Q&A with Marketing Professional Kirsten Cappy

The Writers’ League has quite a few great classes scheduled for the beginning of 2011 and Kirsten Cappy’s class “Follow the Yellow Brick Road: Creating an Independent Marketing Plan Based on Your Unique Content” is one of them! Here are the details for the class:

Saturday, April 2, 2011
9 a.m. to Noon
$49 members / $109 nonmembers
WLT Office

The class isn’t up on the website just yet, so keep checking back for more information and to register!

Q&A with Kirsten Cappy

What book are you reading right now?

There are always three categories of answers to that question–book, audio, and my next marketing project.  1) Reading Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi.  2) Listening to the Simon Jones performance of The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud.  3) And reading the manuscript on my e-book reader for Can I See Your I.D.? by Austin’s own Chris Barton in hopes that I can offer him a clever little marketing idea.

When you’re not reading or working, what do you like to do with your time?

Owning your own business seems to negate or at least vastly diminish the meaning of the phrase ‘your time.’ Any time that is not the business’ time is spent gadding about with friends and family under the age of 13.  We like the same things—chapter books.

What’s your favorite opening line of a book?

“If I could tell you one thing about my life it would be this: when I was seven years old the mailman ran over my head.”

–Brady Udall, The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint

What life lesson did your last project teach you?

Working on Charlotte Agell’s chapter book, The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister, I learned to draw attention to the breast.  On page 24 (go ahead and look) there is a drawing of a breast.  Yup.  The drawing depicts a cast that the character’s whacky artist mother made of her breast just before losing it to cancer.  The author and I were hearing that librarians were avoiding purchasing the book because of this illustration.  The author and I gnashed our teeth and then decided not to ignore or hide the objections, but to confront them.  We appeared on all the national library list serves offering a $1 to breast cancer research for every librarian that went to the character’s blog and read what she had to say about her mother’s breast cancer.  We capped the donations at $300 and surpassed that number by scores.  Did librarians buy the book in response?  Too soon to tell, but we honored the truth of both the characters and the book.

What word do you love? What word do you detest?

Word I love?  It might be obvious, but I adore the word ‘curiosity.’  My husband created our business name, Curious City out my zealous dedication to the word.

Word I hate?  Alarm.  As in, ‘did you set the alarm?’  One of the best things about being self-employed is that my dreams are not rudely interrupted by that odious word.

What is a little known fact about yourself?

Okay, Ready? I was thrown out of Girl Scout Camp twice.  I was thrown out the first time for wandering away from a fire building lesson in the woods to go read in my cabin (setting off a two-hour mountainside search by the other campers). The second time I allowed my blindfolded charge (who was pretending to be blind for Handicap Awareness Day) to wander off into a very deep ditch while I was engrossed with telling her the plot of A Wrinkle in Time.  She went to the hospital for stitches and I was sent home (happily to read more L’Engle).

How do you deal with ups and downs of the publishing business?

My days are filled with talking to authors and illustrators about the ‘downs’ of publishing and their feeling of disconnect with their readers or with their publisher.  Together, authors and I find ways to use the story they created in some new way to reach out to readers.  The ‘downs’ are combated by simply doing some little thing each week that makes a creative connection book to reader.

How do you balance your business with work and family?

There is very little balance.  My husband is also deeply involved in Curious City, so we tip heavily towards work seven days a week.  The business also runs out of our apartment, so the tide is always washing away that line we should draw in the sand.  A poured glass of wine, though, usually helps transition the day.  I am pouring one now…

What is your working routine and where do you work?

I work on about 12 different projects a day, reaching out and making connections to people that I think will trumpet a book or creating some little tool to make those connections happen.  I work from 10 AM – 8 PM in the front parlor of an old Victorian house we rent.  I take occasional breaks to spy on dog walkers and to try to keep the cats off the keyboard.

Do you outline or just start working?

Outlining a project always makes me cranky.  The longest delay with a new client is often getting the marketing plan on paper.  I am someone that creates while doing and thinks while talking.  Planning is not my strong suit.

Do you have trusted readers you turn to as you work, and if so, who and what stage?

The event kits I design, the book trailers we create or other projects almost always get run by kids in an event setting or one on one.  I have not succeeded until someone shorter than me says, “that’s cool.”

When did you first know you wanted to be a go into book marketing?

I was working in an indie bookstore and we were to host, Brady Udall, the author of The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint.   I was obsessed with the novel and asked my husband to create a website for the book and event.  I then dropped the URL on a round sticker and affixed it to a urinal cake.  50 bright pink urinal cakes were then shipped to every press outlet in the city and to Random House’s marketing department.  Ladies, what IS a urinal cake?  Ask a friend, a male one.  Why a urinal cake?  Well, you would have to read the book or have come to the event (which the press did in spades).  Random House declared it the most bizarre marketing item ever created.  I was hooked.

Cyndi’s Fast Five

1. What are three things in your office/writing space that would surprise someone who popped in?

1) The Winnie-the-Pooh and friends stuffed animals my mother made me at age four watch my every move from the top of the file cabinet.

2) The gold Lucky Cat/Beckoning Cat that is supposed to bring prosperity sitting on my hard drive.  He is battery powered for extra prosperity.  Must be bad batteries, though…

3) The shear number of books.  I do title selection for a large literacy group, so there are at least 300 picture books in my office at any given time.  It makes visitors look askance in a ‘she might be a hoarder like on TV’ kind of way.

2. What book first influenced you as a child?

My father’s choice of preschool bedtime stories for my brother and I was The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  It has left me with an inescapable draw to non-reality.

3. What time of day do you work?

Anytime I am not sleeping or eating.

4. If you could have a beer or coffee with a writer living or dead, who would it be and why?

Philip Pullman (and my ‘if’ came true).  I shared a pilfered bottle of wine with Philip Pullman and the incredible British voice actor, Sean Barrett, who voiced Iorek Byrnison on the audio version of The Golden Compass.  I got to tell them both (while squeezing their knees-how could I not?) that they had ruined my wedding reception.  My mother was so late for the reception that we were holding the cutting of the cake.  When I saw her pull up, but continue sitting in her car, I marched out to meet her.  She rolled down the window, shushed me, and said, “Not now.  Iroek is fighting the other bear king.”  I heard Sean Barrett’s booming voice just before she rolled up the window and locked the door.

5. Beer or coffee?

Beer, certainly, unless there was a bottle of unattended wine to spirit away.

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