never know when you’ll bump into someone famous.
Years ago, when my hair was
still black, my wife and I sat at a Seahawks game, marveling at the two
whacko guys behind us.
They put on a bozo noses and
raced down to the edge of the railing in our section, saying, “Take my
picture! Make sure you get the field in the shot.”
When the Seahawks did something
mildly successful, they roared their approval. When the Hawks scored,
these guys did something resembling the mambo. They even spilled beer
on my wife’s head (I think that was due to clumsiness, not excitement).
Behind me (to the left of Moe
and Larry) sat Paul Brendle, long-time traffic reporter for the leading
news radio station in Seattle. I worked in radio at the time, so we
started swapping war stories. At one point I commented, “Wow, Paul,
these guys next to you seem, uh, pretty excited about the game.”
“Yeah, they are. They’re my
guests. It’s their first time at a pro game, and they’re nuts about the
Seahawks. So they’re going a little crazy, I know.”
“They’ve never been to a
professional sporting event? Ever?” (They looked to be in their mid- to
“Never.” Paul pointed north,
over his head, with his thumb. “They’re from a really small town in
“Which one?” (I was curious
because during college I worked on a fish processing boat in Alaska,
and we stopped at a lot of little Alaskan towns.)
“Interesting. That’s where Tom
Bodett, the Motel 6 guy, is from.”
Paul’s mouth turned up in a
quirky smile as he motioned again with his thumb, this time to his
right. “That is Tom Bodett.”
He introduced me to Tom and his
pal and we had a nice chat. Down to earth, unassuming, Tom struck me as
a decent guy without ego, even though at the time he was a pretty big
deal between his books and Motel 6 fame. It was obvious he didn’t know
he was famous. Or if he knew, he hadn’t given in to the temptation to
think he was different from the rest of us.
Here’s what all this has to do
me, you’ve probably met a number of famous people. Yes, there are some
with Australia-sized egos, but don’t you find many are regular people
who don’t act like they’ve achieved anything special?
They remember where they’ve come
They want to give back.
And all we have to do is ask.
It’s easy to look at that author
or editor or agent you’ve always wanted to meet and think they’re
untouchable, too busy to talk to you, or too important to return an
it’s true, but it
relatively new to the world
of publishing. Yet I’ve already become acquainted with a number of
well-known people in the industry. How? I’ve simply introduced myself.
The majority of the people I’ve approached have been incredibly warm
They’re not gods, they’re human.
Really. They carry fears and insecurities. Some have figured out
they’re a big deal, many refuse to.
A few years ago I had a business
meeting with pro-golfer Peter Jacobsen. What I expected to be a
half-hour meeting turned into an hour and a half. He treated my client
and me like old college buds. There wasn’t a hint of self-importance.
Little wonder Jacobsen has one of the best reputations in professional
It’s All About
The other day a writer said to
me, “You know, this publishing industry is really all about
relationships.” (I kept my mouth shut and refrained from saying, “Uh,
what business isn’t all about relationships?)
And at its core that’s what
marketing is all about. Relationships. With readers, with agents, with
editors and authors. Without building a good reputation and rapport
with these groups, your career will always stay in sputter mode and
never take off.
I suppose this month’s column is
a long-winded way of saying maybe it’s time for you to take a
Time to introduce yourself, make
a new contact, reacquaint yourself with someone you’ve lost touch with.
Be gracious, don’t take too much of their time, listen more than you
And while you’re at it, turn
around and reach back to someone a few steps behind you on this narrow
publishing path. You might be surprised whom you’re famous to.