Category: Working with a Publicist – Send Cookies!

Negotiation Skills and Working with Professionals – Add a little Sugar!

I'd work for these cookies––French macaroons.

Cookies make a difference. These are French macaroons, or Luxembourgers, made by Burdick Chocolates of Northhampton, MA. Photo courtesy of Burdick Chocolates.

I recently posted an article by super publicist Susan Schwartzman about working with a publicist and the importance of sending cookies once in a while.

This seems like a small thing––maybe even a bribe––but it’s not. What Ms. Schwartzman introduces is the very large topic of use of influence. Use of influence means what authors can do to maximize their impact in an intensely competitive world. Ms. Schwartzman‘s message applies not only to publicists, but to everyone the author touches in a publishing endeavor.

The author’s problem is BEING NOTICED. Whether self published or published by the majors, an author needs to get the attention of  his or her literary agent, book shepherd, cover and interior designers, publisher, publicist, editor, and especially intended readers.

Can you do it? Don’t think the quality of your book alone will catapult you to the front lines––you need negotiation skills here. You need communication skills and more.

Do you know how to listen to another person and deeply understand that person’s point of view? Can you send messages about your wants and needs that don’t feel like threats? Can you formulate a solution to the problem that benefits all participants?

If you can’t do these things, take a communication skills course. Add a negotiation skills course on top of that. You don’t have to spend a fortune doing it––most community rec departments offer them. Local junior colleges and high school adult ed departments give such courses. Learn personal skills, in addition to “How to write a perfect query letter.”

I once led a T-group at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. A T-group is like a therapy group, except it focuses on personal skills as they impact business situations. Studies have shown that students who do well in T-groups at the major business schools excel in their professional and personal lives. These are the movers and shakers: They make the most money and win life’s prizes.

The professor in charge made a devastating comment: “If you can’t motivate this group, how do you expect to attain your life goals?”

If you can’t move those closest to you, how to you expect to end up the CEO of a major corporation? Or save lives in Africa? Or get anyone to read your book, much less buy it?”

How can you motivate others? With cookies.

Of course, your publicist will work hard for you without them, but how do you make sure your job is the one that gets done at the end of the day?

Good manners is part of it. Assertive good manners. [Take an assertiveness training, too.] I’ll go over assertive techniques in later posts. Be kind and understand the point of view of the person you’re dealing with. That’s why I liked Susan Schwartzman’s article so much: Though she’s a top publicist, she reveals herself as a person in her blog post.

[Nathan Bransford is a blog writer who gives his audience a clear view of what a literary agent's life is like. This is very useful information for one attempting to be represented by an agent. Mr. Bransford talks about the joys of coming to work on Monday and finding 400 queries in his in-box. How do you approach someone in this situation? This is an opportunity to practice communication and negotiation skills.]

Life as a publishing industry professional is rough. How does one keep going?

He looks cute, doesn't he?

Raj looks cute, doesn't he? Hah! This 30 pound dog flipped an 80 pound Aussie on her back and terrorized a German shepherd.

Cookies really help. Positive reinforcement, behavioral psychologists call it. Here’s a story about positive reinforcement, also known as operant conditioning.

As a lifelong horsewoman, I’ve known about positive reinforcement for a long time. The “horse whisperer” type trainers use it. But when we got a “special needs” Cocker spaniel from the pound, I understood the real power of positive reinforcement. [Click for an article about this problem dog.]

Raj was a frigging nightmare, the attack-Cocker from hell. Within days of our rescuing him, he’d terrorized our much larger dogs and dominated our household. He made me a nervous wreck and caused my husband to rave about sending him back from whence he came. So what if they’d off him? He was killing us.

In desperation, I called my vet, who said, “Call Amanda!” Amanda is a dog trainer who uses only positive techniques. She was so nice that I couldn’t imagine her handing an aggressive dog, much less our stone cold killer.

Raj adored her. By the end of our sessions, she had him eating out of her hand (not eating her hand). He became a positive member of our social unit. Today, the human and canine Nathan pack loves Amanda––and Raj. [I wrote a series of articles about this transformation. Here's a link.]

What was the secret? Amanda rewarded-–in a currency that the Raj appreciated (bits of hot dogs)––everything he did that was desirable and IGNORED the rest. This sounds like it would take forever, but it’s actually very fast.

Find the currency the person you’re relating with wants and give it to them. (Subject to moral and legal constraints, of course.)

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT IS 9 TIMES AS EFFECTIVE AS NEGATIVE. (Maybe even more. I forget the statistics Amanda cited.) Praise, cookies, acknowledgment, kindness––all of these work better than hostility, blame, rank pulling and abuse, physical or verbal abuse.

You can get noticed being a bad guy.

You can get noticed being a bad guy. Poor Sumo was so scared he wouldn't get out of the cart when Raj was around. Is this good? No. Raj is lucky he's alive.

You’re in a negotiation called life. You want your world to notice you. You can get noticed by being the meanest, most foul mouthed, bad-patootie on the block. By getting full-body implants and flaunting them. By setting yourself on fire in public––metaphorically or in reality.

Do these tactics buy you what you want? Why not figure out what those on your team want and give it to them? Why not figure out what the guys on the other team want and see areas of commonality? Why not use all your skills, including those of your heart and soul, to attain your goals?

Cookies are a tie breaker. Give cookies and you’ll get noticed in a positive way. Undoubtedly, the good wishes and intentions behind such gifts are what motivate theor recipient to expend that little extra bit of energy––that puts you in Time Magazine.

One more story on the value of positive reinforcement:

My daughter Zoe went to school in New York.  On one trip home, her plane had some problem and was taken out of service.  Everyone had to be rerouted. It was a mess; inconvenient, irritating.

Zoe stood in line at the airline’s counter and watched her fellow passengers REAM the airline employee who was working hard to put them on different, hopefully functional, planes. They acted as though the employee had personally disabled the first plane.

When she finally reached the desk, Zoe said, “Everyone’s acting like it’s your fault, but I think you’re doing a great job. Thank you!”

The woman gave her first class tickets all the way home.

You think cookies matter?

Award Winning Author of Numenon & Stepping Off the Edge

Award Winning Author of Numenon & Stepping Off the Edge

Sandy Nathan
Award winning author of Numenon and Stepping Off the Edge.
(And negotiation coach, as well as teacher/coach of communications and assertiveness trainings!)

Would you like some of the cookies up top? They’re all the rage in Paris––lines form to purchase “les macarons”––and now Burdicks is shipping them! These hand-piped, tender meringue treats are filled with flavored buttercreams. All natural flavorings of chocolate, coffee, pistachio, raspberry, lavender, almond-citrus and ginger. The assortment of fifteen is presented in a unique polka-dotted box. Click here for a review. Click to go to  LA Burdick Chocolate’s website to order.

Working with your Publicist – Send Cookies!

I'd work for these cookies––French macaroons.

I'd work for these cookies––French macaroons, or Luxembourgers, made by Burdick Chocolates of Northhampton, MA. Photo courtesy of Burdick Chocolates.

From Sandy Nathan: We have a great treat today: an article on working with a publicist by guest blogger, Susan Schwartzman of Susan Schwartzman Public Relations. Susan has been called “The Navy SEAL of Publicity” by the publicity director of a well-known publisher. She specializes in book publicity campaigns for publishers and authors and is known for garnering more media attention for her clients than they dreamed possible.

What does a top publicist want from a client? Cookies. Susan explains here, showing once again that attention to the personal aspects of professional relationships works:

I was on a panel recently with an in-house publicist from Penguin when she was asked by a member of the audience what an author can do to help a publicist.

“Send cookies,” she said. She further explained that when you are promoting many authors, the one who sends cookies will be the one who you work hardest for. “It’s just human nature,” she said. “Be kind to your publicist,” she added.

I remembered her comments when I mentioned to my clients that I was closing early on a Friday this past July to celebrate my birthday on Saturday.

The previous year, when my birthday actually fell on a Friday in July, I had closed for the entire day, as many firms generally do on Fridays in the summer.

One client complained that I absolutely could not take off on Friday because she was taking off the next day for an extended vacation. She made a list of things she wanted me to do on that particular Friday. Her book was not due out for four months and the publisher had not even printed advance reading copies yet. Even so, I had already written press materials: a press release, pitch letter, and a draft of the bio.

She still insisted, however, that I spend my birthday re-working the bio she already had posted on her website––and that I was planning to use––along with other demands.

This year, I received an e-mail wishing me a happy birthday from a best-selling author whose book I had promoted ten years ago. Like clockwork, he always remembers my birthday. He had, in fact, hired me for a small campaign this year to promote a television show he was hosting, but during the past ten years when I was not promoting any of his books, he still always remembered my birthday.

A few days after my birthday a package arrived. Although I regularly receive packages of books I was not expecting any books that week. I let the package sit in my vestibule for several hours before tackling the sturdy cardboard box with my box cutter.

Inside was a lovely looking brown and black box tied with a beautiful silky brown ribbon flecked with gold. How beautiful I thought. And then I opened the box. Inside were delicate looking wafers, macaroons, actually. They were Luxembourgers, small round wafers filled with delicious coffee, chocolate and fruit-flavored meringues that are popular in Europe. Their French cousins, the macaroon, are not as light and airy in consistency.

I popped one into my mouth. And then another, and another, until the box was almost empty. Guilt rescued me from devouring the entire box.  I saved the several remaining cookies for my husband.

The day the Luxembourgers arrived was a humid, rainy afternoon and I was feeling sluggish even with the air conditioning. No one in the media was returning my calls and e-mails were bouncing back with vacation notices. Isolated in my home-office, I felt like I was the only one in town working on this July afternoon. It was one of those days that really test the endurance and motivation of a publicist.

But, after savoring those cookies, I picked up the phone, determined to get my client the publicity she deserved. And I did.

Days later I received several e-mails assuring me that this author’s book would be reviewed. And the magazine that I had pitched for a profile story was strongly considering interviewing my author. What more could a publicist ask for––five months before the book’s pub date?

The cookies worked their magic, both for me and for the author. And the author who always remembers my birthdays? I got nothing less than Entertainment Weekly to review his show, and People Magazine to mention both his show and the book I had promoted ten years ago, which the publisher had released in it’s 10th Anniversary Edition.

Susan Schwartzman

Susan Schwartzman

Susan Schwartzman Public Relations specializes in book publicity campaigns for publishers and authors. Dynamic, aggressive yet affordable book publicity campaigns designed to enhance visibility in today’s extremely competitive market are her hallmark. Contact Susan to find out how she can help your book succeed.

Susan Schwartzman
Susan Schwartzman Public Relations

Would you like some of those cookies? They’re all the rage in Paris––lines form to purchase “les macarons”––and now Burdicks is shipping them! These hand-piped, tender meringue treats are filled with flavored buttercreams. All natural flavorings of chocolate, coffee, pistachio, raspberry, lavender, almond-citrus and ginger. The assortment of fifteen is presented in a unique polka-dotted box. Click here for a review. Click to go to  LA Burdick Chocolate‘s website to order.

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