As you know I’ve been struggling with the concept of PR of late, trying to figure out what I can do to help get the word out on The Clearing and give the book a fighting chance in the market. Among the many ideas I had was to just ask for advice. That’s right, just ask. And who better to ask than someone who had been at the lowly rung I’m on now – and had managed to push on upward.
And so, in the spirit of ah-what-the-heck, I shot for the moon.
I won’t tell you the name of the author, because I think that would be an invasion, but I will tell you that I got a personal reply – and within hours – and I was pretty damn thrilled. And we’re talking a top-of-the-game name here. (And yes, I know it’ll drive you mad trying to guess who it is). Now, I wish the story could get a little more exciting here, and that I could report back that he and I are now set to meet over a coffee where he would spin yarn after yarn about his own experiences in book promotion in the lean years.
But no – that’s not happening.
His note back was very nice, but contained what you might expect from an A-list author with the world at his feet: he’s asked daily for advice and guidance. His time is pressed to the max (ironically with obligations to his publisher around promoting his books!), and he’s sorry but no, he can’t help. And yes, he wishes me luck.
And I get it. In that success bracket it’s probably maddening to hear from nobody’s like me, and it probably happens three times a day. Every day. But despite that he wrote me back. His response was genuine, and it was just a really nice note. I appreciate him taking the time to send it – regardless of the answer. So I hold no gripes, no resentment. It’s just another interesting learning point along the way.
But it does illustrate a point about success. At some point in the career of a successful author, the “community” he must engender and link to during the formative years has to be pushed back to arms length; a necessity if that author is to have time to continue being successful. As budding “successes” ourselves, we try to build these communities, eager to engage with folks and chat it up, add value where we can, connect and discuss, or at least be amusing along the way. We’re striving for that two-way communication that proves people know who we are. But if you hit it big – if your book catches fire and shoots into the consciousness of the masses, that “community relationship” will have to pay the price. The connection will still be there, sure, but by the very nature of the business, it has to be a qualified one. And I think that it probably smarts some for the A-listers who have to bridge that reality. I believe most of them would love to help, to give a hand up, but success works against it.
So while I wish I was the benefactor of first hand advice from the top shelf, I’ll settle for the knowledge that, hey, I swapped a couple of emails with an honest to goodness A-lister.