One of the privileges of being me (as opposed to one of the privileges of living with me) is that I have brilliant, smart, creative friends. And I don’t brag about them (brag on them? I am told this is proper English, but my people don’t speak this way) often enough. And I should. So I am going to is get all excited about a friend, just because I can.
My friend Jill Monroe, who just happened to write of the BS’s most popular perennial posts (which she needs to update, hint, hint), is one of the funniest people I know. I do not say this lightly: I know people who can blow you across the room with funny (jealous, moi?, absolutely). Jill is in the pantheon, and the one thing that I love most is when she’s just letting the Jill roll. Weird as all get out and I mean that in good way.
So she sends me this link to a video she’s posted on YouTube. And because I’m at a client’s, I can’t watch it right away. When I get home, I have received an email about Jill’s video from an unrelated third party. Discussion ensues. Discussion that happens behind Jill’s back and, yeah, she’s gonna ask me for gory details. Needless to say, we are enthralled.
Here’s the video:
I am, officially, in favor of book trailers (unofficially, I feel like I’m living through the never-ending previews at a Laemmle theater). I think that the publishing industry could benefit from better use of video, but, well, see previous re: Laemmle theaters. Does it have to be so !@#$% dull? It is not understating things to suggest that the number one asset an author has is voice — yet so many authors treat promotion like it’s a vacation in a maximum security prison.
Maybe that worked for J.D. Salinger, but, hello, if you’re living the modern world and working as a professional writer, you cannot expect your publisher to get the word out. Sorry kids, but that’s your job. You can optimistically hope that the world will somehow discover your work among all the other books on the shelf, or you can take smart, proactive steps to help yourself. Your call.
I say let your voice shine even while doing promo work. How many books are you gonna sell if your interviews (video, audio, print) feel like high school textbooks? I know, I know, you’re a writer, promotion doesn’t come naturally. Uh huh. Things are different now (and by that I mean not so different now than you think…). Talent is a beautiful thing, but, man, you’ve got to sell yourself, differentiate yourself.
Authors need to find their inner actors when it comes to promotion, be it audio, video, or print. Where’s the personality, baby? I mean, if you want me to read your words, suck me in. Doubts? Read three “interviews” with an author about a current book. Any insight? Any signs of life in there? Any difference?
That’s what makes me so absolutely happy about Jill’s video. Yesterday, I found some of the earliest correspondence between me and Jill (we live in different states — very different! — and didn’t meet face-to-face for years after we’d been working together). I always remember the beginning as me being, well, me and saying (I paraphrase), “Love everything you’re doing here, but lose the first, oh, chapter or so.” Her comments were, “Nice, but wow, could you show me something instead of telling me about it? Also, cut about a gazillion words.”
Maybe it’s because we’re strong personalities, but we didn’t hide ourselves in our correspondence. I knew then what I know now. Jill has incredible voice. I’ve had the privilege of watching Jill’s voice grow stronger over her career. I have also had the privilege of knowing that her voice has become more personal (in a fictional sort of way) over time. And now I’ve had, well, I’m not sure it’s a privilege, but it’s something, of hearing her say, “Slooooo-w-lly” over and over.
The best part, I believe, is that readers will get a sense of Jill as an author and feel compelled to try her books. She’s not like all the others.
Gena Showalter gets super-extra credit points for her patience. And I like to think that Jill chose the vest because of me. But that might be taking my personal ego too far. I mean, Jill is known for her wardrobe.