Thursday, November 22, 2007

Award-winning poet Mary O'Connor Dreams of a Wingless Child

Today we welcome award-winning poet Mary O'Connor to our writing blog. Mary is the author of the recently published book, DREAMS OF A WINGLESS CHILD, a collection of poems that infuses everyday observations of the natural world with the sensitivity and thoughtfulness that define her experience of life. A champion of literacy, Mary is donating all book proceeds to the Freedom Writers Foundation in support of the power of writing to achieve personal dreams and to decrease high school dropout rates. Selections from the book and her paintings may be found on her website,

You'll want to read on to find out about her terrific marketing ideas!

YVONNE: DREAMS OF A WINGLESS CHILD is a collection of poems reflecting on nature and life in ways that remind us that we need not look far to find an element of peace, of celebration, of fulfillment of dreams in this extraordinary world in which we live. Is this the first book you have written?

YVONNE: How long did it take to write this book?
MARY: It is a collection of poems written over five years.

YVONNE: How did you publish your book?
MARY: I used a publishing service, Wheatmark, Inc. Founded in 1999 by Sam Henrie, a publishing entrepreneur who believed that what makes a book successful is not who publishes it, but rather quality content, access to the “apparatus” of publishing and savvy marketing. Wheatmark is a team of book-publishing professionals dedicated to helping self-publishing authors compete more effectively in today’s marketplace. It offers packages of optional services, including personal author support; custom book layout and cover design; ISBN, LCCN, and other bibliographic registrations; publication and distribution through Ingram Book Company,,, and other major online bookstores; and various editorial and marketing packages.

YVONNE:. Did you work with an agent?

YVONNE:. Where is your book(s) available?
MARY: It’s available online at such sites as and Barnes and Noble, through the publisher,, or it may be ordered through your favorite bookstore. (It's also available at independent bookstores in the local Old Lyme, CT area)

YVONNE: Do you have a Web site or blog where we can learn more about you or your book?

YVONNE: As far as marketing, do you do more online publicity or print/radio/TV promotion? MARY: I try to do more print/radio/TV promotion based on local events, and post coverage on my Web site (see sample).

YVONNE: Have you hired a publicist to help promote this book? Have you worked with a publicist on any of your books?
MARY: No. My background in marketing/media publicity is rooted in journalism, having been editor of the college newspaper and following graduation becoming a reporter and then women's section editor of the Hartford Times. From there I joined the advertising/public relations agency world, where I was responsible for sales promotion and marketing programs for clients in industries ranging from food, sports and housewares to public utilities, banking and insurance, among others. Later in my career, I handled or oversaw media relations from within corporate or academic walls, much of which involved dealing with crisis or sensitive issues as well as building their corporate image.

However, regardless of whether I was representing a manufacturer of tableware, an HMO, or a life insurance company, one rule of thumb prevailed, that being the need to develop some sort of news item, e.g., a survey or competitive or recognition event as a means of attracting media interest. At the moment, for example, I am working with Trinity College and the Greater Hartford Literacy Council to put on a literacy celebration later this month. While promoting the need for additional support for literacy programs in the Greater Hartford area, the program ties in with my book, the proceeds of which are being contributed to the Freedom Writers in further encouragement of the empowerment and fulfillment that can be achieved through writing. The title of my book is drawn from the last line of a poem in the book, which was written in support of a literacy program for youngsters in homeless shelters and other difficult life situations (Books to Dreams). I will be presenting an award at the upcoming literacy celebration to the woman who founded that program. The award is actually a framed watercolor painting that I did for her of the butterfly that appears on the book's cover; award recipients will receive, among other things, a signed copy of my book and the area youngsters who are being tutored by Trinity College students will each receive a mousepad that reproduces the book's cover image. ...just a few more tie-in that promote both literacy programs and my book.

YVONNE: You really have a lot of community involvement as well as some great marketing ideas. Any other comments or things you would like for us to know?
MARY: Proceeds of the book are being contributed to the Freedom Writers Foundation in encouragement of the empowerment, personal fulfillment and energy that may be derived through writing and creative expression.

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