- by Dara Girard
I’m married, with two children and a yellow lab, Boomer. I was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and lived in Aurora, IL before moving to NC. I work in Asset Management as a subcontractor to ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). I’m a published author and also write fan fiction for my website based on the characters from the popular 80’s television drama, Remington Steele, for which I have both national and international readers.
How did you get involved with the RT Convention?
I met fellow author Pat Simmons at a writer’s convention. We hit it off, and when she became the publicist for the RT Booklovers Convention, she drafted me to assist her. We’ve been working for RT in that capacity for six years now publicizing their annual convention.
What are some of the duties involved as a co-publicist for such a large convention?
Our job is to promote the convention and its attending authors via television live shots, radio interviews, and newspaper, blogs, blog talk radio, book clubs and to establish community awareness for the convention by getting sponsors from the area like the Red Cross Blood drives, Food bank donations and local businesses.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your role as a co-publicist for this annual convention?
Meeting all of the readers that faithfully attend each year from all over the world. A lot of them are aspiring and published authors as well. The positive energy is tangible. It’s also great seeing many bestselling authors that I’ve come to call friends over the years and to sit in on a workshop when I can. RT has over 125 workshops that help hone writers and aspiring writer’s skills from the business side of writing to developing their characters. There’s something for everyone. It keeps me coming back year after year!
What is the most stressful?
Publicizing a convention with over four hundred authors attending and one thousand readers is the herculean collective effort of many, many members of the RT Bookreview Magazine staff and volunteers. We draw on many avenues to spread the word to local residents to boost attendance to this amazing convention. When we’re done, we’re exhausted, but we know that we did the best job we could and it was well worth the hard work.
As a co-publicist how do you split the various duties with your partner?
Pat has a journalism background and has worked in the media so she handles the television, radio and newspaper side of the publicity. I handle securing Blog Talk Radio interviews for the authors as well as promoting the convention through the Public Library system, Book Clubs, and other avenues.
Aside for your day job, your role with the convention and family, you’re also a writer. What strategies do you use to manage your time?
I’m eclectic in my approach. I simply write when I can, where I can. My day-to-day changes depending on what’s going on with family and work. I have to be fluid and bend when necessary. There are days when I don’t write one word. I don’t beat myself up over it. Instead I make sure I set aside time the next day. I’m trying to get to the point where I can write faithfully every day. I’m a work in progress.
What publicity strategies easily transfer from your work with the convention to an individual writer’s personal brand?
Securing interviews for other authors while working at RT gets me familiar with media contacts. I’m constantly learning something new that can be applied to my day-to-day efforts to promote myself and increase my readership. Learning what works and what doesn’t while publicizing the convention gives me insight into how I can tweak things to work on a singular basis for myself. Now time is indeed the wild card in this scenario.
Is there anything else you’d like to address?
The one thing I would impress upon aspiring writers not to do would be to sit on their work waiting for the doorbell to ring and an agent, editor or publisher to be on the other side asking to acquire their manuscript. Don’t be a “Closet Writer” (Trust me, I once fit into this category, too). You have to let others read what you write. This is a vulnerability that many writers are hesitant to overcome, but you have to master your fear of rejection and plunge in. Avail yourself of the writer’s conventions out there. These are great places to meet up with like-minded people with similar goals and aspirations, and to surround yourself with the industry professionals in the field you’re trying to break in to. The RT Booklovers Convention offers one-on-one interviews that you can sign up for with editors and agents looking for the next best thing. That could be you!!
Also, have your manuscript edited by a professional, literary editor. You can start by having your friend, family member, or an old English teacher read your rough drafts, but a literary editor is essential in getting your manuscript ready for Primetime. They are well versed on what readers want and expect, and are not just looking at your work for grammatical errors. They tell you about pacing, the flow, continuity of your storyline, whether you switch points of view (head hopping) midstream, whether you’re using obsolete words or clichés.
Have your work edited by a professional. I can’t stress this enough. Most will offer a sample edit so that you can see their style and figure out how well the two of you gel.
As with any thing in life, you get out of it what you put into it.
Find out more about Lisa Watson and her books on her website: www.lisawatson.com