This time last year nobody but me would have dreamed I would be invited to appear on the Rosie O Donnell Show and even I wouldn’t have imagined that my appearance would be canceled because of the threat of biological war.
I’m not exactly a large publishing conglomerate. I’m not even a respectable small independent. At present I’m a one-woman, one-book publisher. (Of course I plan to do more books.)
In October of 2000 I took a leap of faith and established the Nutcracker Publishing Company to publish a children’s book called Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tankerous Mommy.
Your reaction to that statement probably has a lot to do with how much you know about publishing. If you’re new to the business you probably didn’t blink an eye but if you’ve been at it for a while and managed to survive you’re probably one of the people who — as I confided to the Rosie O Donnell Show — snickeredbehind my back when I announced I would be publishing a humorous children’s book about a Mommy surviving cancer.
On Beyond the Writing
No offense taken. I admit I catch myself snickering these days at other aspiring writers, who corner me at book signings to tell me they’re thinking of self-publishing.
I’m prepared to believe that what they’re writing is great and I still believe that you need to be a good writer to self-publish. But now I know that you also need to be a good publisher, which means being good at marketing, promotions, public relathref, public speaking; you name it we do it. We writers don’t always realize that.
I’ve compared publishing my first children’s book with my diagnosis of breast cancer. With both, often felt sick to my stomach in the beginning, but when I realized I was going to survive, my nausea subsided and I began to feel a sense of empowerment. If I could survive cancer/publishing I could survive anything.
Getting the call from the producers of the Rosie O Donnell show was a little like getting the call saying I had breast cancer- only instead of crying hysterically, I laughed hysterically.
Coming up Rosie
Publishers with more skill than I possess have pitched deserving books to national television talk shows for decades without so much as a no-thanks. For a first-timer like me to get an invitation to appear on such a show was a little like winning the lottery — unbelievable. (Incidentally so was getting breast cancer at age 34.)
My ship had finally come in and its name was Rosie. I couldn’t wait to tell the world, not to mention all those friends and relatives who thought I had lost my mind when I invested hard- earned money to start a business I knew absolutely nothing about.
Due to my husband’s career we have a rather transient lifestyle. No fewer than six hometown newspapers in six states from Minnesota to Florida received news releases about the hometown author who would be appearing on the Rosie O Donnell Show. All six did a feature with my photo and the time my segment would air in their area.
The weekend before the Monday I was scheduled to fly to New York City to do the show I got a call from an O Donnell staff member. All of Rosie O Donnell Shows for the upcoming week had been canceled because Anthrax had been found in NBC studios at Rockefeller Plaza where the show airs.
The hometown hero/author (me) had been shoved off her pedestal by terrorism but luckily her publisher (also me) had learned a little something this past year.
Bad Break Brings More Media
First never moan and groan to the media; save it for other publishers. I ranted, raved and commiserated with my esteemed and usually more experienced publishing colleagues.
Then I called all the newspapers; TV and radio stations that had interviewed me prior to this and in an apologetic tone explained the situation. I sent out another news release that read —Threat of Anthrax Causes Rosie O Donnell to Cancel Shows and Author’s Appearance. Most of the media I contacted put in at least a small blip and then waited to see if I would be rescheduled.
Unfortunately I did not get rescheduled but what I did get was the reason for yet another news release. The headline on this one was Anthrax Targets Author, Her Book Survives. Also, I got mileage from the 200 autographed copies of Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tankerous Mommy I had sent to the Rosie O’Donnell Show for distribution to audience members during my appearance, which was scheduled during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Although they opted not to reschedule me they did choose to mention my book on the air and give it to audience members.
Just as some of my publishing colleagues predicted, in this business any news about your book is good news for you. Ironically I’m still being stopped and congratulated for having been on the show. I know I received more hometown newspaper coverage for not appearing on the Rosie O Donnell Show than if I had actually appeared. My nonappearance has resulted in several other promotional opportunities. Let’s face it people like the underdog and now this underdog’s book has been seen on Rosie! “A Great Book.”
In life, at least in my life and especially in the life of a self-publisher, the highs and lows often occur at the exact same time. I’ve learned you cannot control life but you can choose the way you react.
If you’re the sort of person who can be kicked on your butt, get up smiling and tell whoever or whatever kicked you down “Thank-you” and then compliment them on the manner in which they kicked, you just might make it in publishing. It doesn’t hurt to have a thick skull and sense of humor either!
Amelia Frahm is owner of the Nutcracker Publishing Company, which publishes “Children’s Books Adults will want to Crack Open.” Her first title, Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tankerous Mommy – -a humorous look at surviving cancer, was released October 2001 and recommended that same month by Rosie herself on the Rosie O Donnell Show. For more information, visit www.nutcrackerpublishing.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone-320-234-8941