Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Thing That Scares You (An IWSG Post)

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It's looking more and more like 2014 might be the year. The year where things stop going wrong and start coming together. The year where all the ducks finally get in a row and stay there long enough for me to push that ever-elusive 'publish' button.

(There is a 'publish' button, right? I'll be very disappointed if there isn't...)

And it worries me. I worry. It's what I do. If I didn't worry about this, I would worry about something else. And I do—worry about something else. But mostly, these days, I worry about this.

But despite the worry, I keep moving forward and I keep taking those steps and I keep crossing things off my "Publishing To Do List."

And then I add three more things, but that's a different post for a different day.

Today I thought I might ramble a little bit about what happens after publication. You know, the part where you're supposed to market the book and tell the world that you've done this thing and you want to share it with them.

Yeah. I don't think I'm going to be very good at that part.

Yesterday at my writers group, I was asked how the book was coming, and because it was a woman I like and felt comfortable with, I told the truth. Things are going well; this thing could actually happen—and relatively soon, even. Her response was one of which I imagine most writers would be glad. Excitement, glee, an announcement of "I can't wait to buy and read your book!"

My reaction: "Excuse me while I hide under this table."

And then, just the other day on My Pet Blog, I hosted author Tara Tyler as she debuted the cover for her new novel. She made a mention in the comments of the two of us one day doing a book signing together in New England. Another person might have thought, "Oh hey, yeah! That sounds awesome!"

My reaction: "A book signing? In public? Where people can see me? Excuse me while I hide under my desk."

Once upon a time, I wanted to be an actress or a singer, or a singing actress hybrid person. I wanted to perform as Eponine in Les Misérables on Broadway (and still kind of do. On My Own is my jam, y'all!); I wanted to sing opera at the Met (I no longer wish to do this. I no longer have the range for that.). I spent my last two years of high school performing in every play and singing every solo for which my voice was suited. I went to college and did the same thing for a while because I loved being on stage. It was nerve-wracking, but exhilarating, and I wanted to do it.

Obviously, I didn't do those things. College took me down another path, as college often does, and I ended up pursuing the writing thing instead. But post college, I did a two year stint as a high school English teacher at a school for at-risk teens, which requires one to stand up on a daily basis in front of a class of extra angry teenagers. And I did that, too.

So I'm not sure what happened. I don't know what transformed me into this shy-mouse-wall-flower-girl who wants to hide any time anyone even looks in her direction, but that's who I am right now. I imagine it'll make the whole promoting thing hard. Not impossible—nothing's impossible, right?—but hard. I'm not sure what I'm going to do or how I'm going to do it.

But I will do it. Because as my good friend Eleanor Roosevelt believes, you should "do one thing every day that scares you."

And this scares the you-know-what out of me.

So I guess that leaves me with only one thing to say...



All right, Mr. DeMille—I'm ready for my close-up.

Which I'm totally not (and likely never will be) but...Fake it until you can make it, right?

So how do you deal with the things that scare you (whatever they may be...) To quote another good friend of mine..."What's your secret? Mellow jazz? Bongo drums? Huge bag of weed?" (Bonus Points for anyone who can Name! That! Reference!)

Thanks for stopping by today. It's always appreciated.

66 comments:

  1. Trust me, you got this! I have an anxiety disorder and I have done two book signings now! :D

    It is scary. Every stage of this process is bloody terrifying, but the steps have to be taken if you want people to read the awesomeness you have created (and I know it's awesome, because you are awesome!).

    What's great is, when you have those sucky days, there is a lovely community of people here to pick you back up again!

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    1. This is an exceptionally lovely community of people. I am most grateful y'all allow me to hang out with you.

      Delete
  2. Flippin-heck, you could be talking about me. I was once reasonably confident. I used to dance in a cage, teach, travel and work abroad on a whim, yet here I am now happiest at home, hiding from the world. I tell myself its because I'm happiest here, with my hubby and our dog, but the truth is it's because social stuff scares me, wears me out!

    The marketing aspect mostly happens online these days though, so one needn't worry too much. :)

    Have a great week!

    shahwharton.com

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    1. I'm happiest at home with my significant other and dogs, too. I find being social exhausting.

      The online stuff also worries me, but I wouldn't be me if it didn't.

      Delete
  3. I so get this. I mean, check out my avatar photo and name - that's me hiding under the desk.

    But it sounds like you got a good bit of a performer in you, and you've actually sang in front of an audience, and even had the strength to stand before those kids and act like you had something to share. You have all that under your belt, and on your blog here you deliver each time. So you can do this.

    P.S. He's got a huge bag of weed and he didn't invite me. : p

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    1. It was only recently that my avatar photo became an actual picture of me. But do note that it's very far away and a little blurry. Baby steps...

      Oh, and I didn't get an invite either...

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    2. I'm thinking I hid my Avengers answer too well, combining two of Stark's comments. But I didn't want to give it away.

      Delete
  4. I think you will do just great at promoting your book. When the time comes, you will surprise yourself. I get your fear though. The idea of putting out a book for all to read terrifies me. I would be too dumbstruck to think of hiding under the nearest table though. Thank you for your great comment on my bllog.

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    1. Hiding is all I think about. =)

      I hope I do surprise myself. Thanks for the encouragement!

      Delete
  5. You can do this, MJ. If you can do all those things you mentioned - all of which scare me to death! - you can do books signings and various other marketing things.

    Remember, you don't have to put into practice every marketing idea that's out there. Pick the ones you're most comfortable with and work on those.

    Since you did a lot of acting in the past, could you consider being "marketing author" as a role? or when you do a book signing, you're an actor playing a part?

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

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    1. Are there any marketing practices which involve hiding under a desk or a table or in a cardboard box or blanket fort? Because those I could rock...

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  6. Oh, there's a 'publish' button. Several of them, actually. LOL Trust me. You'll get tired of pushing it. xD

    I share the same post-pub insecurities as you. I've read a few fellow authors' posts lately about how their public appearances went surprisingly well, despite feeling like we do going into it.

    Loni Townsend's post about her first book signing was especially helpful. She told what she did right and what she would do differently if she had to do it again. That kind of information helps a lot.

    Anyhow, thanks for visiting my blog. And good luck with your WIP.

    IWSG #224 until Alex culls the list again.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Get tired of pushing the 'publish' button? Something to look forward to, then.

      And this writing community is a never-ending well of information and support. I'm constantly drawing from it and will probably do so even more as publication gets closer.

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  7. I'm so impressed that you would get up on stage for all those solos! I think once you bust through that fear and just do it you'll be fine. Maybe this new fear arises because before you were playing a part, even as a teacher, and now its straight YOU on the line. So for those first few times just think of Author-you as another role and maybe that'll make it easier for you to relax.

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    1. Well, I was young and stupid then. Getting on a stage to sing in front of people seemed like a good idea. =)

      I'll have to try the Author-me-as-a-role approach. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Delete
  8. I have a suspicion that the book signing will be like being on stage: scary, yes, but also exhilarating. Either way, i guess you won't know until you try

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    1. Yes, very true. You never know anything until you give it a shot. I guess I'll have to do that, then.

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  9. Oh my goodness! This could've been my story, although I wanted to be Christine in Phantom of the Opera. Yeah, I don't know what happened to me either. I used to love being on stage and the like, but now I want to hide under my desk too. I think faking it until you make it can work. And lots of deep breaths and practice. I sometimes think the acting was easier because you are a character, not yourself standing up there. Plus, you have lines to speak instead of possibly not knowing how to answer a question. Being ourselves is much scarier. LOL!

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    1. Oh. My. Goodness. I never even thought about having to answer questions. They could ask anything!

      Excuse me while I hide under my desk...

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  10. Just put one foot in front of the other. Oh, and keep breathing :)

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    1. It's funny how often I need that reminder to keep breathing.

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  11. All that scares me too. I'm fine with promoting online even though it is a lot of work, but meeting people face to face? Yikes! As Lara said, all you can do is put one foot in front of the other. Or hire someone to be you in public. I wish I could afford that!

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    1. Oooh! Hire someone to be me in public. I could do that. Well, if I could find someone to work for peanuts. Very small peanuts.

      Delete
  12. If you can act, you can TOTALLY do this thing. If YOU don't feel safe doing it, create a character you can be that is GREAT at getting out there and promoting. Channel charisma-woman . Write her a script if it helps. Yes, it is a little shocking when your real life friends run into character you, but you've GOT this!

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    1. I'm totally going to be Gilderoy Lockhart from the Harry Potter series.

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  13. I can relate to this. Well, in high school the only performances I did was in band, but now that I'm older I've become a huge wallflower. Online it's easier, but anytime someone talks about doing something face to face I panic. And that makes promotion difficult. But not impossible as you say. Good luck. Oh, and when the time comes, I'll gladly lend you my blog for a day to highlight your book.

    No one has pointed out the Avengers reference? Come on! ;)

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    1. The bonus points are yours! I shall send them by carrier pigeon right away, so make sure to crack a window...

      I often panic at the prospect of face-to-face events. I didn't used to...it's probably the internet's fault. It got me in a comfort zone and now I've fallen and can't get up.

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  14. I totally relate to the stage-lover-turned-wall-flower part. I wanted to be an actress, spent most of my high school time performing before audiences (though I had no talent for singing). Then BAM! A few years away from that and now I have a hard time not squirming around other people.

    But you have a great personality. It shows in your blog. I am one of those people who is looking forward to buying your book too.

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  15. I totally get it. I'm ridiculously shy and kind of a hermit, so I don't even like to think about the things I'll have to do once my book is published.

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    1. I enjoyed not having to think about it. Now I kind of wish I were a lunch lady or a traffic cop. Except that I'm not very good with food. Or cars.

      Hmmm...

      A writer it is, then!

      Delete
  16. Whenever fear takes a hold of me I recall the words of legendary CEO Steve Jobs:

    "Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

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    1. I guess that means it's time to go streaking!

      Metaphorically, anyway.

      Delete
  17. I think it's kind of hilarious that writers, who for the most part are shy introverted people, are expected to get out and promote and be social and stuff. Haha. I'm so with you. I'm terrified of the whole after publication part.

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    1. It really is hilarious. I can just imagine a hidden camera and a YouTube channel devoted to the social awkwardness that is me in public.

      Delete
  18. I know exactly what you mean, I am an extreme introvert, and I hate even the slightest bit of attention. I hate opening presents on my birthday just because my family are watching me. Imagine what I'd be like at a book-signing! But as a writer, it's something that I accept I'll have to do someday (or I certainly hope I will). I'll just have to try to overcome my extreme shyness :)

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    1. I pretty much unplug completely on my birthday—turn off the phone, avoid Facebook, all of that—because I can't even deal with birthday wishes.

      Book signings or presentations or anything like that—I can't even imagine it yet. There's just darkness and some dragons...

      Delete
  19. If I have to do this crap then so do you!
    You are way ahead of me if you can stand up in front of people and sing! I WISH!
    It's not so bad once you have both feet in.
    I will help you in any way that I can.
    Promise.
    Heather

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    1. And vice versa—I will help you in any way that I can.

      Maybe I could sing at any public appearance I have to make. There must be Broadway songs about writing, right?

      Delete
  20. It's hard work, but it looks like you're well on the way to building an online audience at least.

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    1. Yes, that part seems to be going pretty well. I am incredibly grateful.

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  21. The day before I do a book signing, I'm throwing up. I know, get over it. But fear is like fuel. It can't stop you, but it'll shake things up a bit. Congrats on your impending success, MJ!

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    1. Thanks, Joylene.

      And I imagine there will be a lot of upset stomachs in my future.

      Delete
  22. It's wonderful that your book is getting closer to being published. I was a professional entertainer for many years. It's NOT the same as public speaking or answering questions. I go blank. I say stupid stuff. I say very unappealing stupid stuff. I wish I could be more encouraging, but I'm busy hiding under my desk...

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    1. I also imagine there will be a lot of unappealing stupid stuff coming out of my mouth. I mean, it happens pretty much on a daily basis anyway, so why would a public appearance be any different?

      Delete
  23. LOL--well, I have my first booksigning next Thursday and I'm terrified. All of those things terrify me. I can write all day, but when it comes to getting up in front of people and speaking or being the center of everyone's attention...yikes! If it's any consolation, though, the people who have had the least success as writers that I've known are those who would prefer to be out there doing booksignings than writing! I think it's a sign you're a good writer if you'd rather just be home at your computer, typing away!

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    1. Well, I would most definitely rather be at home, sitting in front of a computer and writing all day. I must be doing all right then.

      Best of luck with your book signing!

      Delete
  24. I had my first signing this past weekend and I almost cried in front of everyone. Part of me felt embarrassed but really, I don't think anyone thought anything of it. In fact, it seems more people are just genuinely impressed that you wrote a book and that you were brave enough to publish it. Marketing is hard cause you're putting something out there you created and the feedback isn't always great, but it is worth it! And you'll do amazing!

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    1. Thanks, Ashley!

      I could see myself almost crying—and likely actually crying—at an event. Note to self: bring tissues, and a lot of them...

      Delete
  25. You're just out of practice. No, it's not my favorite thing either, but you did it before and you can do it again.
    And not to scare you further, but marketing starts before the book comes out. Reviews, interviews, blog posts, cover reveals, stuff like that. But been there done that and I'd be happy to help you!

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    1. Yes, I understand that marketing should start before the book actually comes out. I'm not sure I'm quite at that point yet, but it's ever-present in the back of my mind.

      And I'll probably pretend it's not there for just as long as I can...

      Thank you for the offer of help, though, Alex. It's very kind of you.

      Delete
  26. It'll get easier. Once you do the first one. Ah, yeah, that's the problem, isn't it. Perhaps you should start by doing events for people you know. People who like you. Or find a friend and do an event together so that you both can support each other.

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  27. The only way to get over fear is to take action and do what scares you. I used to be terribly shy, and now I can speak in front of a crowd of a 1000 people. That didn't happen overnight. Just start now getting yourself out in front of others and it will be easier when your book comes out.

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  28. Oh I love this. I haven't hear that quote in a while but it's one of the most rewarding things, isn't it? Overcoming our fears and challenging ourselves. You will do just fine after you publish *this* year (yay!) and during the signing. Though, I will admit I don't have the nerves to do a singing myself. :-/

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  29. I assume there's a button. That's how it works, right? And it's next to the button that makes it easy to go out in public and promote your book?

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  30. There is a publishing button, and I'm sure you'll hit it. Promoting can be hard. I'm not the type of person to say "look at me". But I've spoken in front of teen readers. I even did a key note speech. Talk about being nervous. I just took a deep breath, did my best, and reminded myself that everyone starts somewhere. My signings and events have gone well. Yours will too. =)

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  31. Booksignings with a friend are not as scary as it seems. Glad things are going well.

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  32. I'm sorry, you can't hide under the desk anymore. I'm occupying that space now. Yeah, I feel your pain. And it is true, the older I get, the less I want to be "out there" in front of people. Have no idea how I'll market either, if/when the need arises. But you know we'll all be cheering you on. :)

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  33. The "publish" button sits next to the "easy" button on the Staples shelf.

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  34. I still hate it when people tell me they're reading my books - I haven't got used to it yet, and I may never. But it's still exciting and thrilling and all the things you're expecting it to be! :-)

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  35. We all dread marketing! I've never even tried to set up a signing, I dread being in front of the public so much. But you've done a lot of public performances, so you'll be fine. It will all come together. And how exciting. Congrats!

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  36. okay, so when i come up for our book signing, we can go out after and do karaoke!! sounds like a plan! (or did i misread that? ha ha ha)

    as soon as i find some time (and money), i'm coming for ya, girl!

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  37. I totally feel you on this. I'm a complete introvert. Though you wouldn't know it from the craziness that goes on in my life. I'd much rather work inthe background (or stock in the backroom) than be out with the unwashed masses. Oh, wait, that's my ignorance rant.

    I don't want to promote either. I just want everyone to magically know about the book that I will someday finish and clamor for it while I peek from behind the blinds.

    is that too much to ask?

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  38. I despise self-promotion. Writing is easy compared to marketing and all that goes with it. But I did happen to have two book signing in my city and it actually went well. I was nervous at first and then felt at fine...

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  39. This is a really brave post! Way to go for putting this all out there. Marketing can be tricky for sure, but I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised by all the support you get along the way.

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  40. I've done One book signing, and have hidden ever since :)

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