I recently wrote about a relaunch of the publicity plan for my second book How Far? and now I’m here to report on the first full week of the effort made by Ascot Media Group.
As advertised, they came out firing and the media responses started rolling in on the first day which, for the record, was last Monday October 17th.
As fate would have it, the launch actually happened a week earlier than originally planned. There’s a story to that. That story is this:
A couple of weeks ago I took my fuzzy boy Buster to the vet for an update on his old age. Both Buster and Boofus are 15 now, and Buster is showing his age much more than Boofie.
Concurrently, we also had an 8-day trip planned at the time, for an enormous Doyle family reunion in Pittsburgh. Those tickets were all booked and everything was in place.
Then I got a call from the veterinarian after Buster’s latest blood workup was analyzed. Like most cats his age, he’s slowing down and a few key organs are now out of whack and in decline. We’ve been working on calming down a hyper-thyroid condition for at least a year, and we seem to have gotten it under control. Now, it’s his kidneys. That’s sadly a standard thing with indoor cats but not because being indoors is bad for them. It’s actually too good in a certain way, because it allows them reach senior citizen status far more regularly than outdoor kitties. Kidney problems are frequent and not really something you “fix” with medication. Basically, all you can do is try to keep him hydrated and comfortable. When the vet says things like “So, we’ll stay on this course but at some point soon we’ll have to address quality of life for Buster” it jolts you. Absolutely.
We went through this exact same thing with Shasta back in the day. We did all we could and kept him happy and well fed. Father Time finally caught up to him. He lived a full, long, and well-loved life. The same thing will happen with Buster, and at some point soon with Boofie. Like people, cats are not immortal. We knew that when we allowed them to adopt us in 2007, at the Woodbury Humane Society.
He’s not in any pain, but he had lost a lot of weight before that last check-up. That was attributed to the thyroid condition activating again. We’ve upped his meds for that, but the doctor was blunt and honest when she said “He’s losing weight because of the thyroid condition, but once we get it back in check a side-effect will be a worsening of the kidney problems.” So now my good boy is going into the vet’s office three times a week for injections of fluids that keep his kidneys as good as they can be. He’s a very good patient, and never fights me when it’s time to get in his carrier for the ride to his doctor’s office. I let him out of the carrier for the brief ride home and he sits on my lap, leaning against me, purring.
Although he’s mostly deaf by now, he’s still vibrant and happy and loves watching TV with me in the downstairs home theater. I can’t even fathom having that conversation about quality of life. As the vet also said, “Now it’s time to keep him well loved and happy. Don’t worry about healthy food. Let him eat whatever he wants.”
The good news is he’s gained back two of the eight pounds he recently lost. We focus on the good news.
Now back to that Pittsburgh trip. After the sobering news from the vet I told Barbara that I was absolutely going, but I just couldn’t stay the full eight days. All the really important stuff was happening in the first three days, including a massive photo shoot in a park near downtown Pittsburgh. I wanted to be there for all of that, but I wanted to come home early after we’d accomplished those things.
Barbara slid into retirement well, and one of the reasons for that was the fact she was spearheading the whole reunion. Like me, when I retired from racing but immediately began writing my first book Bats, Balls, & Burnouts she “went to work” each day, for many months, organizing this effort. She aced every test. She managed to get everyone to Pittsburgh at the same time, although at least half had to head back home the day after the photo shoot. The younger adults actually have things like jobs.
She even had t-shirts made for everyone, and by “everyone” that means babies, toddlers, young adults, and us old people. Barbara’s two brothers and one sister all have kids, and we’re now old enough that most of the kids have kids. There are Doyles everywhere, in every age category! The t-shirts featured the actual Doyle crest from the Doyle Clan in Ireland, which is their direct lineage.
I rebooked my ticket for Monday the 17th, and very much appreciated that Barbara agreed that I should do that. I needed to get back to Buster. Before I left I got to check off one bucket list item and partake in the amazing photo shoot. The bucket list item was seeing and touring Falling Water. It’s among the most famous of Frank Lloyd Wright’s incredible architectural designs, and after studying it in college I have forever had the dream to actually see it in person. Box checked. Goosebumps felt. Stunning, really. Even seeing it in person, it seems impossible.
With my early departure decided and arranged, I got my weekly update from Ascot Media Group and mentioned the fact I’d now be home late in the day on the 17th. They immediately asked if I’d be willing to have the PR plan launched that day instead of a week later. I said yes.
They have a huge database and, under the current contract we have, they will send a press release and introductory email to around 10,000 media outlets over the course of a month. I knew my Monday midday flight would keep me incommunicado for part of that day, but by the time I got home I already had the first few responses and immediately replied. By the end of last week I had shipped out enough books to be reviewed that I felt I should order another two boxes of copies from my publisher, on top of the three cases I ordered before the launch. I also shared a PDF of the full book with numerous other media outlets.
It was a rush. It was exciting. These people get after it and every person I’ve interacted with at Ascot has been fantastic.
Each week they push the email blast one day later, because sending every one of them on four consecutive Mondays means a lot of targets will get the email multiple times while others will never get it. The system works.
Today is the launch date for the second week. I’ve now booked interviews with the #1 morning drive-time radio station in northern New Jersey (just across the Hudson River from a little town called New York) that averages 3 million listeners, and have others pending mutually agreeable dates. Some very high-level and high-impact print and web outlets have agreed to review the book for thousands and thousands of readers. I’m all in.
Today alone, I confirmed a radio interview, a placement in Woodbury Magazine, and three other reviews. Bring it on Ascot Media Group! They hardworking smart people, and so far they’ve absolutely delivered as promised. It’s up to me to do engaging interviews and spread the word.
As the head of the agency said, “I can promise you that we’ll be fully involved in this, but it won’t work if you’re not doing the same. Be all in. Reply promptly to every email. Book every interview.”
I only signed with them for one month, but if the results keep up this pace I think I’ll add a second month, at least. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: This isn’t about selling enough incremental books in a month or two in order to justify the fee I pay. It’s about building my personal brand and making a real mark in the world of authorship. I have to take the step up from “Former athlete and NHRA PR guy has now written a book or two” all the way to “Author Bob Wilber has released his third book to rave reviews.” Or my fourth book… Or my fifth… I’ll keep writing and I’ll keep working to build the brand and write stuff people enjoy.
Yes, I’m pretty much locked in on what’s next in terms of book projects, but I’ll keep that undercover until the promotion of How Far? has finished its course and I get ready to start the process again. I’ll continue to write and publish as long as I’m mentally and physically capable. Here’s hoping this old guy can do that for many more years and many more books.
And I feel the personal need to mention the fact that none of this would have happened without Elon Werner. Elon stepped in to do my PR for both books when they launched. His resume’ of having somehow expertly handling the PR for the media tornado that is the 16-time NHRA Funny Car World Champion John Force made my new writing career a “real thing” when it had always just been a dream. He did it as a “passion project” as he put it. Without that effort, I’d still be mostly an unknown who sold a few books. I’ll be forever grateful for his great work and amazing results, and forever thrilled that Elon’s new agency is rocking like I knew it would when he went out on his own. He’s a gem, a great friend, and a super-talented PR guru.
You know, the funny thing is not just that I was a PR rep for much of 22 years in the NHRA world. It’s that throughout that time I knew the value of a talented and solid PR plan, but it’s so hard to really see tangible results, real bottom-line results, from that perch. Now… I’m the client and I’m seeing it. I’m replying to inquiries, sending out books, scheduling interviews, and so much more. It’s a real thing. It works. Without Elon and now Ascot Media Group, I’d still be a nobody.
And here’s hoping we can keep Buster and Boofus as happy as any cats can be.
See you all again soon. Huge thanks to all of you who read this every time I post a new installment. Can you believe that I’ve been writing my blog for 17 years??? Crazy.
Send Buster some good vibes, please.
And again, if you read this and enjoyed it please click on the “Like” button at the bottom. Buster will get a kick out of that and more of his favorite treats!