While at a dinner party this past weekend, a friend and I got talking about the basic principle that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. In essence you can get more by being nice instead of an asshole. Then this turned to our observations that here in LA that when you treat some people with respect – namely those in the customer service industry – they are taken aback because the gesture is so completely unfamiliar to them. Both of us found this mind-boggling. I mean we’ve both seen it enough that we weren’t blown away by its existence, but just by the sheer fact that there are so many people out there who operate on a daily basis with such vitriol. Neither of us could understand that. I still don’t. Life is so much better when you surround yourself and work with kind people.
Then as if the universe were sending me a test, I woke up the next morning and checked my email to find a rather disquieting message. Before heading out to the dinner party the day before I had sent several messages to publicists to try to get a better idea of what a publicity campaign for a book launch would not only look like, but cost. At first I was thrilled to see that I already had a response from the publicist that had looked the most promising to me. However, when I opened the email, I found this first paragraph:
“You’ve told me absolutely nothing about your novel other than its historical fiction due out in October. So I visited your website and there’s nothing there either. There’s really nothing to chat about at this point. It’s like sending a resume with no information about your job history and wanting to talk to an employer about hiring you. Maybe I missed something on your website but I looked around and could not find a link about your book. If your book is due out in October, now is the time to be contacting reviewers and bloggers. So not only should you be hiring a publicist now, your blog/website should have a lot of information about your book.”
Right off the bat, I had several concerns.
- I have no idea how she meant it, but it came across to me as confrontational, which I did not appreciate.
- The resume bit – last I checked I was looking to HIRE someone to fulfill a service for ME. I wasn’t aware that I needed to sharpen up my interview skills and prove myself worthy.
- If I’m looking to hire a publicist, then one might assume that I don’t know enough about publicity to run my own campaign. Therefore, how would I know that I already need info about the book on my website and that I need to be connecting with reviewers right now?
- “So not only should you be hiring a publicist now,” – that’s what I’m trying to do lady. Maybe give me some props for knowing that much?
Needless to say, I did not respond right away. To be completely honest, the email made me upset and I needed to cool down. Then an odd thing happened. I started to explain away and excuse her behavior. Maybe I should have included more information about my book in my initial email? Maybe finding a good publicist is competitive and I do need to compete for their business? Maybe I should have done more research on publicity before reaching out? Maybe I’m the one that screwed up in the exchange and her reaction was totally justified, after all according to her website she’s really good? Wait, what? I was actually thinking this shit! This person first made me upset, and then I made myself feel like I deserved it.
How the hell did that happen? Wasn’t I just talking about how I didn’t understand behavior like this? Wasn’t I just talking about how I didn’t have room in my life for people that treated me this way? Aha! That’s when I had an epiphany. There are other publicists in the world, I don’t have to work with this woman if I don’t want to. I especially don’t have to pay her money to work with her. I don’t care how good she is, I don’t want to work with someone, or have them representing me, if they feel treating people in that way is acceptable. Not just acceptable, but a legitimate way to conduct business. No thank you. I can still learn from her – build out a page on my website for my book is now firmly on my to-do list – but I do not have to work with her.
It took me about a day and a half to figure this out, and shortly thereafter I received another email from her that was much less confrontational and asked question about my book and actually told me a little bit about what she does. In other words, this should have been the first email she had sent, and had I not had the epiphany, I probably would have written her back and had we wound up working together, the entire experience probably would have been like those first two emails, over and over again. Instead, I responded back to her that I had decided to go a different way with my publicity needs, and I thanked her for her time. Done and done and holy crap did I feel better afterwards.
Not two hours later, I received an email from one of the other publicists I had contacted. Mind you, with the exact same minimal information as I had provided to this first lady. This new publicist’s email was warm and inviting, thanking me for my interest in their firm. She provided an attachment that detailed different book publicity packages that they offer and said that she looked forward to speaking with me and possibly reading my material in the future. Huh? The exact same information with two polar-opposite responses. Yep, I definitely made the right choice. Thank you universe for that affirmation. Needless to say, I’m talking with this second firm.
Surround yourself with honey, people. Life is too short for vinegar. Not to mention, vinegar has sulfites and I’m allergic to that shit.