Summer vacation – is there anything better? I’ve just had the most amazing summer vacation. This year, we skipped the beach, we skipped the long lines at Disneyland and we headed to the mountains of Colorado and Montana. We didn’t just have a summer vacation – we had a summer adventure.
I now know why so many writers retreat to the mountains – to cabins, to lakes, to nature – to write their books. I was inspired by the views, the sounds, the smells so much that I wanted to write a book! But rather than channel my inner-Hemingway, I channeled my inner-adventurer. We went hiking, we went geocaching, we went exploring to the tops of 14,000-feet-above-sea-level mountains –by jeep, by train, by tram, by foot. My family zip-lined over the tops of trees and down the Big Sky’s Lone Mountain. I watched and took pictures that day – and couldn’t help but think that book publicity has a lot in common with zip lining.
3 Ways Book Publicity is Like a Zip Line
#1 It’s in the (personal) approach
Watching several of the zip-liners, including my husband and two of my kids, I realized their personalities were all different and they were each approaching the adventure a different way – just like my clients. Some authors are timid and unsure if they want to invest in publicity and never really gain their footing until things starting happening and they slowly get a smile on their face (just like my 12-year-old daughter who had to warm up to the zip line); some are scared the whole way and need constant reassurance and even when they get off at the end, they are not sure they would do it again (like my business partner Kim whose family joined us in Montana); some are aggressive and bold and take charge, wanting as much detail and fun as possible, who enjoy every moment and are up for any crazy out-of-the-box or spontaneous idea (like my husband who zip-lined upside down!); others enjoy it but want it to be safe, straight, predictable and planned out well in advance.
There’s nothing wrong with any of these approaches or personalities – there’s a plan that works and can be customized so that regardless of your personality or preferred approach, it will be fun and feel right for you –whether on a zip line or for a book launch. This is why I think you can’t pick a publicity firm or publicist who is going to stick you in their pitch machine and treat you and your book the same as all others – it needs to be a fun and personal experience based on what you need and want, based on what you’re like as a person, as an author, and what you’re comfortable with – speak up, embrace your personality and make them personalize your plan and approach so you get the most out of it.
#2 Guidance, please
Regardless of your personality and approach, you really need someone experienced to help get you strapped in and ready to go. Just like on a zip-line when you get in a circle and they show you about all the equipment, prepare you for the journey ahead and get you strapped in safely and ready to go – you need this for your book launch. That can be a publicist (or another author, or your publisher or editor), but it needs to be someone that you can trust, that will be patient and understanding during your hesitations, that will guide you on the right path – who will help get you through the ups and downs, the fears and hesitations, the anxiety and adventure. Who will talk you off the ledge. When you’re a number or just another book, it’s hard to feel connected and trust your guide. Find a publicist or firm that makes you feel like they are a trusted partner who really cares about your book and your success – and about making you feel safe and prepared for the journey ahead. And who will be the first to high-five you when you did it!
#3 It is a leap of faith
The biggest way that book publicity is like a zip line is the sheer fact that they are both truly a leap of faith – because you never know what the outcome is going to be. The results, much like the reviews, can be hit or miss. You don’t know if it will be fun or smooth, or if you’ll get tons of press or none, or whether you’re doing all you can do or the best you can do – you don’t know if it will be worth the extra investment. But if you don’t take the leap of faith, how will you ever know the outcome? How will you know if you gave it all you could? How will you know if it will be a wild ride?
Before you know it, the ride is over. There is a lot of anticipation, anxiety, and worry that exists building up to a book launch and then before you know, it’s over. Will you look back and say, “That was an awesome adventure” like my son did after he zip lined or will you be like me and regret that you sat on the sidelines taking pictures and didn’t go for it with all you had? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed watching my family having the time of their lives and capturing that on camera for us to remember for a lifetime – but if I had to do it over, I would have buckled up and zipped over the edge.