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