#36 Meeting with Book Agents

11:54 am Okay, it’s official. I am meeting with a book agent Thursday, around 11.30. Presumably this meeting is about my book. The person is a literary agent, and wants to meet with me. However, I have never done this before.

I searched “How to meet with a book agent” on Google. Seriously. I DID find the following useful information in this article by Adler Books:

How should I approach an agent?

“In a word, professionally. Everything you send an agent should look as neat and organized as you can make it. Most agents prefer the initial contact be made in writing; after all, the written word is the stuff of the book business. Agents have different policies about what they want to see in introductory submissions. For example, some agents want one or two page letters; some want just a chapter and an outline; some want just a proposal; some want the entire manuscript. Check the agent’s policy before making any submission. (A phone call to the agency’s office asking about the company’s submission policy is fine.)”

Here is a kind of snarky article called “How to meet an agent and not look like a nitwit.

1:25 pm AAAhhhhh! Okay, she wants to see my book proposal and first chapter ASAP! At one point, I just had a proposal. That I redid. Like a hundred times. And then checked Twitter. And then got coffee. You know the routine. Finally, something CLICKED and I spurted out this outline in 10 minutes. I told my comrades and partners in my Sisterhood of Success “Okay, I’m ready.” And they gave me tips, and copies of cover letters, and proposals. And, one of them -who is very well-known and well published – said, “You need a first chapter that grabs them by the throat.” So, that took more time. But, here I am, basically prepared, getting ready to meet with an agent (who I can trust and I’m told is a good fit for me) on Thursday.

How did this happen? Short answer – some business zen, trigger pulling + mentors (of course – #sisU).

How did I go from freaking out in the last post to having a meeting with a book agent? After the last post, I paused, and realized: Hey – okay – this is clicking. It’s working. People are into it. So, stop whining!

Then, worlds collided, stars aligned (insert some phrase like this here) and Sam Horn (who has been a big advocate and mentor of mine and the Hot Mommas Project), introduces me to her agent. So, I’m meeting with her on Thursday before a Women’s Leadership Webcast at Mastercard. We also wanted to meet with one of our cool judges from last year who is a Tony Award winning Broadway producer, but, he is kind of  busy – uh- producing Tony Award winning Broadway shows. Mejor, Senor!

Wish me luck

Wish me luck, and we’ll see what happens. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’ll be taking notes and will share what I learn with you. That is, unless I have to sign away my first-born or something in this meeting. My daughter would do it in a heart beat, I’ll tell you that! Here’s the conversation this morning, walking back from camp with my daughter:

Me: “Lilah, did you know mommy had a crazy dream last night where there was a third kid in our family?”

Lilah: (4 years-old) “Well, I wish we could get rid of Maxwell.” (Her 7-year-old brother).

Geez  – maybe I should bring her to the meeting. TAKE NO PRISONERS.

Anywhoo, my hope is that over the next couple of weeks I may have some interesting learnings to share here re: meeting with a book agent.

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About the Hot Mommas Project

Proud of the women in your life? So are we. The Hot Mommas Project is the world’s largest women’s case study library. Said in “normal people” terms: This is the award-winning research of faculty member Kathy Korman Frey of the George Washington University School of Business, CFEE.  The project makes women’s stories teachable using our “case wizard” at www.HotMommasProject.org . The Hot Mommas Project library is the first of its kind, providing scalable, global access to role models and virtual mentors that can be used by educators, trainers, and parents. We’ve been featured in Prentice Hall textbooks, the Washington Post Magazine, NPR and are the winner of a national Coleman Foundation case award.

How to get involved:

1. Join the sisterhood. Did you know access to mentors and role models increases real and perceived success? Email us for your Mission Instructions for the New Sisterhood of Success. You’ll impact a life in five minutes.  Click here.

2. Nominate a woman in your life, yourself included. Our call for 2011 nominations has begun for dynamic women 18 and older. While the contest runs through January 31, 2011 – Start now! There will be prizes this spring and fall for early bird publishers. Nominate here. See last year’s winners here.

3. Share your story. Winners are published in a major Prentice Hall textbook and your lessons are shared with women, girls, and educators across the globe. It’s one of the most scalable, time-efficient way to make an impact.No, you do not need to be a mom. Nominate yourself here.

How sharing your story works: Nominated women come online, write their story using our “case wizard,” and click “publish” to be permanently archived in our case library.  Winners will be published in a leading Prentice Hall textbook.

Find us on Twitter.

To inquire about sponsorship, email us. We have offer visibility via social media, large university events, and category sponsorship of our permanent, free, online case library. Sponsors range from the Charles Schwab foundation, to philanthropists, to professional women pooling resources to sponsor an award.

Our 2010 press release.

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#18 Top 5 Tips for Getting Media Coverage. Media Training Part 2 – Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time.

 

Here is a pair of underwear I came across in the Gold's Gym parking lot. This will make sense later.

Here is a pair of underwear I came across in the Gold's Gym parking lot. This will make sense later.

Media. Coverage. How do you do it? How do you get there? The Hot Mommas® Project has experienced a baptism by fire with regard to media training this past year.  We talked with some experts to make it more familiar, and less “TAKE.ME.TO. YOUR.LEADER.” Here are the big things we learned. Continue reading

Building a Million Dollar Business Part-Time #16: How to do a Mass/Blast Email Campaign

got-mail

Let me start this post by saying: I am not a huge fan of mass emails.

Exception: When someone has opted in, as I have for two of the best newsletters I know (from Harvard Business School and Julie Weeks’ WomenAble, also listed at bottom of this post).

Sections of this post will cover: Popular mass/blast email programs/campaigners, how to write a blast email, challenges of blast emails, and other fun stuff. Everything in this post is totally opposite @TheMogulMom’s summary of Seth Godin’s advice on “How to Write a Personal Email.Continue reading

Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time #14b: Confessions and Reflections

This is the second of two posts reflecting on what has worked, and what hasn’t, since conceiving and implementing the Hot Mommas Project case study competition. See first Confessions and Reflections post.

It ain't pretty. Computer + Face Mask = Fake Relaxation

It ain't pretty. Computer + Face Mask = Fake Relaxation

Pictured here, I am “relaxing” with my computer open.  Quite unsightly on a number of levels. First confession: I may be a part time working mom physically, but I am full time-plus mentally. I am constantly thinking about the project. I’m freaking exhausted. I seriously think I have carpal tunnel in my shoulder. Continue reading

Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time #10: How We Are Getting Press & Buzz

Let’s continue our discussion of how to do marketing and pr, shall we? Especially since Esther and I spent all %*$#i day organizing our email folders since we are so overwhelmed by the response to our project (good) and seem to have had the email-organization part of our brains partially lobotomized (bad).

We are a tad overwhelmed at the Hot Mommas Project right now and looking forward to Fall reinforcements

We are a tad overwhelmed at the Hot Mommas Project right now and looking forward to Fall reinforcements

Left, please find the metaphoric “Rock Holding Steamroller.” It is the visual representation of how we are feeling right now.  I am not sure if we are the rock, or the steamroller, but I think we are the rock.

Here are things we’ve learned about PR over the past couple of months which is a mix of:

1. Stuff we’ve read

2. Stuff we’ve done

3. Meeting with experts, namely Hot Mommas Project case protagonist Susan Apgood who owns one of the nation’s largest radio PR companies (News Generation) and Racine Tucker-Hamilton at the George Washington School of Business communications office.  Also, White Trash Mom from the BlogHer conference says she’ll help us. Note: PR is completely new for me as my background is in nerdy service-type businesses where no one cared what we did (see “pre-steps” section of older post for more on background).

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INTERLUDE [Samba music plays]

First, let’s start with a quick story about how MUCH we had to learn about PR, buzz, and getting the word out there for the Hot Mommas Project Case Study Competition.

Setting: Bus on the way to Guy Kawasaki’s party.

Esther and I are sitting toward the rear of the bus and the women in front of us learn, through Twitter, that another bus is lost. Esther and I were about to learn we were WAY behind in the social media department.

Women in front of us: “Hey! Are you all up front on Twitter?”

Voice from front of bus: “Who’s NOT on Twitter?”

All: Laughter

Me and Esther: [Blank stare. Silence]

Women in front of us: “Hey driver! The people on Twitter on the other bus just told us they’re lost.”

Bus driver: “What’s Twitter?”

All: Laughter

Me and Esther: [Blank stare. Silence]

With social media tails between our legs, Esther and I immediately sign up for http://www.Twitter.com on our mobiles. I am “chiefhotmomma” and she is “hotmommasintern.”  I had not gotten on Twitter before thinking it was sort of stalkeresque.  However, in Silicon Valley I felt like Bert – my father-in-law –  when he said he “couldn’t be bothered with all that email mumbo jumbo” and that his grandkids could, “pick up the phone so he could hear their beautiful voices.” (Sorry to out you Bert.) I am happy to report now Bert is on email…and we are now on Twitter….”Tweeting.” Feel free to “follow” us as ChiefHotMomma and HotMommasIntern.

END INTERLUDE [Samba music ends]

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Now, on to our PR takeaways:

1. PR is the cheapest form of marketing. If what you’re doing is newsworthy, work it. And, if you THINK you are creative, think again. Esther and I thought we were creative. We developed this press release titled “Hot Mommas Project Produces Role Models on Paper for Women Across the Globe.” Ha! We were totally delusional. Look what Racine Tucker-Hamilton came up with: http://business.gwu.edu/news/archive/2008/0703.cfm

2. Develop a media plan.Racine shared a one-page media plan with us that articulated the following:

– GOALS: What is the goal? To increase news coverage, create awareness, all of the above? Articulate these goals in 1 to 5 bullets.

– AUDIENCE: Who is the audience? For us, it could be women, but, we’ll probably also be targeting their husbands, partners, and leaders in education and policy. Articulate this in 1 to 7 bullets.

– MESSAGES/PITCHES: Write out the message points in 1 to 5 bullets. My friend who has a long history in PR used to say, “Focus on 3 message points max.” So, my guess is that we will draw the 3 best points from our list depending on the conversation. Make it clear how you are different. Click here for some sample what, where, when, why message points I am going to run by Racine and Susan along with the following:

Exposure to role models increases one’s sense of self efficacy, or the feeling of ‘I can do that.’ The Hot Mommas Project approach of providing role models on paper hits the nail on the head and fills a void that exists in women’s leadership education today.

-MEDIA TARGETS: This can be as big as one needs it to be, however, Susan recommended we target folks like Working Woman, Pink, etc. News release service providers like Cision, Vocus,and MediaMap (which was acquired by Bacon’s, which merged with Cision) can help as well.

-PLAN/KEY ACTIONS: These are action steps that will be taken based on the above goals. 5 or so bullets.

-TIMELINE: These are dates associated with key actions, like creating a press release, creating media lists, distributing press release, pitching, and follow up (to include thank yous to contacts).

-MEASUREMENT/KEY NUMBERS: Susan also mentioned being very clear about what we want to accomplish (e.g., x media impressions, or x placements in certain types of magazines or newspapers). We need to have a way to measure hits (aka coverage).

3. Develop a press kit. Again, we consulted Susan Apgood of News Generation on our story angle.  We had it completely reversed, so, were glad we had spoken with her. Here is a pretty concise article on developing a press kit. If there is no interest in the story, Susan says you can sometimes resort to a “what’s in it for you” approach (e.g., we are targeting professional women and you will have exposure).

4. Distribute the press kit/press release.

4a. Push the story out through press releases or Hot Mommas-initiated contact. Here are a couple of resources: Peter Shankman’s “Help a Reporter Out” which is AWESOME and FREE. He sends 3 emails a day on stories reporters are looking to write.  Michelle Woodward, who is a master-certified life coach (sort of like the Mr. Miyagi of life coaches) put us onto this. Also, you can distribute mass news releases in a targeted fashion with Cision & Vocus.

Note: This same method can be used with organizations (see #5 below) where you might want to promote something to their membership or employees.

4b. “Pull.” For instance, George Washington University School of Business did a newsletter piece on the Hot Mommas Project. Then communications for the entire university put it out there. Then the story was picked up by newswires. People started calling. We just sort of sat there. It was awesome.

4c. There may be some other way of which I’m unaware, so, adding “c” in here.

Side note: Make it easy for the reporter.  A year or so ago our cases were being used at Western Michigan University and we wrote a press release, looked into media outlets, and followed up. At the end of the day, it failed miserably because we were making the reporter work too hard to figure out the story.  So, being clear on our story is key, as is running it by some PR experts (as to whether it is a good story…or, whether it totally blows). We have our facts, figures, quotes, and sources teed up.

5. Interviews and Appearances.

– INTERVIEWS: Susan says before meeting with anyone, have a media training session and prepare for potential questions. Have fun facts memorized, and learn how avoid answering certain questions. I am still working on this and talked with a really amazing reporter the other day who gave me some great feedback.

– PRESENTATIONS: Know audience and practice. For example, I delivered a presentation recently at an Entrepreneur’s Organization  retreat (formerly YEO, like YPO but funner. Yes, “funner” is a joke people): “What Women Want: 3 Secrets to Attracting and Retaining High Performing Female Employees.”  I thought the presentation went pretty well, and was right in the sense that the presentation received one of the top scores. (Here are the presentation notes eo_what-women-want_61108.) However, I recorded it with my video camera and realized I said “uh” a bunch of times (hence, the practice concept mentioned at the top of this paragraph).

6. Whatever works in your industry.  The ultimate caveat of caveats: Remember to adapt any PR or marketing strategies to your industry. For instance, friend and Hot Mommas Project Host Committee Member Richard Barney said that in his former industry (real estate), the company tried tons of cool stuff and events and giveaways. But, it all came down to referrals, referrals, referrals. Whatever works in your industry, do it. We are figuring it out right now. I have some creative giveaway ideas with which www.OnSalePromos.com is helping us. (OnSalePromos on Twitter).

7. Create buzz. To create buzz, we are largely relying on the world of social media and membership organizations. To the extent that it links in with coverage in press, great. So, what are we doing?

– Now: Blogging. We are not sure if this is working, but then we get out to BlogHer and people say, “Oh! We’ve heard of you!” Maybe it’s because we’re listed on http://moms.alltop.com.  Sample research and role model series posts. As you read in the vignette above, we’ve also gotten ourselves wrapped into Twitter.

– Now: Twitter.Twitter is like the “what are you doing now” application on Facebook. That’s it.  I’ve heard some folks say it drives traffic to their blog, their site, or whatever they’re posting in their status updates. See our last post mentioning Chris Brogan’s ideas on how to use Twitter.

– Now: Podcasts (examples SBTV and Hip Tranquil Chick). We’ve had a good reception with these. After this we were approached by Pink Heels and others and will be doing some partnering.

– Now: Partnering with bloggers. For instance, really cool bloggers from the BlogHER conference – like White Trash Mom and Your On Ramp – are blogging about us in September and October near the time of the Oct 13 Hot Mommas Project Case Study Competition launch.

– Now: Partnering with organizations. For example, Women’s Presidents Organzation, SBE Council, WE Inc, and the American Mustache Institute (this second one for our Cool Daddies beta section of the case study competition). They work with us to communicate with members about the competition in exchange for formal recognition as a marketing partner.

– Now: Partnering with connectors. There are some folks who we call “connectors” (like Malcom Gladwell discusses in The Tipping Point). They are people with extensive networks who are enthusastic about the Hot Mommas Project Case Study Competition. Many of these will become marketing partners, like Julie Lenzer Kirk. Others will become Host Committee Members like Michael Goldstein of Content Now or Brian Scudamore of 1800GotJunk (host committee members will email their networks for us).  Also, in a major win, Guy Kawasaki of www.Alltop.com (we’re listed here) is going to advertise the competition for us.

Future: More press. Will also ask Susan at News Generation if our stuff is radio worthy and see if she can help us get on some talk shows, etc.

Future: Facebook group, cause, or “fan.”

Future: Group on LinkedIn…if this can be done…someone told me they could put me in touch w/ the founder and that hasn’t happened.

Future: Search optimization/Google. Shashi is the man on this.

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PARTING THOUGHTS: So, at this point it’s probably pretty easy to see why I am overwhelmed and very behind on my sponsorship contact goals. Time to pick that baton back up and run with it. (Click here for sponsor post).