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Meet Kim Dower of Kim-from-L.A. Literary & Media Services

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kim Dower.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve always had a parallel story. On the one hand, I was always shy, introspective, introverted. I would write in my notebooks, often feel like an outsider. On the other hand, I was a “bossy” kid — or so my mother tells me – would want to be “in charge,” and was very entrepreneurial as far back as I can remember. Early on Poet Kim and Publicist Kim met and merged, but it took a while to lead the successful double life we now have!

I taught creative writing/poetry at Emerson College after graduation in the ‘70s, and though I was offered acceptance as well a scholarship to the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop, I choose to leave academia for the “real world,” and moved to the fake world of Los Angeles! Kidding!! I had a series of jobs, including a few years working at Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., a book publisher specializing in the (at that time) brand new world of alternative medicine, mind/body/spirit/ new age titles. I learned everything from writing ad copy to booking a 20-city author tour. I began my own venture, Kim-from-L.A., Literary and Media Services, in l985. It was an exciting time in publishing and there was plenty of media to choose from.

For twenty years the books and publicity flowed but what stopped flowing were the poems! Until suddenly when my son left for college when time opened up when the desire to get back into that zone I loved so much returned in full force — the poetry could no longer be stopped! I reached out to my first poetry/creative writing teacher from Emerson, the great poet, Thomas Lux, who encouraged me to get back into workshops.

I’ve studied with many wonderful teachers over the last ten years, published three collections with Red Hen Press, with one on the way in Spring, 2019, all the while continuing to grow Kim-from-L.A., do media training, publicity, and often now, edit my clients’ work. I love working with authors and doing their publicity while writing my poems “on the side,” which means every morning, evening, in the car, on weekends. The poetry took a back seat for many years as my company grew, I had a family, and life as a business owner took over. But now both lives can thrive together. I’m the City Poet Laureate of West Hollywood and I teach poetry workshops at Antioch University and the West Hollywood Library. Each life informs and challenges the other.

When I work with my author clients I understand how they feel because I, myself, have experienced what they’re about to go through – that excitement and nervousness right before publication; what kinds of expectations they might have; how to get out there and talk to an audience.

These are all things I’ve gone through, so the work I do as Kim-from-L.A. is based on my many years of experience as a publicist and also as an author myself. And, I’ve always known that writing a good press release and ad copy has similarities to writing a good poem in that you need to be concise, get to the point and the heart and mainly connect with your reader. I’m proof that you can go home again – back to your first creative love!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There’s no smooth road I’ve ever known. There can be a few miles of smooth road, a few months of traveling on one, but having your own book publicity business with many different kinds of authors as clients in an industry that’s changing by the moment is like being on an airplane – you never know when turbulence is going to hit, but you know it will. One thing, for sure, it’s always exciting, but exciting is not always fun! It can be stressful.

The main struggle as a literary publicist is keeping up with the changes in the media, the way books are sold, the disappearance of beloved contacts, newspapers, bookstores, sources. There are so many variables and possibilities, and every month, it seems, what we thought we could depend on we no longer can. The main challenge is being as creative as possible in finding ways to get an author’s work “out there.” The other challenge is helping authors set realistic expectations – helping them understand the limitations we all now have. As a poet the obstacles and challenges are the same as they ever were: sit down and write. No obstacles, no challenges: just do it. Write, edit, rewrite and send out.

For poets, there are so many more opportunities than ever! Online publications, contests, workshops. No money, but lots of everything else! I tell myself the same thing I tell my clients: believe in your work; believe in your talent. But, it’s a true challenge to always succeed in getting that work, as good as it might be, the attention we believe it deserves. That’s a fact.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I believe, I hope! what I’m known for is also what I’m most proud of and what sets me apart from others: I care about my clients and their work, I’m through, I push and don’t give up until/unless I’m convinced there’s no hope. I understand writers and the effort and exhaustion (and also joy) of writing. I’m creative in my approach to getting publicity.

And, I’m so much fun to work with! What sets me apart is the many years of experience I have doing this, and my connection to the work itself. And where Poet Kim and Publicist Kim merge is here – one of my favorite lines of poetry from Wallace Stevens, who, like me, had a full-time job (other than writing poetry).

An insurance agent who’d write his poems on pieces of scrap paper on his walk to his office every morning, these two lines of Stevens’ sums up my Publicist Mantra:
“After the final no there comes a yes/And on that yes the future world depends.”

What do I do? As a literary publicist, my job is to come up with as many ways as possible to get media attention and exposure for my client and his/her book. I do everything from write press materials to contact booksellers for events, special events, reach out to/book radio, television, print interviews, book reviewers, blog mentions – our goal is to get publicity/exposure/mentions for our clients and their books.

As a media trainer, I get to the heart of what a book is about and help my clients pinpoint what they want to say. I show them how to pull out the most relatable points of interest and how to make their topics or stories compelling. I help them to remember and feel the passion they felt writing their books and use that energy in their interviews to connect with their audience – which is the key to selling a book.

Straight from my website: www.kimfromla.com:
If you’re looking for someone to get you and your book the publicity and attention it deserves – whether on the west coast or nationally, OR if you’re looking for a company to get you ready for your speaking engagements, book tours, or presentations to the media, look no further. Kim-from-L.A. Literary and Media Services will take care of all your needs. As literary publicists, we tailor our campaigns to suit your needs and your budget. We provide everything from local and regional publicity to national book tours.

As media trainers, we take your great idea—whether it is in the form of a book, lecture or presentation—and help you to focus it, shape it, and deliver it with passion, excitement and clarity, whether to a reporter, in front of a camera, or to a live audience of thousands. We help you to create your own self-assured style, eliminate your fear of public speaking, and demonstrate how you can “own and control” your interview.

The services we provide are separate. You can hire us strictly for literary publicity or just for media training. And, of course, you can hire us for both! We invite anyone to give us a call at 323-655-6023, or to email us at kimfromla@earthlink.net to find out how we can help you with whatever you might need.

What were you like growing up?
I grew up in New York City on 97th and Central Park West and 89th between Broadway and West End Avenue. I was a New York public school kid with a bike – an English Racer (pre-helmets) that I’d ride down to Riverside Drive. I made my dolls listen to me read Dr. Seuss, babysat at 11 years old, had keys to our apartment, played handball in front of the house across the street from the great New Yorker Bookstore where I’d hang out for hours, and like all NY kids in the 60’s I came and went on my own, took the bus and subway, bought my LPs at Korvett’s (bought Meet and Beatles with my babysitting money), didn’t know what a basement was or how people could have ping pong tables where they lived.

I was a combination of shy and extroverted, good girl and troublemaker; my heart would pound too hard to speak up in class, wrote poems, read books, hated math, loved piano lessons, cut school, watched old movies in the middle of the night (Sabrina over and over), went to Roger Corman biker movies with my older brother, went to itchy summer camps in the Berkshires where we ironed our hair, had lifeguard boyfriends on Fire Island when I was a mother’s helper at 15, loved Carvel chocolate and vanilla swirl with sprinkles.

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Image Credit:
Elizabeth Lippman, Mary Ann Halpin

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