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Category Archives: Publicity Tips/Techniques

Lead by example?

Ugh. There they were again. My five-year-old son’s clothes lay in a heap in the bathroom floor. I debated whether to pick them up or call him into the room to teach him the lesson of putting his own clothes in his own hamper. The easy path, of course, was just to pick up the clothes. That wouldn’t eliminate the need to pick them up again tomorrow, though, and the day after that and the day after that. Except, well, I’ve taught him to pick up his clothes a million times and I stood staring at evidence that my lesson went unlearned.

So, what to do? Why did my otherwise brilliant son refuse to pick up after himself? How could I trick, um, teach him to be responsible for his own belongings? Why weren’t my words being heeded? I sighed and bent to pick up the clothes. As I did, a scrap of red clothing caught my eye.

Not two feet from the small bundle of my son’s clothes lay another heap. Red tank top. Black shorts with embroidered cherries. Nick and Nora label peeking out. Uh oh. Only one member of this family wears Nick and Nora and you’re reading her words. The reason for my son’s behavior lay on the floor, daring me to ignore it. Why should he put his clothes in the hamper when Mommy didn’t even bother?

I sighed, shook my head, and gathered up his clothes and mine. As I left the room, I couldn’t help but think back on the cities I visited this past week and the people I met with. In many instances, the conversation centered around what’s wrong with publishing and/or movies and/or television and/or Christendom and/or a combination of all those, and how to “fix” it. Several told me they’d been talking about these ideas for years, but no one had listened yet.

Years? Really? I thought about that and realized that I could say the same. For six years, I talked about ways to partner creators of written product with producers of motion picture product. I sat on panels and at roundtables all over this country and batted ideas and opinions like a kitten with a string. I wondered why our ideas stayed just that – ideas. Why were the clothes still on the floor year after year?

Three weeks ago, we announced our partnership with The Sam Hill Group. The feedback has been tremendously positive. About a dozen authors and actors now call Glass Road/Sam Hill their home for representation and promotion and a couple dozen more are awaiting calls and emails after we’ve had a chance to review their existing material and decide if we can help. Publishing houses have called to ask if we’ll come up and share our ideas and authors, I suspect because they love the idea of acquiring an author who comes with promotional support. Organizations call to see if our actors can come perform, probably as a response to viewing the stellar promo videos Sam Hill creates for our clients. To be frank, it’s overwhelming. All we did was stop talking about an idea and do it.

My new business partner says often that the concept we’ve embraced isn’t complex, isn’t an idea unique to us. God has ordered our lives and careers to uniquely suit us to execute the idea, but the idea – of partnering authors of books with the motion picture industry and vice versa in a seamless manner – isn’t new. It’s been talked about. For years.

All we did, really, was pick up the clothes.

So I thought I’d ask my fellow Christians what I was forced to ask myself this morning – why are your clothes lying on the floor if you’re trying to show the world the value of picking up its own clothes? Why do you talk day after day, week after week, year after year,about a miraculous, creative, all-powerful God and what He can do and the ideas He’s granted, but do nothing?

There’s a time for discussion, of course. There’s a time that God uses to prepare us to execute the idea. When we let that time bleed into the moment when we’re to pick up the clothes, though, we rob the world of seeing by our example what can be done when we internalize the very concepts we attempt to share in His name. We steal the power of the action by talking it to death.

That’s enough words, I think. Time to go do…

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The Bad Review Cometh…

Don't pout - BAM!

It happens to all authors at one time or another. The dreaded bad review. How could they not like your stuff? You’re dumbfounded.

How an author receives bad reviews, though, says more about the author than the reviewer.  So, today I thought I’d give BAM – three tips for receiving bad reviews.

1.Breathe.
The first instinct when reading an “attack” on your creative baby is to fight back. You puff up, roar, “That stupid reviewer has no idea what she’s talking about!” and, before you even blink, your fingers fly across the keyboard. A couple hundred words later, you’ve put that reviewer in her place…and failed to embody the principle of acting with kindness and love. So, before you start typing, breathe. Walk away from the review for at least an hour.

Remember that your reaction is yours. You’ll have to own what you say and how you say it for the rest of time.

2. Ask.
Most bad reviews have a kernel of truth to be found within them. Oh, I know you don’t want there to be any truth, but a wise author is inwardly honest. Be real with yourself – no one will know but you and God – and re-approach the review. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this? How can I be a better writer? What in this review can teach me? Is there anything here that shows an area in which I can work harder? Is there something here that another reviewer has said?” (That last one is really telling – if more than one person says it, the critique deserves more thought from the author.)

Since sharing a client example could get me in trouble, I’ll share an experience of my own. One reviewer ripped into me for portraying an Asian character as cultured and disciplined. She accused me of falling back on the stereotype of Asians. Little did she know I’d based the character completely on my German sister-in-law! I’ll admit, my dander was up after reading her review. Yet, when I took the time to breathe and ask those questions, I realized I could do a better job next time by thinking through my character portrayals more fully and considering how my audience might perceive my choices.

3. Move on.
Unless there are factual errors in the review (e.g. the title is listed incorrectly or it’s categorized as historical romance when it’s actually chick-lit), let it go and move on. Confronting a reviewer will not result in anything favorable for you as an author or as someone who wants to be perceived as a professional.

Don’t talk badly about the reviewer to others – especially in the blogosphere! You did your job.  You wrote a book. The reviewer did his/her job. She wrote what she thought of it. The outcome rests in God’s hands, not yours and not the reviewer’s.

Ultimately, it helps to remember this: someone read your book! You didn’t spend all those hours slaving over word choice and plot development for nothing. Someone actually took time from a busy life to spend a few hours in a world you created! Enjoy your success…just for a few minutes…until your fingers get all pruny.

 
 

Proper Pitching Position

This morning,  I’ll be working hard to secure more radio interviews for a particular client, the author of a NON-fiction book. I do not do a ton of radio work for novelists because it hasn’t yet proven a reliably effective route for persuading consumers to purchase novels, but I work with enough non-fiction folks to keep my radio relationships growing. This ensures I have the contacts I need when the right novelists come along.

Non-publicists (and some publicists – eek!) are often stymied by the proper position to take when pitching. So, today I’ll share the easiest method for approaching media representatives.

Adopt a servant’s heart.

Pitching media – radio, television, print, or internet – will go best if you adopt (what we call in Christian circles) a servant’s heart. My job as a publicist is to serve the media.

  • I want to give them story ideas, interview opportunities, and good products to review.
  • I respond to them as fast as possible when they ask for or even intimate they might be interested in something or someone with whom I work.
  • I supply them with all the info they need – in the timeframe they need it – to opt to review the product, interview the author, or just write a quick snippet about either/both.
  • I research both them and their shows to make my pitch relevant.
  • I even help them secure interviews with non-clients when they call me and aren’t sure how to reach so-and-so at a publishing house or such-and-such bestseller.

My job (and yours, if you’re promoting something through media) isn’t to garner praise or even recognition for my own work. My job is to make their jobs easier.

As a quick aside, if you approach your promotional work with a servant’s heart, it also becomes a more joyful experience for you. It’s a blast to make others’ days happier!  Have you had that experience? The one where you surprise someone with something that makes their day brighter, their workload a bit lighter, their job a bit easier? It’s an incredible feeling when a producer says to me, “You’re just so easy to work with.” When I hear that, I check the day off as a good one and go find the chocolate.

Have you tried promoting your own products? Are you a professional publicist? Tell me all about your experiences – good, bad, or indifferent. I’d love to do the happy dance with you over the victories and cry with you over the tough stuff!

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2010 in Publicity Tips/Techniques

 

Bulk Mail Secret #2

Yesterday, I shared with you the first secret of getting your bulk mail opened. Today, I’ll unveil secret #2…

Relationship.

See, the thing about publicity is that you’re not really paying a literary publicist for her ability to write a good press release, or her ability to hone in on the best hook for your book. Both are important skills and without them a publicist isn’t going to find herself re-hired too often. The most important thing a publicist brings to the promotion of a project, though, is her relationships.

This is true in your life as well. How much more likely are you to open an envelope from Great Aunt Edna than you are from the car dealership in the next town over? The relationship with Aunt Edna makes you care about the communication, so you open the envelope and read.

The same applies to bulk mailings conducted by publicists. If I’m mailing to a group of people with whom I’ve been working for the past six years, then they have a pretty good idea of the communication I’m sending before they even open the envelope. Hopefully – if I’ve done my job well and solidly built the relationship – they realize before ever opening the envelope that its contents will be well-written, creative, entertaining and, most importantly, relevant specifically to their situation.

The relationship serves as the mechanism that allows the recipient to trust the sender, and so open the package.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2010 in Publicity Tips/Techniques

 

Bulk Mail Secret #1

We all get it – a pile of junk mail to sort through in our otherwise happy little mailbox. I make a stop at the trash can before coming inside the house, unwilling to even let the stuff cross the threshold of my haven of home.

But I’m a publicist. Which means I occasionally (read: weekly) send bulk mailings. And I wouldn’t keep my job very long if those envelopes didn’t somehow get opened and read. What’s the secret?

Well, there are two. I’ll share one today.

Hand-addressing. Yep, good ole pen to paper works – in some businesses’ estimation – 100% of the time in garnering enough interest to at least get your envelope opened.

Which is why today I’ll be hand-addressing roughly 200 pieces for one of our clients announcing the launch of his book. Good use of my time? You bet. If I hadn’t planned on hand-addressing, I’d have never agreed to send these pieces out b/c they’d have ended up right where my unsolicited mail ends up: File 13.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2010 in Publicity Tips/Techniques