbday messages! I loved sharing the day and having that connection with readers and other writers.
Find out more here: <>, and come join the fun! Who doesn’t love a party?

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