How to make an author panic in 3 easy steps

A friend posted a picture of her son, roughly Kiddo’s age, riding a bike, which while cute, was more notable by the fact that the child’s training wheels were off. Seeing the picture, I’d asked Kiddo if he’d like to give it a try too.

“Just imagine – you’ll be able to go biking with the big kids. When you don’t have training wheels, you could even go to the park by yourself or even to Nana’s. Doesn’t that sound like fun?”

Lamont and I wheeled the bike out. After strapped Kiddo’s helmet on tight, Lamont and I took turns holding Kiddo’s bike upright as our son wavered and wobbled down the side of the street. Still, no matter what we said, or how we cheered, it was clear that Kiddo’s confidence wasn’t quite there. Lamont tried the old parent stand-by. Running behind Kiddo, he simply let go.

Kiddo wasn’t fooled for an instant. Crash. Scrape. “How could you!”

“It’s important you keep trying,” we’d told him, hoisting the bike back up. To give him credit, he did. Several more times. But no matter how hard we tried, gravity (and more than a little fear) continued to knock him down.

“Try pedaling faster,” we’d suggest loudly. “Try actually steering…” we’d mutter more to ourselves.

Flustered, we eventually decided we’d tried long enough. “Most people don’t get it right on the first day,” I told Kiddo. We’d keep trying, a few minutes a day. He’d get the hang of it in no time.

We didn’t. He didn’t. The weather got hot. The dog needed walking. There were any number of excuses that cropped up. Finally, we simply reattached the training wheels. The timing simply wasn’t right.

It is easy to make excuses. But the weather has begun to cool. Those excuses are now running out. It is time for Kiddo to get back on his bike. Which brings me to the other subject of this post.

How to make an author panic in three easy steps.

  1. Tell them you’ve bought their book. Okay, technically step one is usually enough to send me into cold sweats, but then again, just because they’ve bought it, doesn’t mean they’ve read it. So…
  2. Recommend they look into marketing techniques such as podcasts. All the cool authors are doing it
  3. Encourage them to contact hosts. It’s so easy! Just follow their instructions.

There are those in the writing world with far more years of experience under their belts, who recommend not worrying much about book promotion until you have at least three if not five books to your name. In theory, this method allows you to have a greater catalog ready to offer readers when promotion efforts hook new readers. One book at a discount could turn into multiple book sales by return readers.

Take the Apple for example. Sure, Apple spends most of its time promoting the iPhone, but that is only one of their products. Once they’ve gotten you hooked on the device, you are more inclined to purchase accessories or even less advertised gadgets. The same principle applies to books. Promotion takes a lot of work. You want to ensure you have the best return possible.

This was also a convenient strategy for me. I accepted I would not be an overnight success. I dare say I embraced it. I felt justified not worrying about marketing beyond the occasional giveaway or occasional guest piece as I worked away on the next project.

Unfortunately, as I neared the final pages of this draft it occurred to me that I will have three books to my name in the coming months. Which means it is time for the marketing training wheels to come off. In a fit of insanity, masquerading as bravery, I researched blog and radio hosts who might be interested in discussing a book like mine. I figured, what’s the worst that could happen?

Within days I received a message back. They’d love to have me on their show. My heart began to race as the reality of what I’d done began to sink in. I’d have to talk to people I’d never met. Publicly! I read further. In September. Phew! September was weeks away. My breathing calmed. I’d have plenty of time to get myself mentally prepare by then.

Only… the weather is beginning to cool. School has resumed. It is already mid-September and my show is coming up in one week. September 23rd at 6pm Eastern time to be exact.

So now I have one week to calm my nerves. It’s not like this is your first guest appearance, Allie. One week to practice my selected reading. Wait. What? One week to ponder why writing, which traditionally is such an introverted activity, requires so much extroverted follow-up. Really. Why? And one week to remind myself of reasons I am doing this. I want to be able to ride with the big kids one day as much as I want to set an example for my sons. But also, just as importantly, I am doing this because I’m proud of what I’ve done.

It is time to dust off the virtual helmet and restock the band aids. So wish me luck. Here I go.

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46 thoughts on “How to make an author panic in 3 easy steps

  1. Wishing you luck in your upcoming appearance.

    As far as your story about your child, the failure is good for him. We don’t allow people to fail today. We make excuses for them and give them participation trophies. Failure is part of life. This will test his resolve on basically an inconsequential action to see how bad he wants to achieve this goal, and he will in time. And when he does, it will be that much sweeter for him. It will also teach him how to stand back up after failing and make him a stronger person. As he grows and he faces difficult tasks, he won’t lie down or make excuses. A valuable skill set to be learned and had in a society that doesn’t appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is great! Congratulations. Don’t worry, it’s just you and the interviewer and a microphone. Don’t think about the thousands of people listening to every word you say and you’ll be fine!

    Didn’t help, did I?

    Is there a link so we can hear your reading, too?

    Like

    • Oh, that does make me sound all sorts of fancy.

      …at least not anything I can see. Shew. Good point. That is a relief. Or at least it was until I reread your line about it being more of a critique group…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You are so brave!!!! I haven’t tackled that step yet. I blame it on slow satellite internet, but I think I’m just terrified. We are finally getting high speed and my excuse is running out! I’ll hopefully catch up and watch you when I’m back from vaca. Good luck! You’ll be great. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You got this! You can do it!

    Really, though, I have so much respect for you. I have so much trouble finishing a project at all. Authors who not only finish their projects but also find time for marketing and everything else that goes along with being an author are really quite amazing.

    And as for the bike riding . . . I can’t recommend balance bikes highly enough. Neither of my kids are very athletically talented, but they both learned to ride a pedal bike without training wheels pretty early. Both of my kids used a Strider bike. The idea of balance bikes is that they learn to balance by gliding on a two-wheeled bike without any pedals. Then when you switch them to a pedal bike, they already know how to balance (that’s the hard part), and they just need to add in the pedaling. It’s quite amazing to see the development. Without the pedals, they naturally learn to propel themselves with their feet and instinctively start to pick up their feet to glide. Once they are mostly gliding, you know it’s time to get them a bike with pedals.

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    • Yeah, his problem is a mix of lack of balance and zero confidence. So convinced he will fall he over corrects and shifts his entire weight to whatever side wasn’t previously leaning over and it winds up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. He didn’t take immediately to swimming either but can now swim laps around us so I have hope that he’ll figure it out with a little more practice.

      I’ve seen those bikes and always wondered how well they worked.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes. 💖 Good luck. And I can’t wait to hear it. And my kid is (way) older and still can’t ride a bike. *cringe* And so much yes to this: “One week to ponder why writing, which traditionally is such an introverted activity, requires so much extroverted follow-up.” Why?! *cries* *gets minions to build an extrovert suit*

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This is exciting news. You’re going to rock the podcast thing. If only because you are clever enough to know what is expected of you, and you’re planning accordingly. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If history is anything to go on, I will be all sorts of prepared for the tough questions and then get stumped by something like what is your favorite ice cream. (cookies n’cream. no mint chocolate chip. no cookie n’ cream. Definitely that. errr.. maybe. Unless I am feeling like sorbet.)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Good luck!! These kinds of experiences terrify me too… but as with many things, I think once you’ve done them once they will be less scary. The hard part is forcing yourself to do them that first time, so you’re already doing well there 🙂

    I’ve never had to go on radio, but the first time I taught a tutorial was one of the most terrifying moments of my life (I forced myself to apply but all the while hoped I wouldn’t get the job). Suddenly I was facing a whole classroom of university students waiting for me to teach them something useful! Once I got into it it was fine and now I don’t get anywhere near as nervous, but I’ll always remember how panicked I felt leading up to that first tutorial.

    Anyway, congrats on getting the interview!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep – that sounds exactly like my thought process. I’ll just send out this quick note of introduction so that I can say I did. There is no way they will actually say yes…

      Thanks! I hope I have a similar success once I get going.

      Like

  8. Oh, this is so exciting, congratulations! And yet, I totally feel you. I have three books now and I am hopeless at this promotion thing – you’re miles ahead of me with the radio stuff. I should probably take my training wheels off too…
    Also totally agree about the panic thing when someone says they’ve bought one of your books! haha 😀
    Good luck with the radio show – I presume you’ll be reminding us all when it’s time to listen?

    Like

  9. Congrats and good luck! You’re setting an amazing example for your sons, and you should be proud of all you’ve done–as a writer, mother, and a human being.

    Your compassion and kindness lately has been beyond meaningful to me. I wish you success beyond your wildest dreams.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, but my dreams are fairly intense. I don’t know if I want to go beyond them 🙂

      Truly, getting to know people like yourself has been the best part of this experience. You all continue to give me the courage to keep pushing. I hope I can return the favor one day.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. YOU, Allie Potts, are going to SMASH THAT TALK SHOW THANG. Hell yeah you are. Just like you smash all your goals. WHY? BECause you’re goddamn amazing. That’s why. You’re an inspiration. You can do anything and I cannot wait to hear the show… wait what? Yes, YES I WILL BE LISTENING… *muhahaha*

    Liked by 1 person

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