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Stop Waiting for FameBecome Your Own Publicist
by Linda J. Parker
You only have two realistic options if you want
people to read what you write. Plan A is simple. Oprah Winfrey must fall in love
with your words and recommend your books (articles, website, videos, etc.) to
her millions of viewers.
Plan B requires a little more on your part. You
have to get you name in front of those millions of people yourself and they have
to fall in love with your words on their own. And unless Oprah, the unofficial
patron saint of writers, is already on your Christmas card list, you probably
need to go with Plan B.
The good news is that Plan B is not as difficult
as it may seem. You can build a successful writing career by getting your name
in front of thousands of people, not millions. And love is a relative term.
People only have to love you enough to shell out the price of your next
bookabout twenty dollars worth of affection. But how do you reach the market
without a saint or a public relations firm behind you?
You must become your own publicist. In your busy
schedule, already challenged by writing, family responsibilities, and perhaps
your day job, you must carve out time to market your work.
Radio interviews are an excellent way to start
building recognition. Television, music CDs and MP3s have not taken away the
power of radio. Thanks to advancements like satellite and internet radio, radio
listening audiences continue to grow. At the same time, ownerships consolidate
and smaller staffs man bigger stations. Radio needs you.
Kevin Hogan, author of The Science of
Influence (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005) says you can guarantee
interviews if you make it known to radio program directors that you are willing
to be a last minute guest. Call and ask for the name of the program or news
director and his or her fax number. Send them a one-page resume, bio, book
review, or any other promotional material that identifies you as an experienced
professional with something worthwhile to say.
Devote a second page to outlining your interview
subject matter. Emphasize that you are always willing to fill-in should they
have a schedule change. You will not only land your interview, you will endear
yourself to the program director.
Once you put yourself out there as the anytime
interview stand-in, stay prepared for the calls. Type all your discussion points
and keep your notes by the phone. Make sure your telephone is free from static
and background noise, and never give radio interviews over a cordless or
When the call comes in, hum loudly to warm up
your vocal cords just before you go on the air, and always stand while you are
speaking. Being on your feet substantially increases the energy level your voice
projects to the listener.
The news crew and the program director at radio
stations should be on your list to receive all your press releases. A
well-written press release is an effective way to get your name in front of the
media, who in turn get your name in front of book-buying consumers.
Prepare and maintain an up-to-date list of media
contacts. Find a simple way to database this information. You will be much more
likely to send press releases if you dont have to search for contact names and
addresses each time you do it.
Write press releases that are short and
information-intensive. Make what you write sound like news, not self-promotion.
Perhaps you uncovered an interesting bit of history about your community or
stumbled across a great human interest story in your researchthat qualifies as
news. And dont overlook the venue that will give you the most coverage, your
own hometown. People are always interested in the lives and accomplishments of
others who grew up or went to college in their city.
Make a point of learning which news people work
the graveyard shifts and the weekend schedules. Address some press releases
specifically to them; late-hour news teams typically have to scramble the most
When you send press releases, remember that
neighborhood associations, clubs, and civic organizations frequently have
regular newsletters and publications too. The Chamber of Commerce and your local
library offer directories listing many community groups and their contact
person. These organizations will be glad to receive your information and eager
to book you as a speaker at their meetings, as well. You dont have to be a
dynamic orator to make these occasions successful.
Research the group you will be addressing by
reading back issues of their publications. Write your own introduction on a file
card and give it to the person who will introduce you. Plan a simple,
informative speech about something related to your writing. Tell the audience
some facts they already know, because this establishes your creditability.
Include new information they dont know, because this identifies you as a
subject matter expert.
You are a talented wordsmith by professionwrite
a great opening for your speech. If you lead with ideas that are thought
provoking and enticing, you will keep the audiences attention even if the rest
of what you say is less dynamic. Speak clearly, slowly, and smile. Studies have
proven that how you deliver your speech has as much as five times more impact on
your audience than what you actually say.
Remember, the more the audience likes you, the
more likely they are to like your work. Dont bail out after your speech. Be
friendly, personable, and stick around for the meeting and the chicken dinner
that typically follow; you are there to build lifetime fans and
Too many writers do not take advantage of the
countless low-cost, no-cost ways to publicize their own careers. In todays
competitive market, publishers are not just looking for good writers; they are
looking for writers who also wear the hats of self-marketers.
Give radio interviews and then ask the station
for a courtesy copy of the broadcast. Send press releases and save clippings or
videos of the news items they generate. When you speak publicly, ask the
organizations president to write you a letter of endorsement. Publishing houses
recognize the value of grassroots publicity. They appreciate authors who partner
in the effort to market their books. And when it comes time to send out
contracts, publishers remember which authors market as well as they
© Copyright 2005, Linda J. Parker