Recently, I had to ask myself a few questions. Before I get to those questions (and the subsequent answers), let me state a couple of things.
First, I suck at promoting myself. Second, I suck at promoting my books. Third, I suck.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to the question and the why behind it. So, let’s start again:
Recently, I had to ask myself a few questions. The first question is: Have I done everything in my power to get my work into the hands of readers? The answer is NO. Question number two: Have I done everything I can to promote my books? The answer, again, is NO. Question number three: Why the heck not? I’ll answer this one later.
Going into 2018, these are questions I had to ask myself. Up until recently, I chose not to answer them. It’s like that thing you ignore in hopes that it will go away. Instead of going away, it gets bigger or worse or it learns how to talk and you can’t ignore it anymore. It is at that point where you have to face your fears (and the thing you have been ignoring). You brace yourself, hoping you can handle the situation. Then you find out there was no reason to worry and the issue is easily resolved. If you would have just faced the thing you were hoping would go away, you wouldn’t have had sleepless nights, and you wouldn’t have worried yourself into a corner with your thumb stuck in your mouth.
Being stuck in a corner, I decided to answer the questions and face the music. I hoped it was punk music I would hear in return. So, I asked myself the first question and sat back and thought about it. Have I done everything in my power to get my work in the hands of readers? I scratched my head and rubbed my chin. I even had a few false starts, telling myself excuses as reasons to why I can’t do everything in my power to get my work in the hands of readers. Not all readers will want to read your work. You don’t have enough books (or money to purchase those books) to put them in everyone’s hands.
“Fair enough,” I said and moved onto the second question: Have I done everything I can to promote my books? Again, I responded, Come on, A.J., you don’t have the money to market your books. You don’t have the network to market your books. You don’t know how to market your books. You don’t know how to use social media to promote your books as well as you would like. You don’t have the time to market your books the way they need to be marketed in order to do it right.
“Fair enough,” I repeated. The two questions I needed to answer had been answered and I was satisfied with them.
Here is TRUTH #1: All of that is bogus. They are excuses I told myself so I could sleep at night. They are excuses I told myself so I would be satisfied with where I’m at. They are excuses I told myself so I could say, hey, you’ve done everything you can. The problem is I wasn’t sleeping at night and I wasn’t satisfied with where I am as an author, and I certainly haven’t done everything I can.
Here is TRUTH #2: If I truly (and I mean truly) want to get my books in front of people, then I will do it. If I truly want my books to sell and do well, then I will do it. I’ve said similar things to other folks in the past: if you want it, you will do everything you can to achieve it.
This led to three more questions: Have I worked for it? Well, yes, I have. But have I worked hard for it? Umm … yes. Have I worked as hard as I can for it? Umm … not really?
This leads me back to my original third question; WHY THE HECK NOT? There are two answers to this question. The first being confidence. The second is quite simply, fear. Both of those things lead to self-doubt, and self-doubt can be crippling.
Let’s break down the excuses I told myself. Have I done everything in my power to get my work in the hands of readers? Excuse #1: Not all readers will want to read your work. To this I say, “So what?” Does it really matter if everyone wants to read my work? Of course not. Different strokes for different folks and all that jazz. Excuse #2: You don’t have enough books (or money to purchase those books) to put them in everyone’s hands. This is really not an excuse. I don’t have enough money to purchase enough books to put them in everyone’s hands. But should that stop me from getting as many Brown Bag Stories into the readers hands? No. The more of those I can get in readers hands, the better. They are like business cards, with all the proper information in them, and a story to boot.
[[Side Note: In case you don’t know what The Brown Bag Stories are, they are booklets I put together each month. Each booklet contains a story, author’s notes on what inspired the story, and information about some of my books you can purchase. This year there is a little something extra in them. Do you want to know what that is? Well, I guess you’ll just have to subscribe to the newsletter to find out. You can do that by going here: http://eepurl.com/cDEh9v. End Side Note.]]
On to the next question and its excuses: Have I done everything I can to promote my books? Excuse #1: You don’t have the money to market your books. So? You don’t always need a lot of money to market. You just have to have a cost effective plan. Excuse #2: You don’t have the network to market your books. Maybe not, but you will never have the network if you don’t try to build it. Excuse #3: You don’t know how to market your books. That is somewhat true, but still, you have to learn. Research is your friend. Excuse #4: You don’t know how to use social media to promote your books as well as you would like. Hey, Self, see the answer to Excuse #3 above. Excuse #5 (and this one is a doozie): You don’t have the time to market your books the way they need to be marketed in order to do it right. Really? You have time to watch a basketball game, right? How about do some marketing during commercials and at half time? What about Facecrack? You have time to be on it, right? If you’re not using it to market yourself, then hop off and, I don’t know, market yourself.
Lack of confidence and fear often lead to excuses. I’ll be honest here and say it isn’t so much a lack of confidence—I have plenty of that when it involves my ability to tell a story. That is one area I do not lack in.
Fear, on the other hand … I think we all have a touch of fear in us. I was once told the definition of fear is: False Evidence Appearing Real. Our minds conjure up false evidence and then tells us it is real. Kind of like our media outlets and their news reports.
Fact: if I stick a knife into a live electrical socket, it will shock me. There is no fear of doing it. There is only knowledge and that knowledge is enough to keep me from being an idiot and sticking a knife into a live electrical socket. So, I need not to fear doing it. I just need to be smart.
Fear: I’m not going to be any good at this. I can’t do this. I don’t know where to start, so why try?
Again, let’s pick this apart. Fear #1: I’m not going to be any good at this. Really? You never know until you actually try. Fear #2: I can’t do this. See Fear #1, and with that mentality, of course you can’t do it. Fear #3: I don’t know where to start, so why try? Why not try? There is always some place to start.
Here is the point to all of this: In order to do anything you have to believe you can, you have to be willing to have a dream and then chase it. In order to chase the dream, you have to put a LOT of effort into it (and not some half-hearted try, either). In order to catch that dream, you have to work harder than you ever have before. In order to live that dream, you have to want it. And anything worth wanting is worth working hard for.
I’ve been bad about keeping up my blog (a form of marketing) and my website (another form of marketing) and posting on social media (yet, another form of marketing). I know, I suck. I make no excuses—I think I’ve made enough of those already. What I do want to say is stick around. There is news on the horizon and there is effort …. lots and lots of effort.
Until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.