It all began yesterday, as I stood in line at the Post Office. I checked my voice mail and there was a message from Dreux (pronounced Drew) DeMack, a producer at COCO (Colorado and Company), Denver’s Channel 9 morning show.
Hi, Esri! We were wondering if you could be on the show tomorrow to talk about The Portrait of Doreene Gray.
Eek! The message had been left at 11:00 that morning, and now it was 3:30. Due to a surfeit of stupid political calls, I’d been ignoring unknown numbers. I called back and told Dreux’s voice mail I’d be overjoyed to come. Then I rushed home and washed Josie O. Then I rushed to Nordstrom Rack and bought a cute new dress, suitable for TV.
But I didn’t hear from Dreux the rest of the day. I resisted the urge to beat my head against the wall. Now that I’d missed this chance, would they call again?
The next morning, today, I woke up around ten to eight and dialed Dreux’s number, just in case. He picked up.
Hi, Esri, I just walked in the office. Sorry I didn’t get your voice mail yesterday, but we’d still like to have you on today. Did you get the message I left on your phone about an hour ago?
I hadn’t, but the upshot was that they wanted Josie O and me there sometime between 9:30 and 9:45. It was now eight o’clock. I had an hour and a half to get myself and Josie ready and drive to Denver during the tail end of rush hour.
No problem, Dreux! I’ll be there!
Esri’s 4-Step TV-Prep Program
Step 1. Drink a cup of soy milk to avoid passing out from low blood sugar.
Step 2. Careful grooming: Brush teeth. Wet ridiculous bed head. Attempt style with super big bobby pins. Give up and pomade it into submission. Put a whole crap load of make up on, and the aforementioned dress.
Step 3. Get Josie’s stuff together. Sweater dress, toys, treats, food, water bottle, leash, ohmygod why does this dog have so much stuff?
Step 4. Drive to Denver.
We made it there at 9:20 or so – plenty of time for Josie to have a wee on the manicured lawn and for me to sign in and get my visitor’s tag. Dreux came out and met me, and was just as warm and welcoming as last year. Great guy. This time, I was with the regular host, Denise Plante, a tall, gorgeous creature with boots I wanted to steal right off her shapely legs. I refrained.
It’s chilly in a TV studio, except on the set proper, which is warmed by those bright, bright lights. Josie O sat quietly in her carrier while I reviewed my script and went over my answers to questions. Up on the set, Denise talked with guests about new treatments for thyroid problems and low mortgages. Dreux wandered over and looked down at Josie, who was napping.
Him: She’s really good.
Me: Next time, you’ll have her on and skip me.
Finally it was our turn. I ran the mic up my dress, made sure my books were propped up, and gave Josie a few treats. Earlier I had walked around the set to get her familiar with it, but she didn’t seem to care. Josie has been in so many situations that her attitude is, “Is this what we’re doing now? Okay then.”
Denise gave me a lovely introduction, read the blurb for my book, and then asked about Josie. As I answered, I put Josie on the floor and had her do a spin, then picked her back up and took her sweater off, so she wouldn’t get warm and fuss. We only had about five minutes, and she sat quietly in my lap the whole time, being cute, which is her job.
Then we were done, and it was time to pack up. I asked Drew when the show would air.
Didn’t I mention? This was live. We’ll probably run it again, though, because it’s general. I’ll let you know any subsequent air dates. Remind me to send you a DVD of your segment.
So there it was, my second time on COCO and Josie’s first. As before, I did fine, but I also could have done better. Short appearances are a real art, and it’s hard to stay tightly on message. But hey, I had a cute dog with me.
If you’re interested in Josie’s sweater, you can find it at The Doggie Market on Etsy.com. Just click here.
The internet is how we find things these days. Anyone can sell things on it, and almost everyone does. As an author, success depends on getting your writing into the hands of people who will enjoy it. You have to cut through the clutter of things clamoring for their attention and say, “Look at me. I’m what you want.” One of the easiest ways to do that is to find a place where your ideal readers are clumped together, and show them you can fill one of their unmet needs. “Excuse me, but is anyone writing fiction about this thing you love? No? Allow me to introduce myself.”
Ideally, an author’s hook should be lively and engaging, something that will add to the books’ tone. It’s even better if it doesn’t bore the general public. And wouldn’t it be great if it had authentic emotional content? It shouldn’t be done to death, or that whole “cutting through the clutter” benefit is lost. Most importantly, it needs to be something the author will enjoy writing about over the long haul. So I took a look at the various things I love: singing, playing guitar, cats, writing, Chihuahuas…hold on a minute. Only one of those things met all my criteria and then some. As a considerable side benefit, the characteristics of Chis, and the character of their owners, matches my writing style rather neatly – funny, mischievious, and very into people.
So yes, the decision to include a marketing hook in my books was cold-blooded, but Chihuahuas were there to be chosen because I am crazy about them. As a benefit, I get to own these dogs in my imagination, when my cat won’t let me in real life. Actually, she will, but she becomes a ghost in her own home. (I’ve tried and may try again.) When Musette dies, clearing my sinuses but breaking my heart, I’ll get a Chihuahua.
P.S. Years ago, before I knew what a marketing hook was, and just as I was getting into Chihuahuas, I wrote a book with one. It got me my agent and my first publisher, but has never been published. The problem, as all the complimentary rejection letters said, was that publishers didn’t know how to sell it. Well, I do, and as soon as I fix the ending and find a new title (the one I had was recently used for another book), I’ll publish it myself. Stay tuned.
P.P.S. You can experience my Chihuahua enthusiasm for free with the short story, ‘Twas the Chihuahua Before Christmas. Am I giving away a Christmas story for marketing reasons? Of course. Did I love writing it and want everyone to read it regardless of whether they buy my books? Also yes.
UPDATE: I finally succumbed to my obsession and got a Chihuahua. And by golly, she’s kind of a ringer for the Chi at the top of this page!
Allbritten’s debut mystery offers a good mystery, a terrific team of sleuths, ghost stories, and a number of possibilities for future locations. I can’t vote, but half-way through 2011, Chihuahua of the Baskervilles would be one of my nominees for the Agatha for Best First Mystery.
That’s from a wonderful review by Lesa Holstine, of Lesa’s Book Critiques. Lesa has been a library administrator and manager for 30 years. She’s a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, and various websites, and was also winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. So this is kind of a big deal. My eyes got a little prickly feeling when I read her review.
She also sent me a list of great interview questions, and the results will be on her site tomorrow.
In other news, I’m picking my parents up from the airport today. They often visit, and are timing this one so they can attend my first book signing. Of course, this meant that I woke up from a dream this morning where I lost track of time and looked at my watch to realize I was supposed to be at the airport five minutes ago.
Ten of my author copies came yesterday. I’ve never understood why they arrive in dribs and drabs like that (I’m due another ten). I got one all on its lonesome a while back, but immediately gave it to a well-connected friend at her birthday party, so it’s nice to have one to fondle again.
Still have three blog posts to write. — Wait, maybe four. I’ve discovered that it’s a good idea to keep checking back with people to make sure they still have you on the schedule. Also gotta make a bunch of glow soap for the signing, and also to mail to various people as thank-you gifts and for general promo.
I whipped up a Facebook ad last night.
Am having it click through to my website (with excerpt, reviews, etc.) rather than straight to a sales page on Amazon or whatever. Don’t know if that’s a good idea or not, and of course, it’s impossible to track actual sales when you’re not working with your own sales site. If you’re wondering about the headline, Chihuahua of the Baskervilles was too long to fit, so Chihuahua of Doom is what I came up with. I went back and forth on the all-capped Doom, but in the end decided it was funnier. I’m running a week-long test.