You have to trust the process.
If you are an author promoting a book, then you must embrace trust as you lay the groundwork for your publicity and marketing campaigns. You must have trust in yourself, trust in the process, and trust in the person helping you to spread your message. You have to trust in things as of yet unseen, because there is much to do before you will see the results of all your activity in the outside world.
It’s a little like having a baby. That baby grows for nine months before you ever actually see him or her out in the real world. You can, however, feel the growth inside, so perhaps there is an even better analogy…
The garden. When you plant a seed you nurture it, give it water and food, make sure there is plenty of sun (unless it’s a shade-loving plant), and you might lovingly talk to it, encouraging it to grow big and strong. I know I certainly do. But what you don’t do is pull the young shoots up out of the ground to see how long the roots have grown. That action will kill it.
Yet, some people have a very hard time with this kind of patience. Their own anxiety gets in the way of the diligence, persistence, and confidence needed to plant and grow the seeds of success. These people can easily kill a campaign. Don’t be one of them.
Trust. It’s a good thing.
When a book looks like it’s been an overnight success, you can count on the fact that it probably took at least a year to set up that kind of success. When you read an article or see an author on a top-tier television show, it did not happen overnight. I can guarantee it (unless the author committed some heinous crime that put him or her on the front page. Not a good way to go about it, IMHO.).
It took just over a year and multiple attempts to land the Dr. Oz show for a client, so it’s important to understand that the media’s timeline is not necessarily yours. (Side note: Multiple attempts is often necessary unless you’re already well known and a celebrity. For one thing, it proves you aren’t going away, you have different ideas you can deliver on, you’re creative and consistent. What sometimes happens is the producers are in a meeting discussing show ideas and your name comes up — because they’ve seen it and are somewhat familiar with you by this point. They actually think of you.)
Patient action. That is the name of the Publicity Game. Connecting with the media so they want to cover you and your book is all about building relationships. It’s learning about what they like to write about and making sure it’s a good match. It’s about approaching them with ideas you think they’re going to be interested in based on research you’ve actually done. And none of it happens overnight.
Case in point:
Recently I pitched a client to a large magazine that has a huge online platform in addition to their popular hard copy magazine. I studied them for quite some time before I actually approached the editor. Once I put my pitch together and sent it to her, I heard back within 10 minutes. That alone is amazing. Her first sentence after saying hello was, “How could anyone say no to you, Joanne?” (Ok, I admit, I rather loved that.)
That made my day, but I don’t mention it to brag. I mention it to point out that if you take the time to make sure you’re a good match and approach the media outlet with the receiver in mind, if you explain why you think your idea is a good fit and let them know what you can bring to the table, you will likely get a yes. Heck, even if it is a no, at least you got a response. That is preferable to having your pitch floating around in some big black hole never to be heard from again. Plus, you wonder if they even received it! (They did.) At least with “no” you can ask if you can come back with a better idea next time, or you can simply move on.
Of course, we prefer hearing YES!
Here are some more suggestions that I hope you take to heart:
Do your research:
I’m repeating myself, but some things need to be repeated.
I know. I know. You’ve heard this one before too; There’s a reasons the fundamentals are the fundamentals. They are so true!
I will never forget something I heard Lois Frankel say. She is the author of the book, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office among others. She said, “The best time to build a relationship is before you need it.” Exactly!
Build relationships before you need them.
That was true 100 years ago. It’s true today. And it will be true 100 years from now.
But mysteriously, something happens to some people once they launch a book. Some seem to turn into sales machines, which is a huge turn off. It never works. No one wants to be “sold” on something. Certainly not the media.
The point is, this work of building relationships starts long before your book comes out, and it’s exactly why hiring a publicist is sometimes the right thing to do. That’s what we do. We’ve been building relationships throughout our careers. We have those relationships already so that you aren’t starting behind the 8 ball. Now, if you have time to build those relationships and do it yourself, you certainly can. The good news is it isn’t brain surgery. It all comes down to how much time you have to give to the process.
Get to know the media:
This is another way of saying to do your research. Would your preferred media cover a topic such as yours?
I’ve had potential clients ask me within 30 seconds of an introductory conversation if I could get them on Oprah. “Hmmmm…Well, she has her own network now, and even if she was still on network TV, a leadership business book is not what she covers?”
Some people don’t want to hear that, but hear it they must if you’re going to land the right media coverage. If your media targets don’t speak to your audience or cover your particular topic, then they aren’t for you. It’s really that simple.
If you have targeted one that does cover your topic, now what? Then you want to look for additional elements, such as how long are their articles? Are they staff written? Do they use contributors? Both? You should know this so that you can pitch intelligently and they can tell. You are leaps and bounds ahead of most everyone else because so many never do this. There is this human tendency to want to do everything the easy way, e.g., write one email and blast it to 5000 media contacts. I get it. I really do. It doesn’t work.
In this day and age with everything available online, there really is no excuse for not doing your research. Find out the topics they cover. Maybe you can put a new spin on your subject matter, making it new and fresh with your take on it. Bingo. Ideal.
Being too inflexible:
Occasionally I have had clients who tell me they only want coverage in five specific magazines, and then go on to give me that very short list. That’s OK, but it is extremely limiting, not to mention the fact that many top tier publications actually look toward smaller venues and bloggers to see if they want to pick you up. They may want to see a track record, and if you have little digital footprint, yet want the top tier, you are severely limiting your chances. Yet, old ideas die hard. Some who are successful in their fields think that that success should automatically translate to media. It doesn’t.
Someone who thinks the only good media is media they’re heard of is being way too inflexible. Opportunity is everywhere.
Trust the person you’ve hired to work with you:
If you’ve done your due diligence and know you’ve hired someone who has done this work before, then you need to trust them. If they aren’t working right there beside you and are in their own office, work is taking place even though you can’t see every single thing they do. Trust.
What needs to be in place:
There was a day when top tier media was it. That was the holy grail. That was the coverage you wanted and there would be ROI from it. However, as with everything else, times have changed. Very often these days, top tier media isn’t interested in you until:
- You have a large, engaged platform
- You’ve been interviewed and covered by smaller media.
- You have something new and fresh to say
- You “get it” in terms of working with larger media, or they can work with a publicist. Very often that is what they prefer. It’s easier to be brutally honest with a publicist than the author himself or herself.
The good news is that it’s doable.
Be a detective and have some fun.
Everything is more fun when you make a game out of it. Figure out who you want to approach and how many you will contact each week. See how many responses you can get. Keep track. Make it fun. See if you can write the most compelling pitch letter so that they want to talk to you. If you hear nothing back, try something else or move on. Try to get a response from the next person. Celebrate your victories along the way.
Focus on what you want; Not on what you don’t want:
A lot of people have trouble with this one. Ask them what they want and you’ll get a long list of what they don’t want. Those two things are different. Knowing what you want allows you and everyone else to be very clear and focused in the direction you’re headed toward.
Take a moment to celebrate small accomplishments rather than complaining about all there is to do yet:
Another important distinction to make is the importance of focusing and celebrating all your mini successes as they happen along the way, rather than focusing on the long to-do list you still have to accomplish.
Visualize yourself being successful:
I’m sure you’ve heard this before and it’s still true. If you feel successful when you start, and keep feeling successful even when you hear no, keep going. Believe in yourself and keep going. Success is on its way.
Repeat — Trust the process:
When you stay positive and you work with someone who stays positive, you increase your chances of seeing positive results. I don’t know why this is, but it is. It is not helpful to complain about where you are or that things aren’t happening fast enough. There is a lot of competition out there and you are finding your place. Don’t worry about what other people say. Ignore them. Keep going!
To your success!
P.S. So grateful to all my clients for all the wonderful work we do together!