Have You Created Something? Great! Now Here’s Your Dilemma

Have You Created Something? Great! Now Here's Your Dilemma

The world is big and wide and open to many things. There are millions of people on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr all eager for news. So there is no reason to think that social networks won’t be thrilled to hear about my new business, your new art expo, or whatever it is we have just created—right? Maybe. Among writers and inventors and people who create things and want to sell them, worries arise. It’s a dilemma. How to sell my product.

Some folks will blast out emails to everyone and anyone. Others will hang back, read articles about how to sell, when to sell, how often is too often to tweet, post on Facebook etc etc.

In the book world, there are countless blogs that offer advice and strong opinions about every aspect of book marketing. It can make your head spin. But after reading all that advice, in the world of book writing, publishing and marketing the bottom line is–the writer has to be out there. Competition is tough. And whether you publish with the Big Five or go with a small publisher or self-publish—if you want people to read your work, being out there is a given. The word launch has taken on a whole new meaning and it doesn’t necessarily include dock shoes and a bottle of champagne.

Question: So what’s a writer or other creative person to do?

Answer: Adopt a philosophy or approach and run with it.

Problem: There are lots of approaches out there.

Solution: Combine them.

And that solution takes time, careful thought and planning. It’s a little like preparing for a party—you make certain that each individual guest will feel comfortable when they arrive, thus guaranteeing that they will stay for the duration; think, buy your book, support your business, attend your art show.

When I launched my first book, four generous fellow bloggers printed guest posts about it. And I was honored by organizations that focus on writing and publishing. I tweeted and posted on Facebook. I created a Pinterest Board that illustrated and provided a quote from each of the 13 stories in the book—creative fun, but time consuming. And I’ll never know if it caused even one sale.

But the activity that took the most time and yet had interesting and questionable results were the 75-100 personal emails that I wrote. These were not copy and paste, these were emails that addressed the receiver’s personal life and then mentioned the advent of the book. I got a 75% response from the email itself. Book sales? Very few. And who is in your email? Why family and friends.

So when author and friend Kathryn Craft (The Art of Falling, The Far Side of Happy) addressed this issue, her words rang true.

…I’ve heard this over sharing argument before, and always from writer moms with young kids, so I want to share my perspective as an empty nester. I am stealing the spotlight from no one when sharing my excitement about something good happening in my life—and since my life is more and more writing related these days, that something will probably be about writing and its related activities. And if I share these things on my personal page, I expect that 1) my large cache of writing friends will be thrilled, knowing what it must mean to me; 2) my non-writing friends will gain a fascinating look into the trials and joys of being a writer, trusting that once the launch is over their feeds will calm; and 3) disinterested family members can scroll past, thinking, “Oh there’s Kathryn doing her Kathryn thing again.”

For me, her words translated to, Oh there’s Beth doing her Beth thing again.

Kathryn’s work like that of many writers, pulls from deep personal experience and it is thought-provoking that she could take the suicide of a family member and from that wrenching experience create an incredible novel. Fiction mirrors life, but it takes not only talent, but guts to do so. So when Kathryn also states: If you are sharing to spread excitement that you can no longer contain in your heart, I say the world needs more evidence of such passion. If you are persisting despite the odds, I say the world needs more examples of such drive… I want to jump up and clap and cheer!

There are more of you out there!! Like me and Kathryn you are writers or artists, creators of a new product or starters of a new business. You might also be mothers, empty nesters, part of the 3rd stage that offers challenge yet excitement. So whatever we create–wow, that’s giving birth again, that’s passionate creation from a whole other side of ourselves and our talents. And we have to celebrate it—shout it out. And there are editors and publishers, publicists and agents who would agree. Kathryn also shared this reflection with me:

Agent Cherry Weiner once told us at a panel, “Don’t you dare leave this conference and write to me to say you heard me speak and think I might like your book. If you can’t come up to me and tell me face-to-face how much you love what you’ve written, you don’t have what it takes to sell a book.”

That changed my life. For me it was no longer about selling, which is so off-putting. It was about spreading the love.

I believe these words truly answer the question: so what’s a creative person to do? Love your work, believe in your work, mention it, talk about it, send people copies of it or invitations to see it. Easy right?

Not always. For example, writers love to sit at computers alone and write, dream things up, create problems and solve them, make up nasty conversation and end it. We are in control, running things. As the mission statement on my mug from Women’s Fiction Writers Association reads: DRINK COFFE. MAKE THINGS UP. What a life!!

Being out there on the net can be scary even if you love your work. Because there are thousands on social media telling you when, how and why you should do this or that when all you want to do is let people know it’s been born so that you can go back to your creative room and create some more. For me it’s writing. For me THAT would be Beth doing her Beth thing.

When you’re giving birth to books or some other amazing creation, it is another variation on motherhood: you carefully and tenderly make some choices, then struggle to give birth, and after your product’s arrival you finally realize–hey it’s time to share the love!  No dilemma in that.

Thanks for reading. A post similar to this was originally published on the Huffington Post under the title: When Giving Birth to Books, The Boomer/Mother Experience

My book???  A Mother’s Time Capsule   www.elizabethahavey.com

My Books

A Mother’s Time Capsule
Stories of motherhood.

21 thoughts on “Have You Created Something? Great! Now Here’s Your Dilemma

  1. Your post is very timely for me, as I’ve just ventured into getting my art out there and really promoting it. It’s hard, and discouraging, and I always struggle with feeling like I’m too “in your face” about it and friends/family will get sick of me. I’m going to remember, “That’s Laurel doing her Laurel thing” and embrace it. Thank you. 🙂

    • Hi Laurel, thanks for reading. Yes, Kathryn really helped me and though I have tried to put myself out there–it’s still a struggle. The bottom line is that you have to believe in yourself and your work. And I guess as time passes, you have to take joy from the process or else you have nothing. Wishing you the best. Will I find your work on your website? Beth

      • Wise words! Yes, as a matter of fact my “Tangled Tuesday” blog post today has several examples of my work, and links to my art site as well. Thanks for asking! 🙂

  2. Hi Beth! I so love that, “There’s Kathy doing her Kathy thing again.” So many of my friends and family are EXACTLY that way. And yeah, it’s sorta weird having some of them just not get who the writer part of you is, even though from our perspective is is so very important. I think that’s why I have found such camaraderie in other bloggers because I know that you all know what it takes and how important it is to us. Fortunately my mom told me years ago that she learned not to expect family or friends to support her “business.” Writing is a bit like that. We have to find our own “tribe” and when we do it makes it feel much better. Oh, and congratulations on your book. It is an amazing thing to do and makes you one of the few people who have ever accomplished such a thing. Be proud! ~Kathy

    • Such a great comment to get today, thanks Kathy. Your mother had wisdom. I remember wanting my aunts to help me pursue a writing career and they tried, but weren’t very positive. I think because they wanted that too and it didn’t happen for them. Times have changed. So glad you are blogging and making your life happen. You might get a kick out of this post–what people will say when you tell them you’re a writer. Have a great day. Beth http://writerunboxed.com/2015/08/25/tenthingsnottosaytoawriter-an-etiquette-lesson/

        • You got that right. When I was back in Iowa with old friends, I tried to talk about my book of short stories and they literally cut me off. I was stunned. Oh well, they just don’t get me.

  3. Some terrific points you make. I would like to take the stigma off selling. If you think of it as sharing information and then asking the person if they are interested in the information you shared and want their own or more about what you talked about. No one is saying forcefully buy my book or product but just spreading the word.

    • Great point, Haralee. I think what often happens is the NET allows people to over-sell and I think we do need to be careful about that. Yes, we are offering or sharing, but it is HOW it’s done that we also need to consider. But I love the line–oh that’s Beth doing her Beth thing. And I sure am going to be doing it for a long time.

  4. This was a great post. A perfect blend of practical how-to at the top and then the inspiration to make it happen. You also provided some thoughtful ways of reframing the “sales” part of thing which is always helpful for sales shy people like myself.

    • Thanks, Meg. Most of us LOVE the work, the writing, and HATE the marketing. BUt the latter is always there. Belief in yourself does help.

  5. All so true to my experience in writing and publishing Beth! I have no qualms about sharing my life through my writing, and then sharing the product with those who follow and “like” me. Some will love the product. Some will find me annoying… Sounds just like life to me!

    • You are so right, Laura Lee. How odd life is when you expect your old friends to support you and they don’t always. Conundrum. But then people you hardly know–reach out and hug you. THANKS.

  6. I’ve never understood it when writers apologize for posting news about their writing – I would much rather hear about someone’s passion than see what they had for dinner, and no one apologizes for posting pics of that! Great to think of it as sharing the love!

    • WOW Patty, you and I are on the same path. Loved your comment about the food–yes. Why do I hesitate when others are posting a lot of innocuous stuff. THANKS. Have a great day.

  7. This was so inspiring to me… just in case I forget to tell you later, you know, when I am a best-selling author! (I never thought to think about promoting my writing by “sharing the love”; it always feels like “selling” and “oversharing” to me — I think that I was wrong about that.) Thank you.

    • You are welcome. I thought that too. But when I’ve spent hours and hours working on my novel, I pray that the love I have for the work will somehow reach others and they will LOVE it too. THanks.

  8. I often think that the reason I’m not as successful as I would like to be is because I’m not a toot-my-own-horn kind of person. I really don’t like putting myself in the spotlight and when I have to talk about my creations to strangers, I clam up. I speak well – when I write – but face-to-face? Uh uh! Like fingers tripping over a keyboard (something I would do if I was to attempt to market myself online), my tongue refuses to communicate with my brain and I fumble for the right words. You would think that at my age, I’d be capable of speaking in public, but I’m not.

    My brain agrees with you, but the little negative brat who sits on my shoulder is crossing her arms and flipping her head up and over. I forced her to read your blog, but she continues to ignore me 😉

    Oh, well. Maybe someday.

    • Hi Theresa,

      Maybe the little brat will behave when the words on your page have a true glow and you are so happy with them, that the little brat will bow to that happiness or just whoosh, disappear. One thing you can do is practice reading your work aloud. OWN IT. That helps believing in it. Beth

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