Thinking Small About Promoting My Book
It’s happened. I’ve hit a wall with my writing. Well, not exactly with my writing, but with promoting my new book, “Small: The Little We Need for Happiness.” My book will be shipped at the end of this month, just in time for the new year, and I’ve begun to dread heading to my computer each morning. What I’d love to be doing is writing, but what I need to be doing is promoting. And promoting makes me feel uncomfortable. More than uncomfortable. It makes me feel small and squishy and horrendously ugly. It makes me want to flee to my bedroom and curl up in bed, the covers pulled high over my head. It’s gotten so severe that, the other day, as I was looking up the name of yet another book reviewer for yet another publication, I found myself thinking, I wish I had never written this book!
I caught myself quickly, realizing I had let my discomfort progress much too far without creating a strategy to counter it. That’s the way I used to deal with life: dwelling on the obstacles, the disappointments, the tensions, and allowing them to take over. In those days, I was brilliant at manufacturing difficulty for myself. One small moment of uncertainty, and I’d nourish it until it became a ball of hot lava speeding toward me and those I loved. If, as we passed in the hall, the chairman of the department said “Hello” without smiling at me, I was certain something I had done had displeased him. Was it during our most recent faculty meeting? Or when the two of us had tea in his office at the beginning of the week? Did this mean he’d take my favorite class away from me, and make me return to teaching beginning French again? Or maybe he wasn’t going to renew my contract?
I’m no longer that person. Not at all. But facing the task of promoting my book, a book of which I am so very proud, I realize I have become that person. She is very familiar to me. And I admit at times, I am tempted to surrender. You’re right to dread this promoting, you’ve built up no following over the years. It’s too late to begin now. Nobody cares about you or what you’ve written. They won’t pay any attention to your book. Just forget it. Forget Facebook and Instagram. Forget your blog. And don’t even think about bookstore readings. You’ll be standing in front of a sea of empty chairs. Better to give up now than suffer later.
In the old days, I had no tools or strategies for working through this kind of paralyzing doubt. Surrender was my only choice. But now, I have options. I know what to do.
First, I need to stop thinking globally. I need to stop calling what I’m doing “Promoting.” Promoting is a concept I cannot relate to. I am a writer, and I love sitting in my garden office and putting words on the page. Promoting is the opposite of that. So instead of the word promoting, I’m going to think of Introducing. I’m working on introducing my new book.
And not to the world, or to all of California, or the entire Bay Area. I need to think much, much smaller. Today, I’m going to introduce “Small” to the book review editor of this particular newspaper, is what I need to tell myself. Today, I’m going to introduce “Small” to this bookstore.
Already, I feel better. Thinking small works. I’ve proved that to myself by writing an entire book on the subject. And now I’m putting what I learned from writing my book into practice. Any of you can do this, especially when it comes to writing. As you’ll read in my book, writing involves putting words on the page, one word, then another and another. No need to think about the whole, or even the entire chapter, or the page. Just one word, after another, after another. And before you know it, you’ll be launched.