On Friday, I had my first conference call with Thomas Nelson Publicity.
I enjoyed it, because like everyone I've met at Thomas Nelson, the publicity team is very congenial and welcoming.
However, our discussion did prompt some thoughts for me about the stark difference between publicity and novel-writing.
At one point, a team member told me that I needed to think about how I would answer a certain question. She said I will be asked this question repeatedly in interviews: "Why did you become a novelist after getting a Ph.D. in English?"
Now, I'm pretty much an open book when it comes to my life and its whys and hows. I've actually already answered this particular question in several online interviews like this one with Roxane Salonen.
So what's the big deal?
Even when I answered this question for Roxane, in a written interview, I wasn't able to answer it completely. I also blogged about my career choice myself, and I had to table some aspects of the discussion as "too complex to explain here."
Let's face it: major decisions like career choices involve every aspect of our personalities, our gifts, and our life stories.
The story of a career choice is a novel, not an interview.
Yet the fact remains that my publicity teammate is absolutely right. I am going to be asked that question, and I need to come up with a concise way to answer it.
Novels are about complexity.
Publicity is about simplicity and clarity.
This essential difference is why publicity can feel so strange to novelists. In our novels, we aim to draw out complexity, to show rather than tell, to let events tell their own stories to readers. But publicity is all about telling, about simplifying ourselves and our novels to soundbites that can be understood in ten minute radio or TV interviews. This is not a negative thing, it's just the reality of how one must learn to transmit information through different media.
I have a good idea about how I'm going to answer questions about my career choice, now, but I need to write it down and rehearse it until it's crystal clear.
More on that next week, in Effective Self-Presentation for Publicity!
Questions for you: Do you think publicity would be easy for you or challenging? How do you feel about sharing aspects of your personal life in interviews? Are you more comfortable with print interviews than radio or TV?