My long-awaited second novel, I'll Take What She Has, hits the shelves today. I have spent the past two months eating, sleeping, drinking and making love to marketing. (Bad in bed, by the way.
If you are going to work at getting your book out into the world, into the hands of readers and reviewers and critics and bookstores and bloggers and radio stations and television stations and friends, no good marketing plan can be without this: DTIP.
Sounds like a vaccination, doesn't it? Actually, it is. It's the way to vaccinate ourselves so we don't, as writers, become sick with the effects of the responses to our marketing. If you get yourself and your book out there, you will undoubtedly come up against rejection, criticism, silence, and the worst of them--failure.
I don't mean that you'll fail at everything, but, honestly, even with the best efforts, we can feel as if we have failed. If you want Oprah and #1 on the New York Times bestsellers list and you don't get there, you feel like you've failed. If you get in touch with bloggers who don't reply or reviewers who give you two stars, then you're bound to feel some sense of rejection. And this applies to all, including the most brilliant and accomplished of novelists. No one can write a book everyone likes. No one can market without some rebuff or silence or insult.
That's why we all need DTIP: don't take it personally. This is my survival advice for writers. It's my survival advice for living.
One person loves your novel. One person can't stand it. One blogger wants you on their site, one blogger never responds. You get a hundred people to read a post, you get ten. You're still putting out your best. Your book doesn't change in the hands of the readers; the readers are different. I truly don't know how any writer could survive the challenges presented by the layers of rejection involved in publishing and promoting a creative work without the ability to see that, in the end, it's not personal. And I don't mean that a person isn't rejecting you when they reject your book, I mean more than that.
Once you surrender your work to the ferocity of the modern world, the uncensored judgement of the internet, and the fierce competition of the publishing industry, you have to hold close to Zen.
When my copies of I'll Take What She Has arrived at my doorstep, I dressed up and I lay down in those books and rolled around in ecstasy. I wrote a book that was scheduled for 2010, went through five changes of editor, almost didn't release, and finally came to me in 2013. I wasn't going to wait for People or Oprah or the NYTimes to feel inside that experience of success. And you don't need to wait either. The world will or will not validate your work, or it will do it in part and not in other parts. Don't take it personally. The world has its own troubles. In truth, some of the most successful, prominent and most celebrated writers still do not feel they have gotten there yet. Where we all want to get to, it isn't a place, it's a feeling--and you can go there all on your own. And that's the Zen of it.
Watch the book trailer for I'll Take What She Has here. Buy I'll Take What She Has today and give Sam some more Zen! The book, about envy, friendship and new motherhood was an RT Book Review Top Pick. Sam, the mother of three small children and the author of This Little Mommy Stayed Home, is an ordained minister (believe it or not!) and a yoga teacher. Read her blog, laugh at her outrageous videos on FB or follow her on twitter @whatshehas.