Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Writer Wednesday: Failed Author Moments


On Monday, my daughter and I went shopping. I bought a pretty new dress for YA Fest, and when I brought it to the register, the woman asked my daughter if she had a dance coming up. I told her the dress was for me. (Note: I'm not that much bigger than my daughter any more, and because of my small size, I have to shop in the juniors section if I don't want my clothes to fall off me during the course of the day.) What happened next had me wanting to smack myself.

No, the cashier didn't make fun of me for shopping in the juniors department. I told her I'm an author and I was buying the dress for an upcoming book signing. She looked at me in amazement. Then she proceeded to tell me how cool it was that I'm an author and asked what I write. Here's the part where I wanted to smack myself. I told her the book released that day and it was for teens. That's all I said. She looked at me like she was expecting me to say more, which I should have, but I paid my bill and left the store.

Here's the thing. I'm not comfortable talking about being an author to people I meet under normal everyday circumstances. I tend to dodge the subject. If I'm at a book signing or a school visit, it's a completely different story. But put me with people who don't know what I do for a living and I clam up. Why? I could say I don't know, but that's not true. I do know why. I'm not a best seller. I'm not a name people recognize unless you know me. Should I be embarrassed because of that? Of course not! Yet I don't talk about my books unless I'm in a book-related setting.

I've published 23 books, 3 novellas, and over 200 short stories. Why shouldn't I be proud of that? I'm sharing this today because I suspect I'm not the only author who acts this way—thinking less of him/herself because he/she hasn't hit the NYT best-seller list. We need to stop acting this way. I look at my daughter, who couldn't be more proud to have her book published and available for free. She gets it, and she's nine. Maybe we all could learn something from her.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

18 comments:

  1. I challenge you to go back to that young lady with a set of bookmarks and thank you for asking about your book. Go forth Kelly and become a book talking superstar. I'll be waiting for an update. Your daughter is on her way already. Take some tips!

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    1. You know, now I'm realizing I never ordered bookmarks for this book either!

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  2. I'm the same way, Kelly. Then I walk away, shaking my head at another missed opportunity to talk up my work. We both need to remember if people ask, they are genuinely interested. You're not "spamming" them. :)

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    1. That's a great point! Interest was already expressed, so I should have given her information. That's not spamming at all. I'll remember that. Thanks, Karen!

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  3. I used to be that way, Kelly. I would almost whisper that I was a writer when asked what I do. That was until my granddaughter pipped up. We were at Costco, and the checker asked the same question. Before I could answer, she raised her usually small voice and answered, "My Nana writes books I like to read. Why doesn't Costco carry them, so other kids can read them too?" Loud and proud is what she taught me. So, yes, next time you are asked pull out a bookmark with your webpage, Amazon author page, and Goodreads page on it. Loud and proud, Kelly!

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  4. But you're building your brand early and that's a better start than most authors much older than you. You will eventually create that break out novel that launches you into stardom. Wait for it, and never be ashamed. You're in an occupation that you love. That's far great a place to be than most Americans have it.

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    1. Yes, I love my jobs, both writing and editing. I know I'm lucky to love what I do. :)

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  5. You're AN AUTHOR, all right. Many time over!
    But I get it.
    The only place where the word "author" is anywhere near me is my Facebook account. This was meant to let in-law types know this was NOT a personal page where they can ask me if I'm eating dinner and what did I cook that night. (Didn't work...) My website is also all business, even if in my own personal style. But telling a cashier at a clothing store? Na-ah.
    Some people are so good at self-promoting. It's not that they mention it to every Tom, Dick and Harriett-- it's a seamless and graceful way of never failing to spread their interests while not appearing pushy. I have no idea how to do that.

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  6. I've progressed! I'm about 50/50 now. Half the time I do exactly what you did, but the other half the time I pull out a business card (I have some for readers that only have my social media stuff on them, easier to carry than bookmarks) and say, "I write books for tweens and teens. Check out my website. You can find my books at Dudleys, Leaping Lizards, or order them through Barnes and Noble." It sounds like such a natural response to the question THEY asked, but it doesn't always come out that naturally. Working on it though :)

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    1. It's great you're getting better at it. I do carry business cards, so I should have given her one. Next time. I will, I will, I will!

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  7. I've experienced very similar situations. At first I was very shy about it. And I'd say there are still certain situations where I am. But I started carrying bookmarks on me and they seem to be very excited when I give them out and say where they can find the book. Never know who may take interest. :) I do need to work on this at times for sure though, thank you for sharing. The general concept of sometimes feeling less than due to not having hit certain goals definitely resonates with me. I'd guess we can all relate to that as authors, maybe it is in our nature.

    http://emilyanngirdner.com/blog/

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    1. I think it is in our nature. I wish it wasn't though.

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  8. I clam up, too. These days, it's better. I'm more at ease with people asking what I do for a living. And I'm able to give a slightly longer answer because I realize people are genuinely interested.

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