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The Marketing Monster
By Grace G.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Rated "G" by the Author.
Whether you are a new author signed securely under a contract to a well known national publishing house or a novice self published writer, marketing the work for the first time will likely be nothing short of a daunting experience. It can be especially challenging when you’re a writer that is 'shy'.
I 'write' because I must; the words keep me awake at night until I honor them in print. For me, the writing is as natural as breathing. At times it feels like the words have control of the pages. It’s not until I transition into the editing process that I’m surprised by the things revealed. There are uncounted times that I find myself saying 'did I write that' or 'where did that come from'. So the writing part of this work is enjoyable; freeing, fun and welcome.
Unintentional mistakes in spelling, order of words, and the use of correct pronouns all enter the picture during the editing phase. Fine tuning the manuscript involves the ‘hunt’ for errors; mistakes that remain in the background even after the tenth review. It’s like these little culprits enjoy the challenge of finding the path of invisibility to the writer. It’s really more that the author knew what they meant to say and so they can't see the problems with the words appearing on the page that are different than their thoughts. Eventually a writer without a contract with a major publishing house or a lot of capital to invest in publishing a novel, will admit the value of editing and take courage by the hand and find several friends that might be interested in the subject; and, commit to mailing a proof of the manuscript to find hidden gems that need tweaking. Of course if you have the money to spend as an aspiring author, higher a reputable editor as this is important to impressions of the readers.
So what is the most difficult part? From my most resent experience it's marketing. Until I faced the marketing monster, I remained convinced the hardest part had likely been the efforts of getting my words 'published'. There were the standard challenges. Can I find a publishing house that will agree to review the work? Once the chapter samples are sent to a company that agrees to read the manuscript, will I hear back from them? Am I suffering the pains of ‘rejection’ notices? Will the smaller publishing houses connect with the subject and make contact if I send them a request for review? Is the smaller publishing house going to add value to getting the work published? What will the costs be to self publish? So many questions had to be researched for answers. At this point, with self publishing under my belt, following the steps made the concerns little more than personal confusion about something I just needed to pursue. There are some easy steps to publishing that most writers eventually stumble into; almost magically. Yet, Marketing stands in the front of the line of the unknowns that a writer must face with a courage they thought was not possible. At least for me this piece proved to be the most difficult.
This past weekend I did my first live 'radio' interview. I was so nervous when I received the call inviting me to participate in an opportunity to introduce my novel. I didn't sleep for days as my mind turned on and would not shut down. What would I say? Was I ready? How do I prepare? Would I get the message of the book across to the listening audience in such a distinct and intriguing way that they would be interested? Sales of the book as a direct result of the interview was void in my thinking as I was too nervous about what questions would be asked and if I would be prepared with answers.
I spent days thinking like a media personality. What had I heard them ask others when I listened to author interviews? I wrote down all the possible questions that I had heard others confront during interviews and when I couldn't remember all the questions I went to taped interviews on the internet and listened to how the writers had responded. Then I spent another two days writing down the questions I might be asked and wrote out my 'spontaneous' answers to those queries. Four hours from the interview I had done about everything I could to prepare and felt I should be ready to face my first interview. Then my emotions began to make an unexpected appearance. The palms of my hands began to glisten with beads of sweat and my stomach started to turn summersaults. An hour from the start of interview I was so nervous I seriously considered calling the Producer of the show to cancel the interview. The clocks in the house seemed to taunt me with their ‘tick tocks’ as I made sure everything electronic that could cause background noise or personal distraction was put to sleep for the ten minute interview. The second line that could ring during the interview was taken off the hook so no one would call in during the interview and shock me. Open doors and windows were closed so the barking dogs next door could not interfere. A glass of water was at the ready so if my throat was dry I could sooth it during the interview. Ten minutes from the time I was to call to the show, I was sitting at the ready at my computer with files open to support me on questions that the host was likely to ask. I was now full on sweating like a person sitting in a sauna; and, if the water didn't stop dripping from my fingers I was likely to short out the keyboard. One minute and counting. It was time. The line rang the instant I put through the call to the interview line; then an automated answering device picked up and I could hear the host announcing my arrival. What happened next would take my level of bizarre events in life to new heights.
In the final countdown, it's the thing that didn't occur to you or the thing that you knew would never happen that decides to make an appearance. In my case it was the 'connection'. As quiet as it was in my interview room, I could not hear the host from the very minute he introduced me. No matter how many times I depressed the increase volume button on the phone, I could not hear him. It certainly wasn't the phone as I purchased a new one for this interview and had checked it out under all possible conditions, cell phone call distortions, background noise reduction; all types of possible problems. But in the end it was the unplanned for event. I never called the radio line before the interview to see what the person on the other end of the line would sound like in my handset. When it was all over with, even this advance checking may not have helped the over all picture, because it was the connection at that moment in that window of time that set the tone for what unfolded.
I heard the introduction as a bit 'muddled' in volume so I anxiously depressed the increase volume button. With the next statement from the host there was no improvement and I suddenly realized I heard part of the question but not the ending. I had to ask him to repeat the question. Mortified, I lost my courage that I had so carefully crafted over the previous days. I not only lost my nerve; I seemed to have lost my hearing. A writer doesn't know what pain feels like until they face the moment of reality where what they want to say about their work gets lost in 'the listening process' or what I can call the 'what did he just ask me' syndrome.
To say it was 'awful' was an understatement of the highest magnitude. I began to stumble, stammer and float into the twilight zone of the unbelievable. By the middle of the interview I was completely guessing what the question was that the host had asked me because I had decided it was just impossible for me to keep asking him to repeat the questions. My mind began to race to the end of the interview with thoughts of 'it's just ten minutes' in your life. The hidden emotions I was blocking were screaming that the audience knew this interview was uninteresting, the host knew it; and, of course I felt it with every fiber of my being. What was I thinking when I agreed to take on 'marketing'? Why had I not honored my personal commitment to just let the novel speak for me; and, let the truth seekers find their way to my story without doing any interviews. When the interview concluded, I had not once mentioned the Publisher’s web site or the support of the two charities with the sale of each book.
Yesterday passed as a ‘missed opportunity’. Today arrived as my birthday; and in the end the experience was the best gift I could have given myself. I learned more from the truth of this situation in my life than any one of the thousands of times I presented major programs to Presidents and Vice Presidents from my previous Fortune 500 employer; a career where I had been defined by presentation successes.
I live my life with a sense of humor while ever aware of the importance of humility. For me, Marketing was truly the most humbling experience I have faced; and, I am changed by the opportunity to learn more about myself. If I hadn't figured that out in the hours that passed since the interview, I knew it when I opened a video email birthday card from a dear friend. It was from a web site that supports Career Building. There was an 'ugly monkey' singing me back to reality on this most special of occasions in my life, celebrating not only my birth but a new birth into the mysterious world of the Marketing Monster!
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|Reviewed by RM Green
|I read with interest your experience wuth the 'Marketing Monster'. I am a new author and I am on schedule to have my first novel published by June, 2007. And I also know I will be subject to what you have just described. I also believe that my novel should sell itself, but if no one knows it's out there, how do we achieve this? I dread this 'Marketing Monster' with a passion... but my passion is writing and to become a full-time author, so I must put up with it's unpleasantries as well. Thank you for sharing!