Like, in person, the old-fashioned way – not electronically. Scary stuff.
Thought I’d share how I’m feeling in advance of my first official book signing events. So far, three venues in my hometown, London, Ontario, have graciously agreed to permit me to set up a little table on-site and sign any copies customers may wish to purchase. Naturally, I’m very appreciative of these opportunities (even if I had to put in the effort to make these events happen) but they don’t come without considerable personal trepidation. It’s not because I’m under-prepared, quite the opposite, in fact; I’ve ordered a great pull-up, table-topper sign, business cards and pens – all well thought out, informative and helpful.
‘Conflicted’ is likely the best way to put it – how I’m feeling, that is. That’s probably surprising to some and unfortunate on a deeper, personal sense because I can’t allow myself to enjoy what ought to be a gratifying moment of accomplishment. Seriously, there isn’t a shred of pride to be felt.
One would think that such a milestone would be cause for celebration and personal satisfaction – but if I’m really honest, it’s difficult to enjoy given that I have no idea what to expect, how people will react and I feel somewhat uneasy that I had to give away nursing shifts in order to accommodate even going (and with that, comes the guilt of being a burden to my colleagues covering me, and for the concrete loss of income… only adding to the global cost of what it means to be a published author). I have spreadsheets, you know. And the minus column is growing a lot faster than the plusses. It’s all very humbling. And if nothing comes of them, there’s nothing that bothers me more than the feeling of wasting time. Conflicted again. But you don’t know unless you try.
Do you know how to make a bit of money as a writer? Easy! Just start with a lot.
Aside from the stark financial realities of what it means to be an ‘artist’/writer (which is really an entrepreneur by a fancy term), the truth is that I find it really embarrassing whenever people – however good-natured – ask me to sign their copy of my book. Maybe this is just me but it honestly isn’t an enjoyable experience – nor do I feel any sense of pride in doing so. The fact that they then can’t decipher my hand writing only adds to this vexation given that I usually have to read out loud what I wrote. I recognize and acknowledge this makes me sound like an ungrateful Rupert but it’s how I feel and all part of the total experience. I’m just a regular guy who wanted to write a book about (what I consider to be) and important topic … and stuck with it until it was finished.
But you gotta do it.
In fact, I would gladly do without the entire marketing aspect of this project. You realize quickly that being an author, creator of anything or any type of entrepreneur means that you have to push to get yourself out there – and no school teaches you those skills, or how to get over the discomfort of the whole “Look at me!” vibe you have to adopt in order to be successful. Arriving at the sobering realization that nobody else in the world gives a shit about how well you do brings with it a very real sense of disquiet. This is why small businesses have to market themselves so fiercely, relentlessly and shamelessly. It’s not because they want to. Or enjoy it.
The two major problems with me (and there are many, I admit) are that I don’t know how to half-do something and I am intrinsically motivated to succeed to an unnaturally high degree. If I’m in for a penny, I’m in for a pound – and anything worth doing is worth over-doing. Hence the 50+drafts before landing on the finished text. The re-done website. The merch store. All the promotional materials. These blogs. The screenplay promo paper (Yes!). Approaching retailers to carry my book in-store. All the emails to external parties you don’t see.
… and that fact that I’m probably working on a 2nd book in the series, already.
Oh well, never mind.
So, if you’re in London at any point in the coming weekends, please think to stop by and see me. Check out my Instagram @Wrinklyrancher for times and locations.
Can’t wait to meet you! And please forgive me if I’m a bit awkward… it isn’t you. It’s me.