Monday, February 11, 2019

Good in a Room, by Stephanie Palmer

I dared to ask a writer whose work I admire for advice about something I'm working on, and they recommended this book by Stephanie Palmer, subheaded "How to sell yourself (and your ideas) and win over an audience."

It's a simply, straight-forward guide to meeting and maintaining relationships with people who might buy your work, full of practical tips and suggestions. A lot of it is new and immediately useful to me - thinking of meetings as having a "structure" to them, and the ways you identify when to say "no". Some of it also seems painfully obvious - don't get cross at the people you want to employ you - and some of it crystalises stuff that I've sort of been thinking about for some time. 

More than a decade ago now, I was a producer for Big Finish and had writers pitching at me. Some of them were brilliant - three writers I was already a fan of accorded me all respect, like I was the established professionl and they were just starting out. Other writers were less so.

There was the one whose pitch was basically slagging off everything in the range I oversaw. Another pitched an idea we'd just sort of done, and when I said so decided that I should come up with the story they could write. Another, I remember distinctly, behaved as if they'd just read some book on making sales. You could almost see it in their eyes when I said I'd already commissioned everything for my current spaces: "Chapter three techniques haven't worked, so now on to chapter four..."

As a result, I'd been wary of reading this sort of book myself, and of applying these "cheats" on would-be employers. Surely they see through that. But I'm glad to say that's what Stephanie Palmer thinks, too. There's a whole chapter called "Stop Networking Now" for exactly that reason.

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