Alex J. Cavanaugh has decided to take the IWSG to a new level with The Insecure Writer's Support Group Guide To Publishing and Beyond. As the group enters its third year, as well as the first anniversary of the IWSG website, Alex is compiling a book to assist other writers in the areas of writing, publishing, and marketing. For a sneak preview, be sure to visit all of the talented writers here. Below is my cutting room floor contribution for consideration in the Guide.
How Selling Yourself Short Might Shortchange You
Oh, how I loved to sing. As high school thespians, we would often burst into song like the characters in Glee. I didn't realize how annoying that habit was until I decided to belt out some Ethel Merman show tunes during a long drive home. My "older" boyfriend was too polite to say anything, as I sang for an audience of one in an enclosed vehicle with enough vibrato to fill an auditorium. When he pulled into my driveway his head was throbbing so heavily that he didn't even bother to walk me to the door. Any false sense of bravado I had was lost that day. It must have somehow disappeared along with my phone number.
This is only one of many stories that led me to join the Insecure Writer's Support Group in 2011. As the group was celebrating its third anniversary in early September, I was also celebrating the publication of our anthology, Old Broads Waxing Poetic. Our team of eight witty and wonderful writers, includes two other members of the IWSG. After we got the word out on our blogs, and other social media, the hardest part was marketing to friends and family.
Upon recovering from the initial shock that I was finally published, a few friends offered to buy the book. I could tell they were just trying to be nice, so I foolishly said, "That's okay. You don't have to." I gave them an out, and they took it. What I should have said was, "That's great! All proceeds are going to Care International. Thank you!"
I didn't want them to feel obligated, and I couldn't be more wrong. I was playing the restaurant game. We've all played it. The bill comes, and one person grabs the check. He or she offers to pay. You initially say that it's not necessary, and offer to split it. The person insists, and you say thank you. I was waiting for the "I insist" round that never came.
Though some older family members wanted to help out, they were concerned about providing personal information to Amazon, as well as shipping charges. They offered to reimburse me, after I ordered copies for them. I was glad they weren't the least bit worried about me sharing personal information. I tried to explain how to access an Amazon card, but they didn't seem interested.
My closest friend surprised me by buying five copies. She gave one to each of her sisters-in-law who enjoyed it so much they're planning on buying some additional copies to send to their friends. Last week she also gave books to two more friends when we were at her house for a holiday dinner. Then I realized she had given all five copies away. As if reading my mind, she said, "Don't worry, I'll order some more copies." When I started to argue she didn't hesitate to add, "I insist."
This is my entry for consideration in The IWSG Guide To Publishing and Beyond. If accepted, I give permission to include this entry in the anthology.
My Bio: Julie Kemp Pick writes about family humor often featuring her rebellious mom, and blogs at http://emptynestinsider.blogspot.com/
It's nice to have people around you who are ready to support you. And it's great that you joined the group. We all have our fears and worries, and sometimes we tend to sell ourselves short. IWSG is there to help people like us. Lovely post!ReplyDelete
Hi Julie - you never know where and how the word will spread .. amazing small beginnings and that's what it is isn't it ... congratulations and cheers HilaryReplyDelete
When we sell ourselves short we don't do anyone any favors. Great article for the book!ReplyDelete
Great post, Julie! Even though I'm multi-published, I'm terrible at self-promo. I'm fairly new to IWSG and am grateful for all the help the group provides.ReplyDelete
Loralee - Just wanted you to know I tried to leave a comment on your blog, but had trouble with Disqus. Your mom's peach cobbler recipe sounds delicious, and I love how you turned her recipes into an anthology!Delete
I'm so guilty of that same "you don't have to" behavior. I also have a hard time taking compliments. We should stop doing that. I like your new answer better and I hope you start using it on every inquirer about your new anthology!ReplyDelete
Awesome, Julie! It's so hard to marry the old childhood lessons of don't brag, etc, with all the "stuff" that goes along with self-promotion and presenting yourself as someone who has a product to sell. Being an author is not the easiest job in the world, that's for sure.ReplyDelete
It's wonderful that your close friend bought five books and handed them out. It's word of mouth that is always most effective. :)ReplyDelete
What a friend. Word of mouth is the best way to market and it sounds like you're on your way with that.ReplyDelete
Awesome indeed to have close friends around, have to give ourselves a little credit every now and thenReplyDelete
You have such a great friend in Lila! Such fun meeting the two of you! At least three of my friends bought Broads and THEY LOVE IT! So the word is getting around. I know it will do great!
Julie, I don't think anyone could've made a better argument for being brave with our work.ReplyDelete
That's awesome your best friend bought five copies despite your efforts.
Thanks for contributing to the book!
That's so sweet. I think you're friend is really wonderful, and reminds us we need to believe in ourselves.ReplyDelete
Sittie - This group has been exceptionally supportive, and I'm proud to be a part of it. I'm also glad to have met you through the IWSG. Thanks Sittie!ReplyDelete
Hilary - Yes, "small beginnings" is the perfect way to describe the early stages of publishing. I'm grateful for them, and thrilled to be part of such a helpful team. Thanks Hilary!
Lynda - I wholeheartedly agree that it really works against you in the end. In our case, we're also trying to raise money for charity. so it's a win-win. Thanks Lynda!
Loralee - I'm surprised it doesn't get easier with each book. Maybe it's like stage fright. Some actors never get over it, but it doesn't seem to effect their performances. Self-promo seems to be a work in progress for many of us. Thanks Loralee!
I would have said No, that's okay too. But I think your rephrasing it to positive is the way to go. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Great story and sound advice!! Thanks for that, Julie!ReplyDelete
How about attaching a CD of you singing to the book? There's nothing like a free gift to get people interested in poetry.ReplyDelete
What a great friend you have. We could all use someone like that in our life.ReplyDelete
Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room
Luanne - I wouldn't think you'd have a hard time taking anything with all of your tough as nails female warriors. Thanks for making me feel better, and I will definitely follow your advice.ReplyDelete
Carol - You make it look so easy by spreading the word in an entertaining way. Thanks Carol!
Chrys - I couldn't ask for a better publicist/agent! Thanks Chrys!
Susan - I'm so lucky her family moved across the street from us when I was six-years-old! Thanks Susan!
Pat - I'm learning this slowly but surely. Thanks Pat!
Michael - We had a great time meeting you too! Lila is the best! I'm so glad your friends enjoyed Old Broads! It may have had something to do with your outstanding cover! Thanks for spreading the word, Michael!
Alex - I'm so excited about the IWSG guidebook! In fact, I already got some great marketing tips that I'm going to start using right away.Thanks for creating the IWSG, and I'm honored to be included in your new book.
S.L. - She really is wonderful in every way. She helped me get my first job, and talked me into going away to college. We really do need to believe in ourselves. Thanks SL!
Yes, marketing is the hardest part, for sure. I'm real shy trying to market to friends, but I need to be more assertive.ReplyDelete
Awesome post to read Julie, I wish you all the good luck.ReplyDelete
One has to start somewhere and the beginning and by sheer tenacity is the only way to succeed.
The autobiography, I have written about my dad is nearly ready to publish. I will keep what you said in mind.ReplyDelete
Totally relate to this! Writers can be so modest at times. We can also be shy about tooting our own horns but in order to promote our work we have got to get over that. And when someone says they want to buy our books, just say, "Great! Let me know how you like it!" Great post. Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
Great advice, Julie! I think the hardest thing about writing is the sales and promotion of one's work.ReplyDelete
Oh lovely! You are better than me! Other than what I put on my blog, I put something on Facebook and about three of my friends "liked" it. That was it! Not sure anyone I know has read OLD BROADS...I'm glad for you that you have such a nice, supportive friend. And I am going to try to improve my own personal marketing!ReplyDelete
Can I just tell you how much I LOVE the cover for Old Broads Waxing Poetic? It is awesome! And what a great friend/publicist you have! That's the kind of friend every author needs!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog earlier today! :)
I totally need to get over my shyness when it comes to marketing - especially the face-to-face kind! Sounds like you have a great friend there.ReplyDelete
So true that we can let a past wound shut down our new endeavors. I'm so glad you've learned to speak up for your work. Great advice here on how to not self-sabotage. Thank you!ReplyDelete
I'm definitely shy when it comes to chatting up my book to friends and family. I don't have that problem with someone else's book, but for some reason I freeze when it comes to mine. I have to get over myself and just talk about it!ReplyDelete
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Marketing is very difficult and I was a marketing major in college - right now I get a grade of F. I'm proud of my writing, proud to be in the Old Broads collection, but it is hard to ask folks to buy it. Once they read the poems, they love it and yes, often buy copies for gifts. Oh it's such a tricky game. What's the worst that can happen? a NO - oh well, just move on. Cheers to Old Broads Waxing Poetic and more books in your future.ReplyDelete
Most of us have a hard time with self-promotion and accepting compliments. Maybe we can blame it on our mothers for teaching us not to brag.ReplyDelete
Your friend is a true friend. Great post, Julie.
it's hard when you want to please people, right? great entry!ReplyDelete
Natalie - You really can't go wrong having a positive attitude about everything you do! Thanks Natalie!ReplyDelete
Ava - If only my kids believed I gave "sound advice!" Thanks Ava!
Gorilla - You know I've often thought about setting some of the poems to music. Maybe you could call in some background singers in the jungle for Frequent Flatulence. I'll supply the bananas!
Elizabeth - Truer words were never spoken! I know how lucky I am! Thanks Elizabeth!
Miranda - I agree it's easier to be more assertive with strangers...especially when they're on the phone!
Yvonne - I need to borrow a cup of your "sheer tenacity!" Thanks Yvonne!
Yvonne S. - I'm so excited for you! Looking forward to hearing more about your dad! Thanks Yvonne!
Quanie - Spoken like a true pro! I like it! Thanks Quanie!
Great post. I can relate. Keep your chin up and believe in your story.ReplyDelete
Juneta at Writer's Gambit
Juneta - Wonderful words to live by! Thanks Juneta!Delete
Connie (Daisy) - The bottom line is we all put together a wonderful anthology that we're proud of! My son even said he liked the poems you wrote about your boys! Hence, none of us should feel like we're promoting ourselves, because it was a group effort. Thanks Connie!ReplyDelete
Liza - I'm glad you still helped spread the word, and this is only the beginning. In addition to what I mentioned to Connie, we can all stress how the proceeds go to CARE International. I hope this takes some of the pressure off. Thanks Liza!
Kristin - I have Susan Flett Swiderski and Michael Di Gesu to thank for the wonderful cover! Susan discovered Francesco Romoli's photograph, and Michael spun it into gold (with a little black and silver thrown in). Thanks for the kind words, and for co-hosting the IWSG, Kristin!
Nick - You did a wonderful job in every last detail of Overcoming Adversity! I agree that the marketing is still the hardest part, though it shouldn't be especially for such a worthwhile cause. I'm grateful to have such a devoted friend. Thanks Nick!
Laurel - It's still an ongoing effort, but I'm getting there! Thanks Laurel!
Donna - It's sad how we sometimes feel like we're putting our friends and families on the spot by talking about our work. I'm sure you put your all into your award-winning children's books, so you have every reason to proudly share them with your loved ones. Thanks for following me, Donna!
Joanne - You should be very proud of your writing, and formatting for Old Broads! Do you mean to tell me that you didn't sell any copies in Italy?! Welcome back, Joanne!
Susan - My partner in rhyme is back! Nope, I can't blame this on my mom. She always tells me how I downplay things too much. Yes, I'm very lucky to have such a wonderful old friend, and even though we've never met in person, I'm grateful you're a true blue
Tammy - Yep, I'm still a people pleaser. Sad but true.Thanks Tammy!
Julie: I would bet dollars to donuts that many writers out there would LOVE to be as insecure as you when they write. Congrats!ReplyDelete
My sister and my mom bought the anthologies that I have short stories published in. The books are neatly packed away in a special box, unopened, unread. They tell me "I know its good because you wrote it." Funny how much that statement hurts. But at least someone I know has bought the books. I've given a few away too, and always appreciate when people tell me they read the story.ReplyDelete
I keep forgetting to go over and check out the Old Broads book. Look like my kind of stories as I'm getting to be an old broad myself :)
JJ - This is quite a compliment coming from such an accomplished author, as well as a Professor of Humanities. Thanks for making my day, JJ!ReplyDelete
Dolorah - It's amazing how the people we're closest to have the ability to hurt us the most, even when in their own way they're trying to be helpful. When I first published a short story in a local anthology a few years ago, a bought some extra copies for my family. Later I noticed how no one had bothered to take one home. Now they're starting to take me a little more seriously, and I'm sure your family will too. Thanks for considering Old Broads, and you don't have to be one to enjoy it. See, I'm trying to be more assertive already! Thanks Dolorah!
Oops..,I meant to say, "I bought."Delete
Woohoo. Yes. It's unpredictable how people will react to the huge accomplishment of publication, but important to be consistently confident. You have much reason for this, Julie. It's a wonderful product, and those who don't know this are missing out.ReplyDelete
How's your signature going? Have you had opportunities yet? That part's fun, even if you mess up a little. =)
Broad hugs for an easy fast and meaningful Yom Kippur.
I'm shy that way, too. I really don't like to urge friends to buy my books and some don't really understand how difficult it is to be recognized as a beginner writer. Reviews? What are they? I have tried to "educate" those around me, so some have a better idea of what this business is about. I love your contribution.ReplyDelete
Robyn - And you're one of the reasons it's a "wonderful product." Speaking of signatures, you should autograph some copies too! I just have a mini-fast, so it's not so bad. Hope you have an easy fast, and a meaningful holiday too. Thanks Robyn!ReplyDelete
Lee - It's funny how some of the most outgoing people are shy about certain things. Many people probably don't realize how important reviews are, and that they're not reserved only for professional critics. Thanks Lee!
I have this book on my Kindle and can't wait to read what you and the rest of the broads shared. This story about singing in the car would have made me want to buy it even if I didn't already know how funny your writing can be, Julie.ReplyDelete
Perfect post for the IWSG guide. I've made selling myself short a lifelong habit but being part of this great blogging community has inspired me to at least try to stop doing that. :)
This is an excellent reminder of just how tough marketing is.ReplyDelete
Julie - I'm so excited that you have the ebook! I know how busy you've been between taking care of your mom, and getting your new book ready, so I really appreciate your thoughtfulness, Julie! I'm glad you liked my embarrassing singing in the car story, but you should never sell yourself short. Look how much you've accomplished since we first met in 2011! I can't wait for your new book to come out! I agree about the wonderful blogging community. Thanks again for everything, Julie!ReplyDelete
Robin - Knowing the type of person you are, you will be more than prepared when the time comes. The best part is, we'll all be there to support you! Thanks Robin!
Just so you know...I just ordered your book.ReplyDelete
Although, when Mrs. Penwasser reads the credit card statement, she may think that "Old Broads Waxing Poetic" may be code for some sort of porn.
It isn't, is it?
Al - Actually there are a few sizzling scenes involving female parts wrestling with gravity, so the young and lovely Mrs. Penwasser will simply laugh it off by saying, "Ha, ha this will NEVER happen to me." You will politely agree, and suggest moving the party upstairs. It's a win-win, and you've donated to charity! Thanks so much Al, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I loved Shag Carpet Toilet!Delete
I did and wrote a glowing (well, for me) review.Delete
It's true, as a writer you can't just be a writer, you have to be your own pitchman, too. And "Nah, you don't have to buy it if you don't want" just doesn't sell books quite like, "This is the best book you will ever read, so buy it now before Oprah gets a hold of it and sells all of them."ReplyDelete
Everybody says that sales and marketing/promo are the most difficult parts of this journey...ReplyDelete
But you should be able to win people over, Julie! Use that wit and charm to your advantage...don't feel guilty (and I hope you'll remind me to follow my own advice when my time comes) LOL
B & B - Thanks for the "aha moment!" Great advice from a couple of multi-talented guys who really do know their stuff.ReplyDelete
Michelle - Your time will come soon, and I'll be happy to remind you! Thanks for doing a great job working tirelessly on the IWSG Guide, Michelle!
Great post! And what a great lesson to always keep in mind.ReplyDelete
Sarah - Thank you very much! I really appreciate it, Sarah!Delete
Well here's a website that had me wait wait, I finally found the website also very contains a lot of benefits in your website isReplyDelete
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