Daring… or Desperate?

Truth button cheerleader pom-pom

When it comes to Book Publicity and Marketing, Know the Difference

There is a huge difference between being perceived as adventurous and daring—a good thing, and looking desperate—not a good thing.

If you’ve been with me for a while then you may have heard me describe myself as a cross between a cheerleader and a truth-teller:

  • Cheerleader: One who encourages you and helps you to get out there and really go for it.
  • Truth teller: One who tells you when you shouldn’t get out there or when you’re not ready and why.

Cheer Teller or Truth Leader:
A combination of the two is really the best mix, IMHO, because you need that when venturing into unknown waters. A cheerleader encourages and inspires you to be adventurous and to move forward when it makes sense to do so; and a truth-teller tells you when you’re not ready—for example when you really want to do video or be on television but you haven’t mastered coming across in the very best way… yet. In that case, you should hold off publicly getting in front of the camera or it can look desperate… and bad.


I remember receiving an email from an online business “expert” some time ago. In the body of this email she included a video of one of her clients that was full of accolades and congratulating her on being brave, facing her fears, and doing video. All of this is very nice and definitely falls under the cheerleader role. That email went out to her fairly good-sized list of 25K.

The problem was that the video was terrible.

I would approach things differently If I’d been that online business expert’s cheerleader or truth-teller, that video would never have seen the light of day (except between the two of us). The expert in this example wasn’t protecting her client from the judgment that would no doubt take place after sending out a bad video when the person clearly wasn’t ready.

Sometimes being the cheerleader privately is the best way to go until they’ve mastered the tools. Get it right, then you can send out a public video filled with congratulations. (More cheerleading.)

I would only send that video out to my list of 25K when the client was ready to shine on all fronts, including coming across well on camera and being able to communicate her message succinctly and beautifully. Then and only then would it see the light of day. Explaining the need to improve first is being a truth-teller. “You’re not ready… yet. Let’s work on it.”

And by the way, one can tell the truth nicely. The whole idea that the truth has to hurt, or telling the truth without considering someone else’s feelings is just mean and unnecessary.

Another Example:

Fast forward in time to a client I was working with who really, really wanted to be on one of the early morning news shows in New York. Certainly a noble goal and one worth going for (cheerleading and adventurous), although some books lend themselves well to morning television and some don’t.

I don’t want to go into too many details here because I don’t want this person to feel I am outing her. However, let’s just say her particular topic is not one morning TV would cover on the show, so it was unlikely to ever be picked up (Truth teller). Of course, never say never. Maybe an angle could be found that would work for the show, but that was going to take some time, thought, and a huge dose of creativity. There was not an obvious connection whatsoever.

My client didn’t want to wait and told me she was going to go to the set of the show, stand outside on the plaza with a group of friends, jump up and down while each person was holding up a copy of her book, yelling to have her on the show.

Um, no. Not a good idea.

I suppose you could do this as a stunt, and it might be fun, but I can almost guarantee that’s one of the best ways to NEVER be invited onto the show. The producers will simply not view you as the expert that you are after doing something like that. They laugh at this kind of thing, and you’ll just have to trust me on this. It looks desperate. Don’t do it. It also makes it very hard for your publicist to face these producers after something like that.

Find another media outlet that would love to have you on the show. There are so many opportunities now, so there is something for you. On the other hand, if you drop the idea of being a guest on one of the morning news show and you really want to scream on the plaza with your friends, then go for it. It is adventurous and daring and probably a lot of fun. Just don’t wave your book around while you’re doing it.

Yet Another Example:

Same thing goes for introducing yourself to other experts in your niche.

You know, those other experts that you look up to. Once you start gushing, you’ll be perceived as a fan, which is very different from being viewed as a peer. You have to see these people as your peers so that they don’t put you in the category of a gushing fan. Trust me on this.

I know of an author who idolized a couple of people in her genre, and wanted to write them notes with a copy of her book explaining to them how she felt they “walked on water.” I suppose it’s fine to do this, and I suppose I can understand the urge to want to share this. However, this does nothing toward establishing peer-to-peer relationships with them.

If you want that, then wait until much later after you have built the relationship to tell them how you used to have their picture on your bedroom wall (or whatever.) You get the idea. I know you understand this, and I also know how seductive it can be go gush all over someone. Don’t do it. Build the peer-to-peer relationship first. Gush later.

A Final Example:

I had another author who wanted to be on a particular national television show in the worst way. The topic was good and solid. She was a fabulous presenter and could do killer interviews, so I know she would have done well.

The show had a policy that no one over 48 could be booked on the program and she was older than that. The only exceptions to the guest age limit on that show were major celebrities. (Yes, this is actually not an uncommon sort of scenario in television.)

I don’t like having to break news like that to my clients, but the alternative is not to say anything, try to book the show, and fail. It seems like a lot of wasted time, a valuable resource that could be spent securing other wonderful coverage.

Bottom Line:

Being bold and daring can be a wonderful asset when it comes to book publicity and marketing. However, some reality is good to keep in the mix. Having a truth-teller around along with your cheerleader can be very helpful when figuring out what makes sense and what doesn’t, particularly when it comes to top-tier media.

I’ve only mentioned a few of the unseen and hidden rules that are out there. Having someone in your corner who can help you make decisions that make sense can save you time, money, and face. It doesn’t have to be me, although I’m honored to help, but you do need someone. We all do.

To your success!

P.S.  If you liked this article, will you please give it a “like” or thumbs up? Only if you feel moved to, of course. You’ll notice you’ll be taken to a previous article on Savvy Sunday News. That’s because I always give you first look at my new material. It’s my way of saying, “Thanks, I’m glad you’re here!”





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