Lamar Giles
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Bring Lamar to Your School/Event

July, 2011

Type A Lamar and the Business Card Debacle…

It’s rare that a post can be random and relevant, but that’s kind of what this is. The relevant part involves the trip I’ll be taking later this week to attend the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) 40th Anniversary conference in Los Angeles. I’ll get to rub elbows with some industry folks and attend cool and informative workshops, which is always a plus. But, more importantly, I’ll get to meet my very good writer friend Jennifer Bosworth and my Super Agent Jamie Weiss Chilton in person for the very first time (this alone is worth the price of the plane ticket).

Confession: I rarely get excited. It’s like my brain secrets Prozac, I’m so even keel. However, this trip excites me. It’ll be my first time on the west coast, and I can’t wait to see LA for myself. I’m from Virginia and the farthest west I’ve been is Texas…all I know about LA comes from ENTOURAGE and KEEPING UP WITH THE KARDASHIANS. My only regret is that my wife can’t make this trip with me, but she’s demanded that I bring her back something “decidedly LA”. I’m thinking a jar of smog.

That was your dose for relevant, time for the random…

I’m a Type A all the way, an obsessive PLANNER. So, uncharacteristically, I made a misstep in my conference prep. See, it’s good protocol to have business cards with you when you attend these things because you meet so many people there’s no way to keep everyone straight in your head. And I have A METRIC TON of business cards already. The problem: the cards are specific to my Indie Pubbed adult paranormal novel LIVE AGAIN, which maybe doesn’t matter too much, but it’s not the impression I necessarily want to make at conference centered around books for children and young adults. This didn’t occur to me until Thursday night, exactly 1 week before I get on a westbound plane.

The Type A in me panicked. While all of my relevant contact info was on the LIVE AGAIN business cards, I’d simply be MORTIFIED to hand those out at SCBWI…it’d be like, I don’t know, wearing white after Labor Day. I needed something representative of my young adult work. Since graphic design is a hobby I’ve dabbled in for the last two years, I got the bright idea that I would DESIGN A NEW BUSINESS CARD IN ONE HOUR, so I could make a rush order with Vista Print and get new cards before I leave.

If you’re a planner, too, you probably already see what’s wrong here…

It was close to midnight when I started my ambitious design project. I’d been up since 5 AM. I discovered SLEEP-DEPRIVED DESIGNING is kind of like DRUNK DIALING YOUR EX…you wake up the next day with one thing and one thing only on your mind, “What the hell did I do?”

I completed my design, all with a snazzy, unique color palette (not the problem), and this cool little ink-in-water accent along the bottom left to highlight all my social media logos (not the problem). I even added a custom logo (problem).

The logo I’d been working on was meant to represent a character I’d created for a YA project. It’s essentially the silhouette of a guy wearing these big ’80’s style headphones because the character was really into music. I got the basic logo from istockphoto and planned to tweak it (which I never got around to) so I could throw it on some promotional stuff. Really, there’s nothing wrong with the idea on paper. The problem comes in when you consider the following (something my sleep addled mind was not able to do…at the time it seemed like the best idea ever, freaking award-worthy):

1) The character changed, and music isn’t as big a part of his makeup as it used to be. The headphones are insignificant now.

2) I can’t say too much about this project yet. And I can’t say WHY I can’t say much about this project yet.

3) Since the character changed, and I’m not supposed to discuss him too much, the logo is meaningless. It’s like painting a Pepsi logo on a prehistoric rock for the dinosaurs to stare out.

4) This is the worst part – It’s a kid wearing BIG ASS HEADPHONES. That doesn’t exactly scream WRITER. It screams DJ!!!!!

And I paid fifty bucks to get my new DJ business cards in time for my WRITER’S conference. <Insert Joke Here>.

So if you happen to be at SCBWI next week and you’re looking for me, I’ll be the guy saying, “Hi, I’m Lamar. I’m a writer…but I also do weddings.”

 

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He who cares less wins…

Sorry for the long delay folks, been a busy month but I hope to share some huge news with you soon….

In the meantime, I depart from my typical writing/movies/pop-culture spiel to share a little lesson that may serve you well in all endeavors going forward, particularly where money is involved.

Some backstory

In a former profession that relied heavily on negotiation and sales, I had an incredibly talented boss who taught me one of the most valuable lessons I EVER learned.

“When it comes to negotiation,” she said, “he who cares less wins.”

Basically, in any deal, you have to remove emotions from the equation and simply make yourself not care about the outcome. Whether you’re talking about 100 dollars or 100,000 dollars. I learned the lesson firsthand when I worked for the company and was dealing with a seller who had a subpar product. My company still wanted the product, but needed some improvements made, improvements that would’ve cost less than 5 thousand dollars. The seller fought tooth and nail to not make the changes we requested, but we held strong and got what we wanted. When we finally completed the transaction and saw all of the balance sheets we learned the seller STILL MADE 90 THOUSAND DOLLARS!!

My point…all that moaning about a five thousand dollar change and they still walked away with 90K. So, it didn’t hurt them to make the change, but they were trying to see how much we cared. If we’d been emotional and felt we really needed to accept their terms because we just LOVED their product so much that we were willing to look past the flaws, then we would’ve essentially paid more for less. But, by stating what we wanted, and being willing to walk away if we didn’t get it, we actually got the exact thing we needed/loved/had to have, and the seller STILL made money. Everybody wins.

FAST FORWARD

My wife and I have been car shopping, a miserable experience that I rank just above Moving. Thanks to all the various online tools and mobile apps available today it’s easy to do all the necessary research before you walk onto a car lot (something car salesmen probably loathe) and make informed decisions. Using said tools, my wife and I were able to narrow our car choices down to a Top 3. Not only that, we were able to determine what sort of interest rate we should be eligible for, the price we should expect to pay for the car, and the value of our trade in.

Of course the dealer had other ideas.

It was no shock that the salesman tried to low ball us in every conceivable category because that’s his job. Part of the technique involves making you miserable while you haggle back and forth over figures. The longer you spend in a dealership trying to get 500 dollars here, and a percentage point there, you get worn down. You don’t want to keep going through this, and you don’t want to start over at another dealer. They mean to wear you down so you take a garbage deal.

But that only works if you care…

I don’t. So this is how my deal went.

I test drove my top choice vehicle. Sat down to talk numbers. The minute they started in with the lowball figures I told them exactly what I expected in every category (sales price, trade in value, loan APR). They tried their hardest NOT to meet my terms.

If you’ve been through this, you know how it goes…typically you’ll do 2 or 3 iterations of haggling with the salesman. Each time you refuse to accept his offer, he makes a show of “going to speak to his manager to see what he can do”. He’s really getting coffee or taking his turn in an ongoing Scrabble game while you sit for 20 minutes. If you’re able to hang on that long without going into a Wolverine Beserker Rage, they’ll eventually bring out some guy who’s dressed slightly better than your salesman. He’s supposed to be the mysterious manager your guy’s been fighting with to get you the “best deal”, he’s probably just the best Scrabble player. This guy is meant to represent the Final Offer, he’s the “Okay folks, i’m doing all I can for you here and this is what I’ve got…” guy. He’s still giving you a s****y deal, though.

When I reached the “talking to the manager” point of the negotiation, I did what few people are willing to do. I sprang from my seat and walked out. Because I don’t care, and because I know something else…

Homecourt advantage is hard to beat.

You can’t win on their court and on their terms. As long as you’re sitting in that uncomfortable chair, and you keep playing the haggle game, they KNOW you want the car. When you suddenly storm out, seemingly unprovoked, hell, they think you might be on your way to get your Uzi. Let them think that.

That was a Saturday.

On Sunday, when the dealership was closed, I sent an email directly to my salesman. See, email is writing, and that’s MY homecourt. I told him the exact terms I was willing to accept, and if he (or his manager) couldn’t meet them, then I’d take my business elsewhere. However, I would not return to the dealership until I had confirmation that I’d get what I want.

By Monday I had a message on my answering machine stating that each and every one of my terms would be met.

Here’s the thing, my terms were fair, and I’m sure they’ll still make more money that I should’ve allowed, but I’m not interested in nickel and diming THEM. I just want a reasonable price…and boy did I get one.

I put a deposit on a brand new 2012 vehicle that’s coming straight from the factory and I’m paying less than I did for the last Used Car I bought. All because I cared less. Really, I cared more about not cheating myself. Funny how alike those two things are.

I tell you the story because there will come a time in your life where you’ll have to negotiate, and you should really consider that getting whatever that deal offers is not worth selling yourself short. Ask for a little more than what you want (because you’ll likely have to negotiate down to what you REALLY want), know what the other side of the deal can feasibly offer and what they’ll gain by dealing with you, and understand that within the parameters of FAIR VALUE, you should never agree to less than what’s right. You’ll regret it later if you do, and I guarantee that you’ll care much more about that…

 

 

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Go On Girl! Book of the Month – LIVE AGAIN

The Go On Girl! Book Club has selected LIVE AGAIN as their Book of the Month selection for July.

I spent time with the ladies of GoG! in May at their annual conference and it was incredible. Not only did they give me total red carpet treatment, but they honored and humbled me by showing so much love for my book.

Thanks Go On Girl! I hope you all enjoy reading Live Again as much as I enjoyed writing it.

If anyone out there cares to read along with the ladies of GoG! this month, you can purchase paperback copies of Live Again from Mahogany Books (GoG’s official bookseller), or you can get digital copies for you preferred eReader by following the links on this site.

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