Remembering to Think Small

Thinking Small About Promoting My Book

I should be thrilled. I just found out that my book “Small: The Little We Need for Happiness” will be published in September or October. I’ve been looking forward to this publication for years—all the years that I’ve been writing since my last book appeared, the years that I’ve been receiving rejections for the pieces I send out to magazines, the years I spent writing and revising this book. And when the publisher first told me they wanted to publish Small, I was overjoyed. The infusion of happiness that spread throughout me at that moment had a very long half life. Hardly a day passed when I didn’t experience a tingle of pleasure when I thought of my book appearing on the shelves.

Yet once publication became real enough for a date—or a near date—to be assigned, something shifted. I didn’t realize it at first, but one day, I realized I felt very disconnected from my book. The very book whose every word, every comma I had labored over for several years, the book that had changed the way I perceive my life, that had sat at the very center of my consciousness for all this time, now felt like a memory. A distant memory. Like a person I had once cared very much about, who had moved far away and no longer phoned or wrote to me.

How strange, I thought. How could this have happened?

Now, I think I understand. With imminent publication comes promotion. And promotion, especially self promotion, is my least-favored activity. I would much sooner denigrate myself than boast. Much sooner disappear into my quiet life than work to make myself visible to potential readers.

Yet as soon as I write these words, a tiny voice whispers, “But you owe it to your book!” Once you have written it and it appears in print, though you have created it, it is separate from you, and you have an obligation to help it thrive!”

Convincing words, but how do I reach out and embrace them? How do I translate such a belief into actions that feel alien to me?

I start making a list of what I need to do: create a Facebook Professional Page, sign up for a MailChimp account, gather the edresses of everybody I’ve ever met . . .. But within minutes, I’m riding a roller coaster of panic, names and must-do’s swirling in my head. I can’t do this, I think. I just can’t.

Then I realize that my fear of book promotion is another thread in the web of writing inhibitions., not all that different from failing to send pieces out for publication, or being unable to complete what I’ve begun. And after years of coaching writers on overcoming these inhibitions, I can certainly help myself.

“Just think small,” I whisper to myself. “Think small.”

Immediately I feel soothed. All I need to do is complete one action a day toward promoting my book. One small act of self promotion feels much less onerous than an entire campaign. And as I think about it, I realize that one action times seven, then another seven, means that by the end of two weeks, I’ll have completed 14 acts of promotion.

I can do this. Yes, I can!

Dried Seaweed, Salt Point, CA

4 thoughts on “Remembering to Think Small”

  • One of the most successful novelists I’ve met who was on his own marketing-wise, focused on small, interpersonal connections with one person at a time. He’d meet you, have a conversation about his life, give away a couple of copies, and just sold one piece at a time. Ever since then, I’ve believed that there is benefit to starting small and doing little things to the overwhelming attempts of trying to reach out to as many people as possible at once.

    • Thanks for this, Charley. I so appreciate what this novelist does. In fact, it’s the way I feel most comfortable living my life. And if I can think of promoting my book this way, I will feel every so much calmer.

  • I have some of the feelings after I have sent out another blog posting which i have labored over and to which I have carefully added photos. I feel very satisfied after each posting. Then I am charged with responding to the comments and all I want to do is write my next post. I will think differently this time and realize that in a week or two I will have both received responses and shared something more with some of my readers. This is part of today’s writing process. How lucky we are that our words have a bigger audience because of the internet! I will slow down and enjoy the ride!!

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