Dear Knowledge Seekers, Dedicated Readers, Word Scanners, Self Educators, & Intelligentsia:
On St. Patrick’s Day I attended the Bad Girls Book Club as their Guest Author. FYI, their tagline is “where half the club doesn’t read the book and the other half doesn’t show up.” Okay, so expectations were low from the start! I brought my “show and tell” (books, spin-off books, power points, DVDs, marketing goodies, etc.) and… I had a blast! First, the group got very creative and decided to put on an Irish Wake as part of the event to match the theme of my trilogy comedy novels titled THE FUNERAL PLANNER and in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Second, over several sips of Irish coffee, they went around the room introducing themselves which gave me wonderful insight into everyone on a personal level as well as the collective group. Third, the whiskey in the Irish coffee induced a relaxed state – hence, my previous fears of public speaking went out the window. Fourth, the coffee in the Irish coffee induced a lively animated state (not that I needed that). Fifth, and really, the most important, they LOVED my novels. And they were genuinely excited to meet me (an author). Sixth, they LOVED what I have done (and am doing) to market and promote my books. Seventh, they were inspired to think about how they want to be remembered and what they would like at their end of life gathering. They actively engaged in asking me questions about the characters, the plot, and writing style. And they were extremely interested in the “business” aspect of the novels with respect to how I incorporated the making of a business inside the narrative and wanted to know how I came to know these things myself.
In answer to the above interests–much of this came from entrepreneur protagonist Maddy Banks. She led the way. I did audit the MBA/Entrepreneurial Studies program at U of M during a semester, and I did read the Wall Street Journal religiously every single day for a year. But it was Maddy who led the charge, figuring out what she needed to do and how to do it, and then having to think out of the box (no pun intended) to outsmart the ruthless Derek Rogers who continued to strive to put her out of business.
My own personal business experience started at about the age of 6, painting rocks with faces on them and selling them on the street corner. I went into partnership with a neighbor friend (JL). In looking back, this made a lot more sense than creating a lemonade stand, especially with all the concerns around food safety and the harms of sugar. Also, the cost of the ingredients, i.e., rocks and stones, had no cost. In addition, the labor was creative, fun, and never over exerting. JL and I did fairly well with our rock people business. Actually, I really don’t remember, but I’m going to assume we did well, because JL went on to become super successful in business as a consultant to billion dollar private equity funds. Other business experiences of mine included founding and producing the renown critically acclaimed Hollywood Literary Retreat (an annual weekend retreat for entertainment industryites and a spin-off weekend Hollywood creative skills Seminar business). This included producing a documentary along with fund-raising skills. After that, there was the experience of consulting and negotiating business development deals for entertainment media tech start-ups and then the “business” of becoming a publisher when all the rights to my novels reverted back to me per the demise of my publisher’s chick lit imprint. I also took my marketing ideas and turned them into businesses—spin-offs of intellectual properties layered into multi-media empires which produced angel investors, and digital webisode series featuring singer-celebrity Joss Stone… lots of crafting deals, negotiating, and closing, and then following through. But what really drives the genius of any business endeavor, in my opinion, is IMAGINATION. So I think that all the story development I did during my tenure as a studio executive (Youngblood, I Love You to Death, etc.) and as a writer since the age of eight (my debut story was THE TALL TALE OF KING C; which brought me honors at Oakland University’s Young Authors Conference), followed by several other screenplays (The Magic Mitt, True Vinyl, etc.) allowed me to develop and hone an innate sensibility for story and the imagination it takes to create it. Same goes for business. I think the most successful businesses are those with truly creative minds running them, those who can IMAGINE, those who say Why not? Instead of why? Those who dare to imagine and then manifest it.
But to back to being an author attending a book club, especially one called the Bad Girls Book Club. To surmise, here are 7 reasons to attend book clubs as an author from an author’s point of view: 1. Invite the Book Club to be creative in how they “dress” the gathering in honor of you and your book. If you’ve written a book titled THE FUNERAL PLANNER, then having an Irish Wake is a great idea (or it could have been a Shake (Shiva + Wake = Shake, sorry, I couldn’t resist). 2. Ask everyone to go around the room and introduce themselves and to share a little about themselves (personally and professionally) 3. Hope that they serve mild amounts of alcohol to calm the public speaking nerves (if it happens to be an issue for you). 4. Hope that they serve coffee so you can get your public speaking energy UP, especially if you’ve been writing non-stop for the last month on your next novel and have so “inside” the writer’s womb that a coffee boost might be a good thing to re-enforce your social skills. 5. Enjoy the feeling of having your work praised. This may not sound important, but it’s really the most important of all. Take the time to soak up the in-person accolades. Allow it lift your soul and reinforce for you why you became a writer in the first place in terms of reaching out to readers and sharing a part of your soul, experiences, ideas, characters, etc. 6. Share what you have and/or are doing to market and promote your books. (They seem to really like this; especially if you’ve done some unique and innovative things). 7. Aside from the characters, story, and plot – go to the theme of the book and start a roundtable dialogue that inspires them to think about something they never would have thought about before. So that your writings may be a gift of inspiration!