By Jennifer S. Wilkov, host of the “Your Book Is Your Hook!” Show on WomensRadio
The Literary Agent Matchmaker™
As authors and writers, we’re always learning about resources and industry tools that we can use to improve our book project performance and the enjoyment of our writing and marketing experiences. Today let’s talk about how your book or film may serve a greater purpose.
It is our nature to care about ourselves and others. We write this into the plots of books and films. We hook the reader by engaging them in the lives of our characters and memoirs and what other nonfiction how-to books might do for them. We serve the readers with our souls while finding fulfillment ourselves.
Books and films have a wonderful way of extending themselves into greater efforts to help others. There is a natural segue that evolves when a book or film is affiliated with a charitable effort or organization. It doesn’t have to be directly in the book, but the book can become a hook for so much more and help others.
There are some books that are set up as a donation vehicle to a particular organization such as the way the Chicken Soup for the Soul® books are crafted, where money is donated to a chosen charity for each book based on its theme. Other books are deemed an affiliated effort with a charity by the publisher such as books published by Morgan James Publishing which offers a donation form at the back of their books for Habitat for Humanity or at the discretion of the author such as Brendon Burchard’s Life’s Golden Ticket where a portion of the proceeds from the book are donated to Kiwanis International, Junior Achievement, and the YMCA.
There are lots of other ways writers, authors, screenwriters and filmmakers can have a greater purpose and make a bigger difference with books and films today. Here are some more great examples of how others are doing just this:
Karin Slaughter, a New York Times and #1 internationally best-selling author, is spearheading the SaveTheLibraries.com campaign and events all over the United States. She was recognized for her efforts in conjunction with this campaign and Reading Is Fundamental by the International Thriller Writers organization with their 2011 Silver Bullet Award earlier this month during their ThrillerFest Writers Conference in New York.
This week’s show guests Jonathan and Deborah Flora, the co-producers of the film Lt. Dan Band: For the Common Good, saw what actor Gary Sinise was doing with a band he formed after the name of his character in the movie Forrest Gump and how he was entertaining our troops to support them. Jonathan is a veteran of the U.S. Army’s 82d Airborne Division and served 12 years in the military. He and Deborah thought Gary’s efforts were something worth documenting so they made a film about his tour. Then they went one step further and turned it into a vehicle for donations to support the troops so viewers can contribute to these noble worldwide efforts.
This week’s author guest, Darryl Strawberry, wrote his memoir, Straw: Finding My Way, in which he shares his life’s transformations, struggles, tragedies and triumphs. Then he and his wife were so moved by what they saw one day after a visit to a school for autistic kids that they felt compelled to find a way to help them. So he set up a foundation so he could raise money and bring attention to the fight for autism.
After Hurricane Katrina hit, New York Times best-selling author Heather Graham created the Writers for New Orleans workshop weekend which she holds on Labor Day weekend every year to bring people back to New Orleans and to help stimulate the economy there.
In East Hampton every year there is the famous and this year the 63rd Annual Artists and Writers Charity Softball Game featuring Ken Auletta, Mike Lupica, Mort Zuckerman, Alec Baldwin and others to benefit local East Hampton charities.
Many writers like to get involved particularly with children and making sure they have access to books such as James Patterson’s ReadKiddoRead.com site which is dedicated to making kids readers for life.
I personally enjoy donating a portion of my sales of Boys Before Business: The Single Girl’s Guide to Having It All to the Sojourner Center in Arizona, which is the largest women’s shelter for domestic violence in the U.S.
I’m also a spokesperson for Project Night Night which hand delivers books into the hands of children in homeless shelters across the U.S. and I’m a proud supporter of Heifer International’s Read to Feed Program where kids in our schools are encouraged to read more books by getting pledges for each book they promise to read and then providing that money to Heifer’s worldwide efforts to end hunger while caring for the Earth. I’m also involved now with starting a new chapter of First Book in Brooklyn, NY, which is a charity dedicated to putting new books into the hands of children in need in my community. You can find out if your community has a First Book chapter and get involved too.
And that is the question for you: as a writer, author, screenwriter or filmmaker: how do you give back and give more with your books and films?
Provide a local book signing for a charity of your choice or a free screening with a donation of your film.
Done with some of the books you’ve been reading? Donate them to a local library or charity who can provide them to someone else or that can charge a small fee for purchase as a donation to the charity such as the Housing Works Bookstore Café in New York City which supports those with AIDS and HIV.
Donate the books you’ve written or the DVD for a film you’ve made to a good cause such as a local shelter or school.
Want to support our troops too like Jonathan and Deborah Flora and Gary Sinise and his band? Donate books to Books for Soldiers, Operation Paperback or share your used Kindle with a soldier through E-Books for Troops.
There is so much you can do as an author, writer, screenwriter or filmmaker to make an even greater difference with your book and film. I encourage you to find ways to use your book as your hook for the greater good too.
Jennifer’s show can be heard every week on Tuesday mornings at 9am when it is broadcast on WomensRadio.com and syndicated on Google News and Live365.com. Each show is archived for replay listeners in different time zones and countries.
For more information on this Education Corner topic and others, please refer to www.YourBookIsYourHook.com/blog for more articles and resources to help you with your books.