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Shame on us! Not if we listen to our guts

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Shame on us! Not if we listen to our guts
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Is it just me? Or is it painful for you, too, when you think you should be doing some supposedly critical thing you don’t feel you want to do? Isn’t it still worse when you don’t know why you don’t want to do what you think you should? Am I being a coward? Or am I onto something and need to find another way to proceed? Since writing helps me work out these kinks, here we go.

 

For years as a life coach, I helped people learn to catch themselves whenever they said the word “should.” If we say we should do something, it usually means we don’t want to do it. It also suggests that “it” may be something our parents, spouses, the prevailing culture and/or our own ill-conditioned minds believe is good for people in our particular pinch, whatever that is.

 

My particular pinch is the burning pressure I feel, fed by almost everyone I encounter online, to get the word out about my just-published book. I’m not talking only about those people peddling social media marketing services, though they still figure in. I’m talking about virtually every writer who blogs, every author friend, publishing consultant and “expert” in the book field.

 

The common wisdom—and it sounds absurdly obvious—is that there’s no way a book can catch on unless you promote it. To sell a book, you’ve got to sell the hell out of it. And selling the hell out of it involves lots of activities that, as it oh-so-inconveniently turns out, I have little desire to do. I’ve tried some, but so far, much of the prevailing wisdom about how to sell a book in 2012 often feels so out of integrity for me that I feel ashamed at the thought.

 

If you’ve read my earlier posts, you’ll know I haven’t exactly lined up for the social media marketing parade. Precious few book-touting Facebook posts from moi and no tweeting little bits from Bare Naked whatsoever. I haven’t seen fit to announce the book to my LinkedIn connections, many of whom, like my so-called Facebook friends, I don’t, of course, actually know. I’d only be doing it to sell the book, and for the moment that feels wrong for me.

 

Ditto for the common new author practice of identifying, regularly reading and commenting on popular blogs in my “genre” so “big bloggers” notice me and later let me blog for them—on a “blog tour” promoting my book. Nothing wrong with that; it’s simply not for me, not yet anyway.

 

No book store signings either, or radio and TV (okay, unless Oprah makes a comeback). It’s not that I’m scared to show up (though that could be a factor with Oprah). So it’s kind of weird how opposed I feel to doing what so many other authors do. I’m the rare author who even likes to sell.

 

I am doing one sort of salesy thing that, like this blog, sometimes seem great, but can also feel iffy. That is offering the book to people I think would truly enjoy it and who, if they do, might tell others about it. Not a bad intention that, given how valuable I believe my message is. But I find myself straddling a fine line between what I could—and, most would say should—do, and what I am sincerely moved to do. With ego jumping in more than usual where the book is concerned, staying in integrity about whom to give books to (and who not) keeps me on my toes.

 

Now, I’m thinking about approaching people I don’t have any connection with, not on Facebook or via mutual friends or anything. At the thought, I get a horribly queasy feeling a lot like shame. It’s my good old reliable gut talking, of course, but here’s where it gets sticky. Is my deep discomfort a fear of rejection plain and simple? Am I just scared that, say, Byron Katie won’t bother to reply and my feelings will be hurt? Or, though most authors do it, does it feel way too salesy for me to try to enlist people I’m not genuinely connected with?

 

It’s likely both. I don’t want to be rejected, because…who does? But I also feel a tad sleazy asking people with no reason to care about me to help me out. Even if I don’t say anything inauthentic, isn’t the mere act of approaching them because I want something compromising my values? I am honestly not sure.

 

Since my book is about being true and kind to ourselves—of not doing things that don’t feel just right to us because someone says we should—my path should be clear. But it isn’t. That’s probably because I haven’t stayed offline and out of the prevailing media loop consistently enough to listen to that still, small voice within—the very heart of the book’s and my message.

 

Can my book sell without me selling it? We may be about to find out. I can’t do what feels wrong to sell a book that’s felt so right. That queasy feeling I’ve been having? It is shame. Ashamed is how I feel when I do what isn’t mine to do and don’t do what is. Do you have a story like this? Do tell. Please. We need to inspire each other, and the world can’t wait! Thank you.


Categories: A Writer's Life
  • Rachel

    Now that I finally took a few minutes to read this blog post I can’t just sit back and ponder your words as I usually do…  I’VE GOTTA SPEAK!  

    Suzanne, your message is so powerful, absorbable, and most importantly, true that you MUST do everything in your power to get the word out there.  Forget the “could, would, should” litany – you MUST.  It took you so long to work up the chutzpa to make your deepest thoughts available for mass consumption – in order for the masses to benefit they’ve gotta know they exist!  
    This world is all about people helping people, even if for no other reason than because they can.  Radio, TV, newspapers (they still exist, right?), anyone who will interview you and spread your astounding encouragement to be exactly who we are happens to exist in large part for this very reason.  
    Get out there and market yourself, girlfriend!  You know you’ll be glad you did when Oprah calls!!!

    • Suzanne Grenager

      Oh, my dear Rachel, your wild, wonderfully eloquent enthusiasm for what I am up to is food for my soul. But as you will see in my next post, up soon, I am not going to do the hard sell. As I’ll explain, I have been gracefully reminded that selling the book is not my job. Being true to myself and my message IS. To keep the message “powerful, absorbable and…true” (as you generously put it), I must listen to my heart and gut. And I must trust that the words inspired by my beloved teacher Bapuji will make their way into the world with the help of wonderful friends and readers like you sharing the word – without me having to push. The ego hates this gentle approach, but the heart loves it. And it’s the heart I must cultivate to be of utmost use.    

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1249744696 Rachel Yucius

        Ok, Ok, Ok….  I’ll not pressure, but I will NOT stop blabbing about what I think can encourage a life changing realization in SO many. Best wishes to you in ALL you do.  

        You’re right – being true to YOU is what’s most important and if sitting back & patiently waiting for this first book to take off is what your heart desires while you come up with YOUR next “best thing” then leave it to those who are devoted to your words & experiences as the motivation they prove to be to spread the news.
        See what you’ve created?  I may be “the monster of making things better” your good works bring about!  AWESOME!!!!

        • Suzanne Grenager

          Pretty awesome all right. And I welcome monsters like you — with open arms and heart, Rachel. Thank you!

          I must report that I’m not “sitting back and patiently waiting,” lovely as that might be. Patience is not yet my virtue. And rather than waiting, I’ve been working my butt off to “spread the news. But I’m trying to do it *my* way, which is to say in the gentle spirit of Swami Kripalu: one intuitive, self-loving step at a time. It will take a while perhaps but the tortoise can win the race. 

  • Vicki

    Suzanne,
    What you write touches a chord to how I have felt about wanting to be more “successful” in marketing what I am up to, looking at advertising gurus who are very successful, and being turned off by their long ads and e-mails with comments like $1800 value in this package, but I’m willing to sell it to you for $495, and then all different permutations of buying their products that has me very confused and wanting to take to the hills after reading their pitch.  Seems for many of them it works, but it just doesn’t feel “right” to me.  And then the dilemma of asking for other’s help to support us to live our dream and contribute to others.  That’s another tricky issue for me.  Asking is hard for me, and receiving without offering something back right away feels unbalanced and awkward.  Saying true to one’s self is no small task.  For me, it’s a work in progress.  Thanks for reminding me of some current challenges.

    • Suzanne Grenager

      Vicki, dear one. I am so grateful we are on the same (uncertain) page about how to create “success,” I for my book and blog, and you for Women of Intention and more. It is good to know we are not alone in feeling “awkward” about both jumping into the online marketing morass and asking others to help us, though I am slowly getting better at that. As you say, asking people to help us help others is as much about our giving as it is about our receiving. So now that I know many readers find my book inspiring, it’s easier to ask people to spread the word. You, with your empowering work, are in much the same situation. Still, you are right that staying true to ourselves is excrutiatingly difficult. For me, it requires constant attention to how I am *feeling* about what I am *doing* especially in my belly and around my heart. The body never lies. If we make time to tune in to its innate wisdom, the truth of our being is revealed. And in light of that truth we will be loathe to do what is not right for us. Many thanks for your sharing and please keep me posted on “work in progress!” 

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