Attitude Adjustment #2
Don’t kid yourself—there’s going to be pain involved (but a lot less than you think)
When a promotion doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped or desired, it’s disappointing. When you’re being interviewed and feel vulnerable, it can be scary and uncomfortable. When the opportunity to get some major publicity falls through, it hurts.
I wish I could tell you that transforming a shy and sensitive nature into a more outgoing, confident, and resilient personality is easy and painless, and will make your life rosy, but a writer’s life is full of ups and downs. What I can tell you is that change is possible, it’s not as painful or scary as you might think, and it makes even the biggest disappointments more bearable.
Knowing that there will be difficult and painful moments, at times, actually helps you to relax into them when they arise. It’s an odd quirk of human nature that the less we resist pain, the more quickly it passes.
If you’re like most writers, you long to simply sit and write. Promotion is supposed to be your publisher’s job. But in the publishing world of today, promotion is primarily your job. And it can be a scary job, especially for shy writers, because it constantly challenges the boundaries of your comfort zone, is an entirely new set of skills to learn and master, and the 1,001 details involved can feel overwhelming.
One of my favorite fear-busting quotes is from the American spiritual teacher, Gangaji, who said, “When you run from your fears they chase you. When you face your fears they disappear.”
When you face what you fear, or dislike, about promotion it can be difficult, at first. But if you remain steady in your resolve to not only do whatever is necessary to promote yourself and your book, but to make peace with it, your fears will begin to dissolve.
It’s often hard to hold on to these two truisms in the face of something fearful, but I’m sure you’ve proved them in your life in many ways:
- When you actually do what you’re scared of or dreading, it’s not half as bad as you imagined
- Doing something that scares you, even when it’s hard, at first, gets easier the more you do it
Which leads me to…
Attitude Adjustment #3
Repeat after me: It gets easier over time
The more you put yourself out there, and promote yourself, the more you get used to feeling the fear, living through it, and discovering it wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be.
The first time I interviewed someone, after I asked the first question I prayed that the author would take the rest of the hour to answer. Unfortunately, after only a minute or two his words began to slow down, and I knew I had to get another question ready. As scared as I was at the beginning of that interview, by the end of it we were chatting away (it helped that the first person I interviewed was a friend, but that didn't stop me from being sick to my stomach at the beginning of the call).
Relaxing into my role as an interviewer didn’t lessen the horror I felt at the thought of being interviewed. What if my mind goes blank? What if I babble on like an idiot? What if I don’t know the answer? Then people began interviewing me about how authors can benefit from using twitter. I stumbled over my words, for awhile, but eventually relaxed into that, as well.
Once being interviewed had lost its fearful grip on me, I still shivered at the thought of giving my own presentations. That would be way too scary. Just me. Alone. Talking. Are you kidding? No way! But then I did my first solo call. Yes, I rambled on, laughed nervously at times, lost my place in a couple of spots, and yet people seemed to like what I had to say. Okay, so presentations aren’t that bad. But open coaching calls, without a topic, where anyone can ask me anything—terrifying!
You get my drift.
It’s not simply that you loosen up about a particular promotional task, once you’ve done it for awhile, at some point you begin to trust that you’ll be able to handle whatever comes your way. And the fear you do feel when pushing past your comfort zone and doing something scary or uncomfortable, is a mere fraction of what it once was.
- What scares you about promoting yourself or your book?
- What have you learned through the process of promoting yourself?
To read the whole series: