Monday, October 22, 2007

A Well-behaved Woman Never Leaves Home Without It

Don't leave home without what? Your business card. You can print them on your own computer or order inexpensive ones from various websites. Or you can go the custom route and spend $ on them. Whatever your style, never forget to have a few on hand.

I have met interesting people on planes and at dinners and all kinds of events and as we become acquainted and I tell them I'm a writer, they ask the inevitable question: "What have you published?" Fortunately, I can answer that with two concrete titles now, and hand them my card. It took years to reach this point. But don't wait until you are published to act like a published author, and don't apologize for not being published yet. Have a card ready that announces you are a writer, because you are.

If you are published, be sure to list your titles on your current business card. It's easy for someone to forget your name or book title unless it's in writing.

I recently attended a writers workshop (more on that in a future blog) where the presenter was excellent. Her subject was on being professional, and how to organize a killer PR plan (and a career plan as well). One of her suggestions was that when you meet specific goals, you should reward yourself. This reward needs to be something you wouldn't ordinarily do for yourself.

So, after she was done, forcing myself to go to the front of the room to introduce myself and thank her for her presentation, I told her that when my book comes out November 1, I am going to send flowers to myself. She said she loved the idea, would suggest it in her next workshop, and what was my book about? I told her the title and then . . .

The presenter next to her (a publicist) joined the conversation and said she'd seen my bookmark in the lobby and had wanted to find me and did I have any more materials? I just happened to have a press kit in my room down the hall. So I returned with it and she said, "Do you mind if I use this as an example when I present this afternoon?" I said "Please do, and please point out where it could be better." What an opportunity!

She also said "You have a killer title!" which pleased me immensely. I can't claim that it's original, though. "Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys" is an old folksong. I borrowed (stole) my title from it.

Well, as fate would have it, the presenter scheduled in the slot before her went WAY overtime that afternoon, so she had to shorten her presentation significantly and never got to comment on my press kit. But she did mention my bookmark, and with it in her hand for a few minutes, she waved it around as she emphasized various points. Hey, free publicity! And then she asked if she could take my materials home with her (to New York) and email some feedback, as she hadn't been able to address them during her limited time? Well, yes, of course! Hey, free advice from an expert!

I am not one to introduce myself to people, especially people who are from New York, or who are famous in any way. The old shyness overcomes me and I miss opportunities! But by displaying my bookmark (thanks to the kindness of the event's organizer) and forcing myself to approach a presenter, my upcoming release got a bit of attention that money can't buy.

So do carry business cards on your person, keep bookmarks (mine are homemade and unfortunately look like it, but I did my best) and press kits handy. You never know who you will be prompted to meet, or who will be sitting across from you at the table (in my case, it was an independent bookstore representative and a representative from Hastings, both of whom had heard of my book, thanks to the conference).

I don't often quote Dr. Phil, but I believe he is correct when he insists there is no such thing as coincidence. And another piece of encouragement comes from Harvard's Dr. Laurel Ulrich Thatcher, who coined the phrase "Well behaved women seldom make history."

Step out of your comfort zone with business card in hand. You won't regret it.


Shirlene said...

Trying to decide what I would put on MY business card???? Mother of five talented and well-behaved children? I would only be able to give that one out on days they actually made their beds!

G. Parker said...

This was great to know. I've been thinking about business cards, and I like the bookmark idea. I totally agree, there isn't such a thing as coincidences.