So, I’m pretty sure we all know that marketing is important when it comes to…you know…selling books. Publicity is key.
But guess what I suck at?
Because it involves people. Real people.
And I’m terrible with real people. I always have been. Yes, I mean always. Even back in preschool.
So, I started preschool a year early, to socialize, so, all in all, I did 2 years. (Sounds like jail time when I say it that way. Lol.) But, anyway, I didn’t talk to the teachers until halfway through the second year.
Then, it came time to do the placement testing for kindergarten. I wouldn’t talk to them, either. They thought I needed special education because I wouldn’t acknowledge them. My mom asked me all their questions, I did fine, and they put me in standard kindergarten…
Where I didn’t talk to the teacher for the first 3/4 of the year.
I was a quiet ball of anxiety.
And I stayed that way…
I have never been good with people. Not real ones.
I’m good with the ones I make up. Lol. That doesn’t help with marketing, though. Which brings us back around to something that happened today.
I was talking with a friend at work today, someone I’m reasonably comfortable talking to. We ended up on the topic of books, which surprised me. I didn’t know he was a book person, and never really would have assumed so.
I asked what genres he likes, feeling my way into the topic.
Because, if he said he only likes non-fiction or young adult detective stuff…he clearly wouldn’t like my books. But he hops genres when he reads, just like I do when I write. So, I did the thing that all authors have to do if they want to get anywhere with their books.
I mentioned them. I brought them to the attention of another human.
Now, that doesn’t seem like a big deal. But…
Given my inability to properly interact with people, it was a big thing for me. I’m one of those people who always undershares or overshares. There is no happy medium. I almost always feel out of place in groups (the only exception being if I’m super comfortable with everyone present AND I’m feeling social).
I’m always looking for expressions on their faces to say that whatever I’ve just said or done was the wrong thing to say or do. I’m always worried that the awkward end of a conversation (you know, when a conversation flattens out, and everyone says little meaningless things like, “yeah, no kidding,” or “Right?” until everyone just falls silent…) will happen after I speak. Because if I’m the last one to speak in that situation, I feel like maybe my inflection was wrong, or maybe I missed something earlier on that made my version of that meaningless comment somehow wrong.
And it doesn’t matter that those weird little breaks happen naturally in conversations with even the closest of friends. It just automatically becomes a stress point. I end up analyzing how I said whatever little nonsense line, and whether I waited too long to say it, and whether it actually made sense in the context, and…so many stupid things to worry about.
Basically, I have no confidence in my ability to interact with people, even in the most mundane situations.
Now, when it comes to promoting my work, you have to add the performance aspect of it. Because, when it comes down to it, writing is a skill that you have to hone. Books are, in their own way, a little stage that showcases our skill level as writers.
And, despite the positive feedback from beta readers and reviewers alike, I still doubt my ability to write. Imposter syndrome is a very real thing, and I feel it often, telling myself constantly that I’m not a real writer, or that I’m not actually good enough, or that I’ll never make it out of the factory to write full time (that last one is backed up by statistics, which makes it harder to push away).
That’s an unbelievably common thing in any creative profession, but that doesn’t make it easier to deal with.
Then, when it comes time to say, “Hey, you like to read. Look at my books,” (hopefully a little smoother than that) the imposter thing and the social anxiety kick into high gear. Suddenly, the idea of drawing attention to my work becomes this insurmountable obstacle of talking to someone about something I made, telling them that it’s good enough for them to pay attention to, to pay for, when…on the inside, I’m terrified that it’s actually garbage.
So, today, when my friend and I were discussing books, and I found out that he likes some of the genres I write in, I didn’t tell him the names of the books that are out. I didn’t tell him where to find them.
I have business cards in my wallet, which was about 70 feet from me at the time. They have my website on them, which has both of my published books listed on it (oh, in case you didn’t know, my books are on the published works page of this site…I probably should have mentioned that…)
I didn’t go get a card for him, though.
Instead, I let the conversation drop, and went back to building tires when my materials were brought to me.
Then, for 45 minutes, I berated myself over it, because I’m never going to get anywhere with my books if I don’t tell people they exist. (Hint. Hint. Any of you facing similar issues…You have to tell people.)
I dug a business card out, and had it sitting on a shelf near my machine, ready to give him. But I didn’t freaking do it. At one point, I even gave it up, and put the damn thing back in my wallet.
But why the fuck did I get them, if I’m never going to give them to people?
Finally, at the very end of the fucking shift, after enough mental yelling to stuff the anxiety down, I dug it back out. I walked over to him, with the express intention of giving him this little card with my website on it. Forced myself to hand it to him, and squeaked out some lame bit about, “If you want to check them, out, my website is on the back. If not, I’ll never know the difference.”
Because I’m fucking terrible at this. And that’s someone I can talk to on a normal basis. If he were a stranger…it wouldn’t have happened. Once the initial opportunity passed, it would have been done.
But today, I pushed past it, and did something (in person) to tell someone about my books. Lame as the execution was, I did it.
Even if he never looks at my books, even if he throws that card on a desk or table at home, and forgets all about it, I’m calling this a win.
And I’m going to have to have more of them, and get some practice in. I have plans to actually do ( *gasp*) events in the future. I should have been doing them all along, but…well, everything before this paragraph pretty much tells you why I haven’t.
I also need to get more books out before then, though. As you know if you’ve been following my blog, or if you’ve checked my works in progress page, there are a lot of irons in the fire.
I’m just about done with the initial edit of Salt and Silver, then some adjustments on The Gem of Meruna to get it ready for rerelease. I’ve got some ideas for a cover for one of the upcoming fantasy novels.
All in all, things are moving forward at a decent pace. I stress over the speed, of course, because I worry that I’m underperforming. (Go fucking figure.)
But, it’s getting there. I just have to keep pushing onward.
As do all of you. If there’s something you want…make it happen. It won’t fall into your lap. Life doesn’t really do handouts, at least, not in my experience.
So push forward.
Keep reading. Keep writing.