How a Debut Author Used His Old College to Find New Readers

By Jason Boog Comment

How can a debut travel writer set up author events? One author used his old college to build a network of new readers.

Today’s guest on this encore edition of the Morning Media Menu was Andrew Blackwell, author of Visit Sunny Chernobyl. He shared travel writing and promotion tips that all kinds of authors can use.

Press play below to listen. Here’s an excerpt from the interview: “As a first-time author, I can’t expect the publisher to fly me around and set things up for me. I can’t even expect to show up in Denver or Oklahoma City and have more than a few people show up. So I’m trying to build relationships where I can give something to a particular organization. Out of that, I can build events. The first thing I did, I called up my college alumni magazine and they wanted to do something.”

Backwell continued: “I got them to introduce me to the environmental science department at my old college, they said ‘We are definitely interested in having you talk to environmental science 101 students. That’s something we struggle with, our students don’t have a lot of first-hand experience of environmental problems and this is an entertaining way to talk about that and what you saw.’ So I’m obsessively compiling lists of universities and NGOs for possibilities of events. I’m trying to think: What kind of value can I bring to students and organizations?”

Blackwell also explained how his background as a film editor helped his travel writing: “I have this background as a documentary video editor, and I think that was really mentally essential for me. I was used to sitting in a room and seeing what material I had and putting together a scene out of it. It is very scene-based and sometimes very visual-based book. When I was out in the field, I thought: ‘If I was shooting this as a documentary and I were back in the editing room, what would I need? I need to know what this guy looks like. What this environment feels like. What people are seeing. If I don’t have that, I’m going to be screwed.’ I had a strong sense of what I would need to get.”