If you know much about me, you know I hate to promote my books. If you didn’t know that, you’ll know by blog’s end. :)
I hate to PROMO. I hate the glare of those capped letters. I squirm at the idea of talking about my latest release or gearing up for a new release. I envy all green-like over those who do it so effortlessly. They’re brilliance leaves me feeling incredibly inferior. I guess it’s probably because while I don’t mind being the center of attention (don’t all gasp and stuff), I’d prefer it wasn’t in reference to my books.
I know, crazy, right? I had this very conversation with my agent who has heretofore been dubbed Agent Fab. She asked me over lunch at a convention why I hate it so much. And I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I never planned on writing books. I didn’t set out to storm the publishing world, and I definitely didn’t dedicate a ton of effort to pursuing a career in it. I didn’t stay awake at night and dream of the day I’d be published. I did, in my misspent youth, stay awake at night and plot my escape to Hollywood where Barry Manilow would await me in his stretch limo (white. The color all virgins wish for), and thus, whisk me away, and we’d sing duets together.
I also dreamed I’d skip off to my fabulous job with an unknown title while my fabulous purse swung (swang? Whatever.), from the crook of my fabulous arm and my fabulous doorman would greet me each day to open the doors to my lush, fabulous penthouse suite in New York City.
No. I really did. :)
Anyway, this was all an accident. I wrote something one day after reading a bunch of ebooks. I don’t even know what made me do it. Though, I truly believe a higher power was looking out for me, in that, this universal leader knew I was going to need a full-time gig. Because shortly after that first book, I was in the height of a rather difficult divorce with no means to support my children because I was a full-time SAHM (now that acronym I know).
So, long story short—while I didn’t dream of being a writer, that doesn’t mean that now I don’t spend almost seven days a week writing my brains out or that writing didn’t become my dream eventually.
Because it did. Has.
The dream happened gradually. I didn’t know and or understand most of the things people who’ve pursued this published thing talked about at conventions and writerly gatherings. I didn’t get the catch phrases and had not a clue what the acronyms for WIP and HEA etc meant. I didn’t understand numbers or lists or what being an NYT bestseller meant from say, being a stripper. So instead I went my own way—listened from the sidelines in order to learn from the masters and did what I do best. What I’ve always done best.
Hangout and chat with readers and authors while I learned the ropes.
Eventually, I developed my own sort of reverse PROMO. I’m often heard telling people not to buy my books because they suck. They’ll cause anal weeping. Maybe even loose bowel syndrome. I joke about the class action lawsuits filed against me after reading one of my books (at least I think it’s a joke. Who knows what tomorrow brings?). I sometimes refuse to let people buy my books at a signing. I mean, I eventually give in—but there can be some tug of war to be had before the sale is complete.
So when Agent Fab and I talked, I came to this conclusion. I think this dread of PROMO has a lot to do with the fact that I don’t feel like I paid my dues. That I didn’t stay up late enough at night, fingers bleeding while I honed my genius. Sweat for long periods of time, in some cases years. I don’t feel like I agonized long enough or hard enough.
I definitely don’t think I have any right to give advice on the craft or guide anyone on their path to publishing. I guess it’s my defense mechanism. It’s my way of saying, “Me writing books for a living? This is all just nuts, and if you think so, too, you won’t hurt my feelings.” :)
Yet, I learned something very valuable this week after the passing of Leslie Banks, and I heard it echoed in Richelle Mead’s words when we discussed her passing at the League. Leslie left a legacy of generosity that surpassed even her amazing books. She left a warm glow—a kind word of acceptance—a hug so enormous it literally enveloped you. She left a lesson in inclusion—one every writer--no matter their status in the writing world--should feel.
While the genius of her books will always remain—sentiments like the ones above are what I’ve heard in spades about Leslie this week. In my mind, those qualities made her a genius. She promoted integrity, hard work and a generosity of spirit without ever even mentioning one of her books. I bought them because I wanted to connect in yet another way to the wonder of her good heart, but it wasn’t because she had a contest or sent me her newsletter. All good things, mind you, in the hands of the right person—which is not me J I fumble. I stumble. Then eventually I just make a joke.
So I’ve decided to stop bashing myself over the head about how bad I am at retweeting a good review or working up a release day contest and instead, follow in Leslie’s very simple footsteps. Rather than flail so miserably in discomfort, I’m just going to try and be even half the awesome human being she was. Because I wanna be just like her when I grow up. :)