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Catching Up With...Jennifer Haupt

"Will You Be My Mother? The Quest to Answer Yes" by Jennifer Haupt
Image courtesy of Jennifer Haupt

I often tell my public relations students that a big part of successful media relations involves networking…and that doesn't mean schmoozing over the shrimp dip at some boozy party (though it can). I’m talking about making connections in your industry that can be beneficial to your clients, helping them meet their goals and objectives.

One trick I’ve learned in the media relations world is that it pays to network with freelancers. I work in the health field, so I’ve gotten to know quite a few writers and journalists who cover the medical beat. As I explain to my class, maybe I don’t know the new editor at REDBOOK, but perhaps one of my writer contacts does. If I can sell a story idea to a freelancer, then said freelancer pitches to said editor and, with a sprinkle of luck—pow! I’ve got a story for my client in REDBOOK and my writer contact continues to be gainfully employed! Everybody wins!

One such contact of mine is Jennifer Haupt. I noted via FACEBOOK recently that she has a new book—an “e-book” in fact—coming out, so I thought, let’s catch up with her and find out how her project is faring…

Jennifer: First tell our readers a bit about yourself, your background, and your new e-book.

I’m a journalist and I went to Rwanda eight years ago. That trip changed my life in so many ways. My e-book, book “Will you be my Mother? The quest to answer yes,” began with a piece about when a girl at the genocide museum in Kigali asked me to be her mother. Both her question and my negative response were unsettling. After she walked away, it occurred to me that she wasn’t actually asking me to adopt her, but “to give her guidance” as she said. Her own mother had been murdered during the genocide, twelve years earlier. I began wondering, how might it have changed both me and her if I had offered her a hug, some kind words, a walk in the garden outside of the museum? How might that connection have changed both of us?

What was involved in putting the book together? What sort of research did you have to do?

It’s three personal stories from my life, about the girl in Rwanda, a boy I met in Nairobi — again on assignment — and then the last piece is about my relationship with my mom. I was trying to look at the question in the title from different angles, and charting my growth from asking my own mother to love me, to giving love with a more open heart.

The epiphany is the power of giving love, and how it boomerangs back to you.

“Back in the day” a book was something made out of paper with a leather binding! Now we have e-books. Why did you elect to go the “e-book” route?

Shebooks, a new publisher of short e-books for women, asked me to write this collection of essays.

What steps are you taking now to promote your book? Are you using traditional media? Social media?

I have a great community of Facebook friends, including you! People have been great about spreading the word. My book was officially published on May 1, and since then has been in the Kindle store top 25 titles on Motherhood, and the top 60 books on Motherhood.

Noted that profits from your book are going to a charity? Can you provide details?
I’m donating all author profits, $1 per book, to Mothers2Mothers during May. (The book costs $2.99) It’s a natural fit because they are about answering yes to the question: Will you be my mother? They trains, employs, and empowers mothers living with HIV to counsel pregnant women with the disease. Basically, M2M is working to eliminate the transmission of HIV from mothers to babies and improve the health of women, their partners, and families in sub-Sahara Africa.

Anything else you’d like to add about your e-book project?

I think it can be a tough time for journalists, but it’s also an exciting time to create your own opportunities. I’m doing that with my Psychology Today blog, One True Thing Shebooks, and Kindle Singles. Other writers I know are having great success self-publishing fiction and nonfiction. Now, more than ever, it’s all about “creative” writing!

Jennifer Haupt’s new e-book “Will you be my Mother? The quest to answer yes,” includes three stories from her journey to love better and connect more deeply with her children, her mother, and the world. She hosts a popular blog for Psychology Today, One True Thing, an online salon of essays and interviews with bestselling authors.

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