Many Hands Make Light Work – or How Two Heads are Better than One
Barbara: On 20 Years of Collaboration
Sarah Shealy and I have worked together for over 20 years. We started out by job-sharing—dividing the work week in two and collaborating on publicity projects at Harcourt Children’s Books. We learned early on that openness and communication were key to making the job-share work. When an author called to find out when her interview was scheduled, we could easily find that information in our shared work basket. It was—and still is—imperative to shed any ego when working together, so we let go of any pride or possessiveness over any particular project. When you work in a marketing department, you learn quickly that it helps no one to be territorial—and in fact, it’s better to share ideas and be open to soliciting others.
A colleague of ours had a favorite saying, and she’d often muse aloud as she walked by the marketing area, “Many hands make light work.” And it was so true that it became our motto. If there was a publicity mailing that had to be done, everyone stopped and pitched in to help. If someone in the department needed ideas for an ad, everyone would contribute something. We found that collaborative attitude was an exercise in a new kind of math: one plus one was MUCH more than just two.
That kind of mindset can be enormously helpful when it comes to brainstorming ideas for book promotion with your friend. Think of ways that can you divide the work and conquer. Are there friends you know who can contribute a blurb, a connection to an influential librarian, a lead to an important media contact? Can you help with the practical things, such as packing or mailing books? Can you help pull together a list of folks who would attend a launch party?
Sarah: Practical Ideas for Random Acts of Publicity
As usual, I agree wholeheartedly with everything Barb has said! Her comment about the launch party has got me thinking . . . this is an area where a friend could really be of tremendous help. One thing that’s nice about being a publicist is that we get to brag about our clients and sing their praises to others— a job that is sometimes very awkward for the author to do him or herself.
How much better does this sound: “Have you read Jane’s new book? It’s fabulous! I love how complex her characters are!”
vs. this: “Have you read my new book? It’s fabulous! I love how complex my characters are!”
Tooting your own horn can be difficult and it’s hard to do it in a way that’s not off-putting. Third-party endorsements are always more desirable—that’s why we’re so focused on reviews in this industry!
A launch party is a great way to develop grassroots support for a new book with a core audience. It’s important for an author (let’s stick with the hypothetical Jane) to build contacts in her local market, to connect with fans, and to establish herself as a local author. A great project to do for your author friend Jane is to throw a launch party for her around the pub date of her new book. It’s so much easier for you to contact your local bookstore, newspaper, library, area teachers, family, and friends on Jane’s behalf than it will be for Jane to do so on her own. Hold the party at a local bookstore or library. Create a craft or tasty treat that’s in keeping with the book’s theme. Invite everyone you know and everyone in Jane’s address book. Post it on your Facebook page. Tweet about it. Take photos of Jane at the event. Send them to your local newspaper with a little write up on the party and to Jane’s publicist (house or freelance) so she or he can submit them to Publishers Weekly (especially a photo of Jane with the bookseller/s).
What a lovely gift you’ve given your friend! And think of all the contacts you’ve made! When it’s time for your book to launch, I bet Jane will want to plan your launch party and you can just hand her the file. Ah, collaboration. It’s literally how Barb and I do business.
Win a 15-Minute Consultation with Blue Slip Media
Blue Slip Media has offered a free 15-minute marketing consultation to one lucky person. This one-day opportunity ends at midnight on September 7.
Here are the rules:
- Winners will be selected on a random basis.
- You must put your friend’s name, book title and website (if they have one) in the comments below. Deadline: Midnight September 7, 2011.
- By entering your friend in this giveaway, you agree that you have the friend’s permission to do so.
- Phone consultations will be done at a mutually agreed upon time.
Random Acts of Publicity Week was created by Darcy Pattison (www.darcypattison.com), writing teacher and author of Prairie Storms (www.facebook.com/PrairieStorms) , as a way to help create an atmosphere of fun and collaboration in marketing books. It occurs each September, the four days following Labor Day.