Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Comfort Level Inventory

Here’s a Comfort Level Inventory exercise you might be interested in doing, just to lay the foundation as you go forward to determine your marketing and promotional strengths and begin to lay a core strategy around them.

Below is a list of as many marketing and promotional activities as I could come up with. (Feel free to add more in the comments if you think of any!) Now, take a piece of paper and make four columns and label them:

Feels Comfortable
Could Get Used to It
Definitely Uncomfortable
Cold Day In Hell

Now take a moment and place all of the promotional and marketing activities listed below into one of those columns.

Radio interviews – in studio
Radio interviews – by phone hook up
One on one interviews
Interviews via email
TV appearances – local
TV appearances – National
Targeted Postcard mailings (schools, libraries, booksellers)
Targeted Press Release mailings (local media)
School Visits – individual classrooms
School Visits – assemblies
Book Fairs
Attending Conferences
Speaking at Conferences
Conference Panels
Book Festivals
Author Spotlight at local SCBWI Writer’s Day
Speaking in front of local teachers’ group
Book signings
Book launch party
Drive By signings at bookstores (basically signing shelf stock the store has on hand)
Message Boards
Online Forum participation
Targeted emailings

When you’ve done that, tear the sheet in half and put the Definitely Uncomfortable and Cold Day In Hell columns away. You’re not even going to think about them right now. They’re off you’re radar for the time being, possibly even permanently. (The only exception to this would be if you have nothing in those first two columns. If that’s the case then you need to go back and try again, this time picking the three least terrifying items on the list.)

The two columns you have left will be your core promotional focus, and doesn’t that feel more doable? Let alone comfortable? It will also be a much more efficient investment of your energies, concentrating on the things you feel confident about.

Because the truth is, very few writers will have the time, resources, and energy to do all of the things on that master list. Therefore it only makes sense to prioritize and concentrate on the items that are inside your comfort zone.


Anonymous said...

It's funny you mention the phrase "comfort zone." It has been my goal to step a little bit more out of my comfort zone with each writing conference, however, I think I'm reaching the level where I'd rather chew on nails. I love your category of a "cold day in hell!" That's pretty much how I feel about it. Maybe I could just sell my manuscript to an already established author who likes the limelight, and I'm certain he or she would be much better at promoting it than me.

Okay, no, that's not what I want. I want a magic potion . . .

All kidding aside, I will do this exercise. Thank you.

Kimberly Lynn

Mary Hershey said...

I love this exercise Robin has posted! We all need to remember to honor the creatures that we are. Zebras cAN ride subways, but is it really a good idea? Better to find the means and venue more suited to them, and let them shine in all their striped glory.

We really would love to hear from any of you that want to share what your remaining half of the sheet looks like!

Mary Hershey

Anonymous said...

I love how bite-sized you make things here! Thanks...

Terry P. said...

Great post, Robin. This explains why there are some promotional things I avoid like the plague and others that aren't a problem at all. Doing a national TV interview? No way. Maintaining a website? Piece of cake. And some of those that fall inbetween are things that I have had to force myself to get used to. I think the key is being open to trying anything at least once, then finding what works for you.

Eileen Rosenbloom said...

Robin, I love this! I've felt like such a promotion flunky, but I realize that there are a number of things within my comfort zone. And thanks for permission to not have to do it all. Phew!

Anonymous said...

I did the Comfort Level Inventory the other day and I tried to post the results twice, but I must have clicked on something wrong as it got lost. So here's a summary of it:

The results of the inventory were surprising . . . I can do more than I thought! I discovered what scares me the most is "formal" settings like banquet halls, television and radio stations, etc. I noticed reading over my inventory that I am nervous in "formal" situations where I have to talk about myself - like interviews. When it comes to online blogging and discussion forums, it doesn't bother me at all. Neither does casual conversations, say, at a party, conference,etc. Matter of fact, I would say that I'm a very outgoing person in those instances. I can walk up to anyone and start a conversation, however, I freak at the thought of trying to throw a pitch at an editor or agent as it isn't natural, it's a planned approach. Doing this makes me very nervous, so I avoid it, and that isn't good because I waste an opportunity and probably come across as rude. Hhmmm, I'm just weird.

Kimberly Lynn

R.L. LaFevers said...

Kimberly Lynn said:
however, I freak at the thought of trying to throw a pitch at an editor or agent as it isn't natural, it's a planned approach. Doing this makes me very nervous, so I avoid it, and that isn't good because I waste an opportunity and probably come across as rude. Hhmmm, I'm just weird.

No! You're not weird. You're smart. I would actually argue that it's NOT a wasted opportuntiy, but rather good taste. Trying to throw a pitch to an agent or editor is an extremely uncomfortable situation. And I think the truth is, as much as agents and editors attend conferences and such to network they probably do get tired of having people's work pitched to them constantly.

So I think your introvert instincts are serving you well in this instance. Better to strike up a natural, casual, comfortable conversation with an agent or editor. Then, the natural evolution or progression of that conversation may very well lead her to ask you what your book is about. Or if not, you can always send a query letter afterwards mentioning how much you enjoyed sitting next to her at lunch and talking about X. Then pitch her your mss in the query letter. You will have reminded her of the very real, genuine connection the two of you made, as opposed to hitting her cold with an on-the-spot pitch.

Plus, I've noticed that many editors (agents less so) are also introverts and I'm sure they hugely appreciate those conference attendees who don't drain their limited energies by pitching to them constantly.

Shari Green said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is a great exercise, on a great site (I just discovered your site). I think I'll be hanging around here a while. :)