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A Time, a Memoir, an Insight
“Reading Rosie’s Daughters changed my life; I will never be the same.” Matilda Butler’s book, Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story recently earned these words of praise. “I understand what this reader meant,” Butler says. “Writing the book had the same effect on me. Until I gathered and compiled women’s stories into this collective memoir, even I didn’t grasp the significance and impact of our lives.”
“I didn’t expect that the creation of Rosie’s Daughters would become such a powerful personal journey and source of new beginnings for both the women I interviewed and for me,” continues Butler. “Using my experiences from interviewing more than 100 women and reading more than 100 women’s memoirs, I decided to share my respect for and passion about life storytelling by teaching women’s memoir writing workshops. Out of this insight about the importance of memoir writing came a regular program of offering writing classes in person and online. In working with the wonderful women in these workshops, I continue to be amazed at the power of the personal narrative both for the self and for others.”
In Rosie’s Daughters (a 2008 IPPY National Book Award winner), Butler defines a generation of women usually relegated to the Silent Generation. She contends that Rosie’s Daughters (of which she is one) have earned separate status as the “First Woman To” (FW2) Generation: “We were born during WWII (daughters of the iconic Rosie the Riveter), raised in the placid `50s, shaped by the tumultuous `60s, and refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.”
Butler is surprising her Rosie’s Daughters’ cohorts with the fact that collectively they hold more firsts in business, entertainment, professions, sports, government and education than any other generation of women. Think Nancy Pelosi, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Barbara Boxer, Diane Sawyer, Alice Waters, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Judge Judy, Martha Stewart, Billie Jean King, among many others. No Silent Generation there. The milestones, accomplishments and turning points attributed to the millions of Rosie’s Daughters overshadow even Baby Boomer women.
All of this has a generation of Rosie’s Daughters retracing and reflecting on lives that now span seven decades. Their actions and accomplishments, good and bad, have changed the lives of all successive generations of women. The book of this trailblazing generation encourages women of all ages to examine their lives. One woman said, “I’ve been busy just living my life. This book caused me to look at the successes and failures I’ve made. Now I can quit repeating my mistakes.”
The Insight and a New Approach to Writing
The initial insight from work on Rosie’s Daughters led to teaching memoir writing. And after a number of years of teaching, Butler and Bonnett both saw that the same writing problems came up over and over. Although it was great to help these writers through critiques and suggested changes, the same problems would come up with the next group. Butler and Bonnett undertook a multi-year search for a better way to write. Eventually, they developed Writing Alchemy, a new writing system that puts the writer in charge of the entire process — a new writing system that makes him or her a PURPOSEFUL writer.
Butler and Bonnett tested Writing Alchemy for four years before writing the book that reveals the system to everyone: Writing Alchemy: How to Write Faster and Deeper. The book is now available on this website, through Amazon and other online bookstores. In the few months after it was released, it quickly won one award (Honorable Mention, New England Book Festival), and was voted the Best Nonfiction Book of 2013 in the annual OWFI contest, and has been nominated for several other awards.
In a career spanning more than 40 years, Butler has focused on business and professional women’s issues while working to create, aggregate and distribute information via digital and traditional publishing media. During her seven years of teaching and research at Stanford University, she established and chaired the Committee on the Status of Women for both the Association for Education in Journalism and for the International Communication Association-thus helping to build awareness and open doors to more women. She went on to create and direct the national information clearinghouse, Women’s Educational Equity Communication Network (1977-1982).
In 1985, Butler co-founded Knowledge Access International, a software company specializing in CD-ROM products. Among its clients were the World Bank, Dun & Bradstreet, Pacific Bell, McGraw-Hill, Pfizer, 3M and the US Departments of Labor and Agriculture. Butler served as president until 1997 when she sold Knowledge Access to a large publicly traded company.
From 1992 to 1996, when companies large and small were discovering the Internet, Butler was a director of the Information Industry Association (IIA), serving on the Executive Committee of the Board for three years and as treasurer for one. IIA facilitated networking opportunities and monitored government policies for potential impact on the burgeoning digital information industry. In a 1998 award ceremony, the SIGCAT Foundation and the CD-Info Company acknowledged Butler’s pioneering contributions to the development of the CD-ROM publishing industry. She’s been listed in Who’s Who in the West since 1978 and Who’s Who of American Women since 1975.
Butler has published more than 50 articles, contributed chapters to several anthologies, including The New Papyrus (Microsoft Press, 1986), co-authored the award-winning Women and the Mass Media (1980), co-edited Knowledge Utilization Systems (1983), co-authored the four-time, award-winning Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story (2007, Second Edition, 2012), and co-authored the award-winning Writing Alchemy: How to Write Fast and Deep (2012). She graduated magna cum laude from Boston University with a major in communication. She received her M.A. in communication research from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in social psychology from Northwestern University.
How Marketing and Memoir Writing Led to a New System for Writing
“Why bother to publish?” asks author, editor and marketing executive Kendra Bonnett. “The average US author spends months, even years, writing a book only to sell fewer than 100 copies.” Of the 1.2 million books Nielsen Bookscan follows, 950,000 titles have sold fewer than 99 copies.
Kendra often asks her audiences: “Which of these statements is true? (1) My publisher will ensure that I have a well-marketed book. (2) All I need to do is get my book listed on Amazon and my sales will take off. (3) I don’t need to worry; I’m just using my book as a glorified business card to build creds and win new clients. The answer? None of the above.” Most authors believe at least one of these statements, and that’s their fatal mistake. Using her marketing experience, writing talent and Internet know-how, Kendra guides authors in search of book sales or new business.
The bottom line is this: The day an author decides to write a book, the process begins. She must define her audience, create innovative sales tactics, and build readership (a list). “Quite simply,” says Kendra, “the day you start writing your book you also must start selling yourself…and what better first step than to start blogging?”
In addition to helping writers with their marketing, she is also an award-winning author. Kendra co-authored Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story. This collective memoir of women born during WWII is a 2008 IPPY Book Award winner and compelling for the many ways it engages readers–through the inclusion of memoir vignettes from more than 100 women, quotes from famous Rosie’s Daughters, iconic images of the 20th century, interpretive narrative and a timeline. After all, why shouldn’t a reader’s experience be as entertaining, as effortless, as worthwhile as possible? Reading a book should be as enjoyable as picking up a magazine. And it’s an important aspect to marketing and selling one’s book.
A Requirement for Effective Marketing is a Well-Written Book
More recently, Kendra co-developed what clients have called “a revolutionary system for writing.” After working on the process for several years, Kendra and Matilda co-authored Writing Alchemy: How to Write Fast and Deep, a book that garnered its first award (Honorary Mention, New England Book Festival) just a few months after its publication and has now received the Best Nonfiction Book Award from OWFI. The new writing system was tested and honed on classes over a period of four years before the book was written. Now this system is available for everyone, not just those who take her classes.
When helping clients with marketing, Kendra brings her extensive experience to bear on individual needs–experience gained in more than 30 years using marketing to sell books, magazines, hardware, software, and business-to-business services. She specializes in giving her clients methods that enable their prospects and customers to make educated buying decisions. Her secret? Translating technical, often-complex features into simple, compelling benefits. For her business clients, she imbues raw specs with emotion and value. For her author clients, she helps them use their personal narrative to build loyal readers.
Kendra has started three magazines, including the award-winning Profit Magazine for IBM. She left IBM to assist former Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon with research and spent 18 months interviewing more than 100 leaders from the worlds of business, finance, government and sports, including President Gerald Ford; Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz; CEO of W. R. Grace & Co. and President Reagan appointee to head The Grace Commission on waste and inefficiency in government, J.Peter Grace; journalist Jack Anderson; and Wall Street’s William “Billy” Salomon of Salomon Brothers.
In 1996 she joined the marketing firm Mark Stevens & Company and served as its president two years later. She began working with the Internet around the same time. And in April 1998 she hosted a two-hour satellite broadcast about Internet opportunities for small and growing businesses, sponsored by IBM and the US Chamber of Commerce.
Kendra is an award-winning author who has written more than 300 magazine articles and written, edited or ghostwritten eight books, including An IBM Guide to Doing Business on the Internet (McGraw-Hill, 2000). She graduated cum laude from Arizona State University with degrees in history and anthropology, has a Master’s degree in history from The College of William and Mary and further graduate studies in history at the University of California at Santa Barbara.