So, I met this author, screenplay writer, comedian, speaker, teacher, and ex-reindeer handler at the Florida Christian Writers Conference a couple of years ago. I had the privilege of attending his continuing class on screenwriting. At that time, he was editing his new book, and we got to hear a chapter (the one with the Christmas lawn ornaments and the BB gun?).
Since then, I’ve watched as God has blessed this author with one awesome opportunity after another. So, let me introduce you to my friend, Torry Martin!
Welcome, Torry! It’s been a busy year for you in many areas. But let’s start in the book section of your growing library of work. How many books do you have published?
In addition to writing some episodes for the radio program “Adventures in Odyssey” produced by Focus on the family, I also write for “Clubhouse” magazine for Focus on the Family. I also have 8 books of comedy sketches published with Lillenas Drama Publishing and a book called “Shameless Self Promotion: And Networking for Christian Creatives” published by WordCrafts Press and co-written with Mike and Paula Parker.
Tell us about your latest title?
My latest book is called “Of Moose and Men: Lost and Found in Alaska”. It’s published by Harvest House Publishers and was co-written with my friend, Gold Medallion winning author Doug Peterson. Doug’s also written dozens of Veggie-Tales books.
Why is this book special to you?
This book is special to me because it allows me to share honestly with readers about the often hard and sometimes hilarious experiences I went through while living in The Last Frontier. Alaska is where I came to faith in Jesus and found a new direction for my life. I hope that it will encourage people who might feel like they are misfits or outcasts or who have been wounded or might have a questionable past that they’re ashamed of to not give up on God because God hasn’t given up on them. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s the truth. My hope is that by being real, vulnerable and exposing my own inner flaws, it will show people that if God can repurpose and reclaim the life of someone like me, then He can most certainly do the same for them.
How are you promoting it?
I’m doing radio interviews, television interviews and using social media to promote it. My publishers at Harvest House also sent out 87 books to a list of influencers that I gave them. The hope is that those influencers will then help to promote the book through their own social media and that they will also provide book reviews on Amazon and provide quotes for my book.
If someone wanted to help get the word out, what are 1-2 things they could do that would come alongside what you and your publisher are doing?
Helping to promote my book through their own social media is REALLY helpful. Mentioning my name and books or films to their connections in the news media or to magazine writers and editors is helpful too because it can lead to a profile article being written or something.
You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2012. What lesson(s) have you learned about promotion in the entertainment industry since then that might help other writers/performers?
The single most important thing that I have learned about promotion in the entertainment industry is that it pays to be nice. I tithe the first 15 minutes of every work day to promote anyone else BUT myself. First of all, that’s just fun to do. Bragging on my fiends is easy for me too. But I’ve learned that it’s also an “others first” philosophy and it has never failed me. I believe that you reap what you sow and if you sow positive into the lives of your fellow writers or film industry friends, that when or if they have the opportunity they’ll in turn sow positive into your own life in return. It doesn’t always work that way though. Sometimes somebody who has the ability to help you simply won’t. Or they can’t. Or they are afraid that you are their competition- which is utterly ridiculous to me. In my world, I don’t have any competition. I’m a one-of-a-kind original and so are you. I serve a big God and He wants to use all of us. I think that people who are only focused on their own careers and not in helping the careers of other people in the body of Christ are people who suffer from small-godism. They worry that if they help someone else that the other person might get ahead of them professionally. Or that God gives in such small measure that they have to grab the opportunity from someone else because God’s blessings are so scarce. My God has a capital “G”. He’s big. He not only wants to use others to help you, He also wants to use you to help others. He wants us to work together as His body so together we can lift Him higher. Anyway- I believe that proper Biblical based networking is the best thing you can do for your career. I don’t have a publicist. I don’t have a literary agent. And right now- I don’t think that I need them. Every single step of my career has been due to the connections and influences of God and others. For instance, it was Kay Arthur who arranged for me to meet with Harvest House which is how “Of Moose and Men” became a reality. It was Karen Whiting who suggested me as the opening host for ICRS- I didn’t even know they were looking for one and wouldn’t have known who to contact if I did. It was through helping an aspiring filmmaker named Adam Drake that we became friends and that our first film “Heaven Bound” was produced- with him! It was through helping filmmaker brothers Caleb and Cory Vetter and becoming friends with them that my writing partner Marshal Younger and I were asked to write the screenplay for “The Matchbreaker” starring Christina Grimmie from “The Voice” and was also just produced- by them! It just goes on and on. The very worst thing you can do to damage your career is to focus on yourself. If you say “me”, “my” or “I” more than you say “you” well then “you” are the one in trouble. Just responding to your questions alone it’s been hard for me to keep saying “I”. But since you are asking for advice from “me”, I guess “I” is okay- this time. But it feels weird. Oh! Another tip is that if you come at people with an agenda, they can smell it a mile away. Just. Be. Nice. And put others first.
That’s such awesome advice. Good stuff. Of course, we know you do more than write books. From writing to acting to scripts, what are the most effective means of name recognition you use to keep your career going?
I think that reputation recognition supersedes name recognition and that is what makes name recognition actually happen. If you have a reputation for helping others and being a person of character and integrity- and if you are nice and friendly and have a sense of humor- well, folks want to work with people like that. Its “others” who make your name recognized. It’s also “others” who you want to recognize your name. So if that is the case, why not start at the very beginning and put “others” first? You know, one of the smartest things I’ve ever done is stop worrying about my name. I determined years ago that my name wasn’t important. So many potential collaborations between writers have ended just over the order that the writer’s names will appear in the title credits or on the book covers. When I learned that, I decided that my name would always go last and I make sure that that is stated in my contracts. Even when the initial creative idea for the project is mine. There is only one project where my name has gone first and that is “Of Moose and Men”- but that’s only because the publishers wanted it that way because it’s the story of my life. I get that. That one made sense. But without Doug Peterson, this book wouldn’t even exist. It’s the same things with my screenplays. Without my amazing writing partner Marshal Younger, those wouldn’t exist either.
What do you think are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried in your career?
I haven’t done any promotional activities. Not a one. I don’t even do book signings unless I’m asked. I should probably spend more time there. Maybe it would make me more successful. It just doesn’t appeal to me. Selling myself feels blech.
What’s your favorite way to connect with people?
In person. At a conference. On a film set. Over a meal. (Preferably their treat! Ha!) I also really like connecting with people on Facebook. I enjoy seeing their pictures and reading about their lives and exchanging comments and offering encouragements. To me Facebook is a great big living room where you can chill with old friends and meet new ones. It also feels like a great big refrigerator door where you can post things that you want your Mom and friends to see. I wish Facebook existed when I was living in my cabin in Alaska. It would have felt a LOT less lonely then. Anyway- praying for God to guide my steps and to make holy introductions and divine appointments and then blindly trusting Him to do so and surrendering my own agenda has been the best way for me to connect with people because then it’s really Him doing it. Man, you get to meet a lot of really cool people that way. People you wouldn’t have met otherwise. I guess my favorite way of connecting people is when God does it for me. Yeah. That’s my answer.
You enjoy comedy and see the funny side of life. What’s happened to you that’s gone viral?
Oh boy. That story is too long for me to tell but it was the Taylor Swift video I did. It is a funny and crazy story and it happened all by accident. Google “Taylor Swift The Office Parody” and you’ll find it.
I’m going to Google as we speak…Oh, sorry. Uh, did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
ALL the time. Even right now. These TV interviews that I’m doing this week. They contacted me. I just did the Word Network because of a friendship with Holly McClure. I’ll be doing Faith Broadcast Network in the UK and Africa tomorrow through a friendship with Frans Cronje. Then I’ll be doing “Atlanta Live” because of my friendship with the host Christy Sutherland. The magazine interviews I’m doing are all direct contacts from my friends too. But I’m talking REAL friends. Not pretend friends for the advancement of my career. I met these people by praying for holy introductions and then trusting God to manage my career and then- whaddya know…He did just that! I’m not the type to hunt people down and ask for favors. There were a few times that I did that in my past and it didn’t feel right to me afterwards. It didn’t feel like authentic friendship. Simply saying “Hey- keep me in mind for your next film,” or something like that feels okay though. That’s just “putting it out there” and is fine, if you don’t do it too often. I guess I’m just not built to be an opportunist. I won’t climb over someone else to get ahead. The people who helped me and whose names I mentioned earlier- they just plain ‘ol like me, which baffles me completely. Maybe they’re all drinkers and don’t know any better. Or maybe- maybe they see a little bit of God in me the way that I see God in them and that is what made us friends.
What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
Don’t use people. Don’t manipulate. Don’t overspend. Don’t be desperate.
Be nice, be diligent, be real and most importantly- be about God.
Torry, it’s been fun. And thanks for the advice! May God bless you when you’re in Africa, shooting with lions (not at them…let’s be clear). We hope they’re tame. Like kitty-cat, “let’s do a Fancy Feast commercial” kind of nice.
(Well, maybe cat food isn’t the best analogy to go with there…)
You can catch Torry @www.torrymartin.com.
‘Til next time.
Grace and Peace to You!
C. Kevin Thompson