Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Books & Such main office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
In my last post, I wrote about a time one of my clients assumed the role of “bad client.” Today I want to commend one of my clients, who handled a similar situation in a way that created a win-win situation. She took the role of “good client.”
She had been trying to arrange with the marketing director at her publishing house a book signing tour, but the marketer wasn’t responding. Time was running out to arrange the tour; bookstores were contacting my client begging for details. There were no details to be given.
What did my client do? Talked to me about the problem. We developed a strategy:
The client would phone the marketer on the marketer’s cell phone and leave a message.
If that didn’t bring a response, we would put together a step-by-step process on how to arrange the tour and then inform the marketer what the plan was.
My client’s assistant would follow the plan, taking on the responsibility of overseeing the book tour by making sure bookmarks, books and treats would be at each location and communicating with each venue that the author would appear at–and the publisher would pay for the assistant’s time. (I was confident the publisher would own up to her lack of involvement by paying someone else to do it, but my client also was ready to step in and pay her assistant to do the work as a default position.)
How did the strategy work out?
The marketer finally emailed a response and said, “Great.”
What a difference from my client who forged ahead without me, communicating inappropriately with an editor?
In this case, my client came to me with the problem, we mutually agreed on a plan and carried it out, with copies of all emails going to both of us.
Voila! A seeming conundrum dealt with after weeks of frustration. The ending is a good one because we, in essence, did the marketer’s job for her, everyone was brought into the loop, and the book gets promoted.
Truly a happy ending.
What can you learn from this scenario?
Principle #1: Involve your agent when a problem persists.
Principle #2: Copy everyone on your communications.
Principle #3: Help others to do their jobs, when necessary. Really it’s okay if it means everyone looks successful and the book gets taken care of.
Why do you think we hesitate to ask for help from people who can make a difference for us–whether that’s an agent, an editor, a marketer, or a friend?
What causes us to keep communications between just two people rather than bringing in a third party who can add leverage for our cause?
Does it surprise you that we took the job off the marketer’s hands as the solution to the problem?
Great article, Janet!
I wish more speakers and authors would actually let their agents use their expertise in many situations.
Never have figured out why someone would go to the trouble of securing a speaking or literary agent and then not rely on them and their services.
There would be a lot more win-win situations if they did. 🙂
Bethany Joy Carlson
May I add Principle #4: Stick to the objective. I have a flamable personality, so sometimes I forget that my objective is to get the work done (whatever the “work” is). I instead get wrapped up how to win a pissing match with whoever I feel has done something wrong. Which is a big distraction from getting the work done.
Thank you for this great reminder!
Thanks for the great examples of what to do and what
not to do. 🙂 Maybe people don’t ask for help because
they don’t want to be a bother. It doesn’t surprise me
that you did the job of the marketer. If a job needs to
be done, it needs to be done, as long as it’s done the
right way. Similar to my “day job” as a RN. It doesn’t
matter whose job is what, if a patient needs something,
whether it’s having their water jug refilled, making
sure they get their medicines in a timely manner, or
responding to an emergency situation, just do it.
In this case, “just do it,” with the guidance of your
I’m not at all surprised by your strategy, nor of its success. We’ll never know how many other fires that marketer was dealing with during the same time, but it sounds like your action came as a welcome relief. Constructive teamwork is so much more productive that solo venting. 🙂
Bethany Joy, what an excellent point. Sometimes we lose sight of our goal when we become miffed with an individual we’re working with, and then we find ourselves diverted from accomplishing what we intended.
Tanya, that’s a good point about nursing, a career in which you just meet the current need rather than always asking yourself if that fits in your job description.
Karen, I’m often reminded that authors want an agent, but they don’t always know how to use that agent’s skills to the greatest effect. I sometimes have to remind them that on many levels, I’m one-stop shopping.
1. People don’t ask for help if they feel that they can do the job on their own, without bothering others. 2. people keep the third party outside if they feel that the third party isn’t needed, or in worse case don’t have confidence that the third party can contribute positively to the discussion. 3. no surprise here. You and your client want the book to sell well, so if you can do the marketing job well, it’s better to do it instead of waiting to the marketer. Happy endind via co-operation between the client and the agent is alwasy nice to hear.
Wow! Great story, Janet. I tend not to ask for help for a couple of reasons: a) I don’t want to seem incompetent, and b) I’m a control freak.
I went to send an email today and had originally planned to send it to the recipient name and two cc’s, but I wondered if the recipient would appreciate me copying in someone else, so I ended up sending it only to her. Not sure why when the information I was relaying came from the two people I was copying in.
I’m not surprised the job was taken off the marketer’s hands. She had already proven she couldn’t be relied upon. By giving it to the author’s assistant, the job was in the hands of someone who worked with the author closely and was easily reachable to be sure things went as planned.
I would like to add a couple of things to this topic. The first, be sure to save your email communications. My hubby complains about the size of my personal folders, but more than a handful of times I’ve had to refer back to older emails to verify information. The second speaks a bit to what we talked about yesterday.
Prior to email, if you wanted to lay into someone, you wrote them a letter. It gave you time to contemplate what you were saying before you mailed it. Now, you can reach someone in mere seconds, so we are more apt to send off an emotional note than if we were mailing it. Problem is we have no control over what happens to that email once we hit send. It can be forwarded to people you never intended, so the damage can potentially be widespread.
Thanks for another insightful post.
I love happily ever after stories! I think we all are prone to the, I-can-do-it-myself attitude. We don’t want to be a bother, want to prove ourselves or we just think it’ll be quicker! Michael Hyatt has a great blog post today on the ways successful creative people think differently. One of them is recognizing that being good at one thing (say writing) doesn’t automatically make you good at another thing (say marketing). He also says they ask for help–yes, that would be the SUCCESSFUL creative people!
Michael K. Reynolds
Yesterday you were a Prima Donna and today you’re a 7-11 store? What pray tell shall you morph into tomorrow?
Stephanie Grace Whitson
I sometimes hesitate to include everyone by copying everyone involved because it makes me feel like a child who’s “tattling” on the kid who didn’t do something right. I also tend to be a lot more comfortable whining to my agent than interacting with publishing house people. I know my agent is on my side. Especially with a new publisher, I’m learning the waters and don’t always feel “safe” when I need to solve a problem. So I’ll usually do the safe thing. Whine to you, Janet, knowing that you’ll either tell me to shape up if I’m wrong, or help me fix it if I have a valid point RE whoever.
Cheryl, thanks for mentioning that one motivation for not including those who can help is that we don’t want to look incompetent, but Sarah thankfully tells us to remember that successful creative people know when to ask for help; that’s a great counterpoint.
By the way, I often ask my clients to cc me when a conversation with someone in a publishing house has potential to go south. I don’t add my comments to the discussion unless I have something helpful to offer, but I do want to monitor what’s being said–and for the editor/marketer to know that I’m “participating” in the conversation.
Oh, and Michael, I was thinking of myself more as Amazon than 7-11, but either makes the point. As for tomorrow, my post will be all about magic. Will that mean a disappearing act, sawing a lady in half, escaping from chains underwater…you’ll just have to wait to find out.
Janet, great story, with a feel-good ending. Maybe there’s a fourth lesson here, as well: have an assistant (something to which I aspire).
Good point, Richard. Having an assistant is a wonderful thing, if you can manage it.