PUBLISHED JULY 2017
by Julia Schopick, Author, Honest Medicine
Almost everyone knows that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That’s because organizations like the Susan G. Komen and Avon foundations, the American Cancer Society, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation successfully utilize this national month to gain media attention. Pink ribbons abound, and thousands of stories about breast cancer survivorship and prevention flood the airwaves. And, if that weren’t enough, hundreds of buildings throughout the country “go pink” in recognition of this month.
What most people don’t know is that National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was established in 1985 by the American Cancer Society, with funding from AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company responsible for many cancer drugs—at least partially, to be sure, in an effort to publicize their medications.
Big corporations and their public relations teams know how to monopolize the airwaves and the internet during national months, weeks, and days in order to bring attention to their own agendas.
Independent publishers and authors don’t have huge budgets at their disposal to convince the media to focus on their causes. But, if your book has a life-changing message—and if you enjoy educating your potential readers—national months, weeks, and days can provide you with excellent PR opportunities.
How Can You Get This Kind of Coverage?
First, figure out what national months, weeks, and days will be most appropriate for disseminating your book’s important message. Then, decide how and where you want to get media coverage.
For example, my book, Honest Medicine, features four science-based, underutilized medical treatments for serious diseases that most patients and doctors haven’t yet heard about. I’ve found that whenever I appear on radio shows or post on Facebook, lots of people express interest in these treatments.
How do I utilize national weeks and months to expand awareness of these treatments?
In March 2016—National Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month—I hired a PR firm to send out a press release about Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN), one of the treatments I feature in my book that has been helping people with very serious autoimmune diseases for over 30 years. My release stressed the controversial aspect of this story—the media loves controversy!—i.e., that doctors routinely prescribe drugs that are toxic and expensive for these conditions, while LDN, which is nontoxic and dirt cheap, may be a far better choice in many instances.
The response was stunning. Numerous radio stations booked me for interviews, and several websites posted the press release verbatim. But my biggest success was with a network of women bloggers who decided to feature the press release in order to jumpstart a contest. The prize was a signed copy of my book. The buzz this contest created led to my sending out numerous copies of Honest Medicine to the winners; it also led to hundreds, if not thousands, more people learning about LDN and, in the process, my book.
I am intending to build on this success in future years by taking advantage of other national months, weeks, and days that are devoted to several of the autoimmune diseases that LDN treats.
As independent authors and publishers, you can do the same thing. There are national months, weeks, and days dedicated to just about any and every topic; some are serious, while others, like Buzzard’s Day (March 15) and National Barbecue Month (May), are more frivolous. But there will certainly be at least one national holiday appropriate for publicizing your book.
Is your book—like Sophia Gushee’s A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Our Toxic Exposures—about toxicity in the environment? If so, you’ll want to know about National Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month and National Clean Air Month; both take place in May.
For books about treating pain (like Cindy Perlin’s The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments, and Dr. Winifred Bragg’s Knock Out Pain: Secrets to Maintain a Healthy Back), Pain Awareness Month is September.
For books about herbs (like Dr. Philippa Norman’s Three Shells for Nikki and Stacey Kaplanis Chillemi’s The Complete Herbal Guide), National Herb Week is the first week in May.
For books about medication safety (like Dr. Louise Achey’s Why Dogs Can’t Eat Chocolate: How Medicines Work and How YOU Can Take Them Safely), there’s Talk About Your Medicines Month in October.
For books about Alzheimer’s disease (like Lovie Reed’s Forget Me Not: A Loving Mother Who Had Alzheimer’s), National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month is in November.
For books about inventions (like Louis Foreman’s and Jill Gilbert Welytok’s The Independent Inventor’s Handbook), National Inventors Month is in April.
In September 2017, independent author Rick Shapiro will be releasing his book titled Hope Never Dies, which is about 20 late-stage cancer patients, most of whom were told by their doctors that they had one year or less to live. But with the help of innovative practitioners—both integrative and alternative—all 20 survive today, many years later. As a matter of fact, 18 are thriving 10 to 30 years after their dire prognoses, and the other two are alive and well five or more years later.
Shapiro could benefit greatly from getting publicity during national months, weeks, and days. First, I would advise him to take advantage of the more general National Cancer Prevention Month in February, Cancer Control Month in April, and National Cancer Survivor Month in June. But since the patients profiled in his book have survived with several different kinds of cancer, each with a national month dedicated to it, I would advise him to be aware of the many other cancer awareness months, which you can find here.
I would also advise Shapiro—whether he decides to hire a PR firm or not—to contact blogs and websites devoted to discussions of cancer and, in particular, the types of cancer his book profiles.
As you can see, there is at least one national month, week, or day that would be appropriate for every independent author to promote their book. I hope that this column will open your eyes to a very fruitful opportunity for publicity and education that independent publishers and authors of message-driven books rarely think about.
Julia Schopick is the bestselling author of Honest Medicine: Effective, Time-Tested, Inexpensive Treatments for Life-Threatening Diseases. Julia coaches other authors on how to use promotional techniques effectively. To learn about her coaching service, Honest Medicine Communications, go to HonestMedicineCommunications.com. Write to her with questions at Julia@HonestMedicine.com.