By Rob Eagar, author of Sell Your Book Like Wildfire (Spring 2012, Writer's Digest Books)
Recently, college football fans were treated to an amazing game as Michigan State upset highly-ranked Wisconsin on the last play of regulation. As time expired, Michigan State's quarterback threw a last-ditch, 44-yard, "Hail Mary" pass that was bobbled by two players until receiver, Keith Nichol, caught the ball and crossed the goal line.
Some people called the desperate play a "lucky" win, and it was certainly a rare situation. However, Keith made an interesting comment in the post-game celebration interview. He said that Michigan State practiced that exact kind of last-second desperation play every week. In fact, they practice it so much that they have a name for the play called, "The Rocket."
What does a lucky, last-second catch in football have to do with marketing a book? There are times in life when you suddenly find yourself in a desperate "Hail Mary" situation. For example, you might randomly sit down next to an important person on the airplane. Someone may suddenly introduce you to a high-profile leader at a party. You may be asked to fill-in for a well-known speaker who cancels the day before. You might get asked to appear on a major radio or television show with little advance notice. Each of these situations has happened to several of my author clients.
The question is: are you prepared to handle those "Hail Mary" moments when they arise? Don't avoid the work and think you can just "wing it." Instead, do you practice reciting the value of your book? Do you have a powerful speech ready to give on short notice? Do you rehearse your sound bites so that you could give an effective interview if a TV producer called tomorrow?
Sometimes, the biggest marketing opportunities appear unannounced. If you're caught off guard, you won't be in a position to maximize those occasions. That's why it's important to continually prepare for those situations. For example, memorize the key value statements for your book. Rehearse answering media interview questions while driving in your car. Practice a new speech out loud by yourself until you own the material.
After the big win, Michigan State's football coach, Mark Dantonio, said, "We always tell our players that they have to be ready, because you never know when your time will come." As an author, a major opportunity to market your book may be just around the corner. Will you be ready?