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Posts Tagged ‘overcoming fear’

Skill matters — but heart matters more when it comes to your book’s message

A few days ago, I was asked about my life philosophy at a business event. This didn’t happen as we were just passing cards during a 30-second intro — it was part of an exercise on the topic of building consensus by learning to understand where others are coming from.

Participants were given a list of about 80 values (e.g., cooperation, creativity, excellence, involvement, loyalty, freedom, public messageservice, stability, sophistication, and wisdom) and asked to choose the 10 they felt best represented themselves. We were then asked to narrow that list down to our Top 5 and rank them in order of importance. The exercise consisted of pairing off with others, showing them our Top 5 list, and having the other person ask us to explain what one of those terms meant to us, personally. My top 5 included personal development, freedom, influencing others, affection, and helping society. The gal who chose to ask me about my value of helping society also asked about my life philosophy.

My answer to her was, essentially, that I really, truly, and from the bottom of my heart want to change the world and make it a better place for all of us. But I cannot do that on my own. In my opinion, no single book or single messenger could undertake such a massive goal. But I can — and do — effect change by helping other people write the best books they can and then get those books into the hands of readers. I don’t write all the books or share all the messages myself; I help many messengers raise their voices and exert their influence in their particular fields.

I wouldn’t have given this much more thought, except that a related question arose in one of my LinkedIn groups today. The headline read: Are you an elitist? Or do you believe everyone should write? 

Wow! I’d actually like to meet the person who said that everyone should not write. Now, I’m something of a perfectionist, so I get the absolute frustration with the plethora of crap books out there. I’ve said before and I’ll say again: The good news is that writing a book is easier than it’s ever been; the bad news, also, is that writing a book is easier than it’s ever been. Not everyone is a born writer. Not everyone has any skill whatsoever at putting sentences on a page in a way that makes sense, allows proper white space, incorporates correct grammar, or spells even passably. But the lack of those technical skills does not automatically diminish the message.

I was inherently blessed with a decent command of grammar and language and communication. I’ve often come across other writers who find writing difficult. I saw the banner of a colleague’s Facebook page today with the Ernest Hemingway quote: “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter — and bleed.” I’ve never referenced that quote because it’s not a feeling with which I am familiar or one I want to perpetuate.

Writing, editing, layout, design, and marketing are easy for me. I know that is not the case for all — or most — writers and would-be authors. But because it’s easy for me, I can help others who struggle with those parts! The thing I absolutely cannot do is give you a message or a passion or an urge to make a difference with your words. Feel you can’t write your way out of a paper bag — but you have an idea that could save, transform, or uplift the lives of many? What if you’d met that person who felt that since you’re not a natural writer, you should pack it in and give up the thought of writing a book or speaking in public or sharing your message with the world?

Maybe … perhaps … possibly you have met that person, and he or she so discouraged you that you’ve still got a tiny little voice inside you telling you that you have something important to say, but it’s buried under all the crap you’ve allowed others to heap on you. Maybe it was a parent or a shitty school teacher who had no business in a classroom. Maybe it was an unsupportive sibling or spouse who told you your writing would never come to anything. Maybe it was an envious colleague who wanted to see you fail so they could feel better about themselves. Doesn’t matter who it was — or what they said. What matters is that you ignore their messaging, dismantle the self-sabotage you’ve allowed to take hold, and begin to listen more intently to your own voice — the one with the important message.feet

I can’t change the world by myself. I don’t know enough about the environment, immigration, prison reform, healthcare, education, relationships, spirituality, or any of the other myriad places I know we need to foster change. I know what I’d like to see happen, and I know there are many out there who are already making a big difference. But there are many, also, who are not yet making any difference at all because they’re fearful that they don’t know enough, aren’t polished enough, don’t have enough skill as writers. I’m here to help you stomp out such nonsense, once and for all.

Please don’t get bogged down in the technical details. Making a book is EASY — I promise. Writing it may take a bit of effort, but even that doesn’t have to be as difficult as you may have talked yourself into believing it is. The one part only you can do is have a message, a mission, and the will to share it with the world.

Are you ready to take a step forward? To begin to help me change the world? You can do it — I know you can.

Here’s to proving all the naysayers wrong!

Laura

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Summer Author Event

PHOENIX-AREA AUTHORS: If you or someone you know is an author in Phoenix, please consider participating in the Summer Author Event on August 16. This multi-author book signing and meet-and-greet will put you in front of hundreds of readers in a casual environment where you can sell and sign books. There are three levels of participation. The first 100 attendees will receive goody bags – and for just $25, you can put a promo for your book into the goody bags!  Learn more or register at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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The book marketer’s “bucket list”

“Write down 10 things you would do in
your life
if you had absolutely no fear.
Then pick one of them and do it.”
— Steve Chandler

OK – challenge time. We’ve been at this blog a year now. Whether you’ve been reading for 11 months or 11 days, it’s time to get out from behind your computer and put some of these ideas we’ve been discussing into action.

I hereby alter Steve Chandler’s quote thusly:

Write down 10 things you would do
to market your book if you had absolutely
no fear. Then pick one of them and do it!

Let’s get a list going, right here and right now:

  • Make a book trailer even though I don’t know much about video editing.
  • Start speaking to civic and community groups that include members of my audience, even if I’m terrified of public speaking.
  • Do a radio or TV interview, even if I’ve never done one before.
  • Create a mischief marketing campaign like blanketing the parking lots at an MLB game with postcards to promote my new baseball book, even if I’m worried I’ll get “in trouble.”
  • Interview someone famous in my market or industry, even if I’m worried they won’t want to talk with me.
  • Wear a costume related to one of the characters in my novel to a crowded shopping center and hand out bookmarks, even if I’ll feel silly.
  • Ask someone I admire to write a guest post for my blog, even if I’m incredibly shy.
  • Fork over the $200 to host a book signing at my local indie bookstore, even if that’s a lot of money and I don’t have a guarantee it will go well.
  • Ask someone famous for a blurb for my book, even if I don’t yet know how to contact them.
  • Spray paint my book marketing message where it counts, even if it’s…

I’ll admit some of these ideas are scarier or bigger envelope-pushers than others; it really all depends on your comfort level. I personally have no problems speaking in public, but it’s said that for some people, the fear of public speaker is greater than their fear of dying!

The point is to choose one idea from YOUR list of fears and overcome it by TAKING ACTION!

I recently signed up to be an organizer for a political campaign. That means asking a whole lot of people who don’t necessarily want to talk with me if they’re registered voters. Tap the vocal ones from the opposing party and … oops … I could set off a mini-incident without even trying. The other thing is that I get a lot more rejections than I do signer-uppers because that’s just the nature of the work. Let me tell you – this is pushing me outside my comfort zone in a BIG way.

One of my new voter-reg buddies is fearless – she tells anyone who’s not registered and doesn’t want to register that they’re giving away their power if they don’t vote. I agree – and used that line a couple times myself this weekend … to no avail. I will persist, though, because this is a skill I really want to improve. How can I be a successful team leader if I can’t walk my talk?

Another thing I want to do to push past my current comfort level is take an improv class and/or a class in comedy. I can stand up and give you a compelling, from-the-heart speech – but I’m no Kristin Wiig and get pretty tense at the idea of being silly onstage. SNL just lost one of its greatest performers ever as Kristin left the show to pursue other opportunities. She’s my hero, though – as she exemplifies fearlessness to me.

Who’s your role model? What did they do to overcome their fear and do it anyway? Ready, fire, aim – as my friend and mentor David Hepburn used to say. Otherwise, there’s an awfully strong chance you’ll stand around all day aiming and never quite get around to the firing part.

Happy fear-conquering!

Laura

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In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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