Building a website before having a book to launch struck me as slightly daft. Why spend time and effort on something no one would likely see? Turns out, you never know who’s poking around in the ether.
It began with an email sent through the contact page on my website. “Contacting you regarding a new series we’re developing for prime time about a former female detective…This would be to submit you for consideration by our producers to be the star of our show.”
Initially, I thought it was a scam. But a couple keystrokes later and I confirmed that both the company and the casting manager were legit.
A confession: I rarely watch television. Unless it has direwolves, Helen Mirren, or a big bang in the program, I’d rather spend my time reading. After a couple of laughs with my husband, I forwarded the email to my agent and titled it “Stranger than fiction.” Turns out, my agent has family who works in reality television, and she encouraged me to follow up on the opportunity.
I called the casting manager. He’d discovered my website and had read my bio. Based on my years of experience in law enforcement, the rank I attained, the bureaus I had supervised and my training in media, he felt I was a perfect match for the show. He especially liked that I was an author, and understood the dynamics of storytelling.
He convinced me to participate in a Skype interview where he would record the interview and then forward the “casting tape” to the producers.
The instructions he sent me to help prepare for the interview would be helpful for any author involved in a video conference call (think book club interactions or remote training).
· Stand four to five feet from the computer during the interaction—it looks better and
would help keep my energy level high.
· Light should be positioned in front of me to avoid shadowing my face.
· Make sure to have a glass of water at hand.
· Silence my cellphone.
· Consider the background. Blank walls and windows should be avoided, while
bookcases, art, or plants look best.
· Be “camera-ready” a polite way to remind me that this was for television and I should
make sure to pay attention to my hair and makeup.
· Wear “detective-looking” clothes, which I interpreted as a blouse and jacket. (Since
only my upper body was framed in the shot, I wore jeans and my favorite boots for a
little extra boost of confidence.)
Being at home during the interview quelled my nerves. He further put me at ease by explaining that he would ask me a question and then mute his microphone and record my answer. If I flubbed, I could rerecord anything. He was more interested in having my personality shine through than in having a flawless presentation.
He started by walking me through my resume. In many ways, this was no different than establishing my credentials during a court case. Then it got into the specifics of the show—again setting up the questions and allowing me to answer.
In many ways, the process is like querying an agent. You want to present yourself in the best light, but ultimately, it comes down to many things that are simply beyond your control. Whether or not I am selected is beside the point. My brush with reality television was only possible because I was visible.
My first book launches on September 20, 2016. I created my website in 2014. Since that time, it has been the conduit between me and people who have wanted to hire me as a consultant, potential readers, other authors, and agents assessing my platform and professionalism. It also helps establish my credibility during research when I reach out to someone with a question. Like me, many people will do a bit of their own research before responding to inquiries.
It takes time and effort to create a website that best reflects who you are as an author. Is it worth it? Absolutely. You never know what opportunities await—as long as people have a way to connect.
An FBI National Academy graduate, MICKI BROWNING worked in municipal law enforcement for over two decades and retired as a division commander. Her mystery, Adrift, set in the Florida Keys, won the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Royal Palm Literary Award for best unpublished mystery and unpublished book of the year. It is slated for publication in fall 2016 by Alibi- Random House.
Micki resides in Southern Florida with her partner in crime and a vast array of scuba equipment. Learn more at www.MickiBrowning.com