Today is a big day for Herald Press/MennoMedia and we are excited to get the word out to everyone as much as possible!
It is the official publication date for Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World by Shirley Hershey Showalter. Finally.
Along the way there was a live-streamed online unveiling of the cover design (by Merrill Miller), discussing the long process of evaluating and redoing covers as author, publisher, and marketing come to agreement.
Backing up even further, Shirley went through a huge project of reading 100 memoirs and reviewing most of them at her blog, www.ShirleyShowalter.com. Yes, 100 memoirs. Some of them great, some of them not quite as great, I’m sure, but she did it to learn all she could about the memoir writing process and what was out there, even producing a small free booklet on “How to write a memoir.”
She then kind of went into hibernation, if you can do that in Brooklyn, N.Y., while taking a year to be Granny Nanny to her first grandchild, Owen. Many of us followed that blog too (now closed). She spent parts of her days taking care of the newborn and helping him discover first his fingers, then his family, then the big beautiful world out there.
Back in her newly adopted home of Harrisonburg, Va. (after a number of years in Goshen as president of Goshen College) and other places, she labored and stewed and produced draft after draft of Blush which had numerous names (like most books do) along the way.
She started exchanging ideas and plans almost weekly on Google Hangout with marketing director Ben Penner. She’s become a social media guru, tweeting through seminars, giving thoughtful and genuine comments on blogs everywhere, game for any promotion suggestion.
Ervin Stutzman and Shirley Showalter discuss their books in progress at the Mennonite Convention in Phoenix in July, picking up many pre-orders.
A small production crew of Wayne Gehman and Jerilyn Schrock put together a heartfelt and beautiful book trailer video.
An official launch party at—where else—her home church, Lititz Mennonite, Pennsylvania, in her childhood home community, is set for Thursday night September 19. Shirley and her husband Stuart, mother, friends, family and probably some people she’s never met are enroute as I write this. Shirley will also be making stops and appearances in Ohio and Indiana: see the current schedule here.
Staff had fun shipping out all those pre-orders this past Monday, (or at least posing for it)
Endorsements from the likes of Bill Moyers and Parker Palmer are here. And lovely reviews have started coming in, too: from blogger Marion Roach Smith (with a chapter excerpt) and Melanie Springer Mock, and Jo-Ann Greene of the Lancaster, Pa. papers.
GoodReads is giving away 20 books and the entries are adding up. (You can enter too, here, closing Sept. 22.)
Books such as this that have potential to reach a market far beyond the Mennonite church receive a little more marketing attention from the publisher than some others, but truth be told, Shirley has done so much (with the help of her marketing–savvy daughter, Kate) to personally get the word out using almost every available form of media today (many of them free, beyond the price of your Internet connection). Shirley has personally given a 100+ effort.
Promoting one’s own book can be uncomfortable for many of us, especially Mennonites (see more on humility in an earlier Mennobytes blogpost by Blush editor Byron Rempel-Burkholder). We’re told not to brag or draw attention to ourselves. But selling a good book that draws attention to this faith group and ultimately God, Jesus, and a lot of good folks who try to follow the Christian path, is what this faith is all about–sharing it with others. No blushing. (You can order it here, through a local bookstore, or on Amazon.)
And P.S.: The real shipper of many of those pre-orders for Blush is here in the center, in a black top, between Shirley Showalter and publisher Russ Eanes: Beth Nealon. Others in back rows: Neal Weaver, IT, Melodie Davis, marketing/editorial, Jerilyn Schrock, marketing, and Merrill Miller, designer.
Melodie Davis, Mennobytes Blog coordinator