Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of living the surreal life in Beverly Hills for four days. I was invited by the National Geographic Channel to help support their upcoming fall season of "Border Wars" during the Television Critics' Association (TCA) summer press tour. This is a three-week gig where, every year in Beverly Hills, all the cable and network TV shows are presented in panels to 100-200 TV critics and journalists in the hopes they'll create some good buzz. I was part of a panel that included two "Border Wars" producers, two representatives from US Customs and Border Protection, and a top-notch border reporter.
I have to say, I think it went really well! For 20 minutes, the six of us answered questions about the show and about Mexico's drug war in general. We supported and were supported by the producers and cast members of other NatGeo and NatGeo WILD shows that are coming up, and it was amazing to be up on stage as part of an incredible organization. The National Geographic folks were also kind enough to put out 100 advance copies of my book, Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico's Drug Wars, on their "freebie" table for all the journalists, and I'm happy to report that not a single copy remained.
So after the panel (for which I dressed as nicely and "business casual" as I could), we all waited in the ballroom foyer in case any journalists wanted to talk to us. I've been interviewed dozens of times by national, local, and international media for my knowledge about the situation in Mexico, so I was prepared to have piqued someone's interest. Nope. Not a one. Looks like the TV critics only have interest in...other TV people. The super-impressive animal wranglers from NatGeo WILD were definitely in demand (one look at them and you'd understand why), but they're the "talent." Me, I'm just the author with the background knowledge :).
One thing I definitely need to mention is how nice everyone was. I was super-intimidated by going out to Los Angeles and being surrounded by "TV people." I wasn't sure what to expect, and not only were all the NatGeo and NatGeo WILD folks incredibly gracious and genuine, but all the cast and talent involved in the shows were very friendly, and the few journalists I spoke with were equally kind and sincere.
Although the TCAs are all about TV and I billed myself as "just the Mexico person," I was able to draw a fair bit of attention to my book in several ways. I spoke with dozens of people, between a barbecue, dinner, loitering in between sessions, etc. I even gave a signed advance copy to a celebrity who was fascinated by the topic, and a card with all my book's info to another celebrity's manager (whose client is a huge fan of "Border Wars"). So my goal of getting my book's name and message out there was definitely accomplished. But my biggest lesson learned? TV people (and probably movie people) seem to care mostly about other TV and movie people. I don't think celebrity is in the future of too many authors, save the ones who are already celebrities for other reasons, and massive best-sellers like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling. I mean, do you have any idea what James Patterson looks like? Maybe you do, but I know he's huge, and I have no idea.
So, I'm going to keep on writing, keep on praying that my book meets a modicum of success when it comes out next month, and keep on being grateful that the news outlets are still calling for my take on the drug war. It may not be Hollywood, but that may be a good thing :).
Causes Sylvia Longmire Supports
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
The Wounded Warrior Project