Archive for July, 2006

The Long Ambitious Path

July 19, 2006

It rarely happens. Some author right off the bat writes a fabulous book which jumps on the bestseller list and the person is instantly thrust into the spotlight and has no more financial worries. Yet these few stories are the ones passed around and people continue to hope happens to them.  I know several of these stories, but I’m not going to write it into this entry.  From my view, it’s like telling a story about someone who wins the lottery. Millions of people played the game and one person walked off with the huge prize. It doesn’t stop those other folks from participating in the game the next opportunity.

One of my long-time friends, Jerry B. Jenkins, who wrote the Left Behind series which has sold 63 million copies, has often told people that this series was the chance of a lifetime.  It seems people forget that Jerry had published 100 books before Left Behind. Yet so few people want to apprentice and learn the craft of writing and the business aspects. Instead they want to jump into the fray and land at the top.  It just simply doesn’t happen. And none knew Left Behind was going to take off. Certainly the authors and the publisher believed in the work but who would have predicted the results? I’ve heard Jerry tell the story about how it was a huge deal ten years ago for Tyndale House to publish hardcover fiction. The jacket for the book costs almost as much as the actual printed book. For the first print run of Left Behind, they only printed half of the jackets so they wouldn’t lose as much if the book didn’t sell. These are the stories that people seem to forget—yet are critical to everyone in the journey.

HeatHere’s what initiated my entry about this aspect of the business: In the July 10th issue of Publisher’s Weekly on the hardcover nonfiction page, they pulled a quotation from an online interview with Bill Buford, the author of Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave (which I have not read): “You know I really did see a lot of similarities between chefs and writers. Both professions require people to embark on a long ambitious trajectory, which rests on learning, without being recompensed, all kinds of skills that you’re not going to know for years whether you’re going to be able to make a living from them.”  According to PW, Knopf reports after five printings Heat has 85,000 copies in print.

If you are one of the many writers on the long ambitious path, what do you do? First, you keep growing and working at your craft. If you want to write books, then learn how to write an excellent book proposal. My Book Proposals That Sell has value whether you are trying to write fiction or nonfiction—if you wonder about this book, just check out the endorsements or read some of the customer reviews on Amazon. If you are trying to get an agent or a publisher, learn how to write a great query letter. Every day I see countless, forgettable queries. You want to write one which stands out. Get to a writer’s conference and begin to connect with other writers and editors. In a few weeks, I’m headed to the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference (use this link to learn more about my speaking schedule). One of the absolute best things you can do is to work on your craft of writing with shorter forms. Books are long—I know not very profound but true. Magazine articles and newsletters and other forms of writing are much shorter, the publication lead time is less and they are much more achievable.   There are too many writers who are stuck on submitting their long manuscript and never work on magazine articles. It’s a shame.

More than anything else, keep working at the journey.  For most of us, it is long and more like a marathon than a short sprint.

The Extra Push

July 18, 2006

Whether you want to admit it or not, I will. Some writers are pushy about their work to the point of being obnoxious. I’m sure you’ve seen those folks who push to the front of the sign up sheets at a writer’s conference to make sure they snag the editor of their choice. Or they are the ones who overnight their book proposal to you because they are certain they have finished the next bestseller and as an editor you will lunge toward their overnight package, rip it open and fall immediately in love with it.

OK. I’ll admit to being a bit cynical in my tone but you get the idea of which type of writer I’m talking about here. They are the ones with the moxie and to some degree it works for them. They get attention but will it be the right type of attention? Several months ago, one of my writer friends approached me with her novel. This particular writer has written a number of successful nonfiction books and now had turned her attention to a fiction series. Internally I groaned and wondered why she had turned to fiction when her nonfiction was going so well but I listened to her pitch. She sent me a proposal and a sample chapter or two.

For many of thUmpire outese submissions, I’ve been quickly looking at them and sending form rejections. Instead, to this writer, I sent a note of explanation that it would be a while until I could process her submission for a number of reasons and asked for her patience. She responded that she understood and would be patient. Then a few weeks later, I got another nudge from this writer asking about her submission. Again I reminded her of my few possibilities and how her timing was off and I needed her patience. Again she responded apologetically about being a proactive author and would be patient.

Well, I suppose after four or six additional weeks her patience ran out because this week I got another email nudge from this author. I wasn’t eager to read her work–because the timing still wasn’t right but I opened the file, read a bit, the sent her a form rejection note. Her nudging worked and achieved a response. Just not the response she expected. The experience reminded me once again of the potential result you push for your own work when you push. This author was pushing too hard but she graciously accepted my form rejection and is now pressing on to other places. Whew. Did I need that type of author? In a microcosm I was experiencing how she would interact with others inside our publishing company. It’s not the type of author I want to bring to my colleagues. In some respects, the experience reminded me of a baseball game where the umpire calls the player out. 

It’s something else to consider the next time you are going to fire off an email and check on the status of your proposal which the editor has under consideration. Are you giving it the extra push which moves it from consideration into the rejection pile?

The Swirl of Opinions

July 17, 2006

It’s an aspect of the business that writers seem to rarely remember: the subjective nature of the selection process. One editor loves a writer’s prose and another simply can’t see it and rejects the manuscript.  I’ve simplified the submission process because even  when an editor loves the writing, he has to build consensus within the publishing house and champion the project to the other departments. Eventually every area reads or listens to the discussion about a particular author and their writing.  If the publishing group decides to move ahead and contract a particular book, then the contract is negotiated and signed. The author has a deadline to deliver the manuscript and the project moves through the publishing process.

The publishing team loves the book and made their decision. Yet will the public embrace the book, buy it, tell their friends about it and catch attention? With more than 190,000 new books published each year, some good books never find their place in the market. It’s the explicit risk that every publisher takes with any author. What will the bookstore owners think of the book? Will they read it? What do the reviewers think of the book when they read it? (yes, if they read it)

You, Me & Dupree photoLast Saturday I came face to face with the subjective nature of the business. It wasn’t in the book area but in the area of movies which is another place where people reveal their opinions and make their choices whether to attend a particular film or not. Since I had been traveling, my wife was eager to attend a movie but is there something worth watching? We’ve been to some great movies and other times, the movie falls completely flat.  Because I’ve been to some poor movies, I often read the newspaper movie reviews to see what someone else thinks about the movie. The PR firms have this slick method of showing the most engaging portions of the movie in their trailer but will the film hold up? My wife was determined to see the new release You, Me and Dupree since it looked like some mindless entertainment with some laughs.

The local newspaper reviewer gave You, Me and Dupree one and a half stars—out of a possible five stars.  I began to wonder about the wisdom of going to this one.  Here’s a small portion of the review: Bill Muller writes, “It’s hardly worth spending two hours on this obvious, disjointed story about a spacey, jobless dude (Owen Wilson) who moves in with his newly wed pal (Matt Dillon), disrupting the marriage by often failing to wear Jockey shorts…Although the movie offers a few chuckles here and there, it fails on almost every level.”

Now doesn’t that make you want to run right out and see it? Through experience, we’ve learned that our opinions about a particular film do not always line up with this newspaper movie reviewer. So despite his cautions, we went to the film. Yes, it has a bit of bathroom humor in it, which you can see from the promotional clips.  In this case, the reviewer completely missed the message of the movie. It has several themes including the importance of lasting friendships, the value of marriage and the importance of having your priorities in order.  A positive spin on these themes comes out strongly in the story of this movie. We loved the overall message of this film and felt like it was a good way to spend a few hours on a hot Saturday afternoon.

The-Election-coverFinally I want to return to the subjective nature of books. There is a soon-to-be published novel which I’ve believed in for some time. Early on in the manuscript process, I sent this book to one of my much-read friends.  She loved this book. I championed the book in an editorial meeting at my former publisher and it didn’t go anywhere.  I was disappointed but I did not give up on it.  When I got the opportunity, I championed the book again at Howard Books. The publication board agreed and I negotiated a contract with this lawyer turned author, Jerome Teel. This process happened months ago and The Election has been moving toward it’s September release.

While walking the floor at the International Christian Retail Show in Denver, I saw Lin Johnson, the managing editor of Church Libraries. She stopped me with one question, “Did you have anything to do with the acquisition of The Election?”

My face lit up with a smile and I said, “Absolutely. Have you read it?”

Lin told me that she loved it and couldn’t put it down.  What an affirmation! Later in the week, I caught up with Lin and asked for a few more details. It turns out Lin was pre-screening the book to see if it was something she wanted to assign one of her book reviewers for Church Libraries.  Attracted to these types of political thrillers, Lin read The Election. I asked her for a few words and she wrote, “I couldn’t put The Election down. The fast-paced plot and good writing kept me turning pages and robbed me of sleep. I’m already recommending it to everyone I know who likes mystery/suspense fiction. I can’t wait for Teel’s next book.”

OK, click the book link and pre-order your copy from Amazon because it will soon be released—and you want to be one of the first people to read this title from a first-time novelist. In my opinion, it’s a worthwhile way to spend a few hours.

"Creative" Submission

July 15, 2006

Over the last several years, I’ve traveled the country teaching at various conferences and meeting with new and experienced writers about their manuscripts or book proposals. I’ve met them face to face and I continually process submissions through the mail or email. When you sit face to face with writers, they are usually surprised at how quickly you can evaluate a project. Am I always right on target? No. Do I miss it some times? Yes. But normally my experienced eye can spot excellence. I’m drawn to it like a moth to a light.

In the search for excellence, I begin to feel like I’ve seen almost every type of submission. Yesterday I was reminded again that in their core, writers are creative and innovative. Something new is always coming into my range of consideration. Here’s an actual submission which I received yesterday (with blanks to hide the specifics):

“Dear Terry Whalin:

I am a Spanish physician who lives in __________. I have written a novel about ____________. The book is in Spanish, contains 130,000 words. I have written articles in the medical field but this is my fist book. I attach a summary and a sample chapter.

Thank you in advance for your attention.”

This note included two attachments. I thought, OK, the book is in Spanish but let’s look at the two attachments and read the English samples. Wrong. The synopsis of the book and the sample chapter were in Spanish.  I doubt this doctor had a clue that I lived in Latin America from 1979 to 1982 and I can read and speak some simple Spanish—but not to the degree necessary to evaluate the editorial viability of a project in English.

I gave the submission a chance and tried to review it. I hit respond to sender, pasted in my form rejection note with the addition that we were an English language publisher and sent it to him.  At least he received a response from me but there was little I could do. It was a “creative submission.

Once again, this submission shows the simplistic way that writers approach the matter of publishing a book—and the need for education. If you have used Book Proposals That Sell, I’d love to hear from you about the difference it is making in your writing life. I find these notes encouraging and I try to respond to them. During one large dinner last week in Denver, a writer stopped me and introduced herself saying, “Thank you for writing that book. I followed every scrap of advice and I wanted you to know I got a book contract.”  Now that’s the type of information I love to hear. Wow.  I didn’t do it on the spot (not quick enough) but I have been in touch with this writer to get the specifics. It’s why I wrote this book in the first place—to help writers achieve their dreams in the publishing world.

Finally I have always loved to read the comic pages of the newspaper. It’s amazing how truth is woven into the fiber of those pages. Just look at what Lynn Johnston has put into today’s For Better or For Worse about book writing. It may brighten your day as it did mine.

Some Trade Show Observations

July 14, 2006

After trooping around the exhibit floor of the Christian Booksellers Association trade show for a number of years, it’s easy to grow numb about the event. I’ve been attending this event for at least 15 years. I’ve actually lost track of how many I’ve attended.  Someone told me that Jerry B. Jenkins has attended 31 straight years.  Each year, the meetings seem to pass in a blur and I return home with a stack of business cards from old friends and many new ones. I love the opportunity to meet with people face to face and make a personal connection. It’s one of the huge benefits of attending this closed trade show. The event gives you the opportunity to accomplish some things that can’t be accomplished in any other setting—so it has value.

In this entry about the writing life, I want to note some of the things I picked up from the event.  First, attendance from retailers was down. The bookseller press Cbasideonlywill try to spin this information in a positive way but there were fewer green badges on the floor. The green badges are the retailers or booksellers or the book buyers.  No matter what type of schedule I have to attend the event as an author or editor, these retailers are key.  They are the core audience for the event.  I wore a yellow badge or an exhibitor badge. There were over 400 exhibitors at this event and each exhibitor had authors, sales people, editors and others to bring to the event.  The shuttle buses to the convention center, the hotel elevator and even the convention floor itself was light in volume of people—particularly people with the green badges of a retailer.

On the shuttle, I struck up a conversation with a bookstore owner from central Indiana.  In years past, he used to own two different bookstores but now he’s cut back to one store. We talked about the intense competition in this retail market and the difficulty to keep your business going. He admitted holding his own with his numbers for the first quarter “only down 2%.” I didn’t say anything to this retailer but it didn’t bode well for the future.

Exhibitors can enter the convention floor before the retailers.  As a general practice, I like to arrive at the convention floor just prior to the opening of the floor for retailers.  I’ve found the atmosphere much calmer inside and you can easily reach your booth for the first meeting of the day. Often I’ve had to work hard to reach the entrance to the convention hall.  In years past,  eager retailers jammed the door clutching the show newspaper and prepared to march on the floor right when the floor opened. Yet this year, it was easy to reach the entrance and I didn’t have to struggle to reach this entrance.   The retailers were sparse.

Several years ago, the Christian Booksellers Association changed the name of the event to the International Christian Retail Show.  The new name indicates a different emphasis—and a move away from books. Yes, the CBA folks will deny it but look at the difference in the old name and the new name and it’s pretty obvious. A quick walk through parts of the exhibit floor will also show you the rise of the gift product.  The gift vendors are grouped together and the book publishers are in a different area of the floor. One publishing executive who had never been to this trade show commented on the “stuff” as she walked to our booth (which was in the rear of the hall).  It’s just one more indicator of the event to me.

Another publishing executive told about years ago when their publishing company depended on this trade show for something like 10% of their overall book orders. It is simply not the case at the current event. I saw numerous sales people standing around or sitting at their order desks with no one there.  In years past, I’ve seen these sales people completely booked with a continual string of key meetings.

Does the event have value? Absolutely it has value from my perspective. It gave me an opportunity to meet numerous authors and interact with literary agents. Yet I wonder what the future holds for these types of poorly attended trade shows?

The Unresolved Rumor & Why

July 13, 2006

The rumor and buzz was rampant on the floor of the Christian Booksellers trade show—now called International Christian Retail Show.  If you read any of the trade email publications you’ve already seen this news. Multnomah Books has been sold. They produce about 100 titles a year and have over 600 books on their backlist. Ironically on the front of their website the book they are promoting is Communicating for a Change, Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones.  No one seemed to know the answer who purchased Multnomah. I’m sure someone knows the answer but most of those people are legally bound not to release the buyer’s name.

How in the world do these things get leaked out into the publishing community without specifics? While at the show, I heard from a literary agent that some journalist in Sisters, Oregon (where Multnomah is located) got wind of the sale and began asking questions.  Prior to the show, several agents were called and told about the pending sale (but not the buyer) because of this leak. It only fueled the speculation and talk. Authors and agents are rightfully concerned when such a sale transpires.  Several years ago I was a part of a company that purchased over 300 titles from another publishing house.  As the de-facto leader of the editorial area at the time, I fielded numerous questions from concerned authors and agents. There were many changes resulting from such an acquisition and I expect many changes and unplanned things to happen with this change as well.

Why don’t we have an answer about the buyer? These types of major publishing transactions happen with a limited number of top executives involved in the negotiations.  Someone did get the nod to become the buyer but the agreement isn’t totally secured.  I’d compare it to a real estate transaction. You’ve made an offer on a house and your offer has been accepted. Yeah! Yet in the real estate agreement, nothing is finalized. There are still various junctures where the transaction can completely fall apart.  In the house example, if I’m the buyer, I get to inspect the house. Maybe it’s got a cracked foundation and the current owner refuses to fix it. Then as the buyer, I’m able to walk away from it and the house returns to the market.  At a variety of points in a real estate deal, the deal isn’t firmly a deal until you go to the closing and sign the final paperwork. It’s the same with a major publishing transaction.  Here’s just one thing that has to be investigated: all of the Multnomah publishing contracts. The new buyer wants to go through each of these contracts and see what is in that legal paperwork. Which books are forthcoming and when are they scheduled? What are the special terms that Multnomah agreed to fulfill and are they terms the new buyer can agree to fulfill? These questions are one of thousands that need to be answered—before the deal is firm and announced to the community. In the meantime, everyone wants to know—and a few people do know the answers—yet the deal needs to proceed with due diligence.

While we wait for the news about Multnomah, last week another publishing transaction happened in the Christian arena—and almost no one was talking about it. For many months, Standard Publishing has been up for sale from their parent company, Standex.   Standard Publishing was sold to The Wick Group. You can follow this link to learn more but it’s not a rumor. It’s a fact.

The 2006 Christy Award Winners

July 9, 2006

Christy Award symbolIt was a remarkable evening to celebrate excellence in Christian Fiction through the Christy Awards. The various editors and authors gathered in the room read like a Whos Who of Christian fiction. While I attended the banquet, I don’t want to list a lot of names for fear I will leave someone out.

Here are the nominees and the winners of the 7th annual Christy Awards. They were presented on July 8th at the Denver Marriott City Center. The winner in each category is highlighted in maroon.

——————————————————————————–

2006 NOMINEES

Contemporary (Stand-Alones)
GRACE AT LOW TIDE by Beth Webb Hart (WestBow Press)
LEVI’S WILL by W. Dale Cramer (Bethany House Publishers)
WRAPPED IN RAIN by Charles Martin (WestBow Press)

Contemporary (Series, Sequels and Novellas)
LIVING WITH FRED by Brad Whittington (Broadman & Holman)
MOMENT OF TRUTH by Sally John (Harvest House Publishers)
THE ROAD HOME by Vanessa Del Fabbro (Steeple Hill)

Historical
GLIMPSES OF PARADISE by James Scott Bell (Bethany House Publishers)
THE NOBLE FUGITIVE by T. Davis & Isabella Bunn (Bethany House Publishers)
WHENCE COME A PRINCE by Liz Curtis Higgs (WaterBrook Press)

Romance
A BRIDE MOST BEGRUDGING by Deeanne Gist (Bethany House Publishers)
CHATEAU OF ECHOES by Siri L. Mitchell (NavPress)
IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING by Susan May Warren (Steeple Hill)

Suspense
COMES A HORSEMAN by Robert Liparulo (WestBow Press)
LAST LIGHT by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan)
RIVER RISING by Athol Dickson (Bethany House Publishers)

Visionary
LEGEND OF THE EMERALD ROSE by Linda Wichman (Kregel Publications)
THE PRESENCE by Bill Myers (Zondervan)
SHADOW OVER KIRIATH by Karen Hancock (Bethany House Publishers)

First Novel
LIKE A WATERED GARDEN by Patti Hill (Bethany House Publishers)
THE ROAD HOME by Vanessa Del Fabbro (Steeple Hill)
THIS HEAVY SILENCE By Nicole Mazzarella (Paraclete Press)

Blockbuster or Niche or Both?

July 8, 2006

Yeah, I know, I’m supposedly not going to blog for a few days because I’m headed to the trade show. I was flipping through the latest New Yorker magazine (July 10 & 17) and I ran across a fascinating article by John Cassidy. It turns out the article was online. If you read—and re-read this article you will learn some interesting facts.

Let’s look at a couple of paragraphs from John Cassidy’s well-written article, “Even an industry as old-school as book publishing exhibits long-tail behavior. In 2004, Nielsen BookScan tracked the sales of 1.2 million books and found that nine hundred and fifty thousand of them sold fewer than ninety-nine copies. And yet these scattered individual purchases add up to a surprisingly large market, especially at online booksellers. At Amazon.com, for example, about a quarter of all book sales come from outside the site’s top-one-hundred-thousand best-sellers. “What’s truly amazing about the Long Tail is the sheer size of it,” Anderson writes. “Again, if you combine enough of the non-hits, you’ve actually established a market that rivals the hits.”” For me, those statistics are pretty interesting.

Now look at one of the conclusions that Cassidy draws in the article, “It’s the same for books and popular music: the more copies a thriller or a pop song sells, the more likely you are to pick it up to see what all the fuss is about. Even in the online era, to be human is to follow the herd. Far from undermining this “network effect,” the Internet strengthens it by providing instant communication and feedback. In a recent online study conducted by researchers at Columbia, participants were allowed to download free songs from a list of unsigned bands. When they were informed about the preferences of their peers, the popular songs got more popular—and the unpopular songs got more unpopular. Blockbusters and niche products will continue to coexist, because they’re flip sides of the same phenomenon, something economists call “increasing returns,” whereby the big get bigger and the rest fight for the scraps. A long-tail world doesn’t threaten the whales or the minnows; it threatens those who cater to the neglected middle, such as writers of “mid-list” fiction and producers of adult dramas.”

What will it mean for books in the days ahead? I don’t know but I found the conversation worth calling to your attention. I hope it helps.

The Land of Possibilities

July 7, 2006

These entries about the Writing Life will be on hold for a few days. Early tomorrow morning I’m headed to the mile-high city, Denver, for the International Christian Retail Show (formerly called the Christian Booksellers Association trade show). For years, most of us have been calling it CBA.  Thousands of retailers from around the world will gather for the largest Christian trade show in the U.S.  If you don’t know, a trade show means that it is closed to the general public and you need a badge or entrance to get inside the exhibit area.  Just to get an idea of the size of the event, you can follow this link.

If you take a seat near the main entrance of the show and keep your eyes open, you can easily see some of the leaders in the industry pass right in front of you. It’s easy to become star-struck with the various bestselling authors or be caught into all of the hoopla and attention making devices that are used to call attention to different products. The show is much more than books but anything that is sold inside a Christian bookstore.  After going to this event for a number of years, I’ve tried to learn to keep focused on the people and the possibilities. The gathering is a remarkable group of people collected into a single location. It many ways it is like attending an annual reunion where you see long-term friends and get to greet many new ones.

If you let yourself, it’s easy to feel quite overwhelmed and small at such an event. Meetings are in full motion throughout the exhibit hall and in meeting rooms around the convention and in different hotels. Some events are invitation only while others are open to anyone attending the show. New products are introduced left and right to retailers.  Some books are shipped into the show directly from the printer and arrive at the last minute. Others are still being created and only a book cover or “mock-up” of the cover will be shown to the retailers. In the middle of thousands of these promotions and new products, it’s easy to feel like your book isn’t getting much attention. And in reality, it might not be getting much attention at this event. Not every book or every author is treated equally in such a setting and the disparity between the bestselling authors and the rising stars and the want-to-be authors is never more clear.

Yet each person is special in the eyes of God. Each person at the show has something to contribute to your life and your learning experience—if you are open to the possible exchange. It may be on a shuttle back to the hotel or it may be simply walking around the trade show.  I hope to get off one entry about the Writing Life when I’m in Denver—but I’ll have to see how it goes.  From my past experience, I know these events are loaded with activity. If it doesn’t happen, you’ll know the reason. I’m off to the land of possibilities.

Looking for the Silver Bullet

July 6, 2006

Author 101 Book PublicityI smiled when I read the chapter title, “What’s Your Silver Bullet?” in Bestselling Book Publicity by Rick Frishman and Robyn Spizman. It’s the perfect analogy when it comes to publicity.  Many writers are looking for that one thing they can do which will break out their book and reach the audience.  The longer I’m involved in publishing, the more I don’t believe it is a single action but more of a series of on-going efforts from the publisher and most importantly from the author.  Now Frishman and Spizman are using the term differently in their book. They are talking about the silver bullet as the key message of your book. Other people call it the hook or the elevator speech or the soundbite. Every author needs to find this key message for their book and this key will stress a benefit for the reader and often be the message you use repeatedly with the media, your website and any other publicity effort. This silver bullet message will cut through the noise of the other ideas and make your idea stick in the hearts of readers.

Frishman and Spizman write, “Think of your silver bullet as the verbal business card for your book. It’s a brief, memorable description that you quickly give people you meet or those who may be interested in your book. Your silver bullet is your core message, the unique selling proposition that you must get across if you hope to successfully promote your book. It must penetrate your target market and be delivered rapidly and powerfully before your small window of media attention slams shut.”

OK, you have your elevator speech (something you can tell in an elevator ride) or silver bullet for your book. Throughout the rest of Bestselling Book Publicity, they detail how to use this key message over and over. These authors write about the primary tools for any campaign such as websites, media lists, media kits, press releases, question and answer sheets, business cards, newsletters and other promotional materials.  The book includes an excellent chapter about working with the media with all sorts of wise advice about developing these key relationships. Why? Because the media can reach large audiences with a magazine article or a feature story or a personality profile. You want to tap into these possibilities to get the word out about your book. But you have to make sure your approach is right or you will only alienate the media (not what you want to do). I loved what Robyn Spizman said, “Instead of focusing on what the media can do for you, think more about what you can do for it. If you can make the media’s job easier by doing research, delivering great soundbites, and telling your media contacts about great people, those contacts will usually consider you when they could use information related to your message.”

There are rules for working with the media and you have to learn these rules in the publicity process. Frishman and Spizman write, “To build strong relationships with the media, be flexible and constantly, remind yourself that your goal is to get the media to publicize you and your book. So stay focused, be patient, persistent, and understanding because the road may be bumpy and long. Since your relationship isn’t equal, the media makes the rules and they differ from industry to industry, outlet to outlet, and person to person. When it wishes, the media can change the rules, and it will change them arbitrarily, when it suits its purposes. Suddenly, all of your hard work, your story or your appearance may be cut, rewritten, or cancelled.” Then they give three key points—good in many different situations beyond the media:

* “Even though you’re fuming inside, be professional, which in this case means act like you understand, because frankly, in most cases, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

* “Salvage something that will benefit you. Instead of wasting time and energy arguing, complaining, and raising your blood pressure, act understanding, be a team player. Ask if he or she can recommend anyone else whom you could contact.”

* “Never show anger or threaten. Instead, immediately focus on finding bargaining chips to position yourself for the future. Don’t say, ‘Okay, you owe me one’; just let it go. During subsequent contacts, plant subtle reminders by asking how the matter turned out.”

This book is loaded with wise counsel on other matters such as how to get bookings and coverage, interviewing tips,  media training, e-mail blasts, campaign timelines and how to hire the best publicist for your campaign. This title is loaded with websites, contact information and other resources for every author.

Let me conclude this entry with some publicity advice from seasoned veteran Rick Frishman. It applies to many other aspects of publishing. “Publicity is a business with lots of rejection and few responses. It can take a dozen phone calls to get an interview with a major-market media outlet. Remember the Rule of Seven—it takes at least seven tries before you make contact. But one response, one yes, may be all you need to get your story told. Look at each no or lack of response not as a defeat or a setback, but as a small victory that puts you closer to the yes that will land you a feature or a booking.”