Be Prepared For Yes

About once a month, somebody sends me an email that boils down to "Why don't you write about me right now?"  That's because I cover Seattle theater and dance companies (links to those articles in the sidebar) as well as covering events of interest to Northwest publishers at

The most recent example of this type of email came on a Friday that I was traveling. By Saturday morning, the agitated sender was tweeting me about why hadn't I written about their event yet.

There were a couple of reasons. First, although I'm fast with a keyboard, I need Internet access to publish my article. So, when I'm in transit, as I was that Friday, nothing happens. Second, despite many people guessing otherwise, I'm human, not super-human, and I sleep, eat, and do other things that take me away from the laptop.

So, as I finished reading the Friday email a day late, the Saturday tweet barrage started. Since it was an event that I liked, I thought "OK, I'll write something." However, I do have a requirement that all articles be accompanied by a visual (either YouTube video or jpg). That's because two of the blogs I run are on sites that mandate that. The other just gets more hits if I do that.

So I sent agitated Tweetperson a email saying "Send me a jpg or a YouTube link this morning and I'll get something up." The morning deadline was due to other plans for the afternoon.  See above about "have a life outside the laptop."

The first response from Tweetperson was: "Go look for yourself on our website." (I already had done that and found nothing fit the visual requirements of my site).

The second response, after I explained the problem:  "Well, I'm too busy. I can't send anything. Maybe someone else will."  Which I found strange, as this was the person insisting that I write about their event right now. And I had said "yes."  At which point, they dropped the conversation.

So why am I writing about this? After all,  I'm old enough to brush it off as "oh well, guess we both learned something."

Because it is an old truism that you can get more press if you help folks with the little details. It's the same as pitching your books to agents, editors, and publishers. Be prepared for a "yes" as well as a "no."  If you're sending out information about your book to the press, you may not want to send everything all at once but have the following ready to go:
  • A good digital photo of yourself or your book cover (preferably both). High resolution jpg, minimum size 1 mb, maximum size 3 mb. If they want more or less than that, do know how to resize yourself so you don't have to wait or go back to the photographer.  Clearly identify who took the photo as well as who is in it (especially if there is more than one person). Many news sites and publications will no longer publish photos if the subjects and the photographer are not credited. If a photographer credit is not needed or the subjects are "adoring crowd of fans at Con," be sure to tell them that.
  • Your biography written in third person with solid information about what you've done and how it is related to your book.  
  • Information about any and all upcoming events related to your book should included the when (date/time), where (location),  and how (website link, email, or phone number for directions) that the public need to attend that event. Add a little why (people should attend) if you can.
Most journalists will use that information to build their article. In the best of all possible worlds, they will do an interview with you, either by phone, email, or in person, to flesh the article out. If they do indicate that they want to do that, try to remember that you are one of many subjects and some flexibility in scheduling may be required.  The more equipment they need to tell their story (radio and television), the more rigid the time requirements -- if they tell you that they only have the studio from 3 pm to 4 pm on Tuesdays, try to make that work out. Don't insist that you can only be there on Wednesday morning.

Since I'm writing and not recording or filming, I can usually make an interview work at any time during the week. But life does it does for any journalist, blogger, or reviewer. The worst response for me when I'm trying to set up an interview is "Well, call me any time."  Because playing phone tag is never fun and that always is the result.  A set time and date, and being ready at that time, is much appreciated.

Be ready for "yes" and don't get agitated if someone asks for extra time or information to write about you.. Your professionalism will be noted and appreciated!*

*Like the darling director at a local theater who accepted my recent "aargh, the plumbers are pounding on the door, I need to call you back..." during a 10 am interview with a very professional "I'll be available at 3 p.m. today at this number."

Update for theater and dance groups: Soon after I posted this, Seattle Theater Writers shared this article. When putting together information for a performance, think about other things writers can do beyond reviewing. My column focuses on "previews" rather than reviews, and I'm always looking for good interview ideas. Sure the star of the show is newsworthy, but so is the 40-year-old bit player who is moonlighting at your theater to pursue a lifelong dream.  All writers have different goals and interests. Listen to what they ask for. If they tell you that they love to do backstage stories, be ready to pitch designers and directors. Or maybe they are more interested in the community angle and want to talk about how your show brings people to the neighborhood or a local kid is making good with you.



Unknown said…
I'll be sharing this with my arts marketing class next winter!
Unknown said…
I'll be sharing this with my arts marketing class next winter!

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