Chicken Soup for the Soul has an impact halfway around the world

I got a lovely email today from a reader in Saudi Arabia. Take a look at what he had to say.

Hello Lisa,

I hope you are doing well. I got the chance to read your impressive story “Short Distance Romance,” from ‘The Dating Game’ book of the Chicken Soup for the Soul. It came to me several days ago from their daily newsletter to which I subscribed more than 8 years ago. True love is not something we find, it is something that finds us. I was impressed with the patience of the guy, who sat only 3 pews away from you, when he finally introduced himself to you, telling you all you had to do was to say hello. If we did not express our feelings for the fear of losing a beautiful relationship, we will certainly lose the beautiful relationship by not expressing our feelings. God puts the right person in the right place at just the right time for a reason that we might not be able to realize for the time being or even until it is too late. What we call ‘coincidence’ is an extraordinary plan perfectly arranged by Him in an amazing way. But His plans are always having positive consequences in our lives.

Blessings to you and your family,

Hamza Hassan

Saudi Arabia

Why it’s so hard to get attention from Boston

Now that one of my stories, “Short Distance Romance,” has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game, I have become part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Inner Circle. I’m not making this up. The Inner Circle is a real thing. Much of it is top-secret, hush-hush, involving special communique’s, etcetera, but what I can reveal is that as part of the Inner Circle other writers who have contributed their work to Chicken Soup have tracked me down to congratulate me and coach me on how to get publicity for being published, critical to building an audience for the novel I’m writing.

One of those contributors is Melissa Halsey Caudill, of North Carolina. The title of her story in the volume is “Uncomfortable.” I’m not lying when I tell you that I had to pull out the Kleenex by the time I got to her last paragraph. Melissa has deservedly enjoyed a media bonanza in her corner of North Carolina. She’s been written about by two newspapers, made an appearance at two libraries, given a talk at a brew house, and has a book signing scheduled on Valentine’s Day at a dinner theater event hosted by the local arts council.

I have followed Melissa’s “playbook” for getting publicity, but so far in Boston–the big city just 20 minutes north of where I live–I’ve heard nothing but the sound of crickets. I don’t blame Boston. Ignored PlantThe City of Champions has been very good to me. I became president of the Women’s National Book Association Boston Chapter, met my literary heroes at author talks sponsored by the Boston Book Festival, and have attended a host of events at the Boston Public Library and local bookstores, featuring well-known and bestselling authors.

And that’s the problem. I live in an area that provides so many literary events and is home to so many writers, that getting published in Chicken Soup for the Soul garners, at the most, a mild yawn.

But the weekly newspaper that is published in my town, the Weymouth News, did a lovely feature article on me this week and gave my sister, Sylvia Braxton Lee, a photo credit for taking my picture to go along with the story.

Getting publicity in Boston is difficult, nearly impossible. It’s a competitive market. But I’ll keep writing and maybe one day Boston will notice me.

Here’s a tip for promoting your writing

Chicken Soup Door PrizeGypsy Kitchen is a gourmet wine and cheese shop near where I work. I like to stop by for the Friday evening wine tastings and chat with the owner, Lisa. The other day she told me about the special events the wine shop hosts–bridal showers, singles events, girls’ nights out–and I got an idea: why not offer a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game, in which my story, “Short Distance Romance” appears, as a door prize. Lisa said she’d be happy to do it and that she would mention me along with the door prize in an upcoming issue of her newsletter.

I’m also giving a copy of the book away as a door prize for the next meeting of a women’s club I belong to in Boston. I’ve autographed the books, tucked my business card with my blog address on the page where my essay appears, and placed the books in decorative wrapping.

Door prizes are a great vehicle for promoting your writing and getting your name before the public. What do you think? If you have a great idea we writers can use to raise our profiles, I’d love to share it.