Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Broken in and breaking out: 5 must-read tips for graduating to the next level

I’ve been in the industry long enough to witness writers in all stages of authordom. There are those who hit the big time, earning spots on bestseller lists and landing exclusive interviews with national media outlets. There are those who have ill-advisedly quit their day jobs to make their grand entrance into the elite literati, remaining vigilantly hopeful that literary stardom is just around the corner.

And then there are those I call “bookstore benchwarmers,” authors who have just broken into the literary scene and are eagerly awaiting opportunities that will take them to the next level.

Unfortunately, most authors find themselves stuck in the “bench-warming” stage. You're a seasoned author, with one or more books in your repertoire . You’ve been through a professional media training program and even garnered some regional media attention. So now what?
First, keep in mind that few first-time authors land coveted invitations from Larry King, the Today Show or Oprah and those who do, do so as a result of hard work and a self-starter mentality.

If you’re ready for this one to be your “breakout book” and you’re eager to graduate to the next level of notoriety in the literary world, start now! Here are a few valuable tips for breaking out:
• Be accessible. Avoid declining regional or local interview opportunities for fear of being pigeon-holed as “small-time.” Smaller market interviews are valuable in terms of building a credible portfolio of clippings and quality video footage. Oftentimes, one local story can multiply into 25 or 50 appearances in other papers, thanks to syndication.
• Keep writing. Be willing to do some additional homework by offering original bylined articles, tip sheets and sidebar content for reprint in magazines and newspapers. What better way to land ink than writing the story yourself? You can be assured you won’t be misquoted.
• Grow your credentials. Consider sharing your expertise by teaching at a local college or within a community organization. Become an advocate in your area, networking for your cause and donating portions of your proceeds to a related charity – do this and you’re likely to earn status as the go-to expert source in your market.
• Take your website to the next level. Keep the content fresh and establish a media room with video, audio and press clippings that showcase your previous interview experience. You want to be prepared just in case CBS’s “60 Minutes” calls requesting past interview footage. Being able to link media members to instant footage is the key to capturing timely interview segments.
• Add to your entourage. You have a publicist, a marketing assistant and even a small fan-base, so how about adding a literary agent to your team? There are agents who specialize in just about every genre, and once you land one to represent you and your book, they can steer you in all the right directions in your writing career. Agents can be your biggest advocates when approaching competitive publishing houses; they can explore international rights for your title and they can even pursue movie options on your behalf.


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