Saturday, March 6, 2004
A moment with ... Kim Dower, independent book publicist
The tables have turned for Kim Dower. For two decades, she has been scheduling and advising authors on book tours as "Kim From L.A." Now, one of the country's leading independent book publicists, whose clients have ranged from James Lee Burke to Burt Reynolds, is on a book tour herself. She is the co-author, with presentation coach Tony Jeary, of a self-help guide titled "Life Is a Series of Presentations" (Fireside Books, 237 pages, $23.95).
What have you learned on your book tour that will help authors? What I have been telling touring authors for 20 years is still valid and important, but I now realize just how important it is. You can tell someone to take a raincoat on a tour, but not until you're standing in the pouring rain without one do you really realize how important that is. And I also realize how you totally physically and mentally fall apart on book tours. You really need to become a whole other person, like a performer.
In 1996, you started a performance coaching business, Perfect Pitch Productions, and your first client was Howard Schultz of Starbucks, who was going on a book tour. What is Howard Schultz really like? I think he's like he appears when you first meet him -- warm, sweet and a little shy. He is someone who is always interested in who you are; he asks five questions about you for every one question you can ask him. Jack Welch of General Electric is the same way. Both have a real authentic desire to connect with people.
Which client did you most enjoy working with? Which client would you never work with again? The most fun was gossip columnist Liz Smith, who adores people and life and sees everything as an opportunity. She's a great gal. My job is to never say who I would never work with again, but there is a very popular male in the self-improvement world. ... I won't name him.
What's the best cure for pre-performance nervousness? Take the unknowns and make them knowns. Find out where you're going to appear, what the room is like, what the audience is like. Find out as much as you can, even for job interviews. The more you know, the less nervous you'll be.
-- John Marshall
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