Asking for your help

Oof. It’s not so easy, folks, doing social media publicity without feeling like you’re just being utterly obnoxious and bothering everyone. I am trying to think of it as, “I’m letting people know about a cool thing they’re going to be excited about,” but it’s hard. Girls aren’t supposed to self-promote, right? We’re supposed to be demure and self-effacing…

I’ve also been told that people need several ‘touches’ on an item they might want to buy before they actually get around to buying. So I’m trying to get past the feeling of painful repetition. But I keep wanting to start every message with SORRY.

I just sent out this e-mail to a host of friends and family, and I felt very guilty clicking send. And yet here I am, posting it again here.


Hello! I’m sending this out to friends and family, asking you to help if you have a moment. As many of you know, I’m indie-publishing my first book, a Sri Lankan American cookbook; launch day is in two weeks. Eep. I’ve worked on it for several years now, I think to a pretty great result. People have been very enthusiastic about it — when they see it.

The problem is that it’s really, really hard to get people to see it. Big publishers can drown bookstores and libraries in galley copies (which we can’t afford) and press releases (we’re sending some, but we can’t match their volume). I think there are a lot of people who would love this book, but given that Kev and I have already invested about $20K in printing costs (eep), we’re trying hard to keep publicity costs (already around an additional $10K, double eep) manageable. Which means we’re relying heavily on word-of-mouth, hence my request. A few requests, actually:

a) BOOKSTORES AND LIBRARIES: You can request my cookbook now from your local bookstore or library! Please do! (Often you can do that in just a minute, from the comfort of your computer or phone…) A Feast of Serendib, ISBN 1645432750.

b) SIGNAL-BOOST: If you could help boost my signal, I’d appreciate it so much. If you’re on social media of any kind, following my posts and amplifying them (with likes, comments, and shares) is incredibly helpful. The Facebook algorithms are designed to make you pay for visibility, but there’s a certain amount that can be done with ‘organic reach,’ if people choose to boost your work. As a bonus, you will see cute photos of the kids and pets, plenty of flowers and food, and even some cooking videos with Kavi and me.  And for the next two weeks, I’m running daily giveaways of the ebook on my FB page, so you and your friends could win a book — no cost to enter!

My personal FB page:
My Twitter:
Serendib Kitchen Instagram:
Serendib FB Group:
Serendib FB Page:
Serendib Kitchen blog:

c) BOOK TOUR: I’m organizing a cheap-as-possible book tour. I’m planning to hit a lot of cities, including doing a road trip with a friend, traveling from Boston through New York to D.C. and then driving west to Chicago, hitting something like 14 cities on the way. Also planning to make it to the Bay Area, and hopefully Seattle and Los Angeles, plus stops in Amsterdam and New Zealand (because I have work conferences in those countries, and work is paying my way). If you can spread the word to people you know in those cities, that would be so, so great. I’ll send along details when it’s finalized. (And if you know booksellers, librarians, universities, etc. who might be interested in having me out for an event, I’d love to be put in contact. I do talks about Sri Lankan food and history, cooking demonstrations, cooking and writing workshops, etc. If they can afford to pay, even better.  )

If you live in those cities and can come out for an event, it would be helpful, even if you don’t plan to buy a book! (Really, no pressure to buy books!) Having a nice full audience for an event (ideally, at least 20-30 people) makes for much better photos on social media (and also helps keep me from being depressed — I once did a reading where the only person attending was the bookstore staff guy. That was rough). PLUS, that would mean we could possibly get a meal together before or after, which would be very cool. Also, if you have book groups who might be interested in reading the book (I’m offering a discount for group sales to book clubs), or friends who you can drag along to an event with you? Or if you’re interested in organizing a book party for me? Let’s talk. 

d) REVIEWS: If you’ve picked up the book and are willing to write a review (even a sentence or two is plenty), that’s hugely helpful. (If you’d like to review, but buying the book would be a hardship in any way, please let me know; I can send you an ebook review copy.) Reviews can be posted right now at GoodReads (I’m running a hardcover giveaway there right now too) and Books-a-Million; they can be posted at Amazon after March 6.

e) MEDIA: If you have any contacts in media (radio, tv, print) who might be interested in this book, I’d LOVE to be put in touch. They’re in the business of boosting the signal, and they’re very good at it.

f) COOKBOOK CLUB / SUBSCRIPTIONS: If you can tell your friends about the cookbook club, that’d also help! People can sign up to get recipes in their e-mail, or little boxes of sweet treats sent to them (US-only for the latter). That’s here:

It’s all a numbers game right now, as we try to just spread the word as much as possible, ideally without being obnoxious. I hope this mail wasn’t obnoxious! But I had to ask. (And if you *do* want to buy the book (no pressure!), and are buying it on Amazon, buying it on launch day (March 6), will really help. From what I understand, it can take as few as 100 sales on one day to boost a title into the Amazon bestseller ranks, and that would be very very nice.)

Mary Anne / Amirthi

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