Last week I attended an invitation only conference for authors of published business books. Over the course of my 30+ years as a global management consultant, CEO and author, I, like many of you, have attended my fair share of conferences. While I have always been able to find one or two valuable nuggets of information or insight, the majority of the one or two days was a waste of time. You can tell the level of engagement of the audience by the number of heads bent down as participants read and write emails throughout most of the conference.
My other pet gripe about attending conferences is that more often than not a large percentage of the audience is composed of consultants looking for work! And they can be pretty obnoxious, telling you all about their wonderful consulting process and pumping you for leads and introductions. Most conferences I leave early.
This conference was unusual and refreshing since the audience was hand selected by the organisers, Soundview, and conducted in “Oprah” style, with the host, David Nour, interviewing key experts (business authors, publishers and book agents) on the key elements in the business author’s toolkit. And the majority of the time was devoted to audience questions and open discussions among the 60 or so participants. A nice size group and a good format.
A Key Lever: A Good PR Agent
While every author is searching for their “Muse” of inspiration, another key ingredient in the business author’s toolkit is a PR agent who is not only experienced, but really believes in the author and their work. Trying to get PR using the “do it yourself” approach is a design to fail. For some very good reasons:
- Most authors don’t have a “PR personality”; that is being comfortable and skilled at selling ideas over the telephone. Their preferred medium is the keyboard, and getting past the clutter and deluge of requests that fill the in boxes of most journalists and book reviewers takes a more personal, and persuasive approach.
- PR takes time and persistence. Most authors would rather be writing than “dialling for publicity”.
- Believe it or not, most journalists would prefer to be contacted by a professional PR person and NOT the author. More professional and efficient.
Of course, a PR professional comes at a cost and the bigger the agency, the more the cost seems to be. I like to think of this as an investment and it is critical to find a person you like working with, who really gets excited about your books, and of course, whose fee structure you can afford. Book PR is a long game, so don’t expect immediate payback.
I am fortunate to have found an excellent, efficient and personable independent PR agent to help get the word out about my business books and my thriller novels. Her name is Melissa Tricoire, she speaks English and French fluently, is an Oxford graduate. She is personable and tenacious. And we work well together. In fact, she is the one responsible for the recent review in The Economist of my latest book, LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you, like me, want to take advantage of PR for your book project.
John R Childress