I am a lucky girl, because my family got the chance to visit Disney World twice in 2013. I love Disney World. It's full of magic that just can't be duplicated. Everything from the smell of popcorn to the details in line combines to create a perfect experience. And the people that work there are the icing on the cake.
This happens due to an almost militant like focus on service that is drilled into each employee. The result is the most magical place on earth and some great lessons for writers when it comes to building a solid platform and brand.
There are four "Disney Service Basics" and we can apply each of them to improve our platform.
1. Project a positive image and energy
This one sounds pretty basic, and it is. Being a writer is a lifetime ride on Space Mountain. It's usually to dark to know where you're going, but you can be sure they'll be plenty of twists. When bad things happen, and they will, you are entitled to whine, complain, pout and pitch a fit. But this all needs to happen backstage. Disney employees aren't brainwashed for happiness, but they know when it comes to interacting with guests, everything is sunshine and rainbows. You don't have to fake it. My advice, stay away from any form of social media when the urge to rant hits and focus on the positive impact you can make as a writer.
2. I am courteous and respectful to all Guests, including children
I love this one, because Guest is capitalized. Disney understands that Guests are king and they are nothing without them. Switch out guest for Reader and this could be a golden rule of publishing. Also, Disney makes sure to point at that children are included in this rule. Why? Children aren't the ones paying the bills, making purchasing decisions or booking the next trip, but that doesn't mean they don't count. I think we could change this to say "including the newbies". This was you at one point. The writer asking "What do I put in a query letter?". These aren't the people who will be able to write a review that's seen by thousands of loyal readers, but that doesn't mean they don't count. Every reader, every connection counts. Publishing is a small world. Best to be nice to everyone.
3. I stay in character and play the part
This one could be taken to mean stay in character as a writer, but I'm going to break it down another way. I suggest staying in character as you. Anything less than complete sincerity is going to make you look faker than a knock-off set of crooked mouse ears. So stay in character as you and play the part of a writer. Do what you need to do in order for you to be successful. Not everyone who puts on the Cinderella costume is going to be exactly the same, and no two writers will ever follow the same path. So focus on being the best Cinderella you can be.
4. I go above and beyond
As a writer, sometimes you need to channel Buzz Lightyear ("To infinity and beyond"). The reality is that you won't be able to do everything. You can do a lot, probably more than you realize, but you can't do it all. Instead of bemoaning what you can't do, focus on taking your actions to the next level. The good news is going the extra step doesn't have to mean expending a lot of money. If someone wins your book in a contest, be sure to get their name, write a personal message and sign it before sending it off. Cost to you: Free. Yet I can honestly say of all the books I've won, I've never received one signed. Hello, missed opportunity. If your doing a twitter chat, offer to stay longer to get everyone's questions answered. Thank everyone, and then thank them again. With every reader interaction, take a minute to think about what would make that experience even better for your fans. It's often the smallest gestures that are remembered the most.
Are you providing Disney-like service when it comes to your writing platform? I'd love to hear your thoughts on other Disney attitudes and actions that we can adopt as writers to make our readers' experience magical.
Also, I'm doing a Twitter Chat tonight at 5pm EST with +Lori Sailiata. I'll be talking about writing and all things agenty. Join in with the hashtag #HICM.