Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Are you good with compliments? The receiving of them, that is, not the giving. Because I'm really not.

People give me a compliment and I can't just say thank you. Noooo. I have to make some self-effacing joke, as if to prove to myself and the world that I am not letting the compliments go to my head. I'm getting good reviews? Someone must be drugging the reviewers. Ha ha.

Or point out someone who does whatever it is better than me. You like The Ghost Shrink? Oh, it's just a little novella. Have you read Stephanie Rowe? She's so much better. Just. That word to tell the world I know I'm not so hot. I'm just me.

Or sometimes, I redirect the praise elsewhere. I'm not responsible. Compliment someone else. You like my shoes? Thank you - my mother picked them out. You like my use of the word usurp? Thank you - my eleventh grade English teacher is wholly responsible for my vocabulary. I take no credit.

Taking credit... maybe that's what I have a problem with. Honestly, I don't know what my deal is. I just know that the self-effacement leads to what is quite possibly the worst marketing strategy known to man: The Disclaimer.

A few weeks ago, I wrote to a writer whose book I had read and absolutely adored. (Biting Nixie - sooo good.) I introduced myself and told her she was a goddess - as she deserved to be told. In her reply she mentioned liking The Ghost Shrink and looking forward to whatever I came out with next. (I'm paraphrasing here, since I'm too lazy to actually pull up the old email conversation and look at what was really said.)

My knee-jerk reaction was the same knee-jerk reaction I always seem to have. I wanted to tell her not to get her hopes up. I wanted to tell her that maybe she should quit while she's ahead when it comes to reading my books. I wanted to tell her that the next book just ain't that great and she should save herself the trouble. What kind of idiot am I? Who actually says that to someone who likes their work? How counterproductive is that?

I'm not even sure how I ended up responding. (Did I respond? Crap, now I have to dig back through my email and make sure I wasn't that rude chick who never responds. Crudly.) But I'm sure it wasn't a graceful acceptance of her kind words. I just don't do graceful acceptance, it seems.

When friends, family and acquaintances express interest in my books to me in person, why do I feel the need to tell them they don't have to buy it? Why am I always downplaying? I'm freakishly proud of my books, so why the disclaimer? Am I trying to lower expectations? If they expect less, maybe they'll like it more?

I'm getting better at squashing the disclaimer impulse, but it's still there in my brain, urging me to tell people my book is just mediocre, don't expect too much. My instincts, it seem, fly directly in the face of the "Writer, Promote Thyself!" mantra, but I'm trying. I'm really really trying not to tell people to avoid my books like the plague.

Maybe someday I'll even succeed.

1 comment:

Kaye Chambers said...

When you figure it out, make sure you send the notes to me. *grins*

You know what it is, right? We were taught that modesty is becoming and we're having a hard time transforming that into the whole "PROMOTE PROMOTE PROMOTE" lifeline of author success.

And, for the record, your next TWO books are every bit as good as Ghost Shrink. I know and can't wait to get my hands on a legal, finished, polished copy!!