Behind the Book with Mickey Mikkelson
While this segment traditionally looks at the authors behind the books we read, there are so many people working behind the scenes with us, to help bring our projects to light. So this week for Behind the Book, I thought I'd introduce to you publicist extraordinaire, Mickey Mikkelson of Creative Edge Publicity--someone who's had a fundamental role in my own writing career and I'm so thrilled to interview him and share his wisdom and experience with you all.
Liz - What led to the creation of Creative Edge in 2016?
Mickey - A friend of mine wrote a book and so I helped her launch it, she was incredibly successful and through networking the word got out. Soon, I had a number of different authors reaching out to me to do the same for them and so I launched a company and it became successful.
Liz - In your opinion, what are the key elements that make a great publicist, and what is your primary goal?
Mickey - My primary goal is always to promote my clients locally, nationally, and internationally. We are always looking for top talent in the writing industry and want to sign clients who will connect with the large-scale community we have grown. As far as key elements, I don’t think there is one special trait or talent that one needs. Having passion and a belief system that you are building your clients in the right way will always pay more dividends than actual talent!
Liz - Who was your first client and how did that come about?
Mickey - Miranda Oh, author of the Chin Up Tits out series was my first client and I actually worked with her in the corporate world. She had her first book out and I helped her get into bookstores, arranging media, and her first tour. We toured all of Alberta with her books and I helped her into the Manitoba market as well!
Liz - I love Miranda Oh! She's fantastic! Your client base has grown exponentially since the company’s inception. How do you go about acquiring clients?
Mickey - Word of mouth and client referrals has paid huge dividends. We don’t actually make it a practice to reach out to authors asking for their business. There are other publicists in this industry and I like to respect boundaries within business. Truthfully, I have only reached out myself maybe five times to build my client base. We have a solid reputation in the book industry with both authors and media alike, that has worked wonders for us and I suspect that we will continue to grow.
Liz - Hypothetically, what does your ideal client look like?
Mickey - Passion and Vision are what I am looking for. If the author has a sense of where they want to go market wise and if those expectations are feasible and legitimate, then I am interested in talking with those individuals. If the potential client is saying that they want to be interviewed by Oprah and get on the NY Times Bestseller list without a lot of effort, there is a very good chance that Creative Edge cannot help them. We want to represent authors and artists that will be a fit within our team, have legitimate media perspectives, understand that marketability is meant for a long-term gain rather than short limited success, and ultimately, we want authors who are ready to work with a publicist and have a book ready complete with their own website and such.
Liz - You represent clients from the world-over. In a non-COVID-19 climate, do you see yourself travelling to these countries?
Mickey - It’s a possibility! I have been to festivals before where my clients were special guests and guests of honour. We look at every opportunity to grow our client’s profiles and if it made business sense to travel in helping those opportunities, then we would do it.
Liz - What do you enjoy most about being a publicist?
Mickey - I love working with so many incredibly talented artists and writers. In truth, I am blessed really because I get to represent so many important writers and artists in the literary and entertainment industry and I get to do it every day. When I get a phone call from someone like NY Times bestseller Tosca Lee or multiple science fiction award winner, Robert J. Sawyer and they are just calling me to say thank you for all of the interview opportunities; I won’t lie it is overwhelming and incredibly satisfying at the same time!
Liz - What are some of your career highlights to date?
Mickey - We have had some incredible signings and additions to our client base: NY Times Best seller Tosca Lee. Robert J. Sawyer, who has won every major science fiction award there is plus he is a member of the Order of Canada. Recently, we just signed Melanie Safka, a legendary music icon who performed at Woodstock and has a global number one hit with Brand New Key.
Beyond that, the media and festival connections we have made have had great potential. We have arrangements with festivals such as When Words Collide, the largest run volunteer book festival in Western Canada, and we have set arrangements with the South Dakota Festival of Books and the Imaginarium Festival in Washington, DC.
In addition to that, I would say our biggest media highlight thus far is setting up sponsorship on two radio shows on Authors On The Air. The Authors on the Air Global Radio Network is an international digital media company that is heard in 157 countries by 4 million listeners. We have 30 radio talk shows, podcasts, video podcasts, audio dramas and a book review team. Our two shows, Quill and Ink and the Writers Showcase have been the number one videocast shows on the network for over a year.
Liz - You’re an NFL fan – who’s your team and why?
Mickey - Football is all about defense and I like both the Seattle Seahawks (Legion of Boom) and I have a soft spot for the Miami Dolphins due to their undefeated 72 season. It really is a shame Dan Marino never won a super bowl as well.
Liz - I would love to see a live NFL game one day! You’re also an avid comic book collector. How long have you collected for?
Mickey - I have collected comic books since I was five years old. Love the premise of the art in combination with the story and of course there is certain investment piece to this as well!
Liz - Is there a particular series you focus on?
Mickey - I am a big DC fan and love Batman – just love that character. The age-old battle between Batman and the Joker is iconic. Other titles I like: Green Lantern, The Flash and I do read some Marvel titles specifically Conan and X-men.
Liz - What is your comic book dream procurement? What is the likelihood of obtaining it?
Mickey - My dream comic is All American 16, which is the first ever appearance of the Golden Age Green Lantern. Price tag in mid-grade is about $279,00 and in low grade about 90,000. Likelihood of obtaining it? I guess it depends on how much I raise my publicity pricing……. (just Kidding, well sort of kidding)
Liz - How do you juggle the long hours associated with running an international business with balancing family time?
Mickey - My wife and my daughter keep me accountable to timelines, and in truth it’s a matter of strategizing work life and calendars.
Liz - Do you have any advise for anyone looking to start their own company and/or becoming a publicist?
Mickey - My best advice is to understand the media business and have a belief that a person should do this because they want to help authors and artists build their brand. If a person wants to become a publicist thinking that it’s easy money with minimal work, then they are in this for the very wrong reasons. We have been successful because we have built our company based on building relationships, establishing a community, and truly working for and with our client’s best interests at heart. It’s a lot of work but the benefits and dividends of that can never be over-valued.
Liz - What advise do you have for authors interested in seeking representation?
Mickey - Do your homework and do a lot of research. The author should know what type of platform and brand they want to build and continual building of that will take work. Authors need to understand that a publicist is not going to wave a magic wand and all of a sudden, an interview will turn an author into an international best seller. It takes a great deal of work and commitment from both sides to make the arrangement successful.
Liz - Where can people find you?
Mickey - You can find me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or here are my other links below: