What to expect leading up to your book launch

The day a book launches is one of the most exciting of an author’s career, but the weeks leading up to it can be nerve-wracking. Knowing what to expect can help give you a sense of calm as you move into “launch month.”

I like to describe the publicity leading up to your publication date like a snowball: it starts out rather small and moves slowly, but as you get closer, momentum and size build up.

First, many readers prefer to wait until launch day or launch week to cross-post reviews (Amazon actually doesn’t allow reviews to post before then, although other sites do). This burst of reviews in a short period of time can be beneficial; it’s similar to advertising, and the sudden, frequent exposure to the book’s cover and title can lead to more orders!

Second, local media publications in your area are more likely to post a review or blurb about the book near the launch date, in order to create a more timely hook for their newscycle.

So how can you help build the momentum?

Check in with your network of family and friends around this time to ask them to help spread the word about your book. They can do this through Goodreads reviews, social media outreach, or good old-fashioned word of mouth. Many of your supporters will want to help you during this time, but they might need you to tell them how.

Post regularly on social media. Prior to launch, you may have been posting about your book on social media less frequently in order to not overwhelm your followers. However, the weeks leading up to your launch is the time to really use those platforms to display your excitement and share this part of your journey! You should also use social media to share any reviews, and to thank the people who wrote them.

Make sure your website is fully updated and running smoothly. As more people hear about your book, your website is likely to have more visits. Make sure buy links (including IndieBound) are displayed prominently to give you the best chance at getting those orders! If you have a reader newsletter, make sure that you have a system in place to capture email addresses of anyone who wants to subscribe.

Be savvy about making your book launch event a success. Encourage your contacts in the area to come, and to spread the word about the event to their networks as well. Stores appreciate when events gather a crowd, and it gives you an opportunity to spread your message beyond your circle. Ask the store what format usually works best for them, whether it’s a short reading, a Q&A, a conversation, etc.

Bring bookmarks and extra pens for signing, and a notepad to take down any email addresses for contacts you may make. Plus some water and mints–you’ll be doing a lot of talking!

In the wake of COVID-19, many stores are offering virtual events instead of in-person events, which is a great option to reach a wider audience beyond where you can travel! Even if an event is virtual, we still recommend being strategic about when, where, and with whom you set up events: you want to make sure you can draw an audience, so that it is a good investment for you and the bookstore.

If the bookstore doesn’t set up a Facebook event for your launch, you should set one up yourself! It’s a great way to let a wide audience know about your launch, and you can include a lot of information in one place.

And most of all, remember to enjoy yourself! This is a special time, and at the end of the day, nothing can diminish your hard work, creativity, and the amazing accomplishment of releasing your own book!

Literary PR Company Books Forward Makes Three New Hires

Company celebrates 20-year anniversary with staff expansion & new services 

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana – Literary publicity company Books Forward (part of the veteran JKS Communications brand) has hired three new staff members for its growing team.

Rhodes Murphy has joined the Books Forward team as a publicist. He holds both undergraduate and Master’s degrees in English Literature, from Loyola University and Tulane University respectively. He has written for both national and local publications, including Slate and Document Journal, with a particular focus on covering the LGBTQ community. Like his Books Forward colleagues, Murphy is driven by a passion to help marginalized voices be heard.

Erica Martin has joined Books Forward as office administrator. Martin brings a wealth of energy and creativity to the team in her role, where she coordinates special projects and oversees creative book mailings to media and industry influencers. Her background managing teams and leading client and customer communications in property management and political campaigns, coupled with her love of literature, have proven essential to supporting the Books Forward team and brand.

Rachel Hutchings has joined Books Forward as a digital marketing strategist after two semesters of interning with the company. Hutchings graduated from Belmont University with a major in Publishing and a minor in Psych. She previously worked on the Belmont Story Review, and interned with independent publishing company American Blackguard Inc. Hutchings now helps Books Forward clients cultivate and establish their digital voice, working hand-in-hand with authors to ensure authenticity in their online presence. She is constantly finding innovative ways to promote author brands and their books.

Books Forward celebrates 20 years of innovative literary promotion in 2020 with a new name, new team members with publishing and media expertise, and new expanded services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the forward-thinking publicity team launched a Virtual Learning Author Program to provide free at-home education, as well as the #BooksForwardHelpline to help readers support indie bookstores and libraries, troubleshoot e-readers, and connect with great new book recommendations.

About Books Forward: Books Forward is an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, the company helps authors find success and connect with readers. Interested in what’s possible for your book sales and building readership? Check out the Books Forward author services, submit a query form with your individual author brand goals, and get a customized publicity campaign.

What can authors do to make the most of their time stuck at home?

We at Books Forward know how important this time is for our authors and readers alike. People are going back to basics and reading more than ever (let’s take that good news where we can!).  Sitting at home, readers are wondering “What can I read today?” while Authors are wondering “How can these readers get a copy of my book?” We are here to be that clotheslines between the two! Grab your pegs and pulley that fresh book into their (hopefully) clean hands with a few of these easy tips!


Start with your reader –  Who  are they?! And find them! 

  1. Who is your audience? What do they look like? What stores do they shop at? How old are they? Are they married, single,  young, old…  You get the point! Narrow down that audience as best as you can and go after that using hashtags and similar accounts.
  2. Comparable authors – This is a trick that can help you not only find your audience, but find out what works best for that author, which in turn could work well for you! What content are they posting? Where do they get the most engagement? Follow some of their audience and engage. 


We live in a very visual society – which *err* doesn’t really help us wordsmiths –  but if a visual photo is going to give them incentive to read your caption or better yet your book then we have to think about the immediate bait. With some extra free time at home, why not try to snap a few good photos for content? If a photo is going to get your readers hooked, then let’s reel them in.

Tips for photos:

  • Lighting! Lighting! Lighting! In this day and age, most smart phones carry a quality camera. However, to get the best quality of the camera, you need to take pictures in natural lighting. Move your camera around different angles to see how the light affects your photo. Shoot outside if that helps (*Insiders Tip*  A photographer’s favorite day, is overcast – not too bright and not  too gloomy)
  • Editing Apps: You can download free editing apps such as ColorStory, Afterlight and VSCO but to avoid being overly complicated, most phones have an editing option right in the photo. 
  • Editing Tips:
    • Lightning: Don’t brighten it too much, but adding a little extra can make your photo look extra professional!
    • Crop: Don’t be shy to take a photo as is and use the crop tool to clean it up!
  • Content: Not every photo has to be a perfect photo, people want to see the real you so feel free to share a recipe here and there, your writing setup, your morning coffee routine,, your family – anything that may pull readers in to who you are and how you write. Inspire them!

Easy Photo Examples:

1- Flat Lay: Greenery, or flowers can help bring color to your photo! Place your book on a stool, a chair or table – add greenery around it and voila!

2- Add in textures and colors that you have lying around the house! Where’s your reading spot? Maybe your writing desk? A fun angle: Hold out your book  below using one hand, and snapping the photo with your other:)

3- Use different covers and mediums of how you can listen or read your book!

4- Furry Friends are welcome! People love pets – sneak in those hashtags of your dog’s breed and find new followers that love books &  pets too!

5- Bookstacks – Share with your readers, what you’re reading or what inspires you! Sharing your name and associating with other authors always gives good perception. Tag them and see if they repost it!

6- Don’t be too shy to get in the shot! Set up a timer or have a friend/family member to take a picture of you writing or reading. Get that book plug in there too  by having it somewhere in the frame;)!

Instagram LIVE

This is a great new tool for creatives. Although, it may seem terrifying to go live – It’s a great way to  connect! *just remember to turn on AND off the camera*

Here are a few ways you can use this tool:

1- Pair up with another author! They can be in the Books Forward family or a fellow author you know. Schedule a time, share it with your fans on both socials and choose to ask each  other questions about the writing process, or any chapters in your book etc. You  can have a theme or it can just be a quick happy hour chat!

2- The new donation button – This tool is a great way to get readers to buy  your book on the spot. OR, you  can use this tool to pick a charity and raise money during your Live. Team up and Tag!


Facebook LIVE

Again, another great tool to reach out to people on that platform! You can do a  reading hour, where you read and discuss a section of your book, throw a launch party, cook your favorite meal- anything that helps create content, tags other accounts and promotes your book at the same time is a good recipe!


1 –  Authors, David & Julie Bulitt LIVE making their favorite drinks in the kitchen!


2- Author Katie Burke, jumped on a Zoom call with local bookshop The Booksmith and a few kids from her book “Urban Playground;  What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco.”



Don’t be shy to reach out to  Instagram, Facebook or any book reviewers and offer a copy of your book in exchange for a post! Now, on Amazon you can send an ebook as a gift, super easy and practical for social distancing! 

All in all, social media is a great tool but you have to be patient with it. The more time you spend engaging, creating content and connecting with people you will start to see your numbers grow – Remember, consistency is key! It’s a clothesline, where you need to hang each item up one by one –  give it time. Unfortunately, social media is not an automatic dryer. *welp*

Amplify Your Book: The Value of Radio for Authors

As an author, your first radio interview can feel daunting, exciting — maybe even frustrating if you worry the whole thing will be in vain. Radio’s dead, right? Or at least dying? Will it really help to promote my book? Like all media that isn’t deemed “social,” radio has been given a bad rap in the past few years. But just as print books haven’t keeled over at the sight of ebooks and audiobooks, radio seems to have carved out an essential place in our lives.

Debunking the Myth of “Drive Time” as Radio Royalty

If you’re like me, when you think of a time and place for radio listening, you think of your morning or afternoon commute. This is what’s known as “drive time” radio, which typically encompasses the hours of 6 a.m.–10 a.m. and 3 p.m.–7 p.m.

Many authors believe that drive time is the only time in which radio effectively reaches a large audience of potential readers. If you’re on air during any other time slot, you might as well not be on air at all. In fact, a January 2019 study from Advertiser Perceptions which surveyed 301 marketers and other agency professionals determined that advertisers feel the same way: advertisers believe that more than half of all AM/FM radio listening happens during morning and afternoon commutes. (Source: Advertiser Perceptions as cited in Westwood One).

Yet the reality of radio listening proves quite different. Nielsen Audio reveals that morning and afternoon drive times each comprise 21% of radio listening, which, while strong, actually ranks second to midday listening. Twenty-six percent of listening occurs between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Furthermore, this study reveals that, while advertising professionals assume that only 13% of radio listening happens during the weekend, the reality cited by Nielsen is 21%—the same percentage of listening held by one of the coveted drive times!

For a more thorough outline of the mythical superiority of drive time radio, check out this article from Pierre Bouvard, CIO at Cumulus/Westwood One.

Radio-Podcasting Crossover

When it comes to the potential reach of a radio interview, there is another factor worth considering. Many radio programs also publish their segments online via their website or a podcasting platform such as BlogTalkRadio, Spreaker, Buzzsprout, or Podbean. This creates a web link (or multiple links) of your interview that can be shared on social media, creating digital impressions and meeting more potential readers.

In addition to reaching an extended audience, podcast links also contribute to author branding. These links can be published on the media page of your author website where booksellers, librarians and media professionals can check up on your credentials. 

Relationship-Building with Hosts

Another important aspect of radio is the chance to make an impression on a host or producer that develops into a mutually-beneficial partnership. It’s not uncommon for a radio interview to lead to more coverage down the road, whether it’s a “part two” to your conversation that will be recorded next week or a follow-up interview set to take place when you release your next book.

Remember that radio is beneficial to you beyond the here and now. With SEO-serving web links and the opportunity to build your promotional network, radio can be an investment in your long-term branding.

Becoming Fluent in Your Own Book

At this point, I hope you see why radio is a valuable addition to your plan for book publicity! But in case you need one more reason to jump on the bandwagon: radio will also help you become fluent in your book. 

Writing is one remarkable skill that you have. Yet verbally communicating what you’ve written about in a way that is concise, relatable and entertaining is another skill altogether. Radio interviews operate as the perfect testing ground for you to share your elevator pitch (without seeming rehearsed!) and to answer some questions you may not have prepared for in a fairly low-stakes environment. These interviews will help you become fluent in your book so you can shine during future TV interviews, bookstore events, Q&As with book clubs, and networking events.

Radio interviews can be an extraordinary tool for authors—no matter the time of day! If presented to you, I would recommend seizing the opportunity to amplify your book, gain credibility, and make a lasting impression. 

Books Forward Authors Provide Virtual Learning Opportunities at Home

Dear booksellers, librarians, parents, teachers, avid readers, book club members and other eager learners,

We have been so touched (and impressed!) with how you’ve kept yourselves and your networks engaged and learning during this difficult time. Our Books Forward author family wants to help by providing a variety of free virtual learning opportunities and story times!

Our children’s and adult fiction and nonfiction authors are available for sessions via Zoom, Skype and other platforms. We can coordinate a special day of readings, discussions and inspiring lessons, covering everything from the writing craft to science experiments to nature exploration and much more. Below, you’ll find some fantastic opportunities tailored specifically for children, tweens and teens, as well as many options for adult readers.

We’ve also partnered with Book Club Babble to help your book club go virtual during social distancing, and to connect you with bestselling and award-winning authors.

Email our coordinator Erica Martin at erica@booksforward.com with your requests, and we’ll arrange a virtual visit (or few) perfect for you!


Writing and Poetry

  • An advocate for marginalized voices in both publishing and her community, YA fantasy novelist J. Elle offers a tailored writing instruction video for your class.
  • USA Today bestselling novelist and Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day founder Jenny Milchman leads a virtual writers group for kids and teens.
  • Children can write poetry with Jet Widick, whose poems center around our everyday experiences and taking delight in the present moment.
  • Literacy instructional coach Caroline DuBois teaches writing in verse and shares supplementary educational materials for her forthcoming middle grade historical novel written in verse, The Places We Sleep.
  • Middle grade author Corabel Shofner shows how characters have a mind of their own and that settings hold a story in place and time, along with other writing prompts.
  • Historical novelist Donna Baier Stein helps budding writers find inspiration for stories by challenging them to find a piece of art in their homes and write a short story based on it (an activity that inspired her own book, Scenes From the Heartland). 
  • Crime thriller author Ed Aymar teaches the importance of diversity in fiction, with narrative techniques for getting it right.
  • Christine Meade, professional editor and author of the new thriller The Way You Burn, offers a writing lesson on how to craft tension, suspense and mystery in narrative form.
  • Love romance novels? Learn how romance author L.A. Long crafts her beguiling characters, gripping plot lines and simmering scenes.

Science & Nature

  • Children’s book author Cole W. Williams invites young ones on a journey with Dr. Brainchild as they discover how creativity, some wacky inventions and science can transform the ordinary into something EXTRA tasty!
  • Dr. Sam Stea offers classrooms and kids a practical introduction to discussing climate change through a fascinating YA climate-fiction adventure story.
  • Tracy Richardson shows there is more to our world than meets the eye with her environmentally-themed, science-fiction YA series.
  • Fine gardener Monique Allen, founder and creative director of The Garden Continuum, offers unique gardening tips, advice and how-tos for cultivating outdoor spaces that reduce stress, promote creativity and sustain the environment. 
  • Naturalist David Parrish offers a fresh understanding of the natural world for nonscientists. Whether you’re curious about sustainability or the accuracy of “The Big Bang Theory” theme song, Parrish will move you to think like a scientist in his insightful, unconventional — and often humorous — approach to biology.
  • How advanced is surveillance technology in the U.S., and how far could it go? Sci-fi thriller author Michael C. Bland details the uses (and abuses) of current surveillance technology and explains why “the future of tech” has already arrived.

Personal Development, Mental & Physical Health

  • Research psychologist Rachel Kowert initiates conversations with children about diversity and inclusion. Her latest book Pragmatic Princess: 26 Superb Stories of Self-Sufficiency inspires young minds to build their own castles and change the damsel in distress narrative to one of self-reliance (with the power of science behind it)!
  • San Francisco columnist and family law attorney Katie Burke demonstrates strategies to encourage open communication with kids about their living environments and other complex (and fun!) topics.
  • Missing that after-church fellowship? Christian novelist Annette H. Valentine hosts a “brunch chat” about books, family, children’s education, Bible study and God’s love.
  • Divorce lawyer and family therapist David and Julie Bulitt offer communication techniques and activities for families during this time of extra “togetherness.”
  • Caregiving expert Donna Figurski shares self-care tips and guidance for how people can still take care of themselves and find support while caring for others.
  • Lisa Boucher shares healthy ways to cope with the temptation to drink out of boredom and how to stay sober when dealing with elevated anxiety, job loss, etc. 
  • After 20 years as VP of publicity for Estee Lauder, Phyllis Melhado took a “second chance” with her life and began a career as a writer, and now she teaches how you can embrace your “second chance” as well.
  • Fifth-degree black belt Tori Eldridge teaches simple martial arts moves and exercises that help channel energy, work out restlessness or frustration, get focused, and have fun!

History & Literature 

  • Wendy Terrien explores the mythology behind her critically-acclaimed YA fantasy series and introduces viewers to the beloved canine rescues who inspired her stories.
  • Historical thriller novelist Samuel Marquis relays some of the most dynamic, fascinating and engaging real-life stories of battles and bravery that occurred during World War II.
  • Inspired by photographer Dorthea Lange’s gender-defying antics during the Great Depression, and her own personal family’s history in the Dust Bowl, Shelley Blanton-Stroud offers a fascinating look back at women’s unconventional antics to survive (and thrive).
  • Michelle Cameron offers a guided tour through a little-known, important period in history: Napoleon’s emancipation of the Jews from Italian ghettos in the 1790s, which still has reverberations in our world today.


  • Designer Justin Dauer (author of Creative Culture) shares fresh, insightful and, well, creative ideas for keeping employees engaged and motivated while working from home.
  • Want professional advice on how to secure your retirement during these uncertain times? Legal consultant Ida Abbott provides video consultations for those interested in retirement planning and financial security.


  • Join comedian and author Dani Alpert for a happy hour discussing unique family dynamics (and how to channel breakup-related grief to a hilarious memoir) from her own experiences as the Girlfriend Mom. 
  • Need a laugh right now? Humor writer Lori Duff shares funny oh-so-real life stories that demonstrate to us (especially women and parents) that we have no choice but to laugh at our failures, no matter how spectacular, and rejoice in our successes, no matter how itty-bitty.
  • Comedic novelist Brandy Ferner encourages children to brave the unknown (safely!), and moms can enjoy a chat with Brandy about the relentlessness of motherhood.

Don’t see a specific lesson you’re looking for? We have other opportunities available from our roster of bestselling authors and varied experts. Email Erica Martin at erica@booksforward.com and let us know what you need!

And if you need help with downloading ebooks or audiobooks to read at home, check out our #BooksForwardHelpline for guides, reading recommendations and other resources.

Do you have a book that moves the world forward? Enter to win free publicity!

Our mission at Books Forward is to promote authors who have engaging stories that empower, inspire and uplift.

In celebration of our 20 years, we’re giving away one FREE book publicity campaign worth over $20,000 to share one writer’s meaningful work with our wide-ranging network. A winner will be chosen and announced in early November 2020, for a 2021 book release and promotional campaign.

Enter here.


JKS Communications celebrates 20 years with launch of Books Forward publicity and Books Fluent publishing

Veteran book publicity firm JKS Communications has been moving books forward for 20 years, and the company is proud to celebrate this anniversary with the launch of two new companies under its brand. Books Forward will continue the signature creative, customized book marketing and author publicity campaigns, and a new indie publishing division, Books Fluent, will provide professional editorial, design and publishing services. 


JKS has promoted more than 700 authors, small presses, literary award programs and publishing houses since 2000. The Books Forward team will continue to represent both traditionally published authors and independently published books that meet high industry standards. Services include traditional publicity through mainstream and book-centric media, book tour development, author branding and digital marketing.

Books Forward has a particular passion for books that empower, inspire and move the world forward. Clients include New York Times bestselling author Andrew Maraniss, whose award-winning historical nonfiction examines race and social justice through sports; USA Today bestselling author Jenny Milchman, famous for the “world’s longest book tour”; YA author J. Elle, set to release her #ownvoices debut after garnering attention through a social media campaign; Mary Higgins Clark award winner and national president of Sisters in Crime Lori Rader-Day; indie published success story S.B. Alexander, who later helped Books Forward build its digital marketing division; “The World is Just a Book Away” anthology of stories from Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Academy Award and Golden Globe winning actresses and other world leaders; Chaithanya Sohan, who explores themes of home and belonging in the U.S. through immigrant stories; Holocaust survivor and scholar Laureen Nussbaum, who shines light on unsung heros; and #1 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick author Cheryl Rainfield, an international child abuse and feminist advocate.

“Our foundation is built on veteran journalists, giving our team a unique strength. Through national media outlets, we share books to make the world a better and brighter place,” the company’s President Marissa DeCuir said. “And it’s that love of meaningful stories that powers our team to share authors’ important messages, and inspire readers with engaging fiction and nonfiction. The world needs some positivity, and readers crave books that matter — to them and to our world.”


JKS’ new indie publishing company, Books Fluent, transforms manuscripts into high-quality commercial books that equal or exceed industry standards. 

Having guided authors through the self-publishing process for years, Books Fluent’s team of industry experts expands upon these services. The company offers professional book editing, on-trend cover design and interior layout, savvy distribution plans, and management of ISBNs, copyrights, and other nitty gritty tasks.

Books Fluent’s expertise empowers authors to learn the unique language of this industry and become successful publishers, rising above the competition of more than 3 million books released every year.


Books Forward and Books Fluent will celebrate their launches throughout 2020 with prizes, special announcements and exclusive opportunities for authors and readers alike — including one grand prize of a free book publicity campaign for an author working to help move the world forward. To enter, submit an application here

As part of the company’s continued mission to elevate voices, Books Forward is also launching the #booksforward campaign to celebrate all the incredible ways stories have made the world a better place. Book lovers are encouraged to join the conversation by using the hashtag and sharing about literature that has impacted their lives.

Social media:
Twitter: twitter.com/booksforwardpr
Instagram: instagram.com/booksforwardpr
Facebook: facebook.com/BooksForward

Win a free campaign with Books Forward!

Part of our mission is to help promote authors who have engaging stories that inspire and uplift. To celebrate the launch of Books Forward, we’re offering a free campaign worth over $20,000 in 2021 to share one writer’s meaningful work with our wide-ranging network. Winner will be announced in early November 2020!

Enter here.


Want to change your life – and maybe the world? It begins with choosing kindness, claims Donna Cameron, author of “A Year of Living Kindly”ed to explore and create by “Dr. Brainchild & Radar: A Popcorn Discovery”


SEATTLE, Washington – It’s all too easy to be unkind. A telemarketer calls and interrupts dinner. A driver cuts you off in traffic. The repairman is running late. Depending on your mood, your reaction might be an abrupt hang up, a waved fist, an angry Yelp review. We’ve all done it. But we can choose a different response.

After spending more than 30 years working with nonprofit organizations, where she saw kindness in action daily, author Donna Cameron was inspired by its potential to change the world. Releasing on Sept. 25, 2018, by She Writes Press, “A Year of Living Kindly” explores what it means to lead a kind life and illustrates both the challenges and the benefits, providing readers with thought-provoking questions and practical actions throughout the book. She explores both the why and the how of choosing kindness.

What sets Cameron apart from other personal development authors is that she does not claim to be a paragon of kindness; she has struggled with all the issues that other people have – lack of time, obliviousness, impatience, fear – she’s human, after all, and has learned that we all have lapses, but with practice and intention, kindness can become our default setting. And when that happens, the world changes for us.

“Many people perceive kindness as a weakness, or as something soft and insubstantial,” Cameron says. “The truth is that kindness is a strength – a superpower. It takes courage, trust and confidence to be kind and to face unkindness or incivility without succumbing to it.”

Cameron encourages readers to commit to kindness. She not only explains the importance of kindness and why it is good for you, but she also explains the difficulties and barriers we face in extending and receiving kindness, as well as the skills we can cultivate to grow and spread kindness. Kindness, in the end, is a muscle we must strengthen to bring peace and happiness into our lives, and to our world. And Cameron’s book provides the welcome exercise to strengthen that muscle.





About the book

Choices That Will Change Your Life and the World Around You
Donna Cameron | September 25, 2018 | She Writes Press
Print ISBN: 978-1-63152-479-0 | $16.95
E-book ISBN: 978-1-63152-480-6 | $9.95
Personal Development

Most of us aspire to be kind. But being kind isn’t always easy. Our best intentions often fade when the realities of daily life intrude: traffic, telemarketers, crowded spaces, time constraints, and our own ineptness. Being kind when we don’t feel like it, or when all of our buttons are being pushed, is hard. But that’s also when it’s most needed.

In these pages you’ll see how a commitment to kindness will improve your life in countless ways, and ultimately can be world-changing. You’ll discover:
* Why choosing kindness is good for you
* Why extending and receiving kindness is often difficult
* What the barriers are to kindness and how to overcome them
* What to do when you’re faced with unkindness and incivility
* How kindness is a strength that will bring you peace and happiness

Want to change your life and also change the world? It begins with choosing kindness.

DONNA CAMERON is the author of “A Year of Living Kindly.” She has spent her career working with nonprofit organizations and causes as an executive, consultant, trainer, and volunteer. She has seen kindness in action and been awed by its power to transform. While she considered herself a reasonably nice person (with occasional lapses into bitchiness), she knew that true kindness was a step above. When she committed to a year of living kindly, she learned that it takes practice, patience, and understanding…and a sense of humor helps, too. The recipient of multiple awards, Cameron has also published numerous articles and, in 2011, coauthored “One Hill, Many Voices: Stories of Hope and Healing” with Kristen Leathers. Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cameron and her husband now live in a suburb of Seattle.


Praise for “A Year of Living Kindly”

“A Year of Living Kindly is a beautifully rendered exploration of kindness as a way of life, arriving at the right moment, with the right guide. Donna Cameron writes with humor and grace about this essential virtue. She makes it easy to follow her path–and to want to follow it.” – Sarah L. Kaufman, author of The Art of Grace and Pulitzer Prize-winning critic of The Washington Post

“Donna Cameron’s contagious warmth, compelling stories, persuasive logic, and useful advice make this gem a joy to read. After I finished each lovely little chapter, I understood the path to kindness a bit better, my inspiration to keep moving down that path increased, and my resolve to forgive myself and others when we slip into unkindness grew stronger.” – Robert Sutton, Stanford Professor and bestselling author of The No Asshole Rule and The Asshole Survival Guide

“This book will absolutely light your heart on fire for kindness! In A Year of Living Kindly, Donna Cameron encourages us to suspend our spectator status and fully embrace what’s happening around us. Through collected research and her own wise observations, she generously shows us how to lead fuller lives through kindness.” – Nicole J Phillips, author of Kindness is Contagious and host of The Kindness Podcast

“It’s irrefutable that being kind—on purpose—improves health and wellness. With fifty-two delicious, bite-sized chapters containing actionable examples that help readers weave intentional kindness into their daily lives, you can be sure A Year of Living Kindly is a book I’ll prescribe to my clients.” – Laurie Buchanan, PhD, holistic health practitioner, life coach, and author of The Business of Being and Note to Self

“Although being kind sounds a lot like being nice, Donna Cameron shares how these two acts are very different. A Year of Living Kindly has remarkable insights on how you can increase your dose of happiness by adding kindness into your daily encounters. In most situations, it doesn’t cost a dime and yet you will feel better than ever. I’ve been inspired!” – Linda Atwell, author of Loving Lindsey: Raising a Daughter with Special Needs

“Most people are kind, but don’t always know how to express it. In A Year of Living Kindly, Donna Cameron shares both the whyand how of kindness. She’s written a wise, captivating guide for those wishing to claim the power of kindness and use it to change the world.” – Leon Logothetis, Bestselling author of The Kindness Diaries


PressKitAuthorPhotoCameronAn Interview With Donna Cameron

What inspired your journey to live kindly? What was your first step?
I’ve always admired kind people, and I wanted to be like them. For many years, I would set an intention of being kind, or being kinder. But the resolution faded in the face of rudeness or inconvenience. I was kind mostly when it was easy or convenient. At the end of 2014, still hearing the call of kindness, I decided to hold my feet to the fire. I thought if I made the goal more public and blogged about it to a few friends who might want to follow, it would be harder for me to let the commitment fade when it got hard. There’d be some built-in accountability. So, I declared 2015 my “year of living kindly” and blogged about it. The result was that kindness was on my radar all the time. And it has stayed there.

How has your life changed as a result of your year of kindness?
I am a kinder person. I’m certainly no paragon, but I’m kinder. I’m more willing and able to go out of my way to extend kindness. Throughout each day I actively look for ways to express or encourage kindness. At the end of 2015, I knew that my year of living kindly wasn’t just something I would do for 12 months and then move on to the next thing—it’s the path I’m walking for the rest of my life. And I’m better able to use the kindness skills I’ve learned and developed. Plus, I feel more engaged with the world. I’m paying attention to my life and the life around me. I feel more open-hearted.

Why does kindness matter?
I think few of us would dispute the fact that over the last couple of years, we’ve seen an enormous worldwide increase in unkindness and incivility. We see it on social media, on our highways, at political rallies, and in the way people talk to and about one another. Quite literally, we are in the midst of an epidemic of incivility. Science has shown that incivility spreads like a virus, but it’s also shown that kindness is equally contagious. So, each of us has a choice: We can choose to widen an epidemic of incivility or foster one of kindness. If enough of us choose to come down on the side of kindness, eventually it will become our “default” setting in our interactions with one another. When that happens, we’ve changed the world.

What’s the difference between being nice and being kind?
Nice doesn’t ask too much of us. It isn’t all that hard to be nice. It’s benign. Passive. Safe. One can be nice without expending a lot of energy or investing too much of oneself. One can be nice without taking risks. Being kind—truly kind—is hard. Being kind means genuine caring. It means making an effort. It means thinking about the impact I’m having in an interaction with someone and endeavoring to give them what they need at that exact moment, without worrying about whether I get anything in return. It means more than just tolerating other people, but letting go of judgments and accepting people as they are. Kindness requires me to do something my upbringing discouraged—it demands that I reach out and take a risk, knowing that I might be rebuffed or rejected. If I were asked to sum it up in two words, I’d say that kindness means “extending yourself.”

What’s the biggest misconception about kindness?
I’ve seen time and again that a lot of people perceive the notion of kindness as weak and bland and insubstantial. They see it as a pleasant but powerless quality. For some, it may even be viewed as a weakness to be exploited or taken advantage of. That couldn’t be further from the truth. My experience and research have convinced me that kindness is really a super-power. It takes strength and courage. It means putting yourself out there—sometimes in ways that may be uncomfortable, awkward, and may even seem dangerous.

Is there a difference between kindness and generosity?
I think a lot of us think of kindness first as giving—perhaps money, perhaps time. But if neither time nor money are available to us, we can still be kind in so many ways:
* We can load the dishwasher even if they aren’t our dirty dishes.
* We can make eye-contact, smile, and say “good morning.”
* We can say “thank you” or “I’m sorry.”
* We can hold a door or offer help in carrying a heavy load.
* We can let the car merge in front of us.
* We can say something nice about an absent friend when others are gossiping about her.
* We can give the benefit of the doubt

I think a big way to express kindness is to listen for the music rather than the missed note. To not be one of those people—we all know them—who spend their time looking for the typo, catching others’ errors, and playing “gotcha” with life. Instead, we can practice looking for what’s right and letting go of the rest.

Who is the kindest person you know?
I have been blessed to know so many kind people in my life, and to be the beneficiary of so much kindness. When I think of kindness, my business partner, Lynn Melby, comes to mind. In addition to being my mentor as I entered and grew in the non-profit world, Lynn was—and is—an encourager to everyone he meets. And he treats everyone the same, whether it’s a senator, a CEO, or the janitor. There’s an old saying that “a person who’s kind to you but unkind to the waiter is not a kind person.” Lynn is kind to everyone, and he inspires others to be kind.

Are there health benefits to living a more kind life? Have you noticed any personally?
There’s been a lot of research into the health benefits of kindness, and there are indeed many. Kindness produces in us the hormone, Oxytocin, which lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation, fights heart disease, and slows aging. Kindness has also been shown to reduce chronic pain, extend longevity, increase happiness, and reduce depression. And for people who may be debilitatingly shy, kindness has also been proven to alleviate social anxiety. Personally, I can attest to increased happiness and a reduction in stress. And while I’m not debilitatingly shy, I have never been comfortable in crowded social gatherings. Focusing on kindness has increased my comfort and enjoyment in the dreaded business reception or cocktail party.

You worked in the nonprofit sector for years, how can the messages in your book apply to organizations and businesses?
Just as there’s been a lot of research on kindness and health, there’s also been considerable research on kindness in the business world. Whether a nonprofit organization, a Fortune 500 corporation, or a small business, there are certain elements that are essential to success. Organizations with kind cultures have far less turnover; they are more productive and more profitable; they have better performance, better customer service, better health and lower absenteeism among employees. Kind workplaces also have greater employee engagement and commitment, and an atmosphere where learning, collaboration and innovation are more likely to flourish. The bottom line is that in business, kindness is your competitive advantage.

What are some everyday actions people can take to embrace kindness?
There are a lot of tools we can cultivate. I sometimes think of them as tools in our kindness toolbox, or apps we download into our brains.

One of the biggest is just learning to pause before we respond. Another is letting go of judgment and engaging our curiosity to look for what might be behind unkindness. Paying attention is another huge one. So often, we operate on automatic pilot, oblivious to what’s happening around us and oblivious to opportunities to extend kindness or experience kindness. Being able to accept kindness is as important as being able to extend kindness. Some of us are terrible at receiving from others. We need to remind ourselves that accepting the kindness of others is a gift to the giver. Sometimes, even engaging in self-care is an act of kindness. If we’re depleted, we won’t have energy or interest in helping others. As simple as it sounds, we can remind ourselves that we can always choose peace. All of these things are simple, but they aren’t necessarily easy. They take practice and they take awareness.

I would caution, though, that declaring one is going to turn over a new leaf and be as kind as the Dalai Lama or Mother Teresa is probably not practical. Start small. Say that you’re going to be ten percent kinder for the next week, and when you see how good that makes you feel, add another ten percent.

What are the biggest struggles people face with displaying kindness?
Many things can get in the way of our kindness. Fear’s a big one: fear of embarrassment, rejection, being viewed as “weak,” fear of doing it wrong, of being vulnerable or different. Other barriers include uncertainty, obliviousness, thinking we don’t have the time, maybe even the perception that kindness doesn’t matter. The good news is that it gets easier with practice, and with the awareness of just how much difference it can make in our lives and in the world.

Why did you decide to continue exploring kindness after your “year of living kindly” was over?
It became evident to me before my year was even half over that kindness isn’t something I could “do” for a year and then move on to the next thing—a year of playing the clarinet or learning Italian. Kindness is a way of life, a path—for me, at least. It’s how I want to be and who I want to be. It has made me happier and enhanced my life in countless ways. It’s what I have to offer the world. If, after I die, someone says of me, “She was a kind person,” then my life will have been well-lived.

Is it still ok to be angry or to have negative reactions?
I don’t think we want to deny our feelings or reactions. It’s what we do with those feelings that defines us. One of the keys is not to let someone else’s incivility trigger the same behavior in us. Just because someone else is behaving like a jerk, it doesn’t mean we have to. That takes strength and practice. It also takes self-control and courage—these aren’t qualities that we can simply switch on at will. We develop all of these with practice, awareness and intention.

You discuss something in your book that you call “micro-kindness.” What is that?
I think some of us bypass opportunities to extend kindness because we think they’re just too puny. Kindness should be big and impressive. While there’s nothing wrong with grand gestures, a kind life is composed of countless, ordinary, day-to-day kindnesses that may seem small but really aren’t. A micro-kindness might be a smile, a word of appreciation, an offer of assistance, or the genuine interest we have for the people in our lives. None of these actions is grand or earth-moving, but cumulatively they change moods, change lives, and maybe even can change the world. Our days are filled with these micro-kindnesses and also with micro-unkindnesses. We have a choice.

How do you manage situations in which people are being unnecessarily unkind? How do you shift your perspective?
There are degrees of incivility and unkindness. How I respond to the guy who deliberately speeds up to block me from merging onto the highway is going to be very different from the person who I see bullying another person, or someone who makes hateful and bigoted remarks about an individual or a group of people.

In the case of the aggressive driver, I usually just shrug and feel sorry for the guy; maybe I’ll even make up a story for why he’s rushing and acting thoughtlessly.

In the case of bullying or bigotry, my goal is to stand up for the victim without resorting to the tactics of the bully. I don’t want to name call or make the person even more belligerent. If I see someone being talked to rudely in a store, an office, or on public transit, I might just go stand next to them and make it clear that they have my support.

Do you have any thoughts about all the unkindness and incivility we see online and on social media?
In a perfect world, the on-line community—whatever it may be—should establish norms and enforce them. And should say in no uncertain terms that bullying, name-calling, and trolling aren’t acceptable. Every time we click on something on the internet or on social media, we make a choice. It may seem like a small thing to click to some salacious celebrity gossip, or to some site that promises dirt on some bigwig. But those clicks matter—they determine what other people put out there. If there’s a market for mean, false, and crude content, more people will post it. If more of us stop clicking to that stuff, purveying it becomes less profitable.

It’s hard. We see a provocative headline and we almost automatically click on it. But if we pause and think about what we want to perpetuate, perhaps we’ll choose differently. Each of us has the power to change the unkindness being spread online and through social media by not clicking on it, and by posting kind comments when we have the opportunity. With every click, we make a choice.

What’s next for you?
I want to continue to write about kindness and to speak about kindness. I love connecting with other people who are choosing to walk a path of kindness. Perhaps there’s some opportunities for collaborating to bring kindness to our schools, our communities, our workplaces.



237 Old Hickory Blvd., Suite 201, Nashville, TN 37221
Ellen Whitfield

Kids of all ages will be inspired to explore and create by “Dr. Brainchild & Radar: A Popcorn Discovery”


Join the fun as Dr. Brainchild and Radar discover how a little bit of creativity, some wacky inventions, and a whole lotta science can transform the ordinary into something EXTRA tasty! Boy, girl, wolf, or anything in-between–it doesn’t matter so long as YOU are there! Science is for everyone, so come along and enjoy the ride!

Cole W. Williams is an arrow-slinging idealist, advocate for critical thinking and curiosity, an all or nothing type of girl, a gold miner for truth. Passionately supporting emerging artists, randomly writing her own words, she stands for water, and for the river, she plants seeds of inspiration wherever she goes as the muse of being exactly who you are. Rivers, prairie and farm country weave their way into her writing, as well as healthy doses of science and biology. Each title Williams delivers is released within the theme of books that dig, meaning they contain topics that relate, teach and delight the readers. Offering expert advice, or a resource section to the end of a book can help bolster and magnify the reading experience. Her dream is that a reader digs even further into something that strikes them as interesting when reading her work. Updates on her whereabouts and writing projects are found at www.colewwilliams.com. She believes to get a little, you must give a little, by way of supporting local authors and bookstores and building a literary community. Williams currently resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.




About the book

“Dr. Brainchild & Radar: A Popcorn Discovery”
Cole W. Williams | Oct. 2, 2018 | Burning Belly Press
Hardcover | 978-1543940886 | $20.05
Children’s picture book | Fiction







colewilliamspicAn Interview with Bryan Robinson

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I spent my a lot of my life wondering what I should “be,” this question largely being generated by the American education system with a pre-selected bevy of choices. The idea of choosing one thing plagued me, I wanted the freedom to go where my wings and wind invite and with writing I can do this.

For a while, I figured I should be a scientist and science writer, but kept making up stories in my head of the model we were studying at any particular time and personifying it, exaggerating it. As a result of that story-making, I was able to get others really excited about something they had never thought of that way before, “What do you think a Tardigrade does for fun?” In general, writing was less of a knowing per say, and more of a propulsion from another dimension, so as a kid, I registered for poetry camps and wrote in journals, made up stories with my friends, it has always spewed forth unsolicited. Figuring out what to do with all that requires skill and the ability to trust in literary professionals. I have always loved everything about the literary arts: reading, writing, creation, stories, smells of books, magic of books.

Why do you think it’s important to present scientific topics to kids in a fun way?
There is an immediate shut down in some kids, triggered by certain words, and it happens at a young age. How shocking to hear a child say they are not “good at” science or math or ping-pong. A-what? How long does it take to give something a fair shake? This idea comes from somewhere else, from permission to not try, not challenge oneself to have the patience for deep learning. I think this comes from mainstream marketing. What’s easy and makes a quick buck is prioritized to sell. It is getting better with the STEM movement. I think parents that read to their children are wanting more and so are the children themselves. For many reasons children are still growing up thinking science is too difficult or unapproachable. What I believe is that children are capable of incredible challenge and complex thinking if they are given the chance to embrace that exploration, free of judgment. What is hidden behind the theory and vernacular of science, are beautifully rich stories of what we are comprised of, how the world works, and what we know of exquisite adaptions to life on earth. It is unfortunate if these stories can’t be shared because of the lack of diversity in publishing and delivery modus. Writing science in fun ways takes some of the pressure off the learner, not to the point that they are not connecting to the topic but enough so that they can stick with it.

How is writing a kids’ book different than other projects you’ve worked on?
Writing a picture book is very different than any other book I’ve written. In fact, I was in a session at the Minnesota Writers Conference on creating picture books and the speaker said, “Picture books are the most difficult books to make, don’t believe me? Try it.” That is all it took to get me interested in taking the challenge and I am on the other side now, coming to you to report that I think she was spot on. It’s hard to explain. It is sort of like writing haiku. Take an idea and distill it down until there are hardly any words left; and then still relate an expression to the reader that is moving. I love the idea of picture books, the process of editing, and development. As we went along, I became more and more in awe of picture book authors. Try it! That is the best way to know.

What is the process like to collaborate with an illustrator?
This is by far my favorite part of creating a book. I adore seeing an artist free to express words with how they see the story. It is magical to get a file for the first time with new sketches. It is such a beautiful marriage of art; writer with illustrator. I could live in that part of the process.

Did your kids have input on Dr. Brainchild?
Believe it or not, no. I follow Stephen King’s advice with the creation process and do not share any first drafts with anyone, not even my children! It is dangerous to have other people’s voices in your head when you are creating, unless they are your trusted proofreader.

Was Radar inspired by a real dog?
When I was researching for Dr. Brainchild, I found it unavoidable to ignore the connection between war-time and technologically advancements, laudable discoveries that were happenstances of researching war devices. Radar represents this presence in these labs. He was meant to be a dark figure in the halls of the labs, silent but always there. Originally he was more sinister but I could not resist the companionship between the two characters. Maybe in future books he will become more sinister.

Why did you choose to focus on the microwave?
Because the Magnetron is one of the most exquisite inventions created and this is what is at the center of all microwaves. The fact that each home has a microwave with this level of sophisticated machinery in it is a minor miracle of human invention, and there are more! Start asking yourself how things actually work or what was required to make something streamlined, it gets fascinating, like building an old BMW motorcycle from scratch–exquisite.

What’s next for you?
Currently obsessed with haiku. I have been writing this form for a couple months and am about to challenge myself to write one haiku for every word in the Japanese Nature Dictionary. I am teaching poetry and hosting other classes at Creators Space in St. Paul including my Banned Book Club, The Hearty Book Club, Embracing Beginner class and more. I have one novel done and another in the works, not sure if I will publish either! As for Dr. Brainchild and Radar, they may move on to more inventions in a second book debut.


237 Old Hickory Blvd., Suite 201, Nashville, TN 37221
Ellen Whitfield