Topical Tuesday: It Ain’t Trickin’ If You Got It

Repeat after me.

“I am made of Awesome. I have more breathtaking splendor oozing out my eyeballs than those nasty looking grubs that Bear Grills chomps the heads off have goo. I have remarkable talent, unimpeachable flair for the written word, and goshdarnit people like me.”

Now with conviction, please.

Saundra Mitchell raised an excellent point yesterday in her interview and I think it warrants its very own blog post. To remind you, she said:

“Early on, an established screenwriter took the time to work with me on my scripts. She challenged me to excel, and when I finally produced a solid episodic (a script for a one hour television drama,) she recommended me to her agent. This was a Big Deal, but I had never done a business call where I had to sell *me*.

When this agent asked me how I would describe myself, I said, “Oh, I’m just a little midwestern housewife trying to make good!” The call chilled after that, and you’re probably not surprised to find out that he didn’t offer to represent me.

So that was a big oops, but it was also a great lesson. Never minimize your own ability or ambition. There are enough people in the world who will do that for you!”

I know you writerly types, always whimpering over an adjective that just doesn’t feel right. Or how ’bout yesterday when you left that beautifully constructed sentence in the first paragraph, the one that made you wonder how you had yet to win a Pulitzer. But today, in the light of morning, you’d just as soon put a bag over its head.

Ok, we all feel that way. And we feel that way a lot of the time. That’s what pushes us to improve and drives success, so embrace those sentiments, but as your little sister might have said to you whilst you were busy making out with Jake, the lead guitarist of your high school’s coolest garage band, on the couch:

“Get a room!”

This sort of self-doubt is an indoor activity. When we step “outside” it’s time to sell ourselves.

You are your own biggest advocate. You can sell yourself better than anyone.

Now, I’m not saying modesty isn’t important. And please, oh, please, don’t walk up to an agent or editor and declare that you are, in fact, made of awesome. K? But do think it quietly to yourself because it’s that inner glow that attracts.

Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn a bit. It’s not bragging if done adeptly.

Examples:

You might not want to say to prospective agent/editor: “I fully expect to top the bestseller list my first year out.”

But equally unattractive… “I know my book isn’t bestseller material, so don’t worry, I have much more reasonable ambitions like just getting published.”

So let’s try some middle ground: “I am proud of the book I put out and want it to have the best chance at success possible. I am also confident in my ability to continue to write and build my career.”

Everyone has good qualities to tout. I remember I told my agent on the phone that I am a fast writer and can produce quickly. This is the truth and something that I felt needed saying because it influenced my thoughts on the path my career could take. Therefore, I got to say something positive about myself yet remain relevant to the conversation at hand.

So never undermine your own abilities. Be proud of the work you seek to promote. Enthusiasm is contagious.

 

And as T.I. would aptly remind us: It Ain’t Trickin’ If You Got It.

 

 

Status: Got caught up on some law school work yesterday so I plan to do more script writing today. Our goal to start submitting SCOUT is November 1. I’m incredibly excited but want to make sure that every part of the proposal package is the absolute best it can be. So, lots exciting happening, but lots to do.

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Writer of the Day: Chelle Cordero

Hi, all. Chelle Cordero, the author of BARTLETT’S RULE and FORGOTTEN has agreed to come on and speak to us about promoting your book and yourself as an author. Very important lessons for any new author regardless of whether you are at a major publishing house or a small, indie press like Chelle.

Plus, I think small presses are awesome, so I can’t wait to hear her perspective!

 

  Your book may have best-seller content, but unless it is publicized, few will even notice its existence. While the major publishing houses may spend mega-bucks promoting some of their hottest-authors’ novels, the cost of a full publicity campaign for small press publishers is often prohibitive. If you are self-published the full burden – and cost – of promotion falls on you.
 
            NO ONE has as much at stake in the success of your book as you do – it doesn’t matter if you’ve been published by one of the top ten New York houses, a young small press or even self-published. Once you have completed penning your novel it is time to embark on the business end of book writing.
 
            My first novel, Courage of the Heart, was published by a full self-publishing print-on-demand publisher. After receiving several rejections to my query letters (I didn’t even get so far as submitting the manuscript), one kind, but retiring, agent recommended that I seek a non-traditional publishing company. At the time that I first found this publisher they were offering a totally FREE package for publishing upon acceptance ONLY. When they accepted my manuscript I thought, naively, that I had caught my big break. What I didn’t understand at that point was that the “publisher” offered no help to me in terms of marketing. I didn’t know how to go about promoting my book either. Needless to say, very few copies sold.
 
            Still optimistically wary (do those two words even go together?), seven years later I sent a query to small independent press Vanilla Heart Publishing in Everett, Washington. My book, Bartlett’s Rule, was accepted! After doing a very energetic happy dance, I started an endless torrent of questions and read the contract offer with a magnifying glass (literally) – I didn’t want to mislead my hopes again. I also did a lot of research and I was aware that a small press publisher had limited financial resources to do publicity – and I wanted to maximize that. There are companies that specialize in book promotion similar to the in-house departments at several of the “big houses”, but again, it can cost mega bucks.
 
            Using Vanilla Heart Publishing as an example… the publisher will include your book in catalogues and listings to major distributors, submit press releases to various media outlets throughout the nation, prepare and distribute informational packages on you and your book to bookstores, newspapers, libraries, etc., and provide a web presence for you and your book. My publisher also produced a book trailer and designed an eye-catching book cover, both are posted online. They also sent me business cards to hand out.
 
            VHP is located on the other side of the country from my own New York location. I am more familiar with the local media (print, radio and television) simply because I live here, read local newspapers and play local radio and TV channels. I took the press release that VHP sent out about Bartlett’s Rule, modified it to include a local angle and re-sent it to specifically local publications. One local weekly newspaper soon ran a wonderful article with the headline “Local Author Has Book Published”. I modified a second press release from VHP after they signed my next novel, Forgotten (due out in July) the same way and was mentioned in the daily newspaper book blog; this time the headline was “Second book for Rockland’s Chelle Cordero”
 
            Many “experts” say that social and professional network sites are crucial to word-of-mouth business. While you have to maintain a level of professionalism and still sound approachable, it is okay to be friendly but do stop short of discussing things that are really “TMI”. I have my writing life blatantly inscribed on my MySpace, Facebook and Inked-In pages as well as on the more business-oriented sites. I maintain a completely self-promotional and, yes, egotistical, blog at http://chellecordero.blogspot.com/. Why not? Do we chastise the big retailers, car dealers and home product manufacturers for the advertising that peppers our newspapers, magazines and TV broadcast channels?
 
            VHP managing editor Kimberlee Williams sent out introductory packages to many retailers and libraries in my area. Now that the first professional intro has been made, I am following up with phone calls, emails and personal visits. I am hoping to land author events, book discussion groups and placement on store shelves.
 
            It may seem like a lot of work but this time around I am determined that I HAVE caught my big break and I will be a success.