Authors need a strong promotional community before they can launch a book. Of course, this helps with growing your notoriety as an author, discovering your niche, and meeting other writers. But going even deeper, such a community helps spread your book’s message and the advocacy you want to spread to the world. Today’s guest did just that, and now her group AlzAuthors has over 300 authors coming together for one single purpose.
Join Juliet Clark as she talks to Registered Nurse and Author of Blue Hydrangeas: An Alzheimer’s Love Story, Marianne Sciucco. Discover how she built and leads a community of fellow writers who uses their work to raise awareness and share their experiences about Alzheimer’s and dementia.
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Creating A Niche And Promotional Community
We have an exciting guest that’s doing something a little different in the book promotion world. I’ll introduce her in a minute. Don’t forget to go over and grab your free subscription to Breakthrough Author Magazine. You can find that at www.BreakthroughAuthorMagazine.com. It’s a monthly magazine with tips and tricks and all platform building because you all forget to build your platform. Remember, we have new stuff going on in 2023. We have our I Love Content Creation course.
We’re going to be putting that up. In fact, by the time this is out, it might be up already. We’re going to have a downloadable DIY version if you’re not ready to jump into the live workshop. Also, if you’re thinking about writing the book, we have two great new courses, Prep Your Expert Book, and three modules on platform building, book development, and publishing.
It’s all the things you need to know before you jump in and find out that there are things later that you should have done. $47 made it super reasonable. We also have another new course. BuildYourAuthorAvatar.com. That is all about doing deep-dive market research to make sure that you have a niche audience that is truly broken down and well-researched the way you should.
That is the easiest way to sell products and services. Go check that out as well. It’s $97. There is a lot of good stuff going on this year for our authors. Our guest is Marianne Sciucco. She is not a nurse who writes but a writer who also happens to be a nurse using her skills and experience to create stories that bear witness to the humanity in all of us.
She writes contemporary women’s and young adult fiction. She’s a lover of words in books. She studied the craft of writing as an English major at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and worked for a time as a newspaper reporter in New England. She eventually became a registered nurse to avoid poverty. With years of experience as a staff nursing case manager, she’s worked with countless families dealing with issues related to aging, elder care, Alzheimer’s, and nursing home placement. In 2002, she put together and began writing about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues.
She published her debut novel, Blue Hydrangeas: an Alzheimer’s love story, in 2013 to glowing reviews. This led her to become the Co-founder and Director of AlzAuthors, the global community of authors writing about Alzheimer’s and dementia from personal experience to light the way for others. She’s a podcast producer and the host of Untangling Alzheimer’s and Dementia: An AlzAuthor Podcast. That’s exciting. Welcome.
Thanks so much for having me on. I appreciate it.
I appreciate what you’re doing out there. We got together because we are helping Eme McAnam get her first book out there. It’s a fiction novel that talks about sexy seniors and love, but it’s also about Lewy Body Dementia. I’m excited about this new genre because when you and I talk, senior romance is different than young love, midlife love, and different considerations. I like the way you’ve put Alzheimer’s into that. Tell us about Blue Hydrangeas. Where did that come from? What inspired you to do this?
I was inspired by a couple I met at my work. I worked in a hospital as a case manager, and I met this couple one day. She had Alzheimer’s and her husband was very frail. They were in their 80s. She had fallen and needed to go into another rehab unit for more long-term rehabilitation. At that time, they captivated me. She was lovely and he was so dotting. When the son came, he wanted to take his parents from the hospital to the facility on his own. He asked me if he could do that, and I said he could. Later they kept haunting me and I was thinking about them all the next day, wondering what would happen if the son came and the parents had already taken off. Where would they go? What would they do? That became the foundation of my story.
That is beautiful. I’m almost 62 in 2023 by the time this comes out. It becomes harder. There are kids and this illness. That’s what I loved about Eme’s book. There are parts in it and she got fabulous Kirkus reviews. There are parts in it when you’re not sure if it’s her character in or if she’s in that dementia area. I’m sure that’s hard when you’re working in that field to ferret out what’s real and what’s not with your patients and your family.
You don’t know who you’re going to get that day which one it is. From moment to moment, things can change abruptly, so you’re on your toes all the time.
You published your first book, Blue Hydrangeas. Did you publish it on your own?
Yes, that was quite no deal.
That’s so funny because I coached Eme through it and she said the same thing, “The things you don’t know is the things I’m learning.” It can be quite a journey. What inspired you to put this group together? That’s what I wanted to talk about. You had put together a large group. Tell us about that. How that all came together, and what are you guys up to?
After I published my book, I quickly realized I didn’t have any platform or notoriety to launch it from, which is important. After all my friends and family bought it, I was out there on my own. I joined a group called Clean Indie Reads on Facebook. It was a group of authors who would cross-promote each other’s books via their blogs, social media, newsletter swaps, and all different strategies. I was active in that, and for a while, I thought to myself, “I wonder if there would be other people who had written books on Alzheimer’s or Dementia that might want to get together and do the same thing.” It seemed like a no-brainer. I knew a few people. I reached out to them and there were five of us to start.Authors must have a platform or build their notoriety before launching a book. Click To Tweet
We did a one-month campaign in June of 2015 to help cross-promote each other’s books using social media and blogs. There were three of us who were active in it, and we discovered that we liked each other. We decided to get back together in November. We did it again, and then the following year, in June, because it’s Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, we decided to launch the blog.
Our goal at that point was, instead of talking about ourselves, we would introduce a new author every day for a month, focus on their book and ask them to write a blog post. At the end of the month, we still had authors that wanted to be a part of it. We said, “Why don’t we do it once a week and see what happens.”
That was 6 years ago, almost 7 years ago, in 2023. Now we have over close to 350 authors in our organization who have written a book from personal experience about Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The majority were independently published. They’re trying to get their story out and we cross-promote each other via Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and our newsletter. We have a robust newsletter, YouTube channel, and website, which is full of resources. We do the show, virtual events, and other things, too, so we’re busy.
I love this idea because I chatted with you before. I don’t think I mentioned I had a show that was Ask Juliet. It was frustrating because authors would want to get on and promote their books. They not only didn’t have a platform, but they didn’t have a media kit or any of the things they needed. I gave that up because it was like chasing cats. It was difficult. It’s the same thing with Facebook. You have to get a group that is committed to cross-promotion and not being about themselves. When we had a Facebook group, a lot of what was going on is people were all about themselves.
We have that too. We do have a group of people that are dedicated and go out of their way to share tweets and posts. They come in and they come out. We have other people that post their books, run and wonder why nothing ever happened. There were two facets to the whole thing that you had to buy into. Number one is that you’re promoting somebody else’s book, and that’s in your category. A lot of people find that counterintuitive, “Why would I do that?” All the books are different, and they cover different types of situations, disease processes, and genres. You’re not, and at the same time, other people are promoting you.
You’re going to get exposed to people that they know. Your book might be a better fit for their audience than their own book is. You don’t know. That’s important. The other thing is when I started, I didn’t have this platform. I had nowhere. Now, these authors come in and they have a big robust platform with other people who can support them as well as provide them with content. That’s usually a real problem for a lot of people. It’s like, “Where am I going to get all this content I need to put out every day or every week? I don’t have time.” We put out blog posts every week that the authors can copy and paste and use. We also have our social media posts. They can do the same thing, or they can retweet and share.
There’s always something you could talk about at our events. You can talk about our podcast. The idea is to present yourself as an authority on the subject matter. If you were someone who cared for your mom and she had Lewy Body disease, then now you’re the expert on that. You want to present yourself as somebody that’s in the know and are able to provide people with good knowledge and information that they need. That leads them to be interested in your book. It’s not all about your book, but it’s showing people tips, even everyday something that they can learn and do to help them on their journey. That opens them up to say, “I’ll take a look at her book.”Authors don’t just go out and tell people to buy their books. They have to present themselves as an expert on a particular topic. Click To Tweet
I want to address that thing you said which is it might be counterintuitive to promote somebody in your group. I am a firm believer in karma, and people are always looking for that direct, “Marianne, I’m going to give you something, and you’re going to give me something back.” Nothing irks me more because the universe, when you share it, brings it back to you. It may not be in the form you think it is and when you think you need it, but it always comes back to you tenfold. I want to encourage you guys to get rid of that whole paradigm of thinking because that’s what we do. I’ve mentioned before I’m a part of the Dames, and that is part of what the Dames do.
I never get it. I never go to someone and say, “I gave you this. Now give me that.” It shows up. That other piece, I love what you’re doing with the content. That’s why we have the I Love Content Creation course because we hear all the time, “I don’t have time. I don’t know what to do.” I’m breaking it down into those small bites. Even better, having you guys do it and being able to share is amazing.
It’s amazing. Putting together an instructional video for the authors to let them know how to use all these different components because many different things come back to you. They have each other that they can use to do interviews. If you’re doing a blog and you want to interview somebody, you can contact anybody in the organization. Everybody is looking for publicity. Anybody is going to be willing to come on your blog or podcast, write for you or do something. It helps to establish you, the author, as the authority on this topic, so people will realize that you know what you’re talking about when they want to pick up your book.
You and I are both podcasters, so you guys out there who think that you don’t have time or effort. I don’t know about you, but you sent me the stuff, I talked to you, and we’re having a free-flowing conversation. Do you use Podetize as well?
I assume since Tracy introduced us. You upload it and it’s done for you. It’s not a huge deal to do a show now. With getting that traffic, the beauty of that is when you’re driving that traffic, you can drive them into something that they get in your list, and now they’re a regular for book introductions and book launches and stuff. It is a good thing. You’re up to about 315 members. Is this a pay group? Is it a free group? How do you guys work?
It’s a free group, for the most part. We started charging a $15 submission fee to get your book looked at. Right now, we run on the generosity of donors and authors as well, people who have been kind and responded to our campaigns for money so that we can keep the website going and everything. We’re all volunteers. Nobody gets paid on our team. There are about half a dozen of us at work daily. We depend upon the generosity of others at this time. We talked about creating a paid platform but that adds a whole new set of problems, so we’re not too sure about that.
It definitely can, especially since you are a team and a group. It’s not like me. I’m a company and I can distribute those proceeds however I wish. You guys probably have more restraint. Is this fiction, non-fiction or a combination of both when it comes to these Alzheimer’s books?
We have everything. We have fiction, non-fiction, memoir, caregiver guides, poetry, art books, photography books, children’s books, young adult books, activity books, and anthologies. We even have podcast and films.
What do you do with podcast and films?
We came to a realization after a year or two that as much as all of us love to read, we went to books when we had questions or concerns. If we wanted answers, we’d go to a book. A lot of people don’t read. We know that the average American reads about twelve books a year, which is a high number. Most caregivers, even if they do enjoy reading, don’t have time to read a book. That’s where we got the idea for our podcast. If people can’t sit down and read the book or go through the blog, maybe they’ll listen. You can listen to it when you do something else, so it’s more accessible. Many of the authors in our organization do a podcast, so we feature them. We give them promos for their show as well. People we’ve interviewed, like Lori La Bey, have a book, but some of them don’t have a book.A lot of people don't read. The average American only reads about 12 books a year. Click To Tweet
The entré to AlzAuthors was their podcast. We have two filmmakers and I’m working with another one. Sometimes, that might be the best vehicle for somebody to try to learn something or see somebody else’s story, what the similarities are to them in their life and know that they’re not alone. Caregiving is isolating, especially in the Dementia space.
People feel like they’re alone and nobody understands them. When you can get past that and discover the world outside the door of Alzheimer’s or Dementia world, you’ll see you’re not alone. We can all help each other. In fact, I’m seeing statistics that the number of people who are being diagnosed is going up quite a bit. I can’t even imagine.
Where do we find your group at if we want to go over and find out more about who you are and what you do? You have an application process, so how would we submit an application? What would we need? You don’t just take anybody, right? There are criteria.
There are very strict criteria. It’s in our submission form, which you can find on our website AlzAuthors.com. You go to the homepage and scroll down to the bottom or go to the contact page. It gives you the info on the submission form. You click that and open that up, and it will explain to you that you have to have many reviews and stars. The book has to be available on Amazon. It has to have Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease as a main theme of the book. You need to be active on social media. This is a collaboration, so it’s not like you post your book and run, and everybody is going to lift you up.
We hope you will do your part in helping to elevate the group and other authors as well. The book has to be professionally produced with a professional-looking cover and free of typos. We look at the reviews and do big research before we even ask the author for the book and make a determination as to whether or not we want to take it to the next step.
Reading the books then becomes an obligation for somebody on the acquisitions team. The author is asked to submit a hard copy of the book to the editor. The editor will review it and then get back to them about whether or not they’re going to extend a spot. If they do, then the author would need to write a 500 to 1,000-word blog post. We give them criteria to follow for that and submit their links and author photo.
You guys can go over to the website, go down and look at the submission page. I love what you said. You need to understand publishing. When they make a commitment, they read the whole book. I don’t ever read an entire book. Good for your acquisition team. Usually, when I get it, I’ll read the first couple of chapters to see if you need an edit or additional editing, grammar, and proofing.
Kudos to you guys. I listen to books all day because if I read one more thing in the acquisitions, I’m mind boggled. Good for you. Remember, you can’t send these people a book. You have to do all the work and get acceptance. Send the book so that they can decide if this is something that we want to promote or isn’t it. Is there a place where they can find you on Facebook?
Thank you so much for being on. I appreciate it.
- I Love Content Creation
- Prep Your Expert Book
- Marianne Sciucco
- Blue Hydrangeas: an Alz’eimer’s love story
- Untangling Alz’eimer’s and Dementia: An AlzAuthor Podcast
- Clean Indie Reads – Facebook
- Ask Juliet Podcast
- AlzAuthors: Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resources – Facebook
- Marianne Sciucco, Author – Facebook
About Marianne Sciucco
Marianne Sciucco is not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse, using her skills and experience to create stories that bear witness to the humanity in all of us. She writes contemporary, women’s and young adult fiction.
A lover of words and books, she studied the craft of writing as an English major at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and worked for a time as a newspaper reporter in New England. She eventually became a registered nurse to avoid poverty.
With more than 20-years’ experience as a staff nurse and case manager, she’s worked with countless families dealing with issues related to aging, elder care, Alzheimer’s, and nursing home placement. In 2002, she put the two together and began writing about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues. She published her debut novel, Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story, in 2013 to glowing reviews.
This book led her to become a co-founder and director of AlzAuthors, the global community of authors writing about Alzheimer’s and dementia from personal experience to light the way for others. She is podcast producer and host for Untangling Alzheimer’s and Dementia, an AlzAuthors Podcast. Visit AlzAuthors.com.
Marianne has written an award-winning prequel to Blue Hydrangeas called Christmas at Blue Hydrangeas and is currently working on A Wedding at Blue Hydrangeas. She is the author of Swim Season, a young adult novel based on her 11-years’ experience as a Swim Mom in club, high school, and collegiate swimming.
She has also written several short stories, including Ino’sLove, Collection, and Birthday Party.
All of her work is available in Kindle, audiobook, and paperback.
When not writing she works as a campus nurse at a community college in New York’s Hudson Valley.
Follow Marianne on her blog MarianneSciucco.com, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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