You Too Can Be A Media Darling

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Joanne McCall and I have been friends since the mid-eighties. We were broadcasters on sister stations in Portland, Oregon all those years ago. Because we were a minority, we banded together in a social organization we formed called Broads in Broadcasting. It was a way for us to network and support each other. But mostly, we just had a ton of fun.

We took diverse roads after broadcasting. I split my time between a job with the government and pursued my real love-writing dark murder mysteries in my free time. Joanne became a publicist and started her own company called McCall Media Group. 

I asked Joanne about her evolution from broadcasting to public relations. “That transition began in 1994 when I left broadcasting and went to work for a conference and retreat center as their PR director and special events manager. After I was there about a year, during which I was handling PR events and local media book tours for the likes of Kenny Loggins, Marianne Williamson, Wayne Dyer, and others, the CEO landed a book deal with a major publisher, Bantam Double Day Dell. They asked if I would like to head up the 25-city book tour and work with the publisher to do so, and I very excitedly said, “Yes! of course!”

The word publicist conjures up a number of images for me. What exactly do you do for authors who are interested in your services? “I work as a media trainer and publicist for nonfiction authors who specialize in business,
health, and some mindful/spirituality topics. I also work with fiction authors, business owners and others who want help positioning their work and delivering their messages in a compelling way. This is in the form of strategy sessions and media training. We discuss their goals, objectives, dreams, and desires, and then go about figuring the strategies that are the best way to make them happen.”Headshot, formal

For me, the hardest part of the publishing business is marketing. Any suggestions? “I have a couple of handouts I can share with anyone interested. One is a Publicity Cheat Sheet and the other is How to Become a Media Darling.”

I know that you have a program to help authors get ready for media interviews. Would you tell us about the program and what advice you give authors to get ready for radio and television interviews?
“I am launching a new beta program and event called McCalls
Media Finishing School this fall. We will do a full launch in the
spring of 2020. In addition to learning how to position your book or business, it also teaches you how to create sound bites, media training, and adding creative visualization and NLP to the mix.”

How does someone prepare for radio and television interviews? You and I had plenty of practice as broadcasters, but most authors don’t. How can they get prepared? Listen and watch other interviews. Who does it well and who doesn’t? The secret is to learn why and then do better. Make sure you create a list of key messages about your book. 8 to 15 will be enough. Key messages are those points that you will get across in any interview you do. It helps you to keep on track. Then create a list of interview questions. Have someone help you and do some mock interviews. Invite them to ask the questions and you practice answering.”

Just one final question. How do my readers get in touch with you? “They can
email me at joanne@joannemccall.com or they can go to joannemccall.com and fill out a form that comes right to me. Thanks, Kelly for all these fabulous questions. It’s really delightful and I hope your audience has found some of this helpful.” 

Thank you, my friend, for sharing your PR secrets with us. Loved chatting with you!

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A Plea for Publicists

I’ve been seriously writing for ten years and have published five books within that time frame. I still report to a full-time job everyday and am raising a teen-age grandson. Writing gets done in the wee hours before sunrise on the weekend. My journey has not always been a smooth ride. I partnered with an online publisher for three years who went bankrupt and folded owing me royalties. Unavailable for sale for almost a year, my books languished while I decided whether to self-publish or find a new publisher.

On the recommendation of a fellow author, Caleb Pirtle III, I chose White Bird Publications of Austin, TX. I like the no BS persona of it’s owner, Evelyn Byrne-Kusch. We are simpatico and I was glad I waited to find a good publisher that I could communicate with.

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A missing piece of the puzzle for me was effective marketing. I’m a writer, not a specialist in advertising or marketing. Book coach and an independent publishing expert Kristen Eckstein recommends spending 50% of your time on writing and 50% on marketing your published and pending books. Whoa! With so little time to write, where was I going to find that kind of time? What I needed, what I wanted was a savvy publicist who could plow the way through the machinations of publishing. I wanted someone who could lift the heavy load for me. Trying to do it all, I felt I was doing none of it well. In addition, I had maxed out more than one credit card buying marketing programs offered by “experts” who guaranteed me success.  Yeah, right.

 

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Once again, my writing buddy, Caleb Pirtle III, gave me a referral. This time to Y&R PR, also of Texas. The company and I had a misunderstanding early on when I bought into a program that Y&R PR decided to close. I was relieved and pleased when the marketing firm assured me they would honor their commitment. They offered a personal publicity program that I had been looking for. From the Y&R PR website: “Let us do the tedious and time-consuming job of getting your name and brand to the public. We work on your behalf, proudly representing your name and acting as an advocate for your talents and goals.”

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I’m not writing this blog as an advertisement for Y&R PR, but rather to point out that there is a huge black hole in publishing, a crying need for right-brained authors who need a publicist who can help writers get their toe in the door of success.

Marketing companies may not be for everyone, but for writers like me whose time is more precious than gold, they offer a chance to get noticed in a country where it’s estimated that up to 1,000,000 books are published every year. On average, writers sell less than 250 copies each. Pretty depressing, huh? 

To my fellow writers, I salute you and understand the difficult journey you’re on.  Whether you slog though the demands of self-publishing and go it alone or like me, you enlist the help of a publicist, it’s a tough path. I liken it to walking on hot coals hoping I’ll get to the other side without third-degree burns.  I’d like to set the world in fire, but not quite like that.  For those of you looking for a publicist, here’s a few links:

https://janefriedman.com/find-book-publicist/

https://reedsy.com/publicity/book-publicist

https://www.upwork.com/o/profiles/browse/?q=book-publicist

http://www.prbythebook.com/services/

http://yandrpr.com/