Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Camera Ready with agent Tamela Hancock Murray

I’m delighted to have agent Tamela Hancock Murray, a colleague of my agent, Diana Flegal of Hartline Literary Agency, as my guest today. When Diana asked me to re-post Tamela’s blog article from the Hartline blog several weeks ago, it took me a whole three seconds to agree. In the following article, Tamela answers some questions about publicity that I believe will help you as your career moves forward.

As an added bonus, Tamela has agreed to take any questions you may have, and answer them on the Hartline blog in a future post. Please ask them in the comments on this post, and I will forward them to her.

And now, here is Tamela...

No doubt you've gotten the memo that you can no longer write a book and sit back while the publisher sells it. Publicity people are now becoming stars at conferences as writers learn how they can work together to take a book to the top.

Much can be accomplished with blog tours. Some of my authors appear on blogs almost daily when their books are first released. This work is intense because it requires interesting answers to many questions. Some bloggers ask more provocative questions than others. The author who can make a blog engaging to generate comments and hits on the site is the author who’ll be invited back again and again, gaining more publicity.

Otherwise, writers should be prepared to go before audiences to promote their books. Sometimes navigating the media path can be tricky. Years ago when I went on television to discuss an article I’d written for a newspaper, the station offered no professional assistance with hair and makeup, and I was on my own in choosing what to wear, all in hopes I would appear pleasing on camera. My guess is that in most cases, authors are in the same boat today. Before your book tour, I recommend finding someone – and that may be the publicity person with your publisher or one you hire – make suggestions about your appearance and wardrobe. Use their experience with what works on television and onstage to let them guide you. In addition, watch the local and national news to see what works for your newscasters because what works for them will also work for you.

Also note what doesn’t work. Go for classic rather than trendy clothing. Trendy clothing is meant to draw attention to itself and define the wearer as fashion forward, but unless you have written a fashion book, this isn’t your best strategy. Classic clothing will not distract the viewer from your real message as a Christian author. If you aren't comfortable with choosing clothing, engage the assistance of a personal shopper at a good department store. The stores I know offer these services free of charge. Splurge on any alterations needed to make sure your clothing fits you. The investment will be worth your while because your appearance will be polished.

I advise women to go with a fresh, classic hairstyle and enough makeup to keep from looking washed out on stage or television. If you're unsure what looks best on you, visit a cosmetics counter at a department store to receive advice in exchange for buying a product or two. Then go out and about and get comfortable with your new look so you won’t feel self-conscious when you’re in front of your audience.

As you work to feel confident in your appearance, brush up on your speaking skills. If you didn’t have a chance to take communications courses in college as I did, you might try Toastmasters or CLASS, which meets each year before ICRS, to develop your speaking skills and to learn the components of a successful speech.

For interviews rather than speeches, I recommend rehearsing mock interviews with other writers. Throw terrible questions at each other and see how you do. Also, if you know who will be your host on any given show, listen to how the host treats guests. Be sure to keep any interviewer on the topic of your book. If you know the host is liable to be hostile, discuss this with your publicity person and get tips on how to neutralize what may be a negative interview.

As you move toward signing a book contract, these are among the steps you can take to prepare yourself for your time in the spotlight. Your publisher – and publicity person – will thank you.

Until next time,


Tamela Hancock Murray, Agent

Hartline Literary Agency

10383 Godwin Drive

Manassas, VA 20110



Thank you for being with us today, Tamela. I feel honored to have you at Audience of ONE.

Please leave questions you may have for Tamela in your comments, then visit the Hartline blog in the coming weeks for her answers.



  1. I read this post. Good stuff! Thanks Jeanette. :-)

  2. great post, Jeanette, and thank you, Tamela, for offering your words of wisdom to us writers :)

  3. Great tips and advice. Question: If I am writing one book that is Christian and one that is not, should I query certain agents or query them separately. :O)

  4. Thanks for this excellent post. Great tips!

    My questions - "writers should be prepared to go before audiences to promote their books." What advice can you share about how to create those opportunities to go before the audiences?

  5. Jaime, you are welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Diane, I recommend that you query agents who will consider both CBA and ABA submissions and let them know about your career goals. I believe all the Hartline agents represent both.

  7. Susan, you will want to take full advantage of any publicist the publisher provides for you. Ask them for advice. Also, you can use your connections to appear on many blogs as a guest, you can stop by book stores and introduce yourself, ask for the local newspaper to interview you, and contact television stations. Of course, you want to do this in person and be camera ready at the time. You can also hire a publicist.

  8. Lots of good advice... thanks, Tamela and Jen. Self promotion is one of the harder aspects of marketing for many of us, and those face-to-face encounters can be intimidating, so every helpful tip is appreciated.


  9. It is interesting about the new trends in marketing. This article was very helpful. Thanks.

  10. Nancy and Careann, thanks for stopping by!

  11. Great advice Tamela and what a beautiful picture! Thank for the interview Jen!!!

  12. Very informative, Jen. I'll have to refer back to this down the road after a bunch of other hurdles have been - well, hurdled successfully (you know, after I've got the agent and then the publisher with the publicist waiting in the wings) and that column is finally in book form! It'll be your turn one day, sister.

  13. Hi Jen & Tamela -

    Excellent post!

    Speaking, interviews, and publicity have been on my mind. I'm filing every bit of information for future reference.

    Susan :)

  14. I really enjoy their blog and the helpful information they offer there. THank you!


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