Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I'm back from my bout of TV stardom. It had been a long time since I'd been in a TV news studio, and while the technology has changed, one thing that hasn't is that the set is a lot smaller than it seems on TV. That actually makes things easier because it isn't nearly as imposing as you expect it to be. I think my segment may have lasted all of about three minutes, so by my calculations, I still have twelve minutes of fame left. I think I did okay, and watching the tape my mom made didn't make me want to cringe too much. I just noticed that when I'm thinking and trying to come up with words, I have a bad habit of halfway closing my eyes. I'll have to work on that for when Oprah calls. (Don't worry, I'm not holding my breath!)

I guess one thing that made it really easy for me was that I love talking about my books, my characters and my stories. The anchorwoman had read Enchanted, Inc. and really seemed to have enjoyed it, so she was able to ask good questions. It seems she's run into a Mimi or two in her career, so she really related to that. It's sad how many people do relate to that. I get a lot of e-mail about Mimis people have dealt with. Goodness knows, I've had a few.

Now I'm starting to think of other things I can do to promote my books. I was thinking about participating in this weekend's Race for the Cure, since the local paper's Lifestyles staff is supposed to have a booth where you can meet them all, and I could introduce myself to the writer who did an article on my book last year, but I'm not sure it's worth it to get up at six on a Saturday and drive across town, especially considering how out of shape I am. Then there's the fact that there's no guarantee anything would come of it, considering how many thousands of people will be there.

I've been trying to analyze successful books and authors to see what works for them, and here are some keys I've discovered for good publicity. Forget bookmarks when you can:

1) Work for Vogue
It seems like any current or former Vogue staffer who writes a book is sure to be booked on all the talk shows and to get great print coverage. You can write a thinly veiled fictional tell-all, and everyone will want the scoop on what Anna Wintour is really like, or you can write something tangentially related to Vogue subject matter while remaining in Anna Wintour's good graces so you get lots of coverage in Vogue itself, as well as whatever other spots you get thanks to her pulling strings. Unfortunately, I'm not fashionable enough for Vogue, nor do I have the society connections that seem to be important.

2) Work for someone famous or work in a glamorous field
If I were to write a book about a young woman working in Hollywood, it would get a resounding ho-hum. If I'd spent so much as a year working in Hollywood before writing it, I'd stand a chance of getting on talk shows to talk about my experiences. Maybe I should move to Hollywood.

3) Be related or married to someone powerful
Especially if he's a big-name film producer. And then you can get another round of promo when you get divorced. Being married to a hip-hop producer or being the daughter of a big-name politician also seems to work pretty well.

4) Graduate from an Ivy League university
Bonus points if you're still attending. You wouldn't think it would be unusual enough for news when an Ivy League grad writes a book. After all, aren't they supposed to be pretty bright and successful? Not to mention the fact that so many people working in publishing are also Ivy League alums. But somehow it seems like just about anyone with an Ivy-covered diploma gets good feature coverage when they have a book published, as though it's a rare and wonderful thing for someone who attended a prestigious university to write a book (you'd think the real news would be someone with a GED writing a book). Plus, the reviews will then try to elevate what you wrote to a more literary level. An Ivy alum couldn't possibly have written chick lit. It must be a searing, satirical look at the coming-of-age story instead. (Hmm, must check backgrounds of newspaper book editors.) It's a little late for me, but maybe going to grad school in my late 30s at an Ivy would be a good news hook, even if the thought of grad school makes me break out in a cold sweat. Just mentioning the possibility will give me nightmares for weeks.

Now I've been trying to think of something new to try, since those have all been done. How about:

1) Get on a reality TV program
That's launched a few careers in other fields. Unfortunately, I'm too old for American Idol (and there's that stage fright thing), too big a weenie for Survivor, not interested enough in business for The Apprentice, too old (and too picky) for the Bachelor/Bachelorette, not a good enough dancer to be on the pro side of Dancing with the Stars but not famous enough to be the "star". I'm probably not quite a bad enough dresser to be the victim on any of the makeover shows. I'd probably be a great Clean Sweep candidate, but they seem to prefer people who are living with someone else (spouse/parent/offspring) because then you get the conflict about stuff to throw away. It's no fun when it's just one person. Maybe I could find someone to nominate for While You Were Out, since the nominator gets the air time while working on the project (and the chance to hang out with the cute host).

2) Get involved with someone famous and be photographed with them
The challenge would be to find a good prospect I'd actually want to be with. The celebrities I find interesting aren't usually the ones who get in all the tabloids. Then there's the problem of having to meet them and get them interested in me. This area isn't exactly crawling with celebrities. We do have pro football players in my neighborhood, but I'm generally too old for them and from what I've seen, most of them are too stupid for me (but they are fun to play mind games with in the grocery store).

3) Run for public office
This has been done, but isn't overdone yet. A few years back, one of the candidates for Agriculture Commissioner in Texas had written some romance novels, and that fact, along with pictures of her book covers and even quotes from inside the books, was splattered all over just about every magazine and newspaper in the state. I guess they thought this was scandalous, but it certainly made me vote for her, and she won. I wouldn't want to actually win (because that would require work), but it would certainly get the name out there. Do you think reporters would catch on if I begged them to please not broadcast the fact that I wrote fluffy novels?

Obviously, my promo plans/schemes for world domination require work.


April Erwin said...

You're missing the whole 'Hero' industry. Save a dog? A cat? A kid? That would get you press. Maybe you could pay a neighborhood kid $5 to pretend to need rescuing? Plus, you would get to meet all the REAL heroes in their dreamy uniforms. :)

Shanna Swendson said...

Ooh, that is a thought! It would certainly get my name in the papers.

In my neighborhood, I'm more likely to save a dog, considering they seem to think I'm a rock star (I'm apparently very big in the pet world). I'm sure I could con one into faking trouble. Though, come to think of it, I did rescue one of my neighbors' dogs when she got caught in a gate, and I didn't get any buzz out of that. Hmmph.