Unusual Reactions to being Asked to Contribute to my Book

Many of you know I have a book coming out (Life Lessons for the Teenage Girl: Quotes, Advice and Inspiration for Women by Women) in November and that I contacted a number of famous and/or successful women to contribute to the book. Often I am asked about the silliest, rudest, or even most surprising response I have received to my requests. I am not talking about the advice actually dispensed (and some of that WAS too inappropriate to include in the book), but rather the response to even being asked to participate. Let me offer the caveat that these women, by virtue of their fame and success, are extremely busy. Not all that were asked agreed to participate, but some, in their responses, were quite amusing. I won’t name the women (feel free to guess, but I will never tell), but the stories should be entertaining without that information.

  1. I contacted the agent of an older actress to ask for her participation in the book. He was an older gentleman himself and asked a number of questions about the project. Once the intended reader of the book was clarified (largely teenage/young adult women) he became very agitated. “They won’t even know who she is!” I tried to explain that I found this hard to believe (she is VERY well known) and also explained that a brief bio would be included with the contribution so, if the reader did not know this woman, they could be introduced to her amazing body of work. He was unable to move on from this point. “She is too old! They won’t know her! It would be embarrassing!” I didn’t know what to say to that, but to this day I want to go up to every teenage girl, say this woman’s name and see if they know who she is. (I haven’t done it yet.) Guesses?
  1. I was speaking with the public relations person for a well known young adult (think mid-20s) actress. I explained about the project and she seemed very interested. She then asked how much her client would be paid to contribute. I explained there was no budget to compensate the contributors, but that 50% of the profits would be donated to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and all contributors would receive huge praise and shout outs in the book and all related press. The agent then asked if her client could be reimbursed her “portion” of the CHLA donation once the book was out because “no one works for free.” I tried, again, to explain that none of the women were being paid, but she was insistent. The call ended with her stating, “Call me back when you come up with some money.” We never spoke again. Interestingly, this young woman was subsequently fired from her TV show. Any guesses?
  1. This one applies to MANY agents, PR people and managers to whom I spoke. A common early question is “Who do you already have committed to the book?” I won’t even encourage you to try to guess who these players were – there are too many to even list. Why do they ask this question? Because:
    1. No one wants to be first. They all want to make sure other people think it is a worthwhile project before committing.
    2. No one wants to be the most famous person participating in the book. Everyone wanted their client to be associated with someone more famous, more successful more “whatever” so they can increase their star power by being in the book.

I don’t want you to get the impression that everyone we spoke with was difficult. Many explained their client was simply too busy (I get it), were asked to participate in too many projects (makes sense), had their own book coming out soon (Oooh, crap) or just wasn’t “available (it happens). But more importantly, many, many women participated in the book. They did so without a penny of compensation, without fear for how they might be perceived negatively by the reader and without concern about what is in it for them. To these lovely ladies, I offer my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude. You made a difference in this author’s work and, hopefully, made things better for even just one reader.

Final Cover

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