Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Golden Egg and Lavender Drops

Yesterday my husband asked me, "Has your blog reached its tipping point yet? You know, where you don't have to work so hard at it and it just keeps going and getting new followers?" (Read-- You sure spend a lot of time blogging.)

I said, "Why, Mr. Gowen, you are much too droll! How could I entertain the possibility of restraint on an activity which provides me with such pleasure?" (Read-- I'm having way too much fun with blogging to stop, and last night I finished Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen so this is how I talk now.)

Just the same, it reminded me of the realities of life, that it's not all fun & games. How my involvement in social media is supposed to be helping me sell my books and promote myself as an author. Sales and marketing! How terribly dull and pedantic! (oops, there's Jane Austen again, sorry folks)

Can I just say that I despise marketing? Hawking my books? Tonight I have a presentation and I don't want to talk about my books. I'd rather discuss Jane Austen. The weather. My red shoes. My son leaving for basic this morning, saying goodbye to his wife and three little kids for nine months. My other son in Africa. Brave people. Women's voices. The garden we need to plant. My heart and soul went into those two books. Buy them. Read them. Yadayadayada.

Remember the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg? Everyone is looking for that goose and that golden egg. Everywhere you see all these great ideas on promoting yourself and your books. Yes, they're great ideas. But there is no golden egg, no magic formula. It takes hard work and pushing yourself past your comfort zone. Over and over again.

Or as Jane Austen would say, "...but no attitude could give her ease, and in restless pain of mind and body she moved from one posture to another, till growing more and more hysterical, her sister could with difficulty keep her on the bed at all, and for some time was fearful of being constrained to call for assistance. Some lavender drops, however, which she was at length persuaded to take, were of use..."

40 comments:

  1. My problem is the darn comfort zone. It's just so comfortable! But we grow as a person when we step outside it. And every time I do I see amazing things happen. So I continue to do it.

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  2. I feel you. If only we had some lavender drops! Or maybe you do. Well, I hope it goes well for you and I'm glad you're taking that step.

    ann

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  3. Hope it goes well for you, Karen.
    Must be hard for you with your two boys far away.
    Loved the 'lavender' quote, made me want to lie in a field somewhere. I, too, love Jane Austen but even in her beautifully written world, the hard facts of commerce had to be faced.
    Best of luck.

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  4. Brigid, so true "the hard facts of commerce" very well put. In fact, in Sense & Sensibility how much everyone earns is stated as part of who they are. I found that so interesting. Yes, this is so & so, he earns such and such...

    Ann, no lavendar drops. Not even any chocolate. Just some lame taffy from Costco.

    Amy, I know! Gotta get past that darn comfort zone!!

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  5. hi

    I think you are doing absolutely super!!!

    You have two incredible blogs that are just great to follow.

    I love the idea of lavender drops being of help - maybe I ought to stock up on these things!

    Take care
    x

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  6. I agree - it's not always fun but we have to push ourselves to do the things we don't want to do. Sometimes, the results are surprisingly good. Good luck tonight!

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  7. Good luck with the presentation tonight, Karen. I'm sure you'll be great.

    I hear you, though! :)

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  8. Talli, thanks! And sometimes that tipping point seems soooo far away.

    Jaydee, right. push. push. push. I can do that. I had 10 kids after all. I know how to push.

    Old Kitty, good pep talk! Yes! I am super duper and so are you! We rock!

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  9. I completely understand you - hawking isn't pleasant, no matter what you're selling! But good luck with the presentation none the less!

    - Alexandra.

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  10. I have nothing to hawk yet, but I can commiserate with the feeling. I just want to write, not have to feel like I'm pressuring people with my presence.

    You did a very good Austen impression by the way. I was reading "Why, Mr. Gowen, you are much too droll!" and thinking, this is very Pride & Prejudice. Right author, wrong book ... I was close.

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  11. I love Jane Austin. I read her books over and over, just wonderful. I regularly use lavender, and have not experienced relief of restlessness.

    Wishing you ease in your forth coming promotion. No doubt you will rise to the occasion.

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  12. My dear, I find myself in the same situation and would gladly discuss the subject with you as we walk through the woods and hopefully run into Mr. Darcy. (Okay, that last part wasn't so Austen, but you know what I mean!)

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  13. This post is delightful!! Wonderfully lively, and very much Jane Austen. Yes, blogging is becoming all absorbing. I probably need someone akin to a husband to restrain me a bit. But I'm still trying to figure out all the features on blogspot so restraint is definitely not in the foreseeable future, especially as I see that my number of followers increased even yesterday and I want to respond to all of them. Karen, you're an awesome promoter. Like you, I'd rather not have to promote my own books/self, but it's the way the business is these days. Thus, we all need some kind of "lavender" drops to reduce the stress levels. I'm currently looking through Craig's List to find a bargain on a treadmill since I don't walk outside in cold/wind/rain which occur a lot in Harrisonburg, Virginia. And being caregiver to my daughter, it is easier for me to exercise at home. And so I want a treadmill. "It will, my dear, will allow me a level of relaxation I cannot achieve with anything else."

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  14. That self-promotion thing is like a hidden fee, isn't it? We just follow a burning desire to write a book and find ourselves (ever so gratefully) offered a publishing contract, and then wait... WHAT?
    Shoulder it well, Karen, and then let's hear about those red shoes as we pass around the lavender drops!

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  15. I think you're doing great. Keeping up two blogs has got to be a challenge. Keep it up! You're an inspiration, Karen. :D

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  16. Some people seem to have all the blogging luck, don't they? But at least it's fun to blog.

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  17. I loved this post it was amazing and who wouldn't rather spend their days discussing Jane Austen she is a remarkable women.

    I love blogging and you're right it takes time and effort but it also is a ton of fun. Being on the blogosphere for about 2 months now I've learned so much. I'm still not working for a platform I still learning to find myself and enjoy my time each day with each post. The minute I consider it work it will be come dull and boring. I treat it just like my writing where it is fun free and the ideas are endless!!!

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  18. I really liked this post because it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Thanks for giving me a new perspective on it.

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  19. Karen, look at it this way -- you HAVE two books to talk about -- yeah! People want to hear about them -- yeah!! You are supremely talented and lucky -- yeah!!

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  20. Two sons away - that must be so difficult.

    You know what? If it's your presentation, you can talk about anything you want. There's something lovely about this post, and you can weave Jane Austen, your life, and your books into a speech as well. Why not promote your blog and read this post as a starting point?

    Just an idea, my dear Mrs. Gowen.

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  21. The idea makes me nervous, too, but I'll have to learn. Hope tonight is successful for you!

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  22. Great encouraging feedback, everyone, as always. Plus super funny, most of you. Who's as clever as writer/bloggers? No one that I know of! And yes, Theresa, I AM going to talk about red shoes, Jane Austen, and what am I doing in a library in North Logan, Utah? With a little about my books thrown in lol!

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  23. This writing thing is hard work. But fun. And look at all the people you meet.

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  24. Good luck tonight Karen (Mrs.Gowen).

    I know, the business/promotion part of authorship is unappealing.

    Great post.

    ~Lola

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  25. I know what you mean. I started blogging for my writing and promoting my books, but now I do it because I enjoy it and have developed relationships with wonderful friends I've made on the internet, like you.:) Hope all goes well for your son.

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  26. Here are some lavendar drops, Karen. (even if they are virtual, and found only in words...)

    Promoting can be a drag, yes, especially self-promoting. And that's just what I've picked up so far in the first steps of my writer journey.

    More power to you, girl, and more Jane Austen!

    PS: Your son is in Africa? Doing what? Peace Corps?

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  27. Yes, you have to keep plugging away at the marketing to keep a book on the forefront of peoples minds, but there is a point where it falls into the backlist and sales even out to a somewhat steady, if slower, flow. I wonder how long published authors expect the period before a book reaches the backlist should be?

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  28. The tipping point?
    Like where your blog gets so many followers it keeps going for ever even if you never write
    another word?
    Gack I hate self promotion of any kind. I'd rather hide in a hole than promote a book.
    Still I expect that once the book is a reality it won't promote itself any more than your blog will autoscribe.

    Al

    Publish or Perish

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  29. Congratulations on making it through all the steps, being published and finally working on that last one- marketing and networking. Your comment about talking like Jane Austin cracked me up. I have to remind myself to stay away from a computer after reading one of her books, other wise it sounds like Julie Andrews is narrating my story.

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  30. Creepy Query Girl, haha funny comment and funny blog name :) I had to go to your blog and add myself as a follower.

    Al, well, apparently once it reaches the infamous tipping point, then sales take off and you're finally free to go back to writing because you have this huge audience salivating over your next book. The kinds of books I write-- quiet, character-driven, Jane Austen-ish stories (women's fiction/chick lit)--will likely never get to those heights.

    Zoe, my publisher is small & start-up with no back-list yet. Every book is a front-runner to them, at least at this point.

    Therresa, he's in Africa on a mission. Comes home in August :)

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  31. I love posts that make me laugh out loud. So entertaining. No, definitely do not stop making an effort with your blog. You're much too good to let it slide.

    As the lovely Jane Austen said herself: "An engaged woman is always more agreeable than a disengaged. She is satisfied with herself. Her cares are over, and she feels that she may exert all her powers of pleasing without suspicion. All is safe with a lady engaged; no harm can be done."

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  32. Yes my first post was on Feb 20th and since then I have had many people stop by and follow me I have really appreciated all the love and can't believe that so many people read what I have to say :) It's really neat!

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  33. AA, very complimentary-- thank you! And brilliant Jane Austen quote, too :)

    Jen, amazing! I'm speechless...

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  34. Oh I love it! Wonderful post. Your banter is quite entertaining ;o)

    I am constantly amazed by the people I have met via blogging. There is support, advice, wisdom, heartache, love and friendship found every time I turn on the computer. Yes, in many ways we are all marketing not only a dream but ourselves and in doing so there is a pleasurable aspect to all the hard work. I mean who doesn't love to "work" with all your friends? ;o)

    I am so glad you found my blog - so that I could find yours! it is lovely.

    BTW: Of course you can use it! ;o) I am honored.

    Visit My Kingdom Anytime

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  35. Well now Karen you have certainly at least one book you can be really proud of. I loved Uncut Diamonds - as did my mother who has just left it back to me. I will post review in the coming days From My Kitchen Table!

    So - sing it loud and sing it proud I AM KAREN JONES GOWEN AND I WRITE GREAT BOOKS..

    And i want to be able to hear you from Dublin!!!

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  36. I so hate the marketing aspect of writing too. How I wish I could just write the book and then, somehow, the heavens would spread the word that my art is out there. Until that day, we market...and blog.

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  37. "Last night I finished Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen so this is how I talk now"

    LOL!!!

    Love this post. It would be so nice if there was just a golden egg - so much hard work and such a slooooow payoff. Good luck with your presentation tonight. I hope your audience wants lets you chat about that garden!

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  38. Your presentation is probably over by now. I hope it went well! And best wishes to your son and his family as he leaves for basic, it's got to be hard to be away so long.

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  39. haha! I love how you responded to your husband. I totally have a tendency to pick up the speech patterns of books i'm reading :)

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  40. You made me smile with this post. I hope all goes well with your off blog activities, and your family.

    Keep up the hard sell, you are doing great! *grin*

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