Lynda Bouchard is an original in a cookie cutter world of marketing. She has been working with, traveling with, advising and creating ‘outside-the-book’ marketing campaigns for high profile and emerging authors and publishers for over 20 years. She created a niche for herself in the publishing world by focusing on the Southern region. She’s the red M&M in a bowl full of brown ones. It’s a lesson for everyone.
Every story has a story – this is Lynda’s.
How did you become a literary publicist?
During my former life as a flight attendant for a major airline I met hundreds of authors on tour. I was based in the South and knew it well. As I talked with authors there was a common thread to every conversation - New York publishers didn’t understand the Southern markets and weren’t sending authors there! I saw a specific void that needed to be filled. It was a gift. I have a Masters degree in public relations. On my days off from flying I pitched (via PHONE. Before computers!) the idea of helping publishers garner media interviews, book signing and speaking events for authors - in the South - to every major New York publishing house. They loved my crazy idea. That began my business. For me the detour became the main road. If I can encourage others just starting out I would say to believe in yourself and trust your instincts. I founded Booking Authors Ink and kicked it into high gear after retiring from flying on 9/11.
What are some of the challenges you come across working with authors as they release a new book?
Managing expectations. Taking the long view is essential, because publicity is a marathon not a sprint. Every best-selling author put in the hard work necessary. It didn’t happen overnight for them. I tell my clients that it’s like dropping a pebble into a pond. Start locally with media interviews and book events and build outward. There is gold in your backyard. And the great news is that your story is unique. Once a writer completes a book the easy part is over. Getting it noticed in a noisy world of books is a Sisyphean effort and a collaborative effort between author and publicist. Whether you traditionally publish or decide to self-publish you still need to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work to get it noticed. The best authors to work with have a sense of humor, realistic expectations, trust their intuition and my crazy ideas.
In addition to creating unique marketing campaigns for your authors, you’ve launched a podcast, Literary Latte. Tell us more about that!
I’m so excited about this podcast. I created it as a platform to promote the work of talented Southern writers and to talk about opportunities for authors around the South. I’m currently in Season 2 and have interviewed some pretty amazing writers like, Mary Alice Monroe, Andrew Gross, SNL alum Terry Sweeney as well as publishing pros. Every episode is a jolt of inspiration and gives real world advice on the craft of writing. I hope you’ll listen in! You’ll find it wherever your favorite podcasts live as well as on my website: http://bookingauthorsink.com/literary-latte/
Many writers are trying to decide whether to publish traditionally or to self-publish. As someone who has worked with authors on both sides of the industry what recommendations do you have?
Don’t rush into publication. Your words will far outlive you so be sure to make them great. Carefully consider what your goals are for your book. Some authors want to write for family and keep it small; others want to become blockbuster best sellers and there is great readership in being a regional writer. So be very clear about WHY you are writing. That said, there are pros and cons to both traditional and self-publishing. I am a big believer in self-publishing because an author retains all creative control. With a traditional publisher (Harper Collins, Viking, etc.) you lose a great deal of creative control. There are many debates about a book cover, the title of the book, and other decisions that may not be to your liking because so many departments get involved in the final product. But, being traditionally published still has cache’ and there is an army of people to help you. However, being accepted by one of the big publishing houses is difficult and if accepted, typically takes a long time. As a self-published author you have the potential to make more money and keep more of it. I am in the final stages of writing a book and plan to self-publish. It comes down to what you value most. Being self-published does not have the negative stigma that it once did. You retain creative control and can get it out far more quickly. All the power has shifted to the author! That’s a good thing.
My podcast has lots of advice from authors about both paths to publication. (*Tracy Lee Curtis, Season 1, self-published)
What advice do you have for aspiring writers looking to publish their first novel?
Don’t rush to publication. Find your golden hour to write every day and make it sacred. Give yourself a goal – a number of pages or words per day. Don’t edit yourself as you write. There’s no such thing as great writing – only great re-writing. Think of marketing as part of the creative process, not separate from it. Join a writers group. Only show your draft to someone who will be brutally honest. Take creative criticism as a gift. Editing is painful yet necessary. More than one edit WILL be necessary. Get the New York Times best-seller list from the Book Review section and cross out the guy at #1 then put YOUR name there. They started right where you are now. Yes. You can do it, too.
What book do you recommend for writers?
On Writing by Stephen King
What books/authors inspire you?
Authors: Top 5 - Elmore Leonard, Larry McMurtry, Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy, Jane Austen
Books: Top 5 – Lord of the Flies, Blood Meridian, 1984, Tender Mercies, The Book Thief
What’s the next step for writers or publishers interested in working with you? Dive in here: http://www.BookingAuthorsInk.com