The 4-Letter F Word

In 2012, I recorded a few of my speeches with the idea of making them available on my speaking website for anyone that wanted to hear my message. But after all this time I still haven’t listened to them. It’s not that I can’t stand my voice, but it is weird to hear–sometimes they play first automatically when I launch my iTunes on my computer (sorted as “Artist: Daree Allen”).

I’ve been working with a marketing consultant for the past few months, but now the talking is done. I need to start doing the grunt work: cold calls and other tasks to implement my marketing plan.

The last edits of my book were completed earlier this month and now its time for me to approve the final text and begin layout. That means finality (no more text changes without a hefty price). No turning back, and no “I forgots.” And this is the point with my first book where my layout person quit (even under contract).

I’m afraid.

Audio and video editing is such a time-consuming task, especially when you’re not terribly good at it. I have literally been trying to avoid this for months but the time is come.

I don’t like calling people I don’t know and trying to convince them that I’m good at something. That’s why I no longer pitch or freelance.

I never feel like my writing is never perfect when it’s time to submit it; in hindsight, there’s always something else I could have at it or should have done differently. I know that I’m going to get some criticism from book reviewers and others who think I should have done things a certain way (even though I asked for help and advice on the front end but didn’t get it).

I’ve been letting that ugly four-letter F word get in the way for far too long.

Fear.

fear-liar

It has paralyzed me. It lies about me and tells me things about myself that aren’t true. It makes up stories about what is going to happen that haven’t  happened before, and may never happen at all.

But I have to just do it.

fear-inaction

There are lots of people that like my voice. They want to hear what I have to say. Someone NEEDS to hear what I have to say. Couples will have better relationships because of what I wrote. Teens will not go down the wrong path because of my testimony.
I’m going to feel so much better when I’m done. The antidote to conquering fear of the unknown is to just get started.  I’m going to try to think of it as steps instead of a big project. Hold me accountable to finish. I’ll let you know how it goes.

What thing have you been fearing for a while but you’re going to tackle? An unpleasant confrontation? A breakup or cutoff that needs to happen? Make that move, and you let me know how it goes,okay? Then we’ll hold each other accountable.

Take that, Fear. You no longer have any power over us.

Now let’s get started.

Columbia Pictures' After Earth (2013)
Columbia Pictures’ After Earth (2013)

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Teachings from the Temple of Tyrese

Tyrese Gibson's book cover

Yesterday, Spelman College and Written Magazine  presented “A Conversation with Tyrese” at the Sister’s Chapel at Spelman. Written’s publisher Michelle Gipson conducted the 80-min interview with singer/actor Tyrese Gibson about his new book, How to Get Out of Your Own Way (Grand Central Publishing, 2011), a memoir/self-help book. Journalist and CNN commentator Jack Johnson joined them onstage as well. Gipson encouraged audience members (Spelman students, grown women, and a few men!) to submit questions on notecards or tweet with the hashtag #WritMagAskTyrese.
Note: This post is written almost like a full-featured magazine article, except that I’ve also included my own thoughts and explanations to provide context. So it’s long, even though I left some things out. . . but I think you’ll enjoy it regardless.

The Entrance

It’s no surprise that when the tall, dark, and dapper 32-year-old Tyrese appeared onstage, the girls went crazy with screams and frantic camera-phone picture-taking. It took awhile before he could speak–partly because of the love from the crowd, and partly because he was nervous. But after his initial “Hello,” the girls (and Tyrese) were able to collect themselves, and I was able to take more than three pages of notes to capture teachings from “The Temple of Tyrese,” as Jet magazine called it in their April 4, 2011 issue.
Continue reading “Teachings from the Temple of Tyrese”

No One Is Unreachable

Is there a connection you need to make, but the person seems to be inaccessible? You CAN reach them. It’s as simple as sending a message to your contact in their preferred method.

Now granted, this preferred method is not always so simple, and may not be easy to find. You can always start with their website or social media page. But I’ve found that most of the people I want to reach, I can contact them directly, and if not, they have listed a way to reach their representative (agent, etc.) on their website.

Because of the nature of Twitter streams, the person may not catch your query on your first try (and ideally, you should develop a relationship with the person before diving in and asking them for something that primarily benefits you, such as a book endorsement or a guest post.

I have this “can-do” attitude about reaching people because I have forced myself to overcome the fear of rejection. As a budding freelancer, I’m not going to get clips (for free nor for pay) if I don’t speak up.  No one’s going to come along and offer me anything that I really want (unless they’re a good friend who knows what I’m looking for, or a mind reader). I actually believe that if I want to talk to President Obama directly, I can (don’t roll your eyes—I know it would take a while, but I CAN). And I’d love to. But first I’ll tell you what I’ve already done.

I’m a technical writer by day, but I’ve got a book I plan to publish next year for young adults.  I’ve also been eyeing some major magazines I want to write for as a contributor. So I hit up several well-known authors and players in the publishing industry last winter (around Christmastime!) and ALL of them responded and were willing to have me interview them, even though I didn’t have “a name” or a special place I knew I would publish the work. It was a privilege for me, not to mention very unselfish and gracious of them–they’re all very busy but made to talk to what I then considered “little old me.” (This is the resulting award-winning article.)

Getting Noticed

I’ve got several people I would love to endorse my forthcoming book, and a few would I’d love to write a foreword for it. But I’m not going to just pop up and say, “Hey, I love your work? I know you don’t know me from Adam, but could you stop what you’re doing to read my book, and give me a quote to endorse it so it will sell faster?”

That is not a good look.  When someone comes up to you with a generic, thinly-veiled “buy-my-product” pitch, it’s a turn off.

But if you market yourself the right way, it’s kind of like politics–when you see enough signs on the road with candidates’ names, you remember them name even if you don’t personally know those people. Here are a few tips that worked for me:

  1. Participate in conversation wherever your desired contact is active. Get involved with online and/or in-person networking. Don’t be afraid to let your personality come through (err on the conservative side in the beginning though). And please, use a good picture of yourself too.
  2. Consider the person’s brand (what are they known for, and what causes do they support), then use your good common sense to determine whether that person is a good contact for the project you’re seeking their help on.
  3. Provide the person with value in some way. (Check out Dave Navarro’s excellent, free workbook about networking with A-listers for all the details).
  4. Ask, and you shall receive. (If you don’t, switch a bit and keep trying.)

Meeting With A Mentor

Daree and Denene

11 months ago, I interviewed an author I highly respect, Ms. Denene Millner How did I get the interview? I sent her a simple message on Facebook and asked. Did we have any mutual friends to introduce us? No. I simply asked to interview her, sent her some questions, and she responded in kind. I even Once I moved to Atlanta, I let her know and she offered to meet me for lunch, which I was honored to do. She is a sweetheart! There we discussed some friendly things, parenting things, and political things. She also let me pick her brain a bit about publishing/writer things and it was great.

The moral of the story? No one is totally out of reach, but regardless of how popular the person whom you have your sights set on, you’ll need to start early. There may be only six degrees of separation (maximum) between you and your desired contact. Don’t wait until your situation becomes such that you needed this contact “yesterday.”

Who are you trying to reach, and to what end (that is, what are you trying to accomplish with this contact?) Have you had success with this method or another one?