“Going Rouge” was published through Lulu by husband and wife team Julie Sigwart and Michael Stinson. She has a background in graphic design, including stints at The Arizona Republic newspaper and Arizona Business Gazette. He has a background in illustration and experience living in Alaska. For 12 years he worked there, fishing, mining — and collecting stories. (Including the time he was in a helicopter crash, lost on the tundra for a week). Both have been active in political causes.
Given their experiences, creating the book might seem easy. The success they had, though, was anything but. It came with hard work and strategy. We talked with them about their success. An edited transcript follows.
A. (Julie) No, for both of us. … I’ve done a lot of books and have been familiar with the process. I did it the old-school way, where you had to get proofs, print checks — the whole nine yards.
That’s one thing I really appreciate about Lulu, the simplicity of the entire process. You don’t have to think about anything. You can just upload and go. And it makes printing so much easier than it was in the old days. … There are so many ways to mess up in traditional printing. It’s nice to have a lot of the guesswork taken out.
A. (Mike) All of a sudden, “Going Rogue” was everywhere. We’ve got a 4 year old, and I’m looking over his coloring book and I thought, ‘Rogue. Rouge. Rouge is a color. Hey! Coloring book!’
(Julie) Sarah Palin announced that she was moving her book launch date to Nov. 17, and people started making a lot of jokes about, ‘Well, does it come with crayons?’ That gave us a laugh, too. That was another inspiration for the book.
A. (Mike) It’s a phenomenon. We can’t believe it. Unfortunately, during this period, my wife’s father was dying of cancer. We just buried him a couple days ago. So throughout this, we haven’t been able to get out and push the PR like we really wanted to. But, at the same time, it’s been picked up everywhere — The Washington Post twice, The New York Times, AP. It just took off.
A. (Julie) The thing that independent publishers have to think about when they’re trying to sell their book is to figure out exactly who is your market? How can you get attention? If you don’t have a huge marketing budget, if you’re creating your own book with your own brand, you’re going to be up against a lot of challenges. If you can, piggyback on somebody else’s marketing dollars.
We had a phenomenon to start with, which was Sarah Palin. There’s a huge amount of interest in her. She’s kind of like the Paris Hilton of the political world. Everyone is intrigued by her. … There was already attention and a huge book tour going on. Her publisher, HarperCollins, they had a huge marketing campaign going on and she was everywhere on the news.
It’s natural, whenever a story comes up, journalists want to get the other side or want to get the local angle on the story. We had both of those, where we can get local attention and we have the other side of the Sarah Palin coin, which means in every story she appears, pretty much, they’re looking for someone like us. The other thing that helped us is The Nation. They also launched a “Going Rouge” book. They had a lot of publicity, so we got some of the effects from that as well.