Interview with Publicist Mickey Mikkelson
Mickey Mikkelson is the Publicist/Owner of Creative Edge, a company that promotes established authors, small press authors and indie self-published writers. He works out of Calgary, Alberta, but his clients reside in all parts of Canada and the United States.
(See link below for a 1 hour video interview with Mickey Mikkelson)
NK - In the video you reveal your background as related to the publishing industry, for example, working for the Canadian chain Chapters/Indigo. You know books and you know the system. But what made you go from the bookstore chain end--the retailer--and backtrack to the start of the process--the creative authors, particularly the independent authors or those publishing with small and mid-sized publishers?
MM - I definitely enjoyed my time setting up events within the bookstore realm; that helped shape what I am currently doing. It was a rush and a thrill to see the staff’s faces when we lined up a big-name author like Robert J. Sawyer, and equally so it was also very gratifying for me when we signed on a relatively new writer who had released their first book, helping that individual do very well in our store in terms of book sales. The change for me was that I saw a market for what I was doing with independent writers, helping indie authors who didn’t know how to market themselves or didn’t have time. It is very different from simply booking events. Creative Edge is more like a one stop, full service outlet as we not only set up events, but we also book media outlets and help new writers get their name out there. And we advise well-established authors how to build on the momentum with what they are currently doing. It’s a big difference from booking or being an events planner in a book store and for me it feels more challenging because I have to be more creative in the directions that I go.
NK - You say on the video that your favorite genres are horror and fantasy (but of course you represent writers in all genres). Have you ever aspired to write fiction?
MM - I have never tried to write a fiction book. My role, as I say in the video, is that I am not a writer. I don’t understand the premise or logistics of how a writer puts those words on a page or sees the vision of a book cover. I fully respect anyone who can do that and often in talking with clients am mystified by their cultural adaption and knowledge when talking about their finished products. That is not a strength of mine and I don’t pretend that it is, which is why I get a thrill from and am so honored by representing every one of my clients, established or not.
If I was to ever write a book, it would probably be a non-fiction book about the 1960’s. I'm almost obsessed with that decade, from the events, to the music, to the happenings such as the Monterey Pop Festival, to schematics about things like the JFK assassination, or the civil rights movement. A piece of literature like that would be something I could really concentrate on. But for me the timing is currently not now, as I am clearly focused in other directions.
NK - In the video, you offer indie writers and those with small presses a lot of valuable suggestions about how to promote themselves, and also talk about what you can do for them. And of course, you have some big-name clients on your roster who can use a few suggestions. You discussed introverted writers. Writers who cannot get out and sell their book, who can't talk easily with strangers, the proverbial garret-wordsmith who just wants to write and trembles at the idea of becoming a sales person for their work. Is there any hope for such a creature in this modern world of "Hey, look at me and my great novel!!!"?
MM - I touched on this in the video. My opinion is to keep conversations simple and to the point. People may not believe this, but sales are relatively easy in any industry provided you have the patience and belief to follow the same routine every time. If an individual sells a book the first time, my advice is to follow those same steps with each and every customer. With that, you are insured of having the success of at least one additional sale. Why? Because, it worked the first time.
The problem is that with introverted people, they tend to complicate the sales process and talk too much about their product (it’s not hard to do when selling something as information-based as a book), and this is a big reason why they literally have more success selling other people’s books than their own. Most introverts are also shy and cannot sell themselves--rejection is scary and well, to be blunt: It Sucks!
The best way to get over that is to literally get out there and practice the craft of selling, following a process where the conversation is simple. Assume the sale and have confidence that your clientele will buy. It’s a matter of introducing yourself right from the start, giving information in limited aspects, ensuring that you are keeping conversation relevant to the topic, but also getting your reader excited while you're doing that. And probably the most important step--volunteering to sign a copy of your book. Don’t ask permission to sign it, offer to sign it! This is a big step in the sales process and one in which 90% of book sales are lost by Indie authors in bookstores across North America--they don't offer.
The bottom line is that if an individual wants success selling product at signings, my golden rules are: be confident at all times; keep conversations simple; and even if you are not, act boastful and be passionate about what you have written. And be excited! It’s a formula that has worked time and time again for my writers and will continue to work as I coach clients through the process!
Mickey Mikkelson can be reached at: mickey@firstname.lastname@example.org