There are about ten of you on this list so I feel pretty safe in referring to you all as friends. And actually, “friends” is what I want to keep this newsletter promotion update list thingy focused on. Because here’s the thing: I write books, and I need to market them, but… I’m not very good at it.
“Start an author newsletter!” is pretty high on the Author Marketing Recommendation For Dummies listicles that I read somewhat obsessively. I even kind of sort of tried to start one last year, before Bound by Blood and Sand came out, but I was so overwhelmed that I yanked the sign-up form off of my website after about 72 hours. I’ve found that one of the keys to calming myself down when I’m freaking out is to figure out what can give — what, on my always-epic To Do List, I can just not do — and let it go. Instant relief. Well, last year it was the newsletter. This year, I’m trying again.
But with all that said, the thing is, I don’t want to use this newsletter to, well, market. At least, not exactly. Not because marketing is bad (I mean, I wrote some very good books and I would really like to convince people to read them), but mostly because if you’re interested in me or my books enough to have signed up for this newsletter, you are probably already interested in reading my books. (Or maybe you even already have! In which case, you’re great.) So, other than a reminder of when my next book is coming out (cough-december-12-cough) the question is… with a bajillion other social media sites I already use, what do I do here?
Which is where “friends” comes in.
I would like to talk to you all like friends. There are things about writing and life that I’m not comfortable blogging about. Even though I know this newsletter archive will be public, I’d like to take advantage of the straight-to-your-inbox feeling, and be honest when I have something to say. And, when I don’t have something to say, to probably tell you more about what I’m reading and watching and whatever, because every Author-Marketing-101-For-Dummies listicle says that being consistent is really important, so I’m going to aim to send this thing out monthly. (Maybe a bit more as we get closer to Freed by Flame and Storm’s release. We’ll see how it goes.)
So, what do I have to say today?
How about: being an author is terrifying.
I’m not talking about the sales or career aspects, though those loom large, too. And I’ve largely stopped reading reviews. And of course I can get myself nice and freaked out if I think about the fears that go into putting out a sequel. (I even wrote about that, a little.) But I mean…
I wrote a book and I think it’s good. I want people to read it. I sent it to literary agents to read and judge; one of them liked it enough to represent me. And it even sold! It’s in the public eye now. But every step of that process involves bracing myself, because there’s always this tiny nagging voice in my head that says: Do you really think you’re so special people will want to read what you write? Do you really think you have anything so interesting to say that people will read it? Stop kidding yourself.
It’s weird and vulnerable to put something out into the world. Especially something you’ve poured your heart and soul and years of your life into. People are going to judge it, and judge you.
Until I started publishing, I really never felt imposter syndrome. I’ve always been a pretty confident person. I work hard and have a solid sense of who I am and what I’m good at. But putting books into the world has messed with that in ways I didn’t expect. I’ve had a hard time putting myself out there and figuring out how to promote myself and my work.
It turns out, writing comes pretty naturally to me; publishing, not quite so much.
But here I am, doing it anyway. Because I do think my books are good. I do think I have interesting things to say that people will want to read. I’m just still learning how to shut that tiny voice in my head up, because it not only makes figuring out how to market pretty hard, but it’s made drafting my next book a lot harder, too.
(I don’t share any of that for sympathy, by the way. I know that publishing is a huge privilege, and that I am lucky as heck to have books out in the world. That’s one thing I remind myself of when the nagging voice gets too loud. I will take the challenges that come with publishing any day of the week, because I want this, maybe more than I’ve wanted anything else in my life. But I also want to be honest about how, even after spending my whole life writing, publishing can be surprisingly hard.)
Okay. Enough of my insecurities for this month.
Bound by Blood and Sand is available now; Freed by Flame and Storm comes out December 12. Stay tuned not just for more of my neuroses, but also for book talk, news, giveaways, and whatever else happens to be on my mind in the future.
And, you know, thank you for being a friend.