The New York Times has given me some light (I want to give a big thanks to Ann Farmer, her editor and Jan Legnitto for making that happen), but my recent article has sparked some controversy over my use of a “fake” publicist. This is a bit unexpected because using an alias (Troy CLE is also a semi alias–both Troy and Alan are my real names) when you do your own PR is quite common. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I get endless support from teachers, librarians, and other educators when I tell the tale of my super publicist Alan Chase to middle and high school students. Often, it is their favorite part of my story. You see, what is wrong is if you lie about the information you give members of the press or whoever you are telling your story to. I have never lied about my story so I am totally proud of what I did and enjoy explaining my technique. So, this is the story of how I used my learned skills as a publicist to land a six figure deal with Simon and Schuster and an audio book deal with Random House Listening Library for The Marvelous Effect; Book 1 of The Marvelous World Saga. It was a hard, but fun task that took quite some time. Oh, and I did it all without a literary agent, which I still do not have (film rights are repped by CAA). This is the first of many stories I will post on self-publishing, dealing with a major publisher, self promotion, what to look for in a good publicist, ect… I hope that it can help aspiring writers, which I once was. So many people have helped me and i hope this is a way for me to pay it forward. Thanks for reading. Oh and, none of the events of this story have been changed eventhough it reads like fantasy. The whole thing started when I was nine and was inspired to write my book after seeing the movie “The Goonies” in 1985. So it was twenty years later in the Summer of ‘05 when I self published. I got my major book deal in ‘06 and the book was released in ‘07.
The New York Times December 23, 2007
The most important thing about my book is the way both kids who hate and love to read respond to it. They go crazy! When I first started kids would get rowdy and start heated arguments about who was going to get the limited copies of the self published version that I brought to schools with me to give away for free. Real fights almost happened. Not to mention that I only sold my book on the street for three days and moved a few hundred copies. With that being said I am proud to state that The Marvelous World Saga is built off of quality and not hype. I got my deals because the kids I did readings for loved my book and the press documented that. If it were all hype it would have been dead in the water because hype fades away. I think I have outlived the misnomer The Black H***y P****r.
Here is how it all went down…
I knew that if I could get a publisher to witness how kids loved my book there was no way i could not get a major book deal. I had no agent to vouch for me because none would rep me so I could not even get to an editor let alone a publisher. Even if I did i would have been just another author raving about my own book. So, I needed a special outside force to report what was happening in order for a publisher to take my book seriously. That force would be the press so I had to become my own publicist. First of all, the press that I got was a result of me calling people as myself. I used the name Alan Chase on the press release because no one in the publishing world would read it with an author’s name on it. (For more information on this please read this blog) My middle name is really Alan and the email address I used was firstname.lastname@example.org. Get it? Chase Alan @ Marvelous World. You’d never really catch him. lol. I only spoke as this alias when Simon and Schuster and other publishers called to speak to Alan Chase. I need a new alias because of all of this press.
(I actually forgot who Alan Chase was for a second when I got the phone call from Simon and Schuster. Oh and let me mention that the call was placed on behalf of the former Vice Publisher of Simon and Schuster Books for Young readers– the great Elizabeth Law who along with Rubin Pheffer, Justin Chanda, and Tim Ditlow and Rebecca Bullene of Random House made my dream of becoming a published author come true.)
Okay back to the story…
I wanted three pieces of press so I was on a mission to get in a magazine, a newspaper, and myself on TV. After a bunch of hard work I was totally successful. The thing is you have to be smart about it and go after people in the press who have done stories similar to your own. With that being the case I went after a hip hop magazine since my entire path that I was following was that of the independent hip hop artist. I did not think “The Source” or “XXL” would show me immediate love so I looked for one that was a bit newer that might take a chance on me. I went to a magazine shop on 23rd street in NYC and found RIME magazine…
I sent the editor an email and I hit pay dirt. The magazine did an excellent review of my book and I am still cool with the writer Sum Patten. That was one down, but that had a long run time so I needed something that would supposedly come out much quicker. So, I went after my local news paper The Star Ledger…
The Star Ledger April 10, 2006
One of my friends told me to go after reporter Carrie Stetler because she did a few stories on hip-hop and this was related. After I spoke to her on the phone in December of ‘05 she was really into it and set up a time to come to my reading at Orange High School in NJ. Mind you, it may take awhile for things to run. I contacted her in Dec ‘05 and the piece ran in April of ‘06. I had to wait, but that was what I needed to help me get ABC News interested…
ABC News June 6, 2006
Image copyright ABC News
I could not think of a better person to contact other than Kemberly Richardson. I took The Star Ledger piece as proof I was worth doing a story on and taped it to the outside of the package I sent to Kemberly. I knew that would get her attention. The package also contained a copy of my book. I also did some more research and figured I should go after the education producer Lila Corn. That helped a lot and Ms. Corn took to me and Ms. Richardson called me personally and said she was going to do my story. They were both angels. Remember, I spoke to them as myself with no alias about my story. Kemberly did my story at Wadleigh Secondary School in Harlem, NY. Please let me take the time to shout out Principal Watts and Amanda Funero–the teacher who let me do the reading. Thank you!!!!
Now this is when super publicist Alan Chase comes into the picture. Not only did I want ABC News to come to my reading I wanted publishers to see the kids go crazy. So I drafted a press release (I will later go into detail how I learned how to write an effective one) and used a web site to locate many of the emails of the people in the publishing industry. I sent out hundreds of emails and only about eight people responded (its a numbers game). The good news was it was someone major from just about every publishing house, including Elizabeth Law, who as I said was they former Vice Publisher of Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. She came to the reading that ABC News reported on and the rest is history. The truth is that I signed with Simon and Schuster because Elizabeth did come and she even gave me a hug that day. Louis Proof is based on myself and my little brother. His world is my world and his family is my family, so I couldn’t do a deal with just anyone. Elizabeth and now Justin Chanda, Rubin Pheffer, Paul Chrichton, Kate Smyth, Karen Frangipane, Michelle Fadella, Jody Cohen, Jaime Feldman, Kiley Fitzsimons, and all of Simon Schuster are the best . Thank you so much for believing in me! Yes, I love Simon and Schuster but I also love my Random House family! I was also able to do an audio book deal with Random House because both Rebecca Bullene and Tim Ditlow believed in me. I am truly blessed to me with the biggest publishers in the world.
Please forward this blog to anyone trying to do anything creative and wants to get their work out into the world and thinks they may never make it.