The title of this post is as much as message to me as anyone else reading this, and applies beyond marketing. I'm one of those people who's occasionally confident in myself, but is far more often convinced that everyone else knows what they're doing far more than I do. It follows that if I see someone publishing a newsletter or promoting a book or writing in a certain style that's different from mine, their way is automatically more effective/smarter/better and I should follow in their footsteps. It's funny because this is in no way advice I would give to anyone about writing (or life), but in my own twisted mind, that's far too often what makes sense.
But sometimes I am willing to take risks and potentially fail and know that it's okay. I had this idea that I wanted to give away my new book Sex & Cupcakes to newsletter readers as a thank you on Cyber Monday. I believe strongly in this book and hope to write more nonfiction in book form so it seemed like a good way to encourage people to check the book out. But rather than me just sending it to them, I said that if they bought it from Amazon, I'd refund them the $4.99 fee via PayPal.
My boyfriend didn't like the idea. He thought it was pointless (I'm paraphrasing). Me? I was trying to synthesize some of the information I've gleaned by marketing experts like Tim Grahl, author of Your First 1000 Copies. Also, I was trying to just see what happened. To correspond with new people. To give someone a taste of my work who may or may not ever read that book or anything else. Potentially, over 1,600 people could have taken advantage of the offer and I'd have been very screwed.
My point is, I did it. Even with two major mistakes in two newsletters. It felt great to just hit send, even though I forgot a few links I wanted to include and made the newsletter far longer than I'd intended. My biggest takeaway is that whether my idea "worked" or not, I'm happy I did it. I wanted to try it and it made sense to do it on Cyber Monday, which was also the start of a new month. I'd been feeling guilty for skipping sending one out in November, for not publicizing my book party more broadly.
I read a post by Seth Godin today which said in part: "As marketing decentralizes and more of us work with less supervision (and more upside when we find our own path) reliance on the external fails us." In many ways, I operate independently. I don't have a traditional boss, I earn a living from various sources, I work at home alone, I decide how much time and money and energy to devote to promoting my books, even though I never know in advance if it will yield any results. But in other ways, as I mentioned above, I'm not independent at all. I'm the opposite. I play down my own ideas to myself so often it's truly ridiculous.
The long-term results remain to be seen, but when I woke up in the middle of the night, I thought a) that it's freezing and b) that I'm happy with my little experiment, because this is what I saw on Amazon:
Who knows what it "means" in terms of numbers? I don't even know if I'll manage to earn out my advance in 2015, though that's my goal, sooner rather than later. All I know is it made me smile, made me feel like maybe my idea wasn't so dumb after all. I'm working on doubting myself less. It's one of those things I sometimes have to force by telling myself if I'm lucky like seemingly everyone else I know and get to have a kid or two, I don't want to model that kind of permanent doubt. It's not that I'd tell them to assume they're always right, but to consider their ideas as worthy as anyone else's. And now I have to work on taking my own fictional mom advice.