Friday, March 21, 2008

Guest Speaker for August Marketing Camp Announced

I'm happy to tell you that full0time storyteller Priscilla Howe returns as one of our guest speaker for the August 15-17, 2008 "Outside In Storytelling Marketing Boot Camp."

“Practical- a road map- a clear plan for implementation makes the fuzzy part of the money clear.”
Kori, New Mexico

As you know, we will have a different guest speaker at each event. I decided to invite back Priscilla as a type of "living lab" regarding the information we talk about at the Boot Camp. As a respected and working teller, it will be interesting to hear Priscilla talk about the new ideas she learned at the camp last time as well as tweaking the already excellent things she does to market her work.

Priscilla and I also have some very different ways of looking at some of the same issues, so it makes for a diverse presentation, too.

The camp registration is now open. You can find out more at

Use the code dryheat to save on your registration.

There is a limited number of spots on this event. We learned so much from the last camp and made some big tweaks. I believe that we will now have an even better experience than the February camp, a camp that was highly praised by the first group of students.

“I think my mind set has been permanently altered by this event. The breadth and depth of your knowledge and your passion to share it are simultaneously humbling and inspiring.”
-Liz, Arizona

We've also moved to a hotel that has a more affordable room rate, if you wish to stay overnight.

“Spend the night. Treat it as a retreat. Prepare to rethink of yourself as a business. Be critical and grow!”
-Carol, Arizona

You can find out more at

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Friday, March 14, 2008

"Make the Perfect CD" Workshop Coming Soon!

Hey folks! Come get some serious coaching BEFORE you make your next CD.

Our next live "Make the Perfect CD" workshop is:
May 3-4, 2008 in
Glendale, Arizona.

The flyer is read for you! Come get it at:

Registration info is at

Here is the first hint: don't use the type of microphone shown in the picture!Our workshops are fun and focused. They are not pick-up groups! Rather, they are professional gatherings where we take the time and $$$ we have invested and use it to train you.

....K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

I. We. Me. Us.

So, if you have ever lived through a stroke or the stroke of your significant other (I have), then you know that a stroke is not something that you would wish on your enemy. In this TED talk, there is a new perspective. If the video does not play in the player, then go to this link to see it. It's 18 minutes of re-orienting and worth your time. I. We. Me. Us.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Roadblock #3: Echo Chambers

Let’s continue the “10 Roadblocks to Your Success as Professional Teller” series. Today I am writing about number 3: You are talking to the same people over and over again who are talking about the same subjects over and over again.

In looking through my latest copy of Storytelling Magazine (no online options as it is a printed magazine you can get only as a membership benefit or paying the $7.50 each cover price), I was scanning all the advertisements for storytelling festivals. Going from festival ad to festival ad, you’ll see mostly the same featured faces. Miss a storyteller this year at your festival? Fear not, because they’ll be back in two to three years.

Very frequently, we are hearing the same voices. Most are talented. But they are the same voices. The same sounds reverberating at our audiences. It is an echo of the echo of previous events.

Storytelling, festivals and otherwise, suffers a bit from an “echo chamber” effect. To help explain what I mean, I looked for a good definition online. I found one in Wikipedia, the best source never to be believed: Metaphorically, the term echo chamber can refer to any situation in which information, ideas or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission inside an ‘enclosed’ space.

There are a number of conversations going on about storytelling, but they are behind closed, protected doors. Tim Ereneta writes much more eloquently about these things than I do. Some of the most common of these groups are the Storytell listserv, the new and Storytelling Magazine. There is the Festival circuit as mentioned above. On the local level, you probably have a guild you participate in. I am part of all these lists and groups.

In most of these online groups, there are few fresh new discussions. Safe topics and queries get rehashed. There is often a fine sense of community once you find your way past the virtual gate, once you learn the rules. Community is valuable, but does it spread the word and power of storytelling? Mutual admiration is good and sometimes deserved, but there is little real critique of the work of storytellers both near and far. Part of this gentleness is due to the usually generous nature of we middle-aged storytellers. However, the other part is in fear. “If I make a direct statement, someone might do the same thing about my work.”

For example, in trying to develop a recognized award system for storytelling recordings, the biggest problem was trying to find a panel to judge submissions. I am unwilling to be a panel of one like other award programs use. I could not gather a panel as not one storyteller wanted to be identified as part of the group that passed opinion on another storyteller.

First: “Your CD is great!
Second: “YOUR CD is great!”
First: “Oh, thank you. Your CD is great.”
Second: “Thank you, your CD is great too.”
First: “Oh, really? Yes, your CD is really great.”
And on and on and on, echoing down the line.

As I listen to other tellers describe things to me directly, it appears to me that many storytelling guilds in the U.S. are simply social clubs. There is much patting on the back, much nurturing, much caring community. Guest speakers are always other storytellers who do little to rock the boat or bring in fresh ideas. After the meeting, it is lunch and snacks. “I will say nice things about your storytelling so you’ll say nice things about mine.”

In these enclosed spaces, in these echo chambers, storytelling withers.

Generally, I do not think any of these groups or membership in them are a problem. What is the problem is our collective lack of outreach to the world. What is the problem is our fear of critique. In testing our new “Outside In” coaching method, the biggest challenge is having the coaching group have a non-apology-wrapped opinion about the work of another teller.

I suggest that we open the doors and windows, let the echoes out and begin to hear new voices or old voices in new ways.

New Conversations In Our Guilds
Invite guest speakers from outside of your storytelling group and indeed from outside of the storytelling artform. Stop separating the “youth tellers” from the adult tellers, throw them all into the same room at the same time. Invite such people as accountants, yoga teachers, marketing consultants, musicians, theater critics, painters and others to attend. Learn from them. Maybe you will even end up teaching them.

Find new ways in your guild to coach each other, being fresh, supportive, honest and challenging. Make this article a subject of your next meeting. Hash it out, own what’s real, congratulate yourselves if these thoughts do not apply to your group. Try something new if your guild has become an echo chamber of warm-fuzzy thoughts.

New Conversations In Our Festivals
Fight to eliminate the “regional teller” or “new voices” labels. Sure, bring in one of the circuit-riding hired lips. Have fun as most are lively, talented folks. Then, fill the rest of the event with your own local talent, talent you are growing in your freshly-refocused guild meetings. Remember the theater critic from the paragraph above? Invite them to the festival and hope they write about you or talk about you in their newspapers, TV and radio programming.

By the way, the idea that “if we do not book XYZ teller, then we won’t have an audience” is letting fear dictate your festival or event roster. Remember, when you started, no one knew who XYZ was. And if XYZ teller joined a monastery tomorrow, took a vow of silence and never spoke into the echo chamber again, would you shut down your festival?

New Ways to Communicate In Our Online Presences
Keep participating in the closed groups if it helps you. And, for every few postings you have in these groups, post something on your open, public Blog that the general public can read, see, agree or disagree with and learn from. Be a visible storyteller. Develop a thick skin and put yourself, and your opinions, out there. Develop a professional “social network” right out in public, where young people and others can see we are active, real and engaged. Post your videos and stories for all to see and hear.

We have lots of “niceness” echoing in storytelling. Why not knock down some walls and let’s have some “freshness” resounding as well?

(The illustration at the top of this article was done by Warning: don't go there unless you can handle adult language and directness about marketing.)
The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Participants Comments from the 2/2008 Marketing Camp

“I think my mind set has been permanently altered by this event. The breadth and depth of your knowledge and your passion to share it are simultaneously humbling and inspiring.”
-Liz, Arizona

“Whew! My head is full of all I learned at the boot camp. Great job, Sean! Do It! It is inspiring, encouraging, exhausting and well worth the time and money.”
-Priscilla, Kansas

“I learned a lot! Very realistic and practical information. This camp got everyone thinking about their niche and how to be an audience-centered storyteller. Thanks!’
-Laurina, Arizona

-Veronica, Texas

“If you are giving any thought to being a storyteller, do not fail to attend the OISBC. You will see that you will be joining a group of professional artists and that you must always be open to the possibility of professional growth such as can be offered by the Camp. You will more deeply respect your fellow tellers. You will realize that even if you are not interested in making a large sum of money, you must charge adequate fees for your work out of respect for yourself and other tellers as well. You will understand the many complicated, challenging (and fun) tasks that face a person who wishes to be a true storyteller, i.e. have listeners to tell to."
-Joyce, Arizona

“Lots of pertinent information presented by an experienced leadership team who understands the nuts and bolts of making the marketing portion of the artistry simple enough for anyone to understand.”
-Priscilla B., North Carolina

“Spend the night. Treat it as a retreat. Prepare to rethink of yourself as a business. Be critical and grow!”
-Carol, Arizona

“Needed information. Very informative!”
-Elizabeth, Arizona

“Practical- a road map- a clear plan for implementation makes the fuzzy part of the money clear.”
Kori, New Mexico

“Stimulating, in-depth look at all aspects of marketing, including hands-on opportunities to play. Great hints that you won’t find any place else. Value packed!”
-LynnAnn, Arizona

“A real kick in the right direction. You’d better show up to Sean’s workshop if you have any intention of doing professional work. Get started now!”
-Sandy, Arizona

“Definitely Attend.”
-Khabir, Indiana

“Absolutely worth the time and money. Easy to understand. Practical Knowledge.”
-Cyndy, California

“Yes, you should go. This is a practical, hands-on training set that deals with the nuts and bolts part of storytelling for beginner tellers. Formulas for fee settings, information from an accountant. This is key to launching from hobbyist to pro.”
-Elly, Arizona

"Your Outside-In Workshop was full of incredibly valuable information for anyone who wants to take the next step in their telling. You presented with humor and passion. The energy level of everyone was bumped up as you got us involved, physically, emotionally and mentally to pursue our careers on a full time basis. It was delightful! Thanks for your time, talents, and great stories."
-Sandy, Arizona

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Investing in Your Artform

The question comes up about costs for live training events. Right now, we are registering for the next “Outside In Storytelling Marketing Boot Camp” (OISBC) to be held in August 2008. One of the FAQ questions asks, “Isn’t this expensive?” Here are a few illustrations in answer to that question.

Here is the disclaimer: Your experiences will vary. I can’t and don’t guarantee monetary results, mostly because I can’t live your life and make your decisions. And, I can’t get into your personal self-perceptions to help you value your own time or your own worth as a person and performer.

One of our OISBC graduates wrote me this week to say that their “mind set has been permanently altered” because of the camp experience. That’s the idea. Come learn to master the business aspect of “Outside In” storytelling.

First Story:
Just tonight, one graduate of last week’s event called me on the phone. She called to say that she has two summertime clients for which she usually does free shows. She has done these shows for many years. After taking the OISBC, she is thinking differently both about her own worth and the worth of her art form and the disservice we commit against each other by not properly charging for our work as performance artists.

So, she took a deep breath and she called these two different clients. She advised them that she can no longer do free shows, but she would be willing to do a discounted fee of $400. She reminded them of the uniqueness of her presentations.

Both clients called her back.

Both clients are paying the fee.

This $800 more than covered the fee for her OISBC experience she had just completed. Not one week out from the OISBC and she has already made back her investment.

Second Story:
During the OISBC, I share a no-cost method of publicity. This very same method garnered me $6000 in bookings with a single client during this school year. After the OISBC pre-conference homework, we don’t talk theory. We talk about what works. We will teach this to you in the next OISBC.

Third Story:
There is a marketing tool that I use that costs me $60 per month. I get results from it all the time, including a single large contract of $9000 during 2007. This year, the same tool brought me a $1900 contract in January. It’s only March. We’ll teach you about this tool in the OISBC.

Fourth Story:
The accountant that appeared at the last OISBC believes that his advice alone could save the average storyteller or artist $2000 a year.

I must tell you: the OISBC can’t help you if you are not a competent artist in your art form. No one will pay money for someone who is not mastering the artistic and technical areas of a performing art.

As you can tell, our camp is not expensive at all. It’s actually priceless. Frequently, I get advertisements to comparable events that want $350 to $1200 per day for multi-day events, meals not included. Our two days costs less than that and we feed you.

Invest in your business. Come, storytellers and artists, join us in August. Yes, it will be hot in Phoenix. We have air conditioning everywhere. You’ll survive. And your business, I believe, will thrive.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.