Promotion ain’t easy – Part 2

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Monday 16th November was one of the most stressful of my life.
I waited for the courier.
Every courier truck that passed my house (on a main road) made my heart stop and for some reason, that day, it seemed that right in front of my place had become the perfect spot for trucks to pull over for short spells, further intensifying my anxiety.
I rang the publisher begging for information.
I fumed.
And the hours ticked by…

Until, finally, I got the name of the courier company. I rang them, explained my story, pleaded for help and was given a telephone number that brought fire to my limbs. The books were in Newcastle at the depot happened to be across the road from the courier’s house. My husband bundled our son into the car and we flew! There they were – a pallet of my life between cardboard covers. 300 of them.

And I finally breathed.

Come Tuesday evening, I was so relieved that the launch was going to go ahead without a hitch that I floated, semi-concious, through the two hours of celebration. I had sent invitations far and wide, but the RSVPs were handled by the event organiser, so I was overwhelmed by the array of unexpected faces that greeted me. People I hadn’t seen in years; people from school, uni, my distant childhood swimming days; people I had worked with, family, friends and casual aquaintances, even some whom I had never met in person were there. The room was full of well-wishers, almost 70 of them, and I was blown away.

As I was signing books it occured to me that all these people knew me in some capacity, they all had their opinion of me, they all had a certain perception of the swimmer I was or child I had been or the woman I hoped to be. They all knew my story in some part, but none knew the whole truth in all its ghastly glory. None had heard the unabridged version and I was gripped by the nauseating reality that had, until now, only ever been an intellectual understanding: all these people loved me now, but what would they think after reading “the book”, after seeing me completely exposed?

This reality has proven to be the single biggest hurdle in promoting my book so far. Sure, there are the practicalities of how the hell do you get your book reviewed by the right people in the right places (or by anybody anywhere)? How do you get media attention without being arrested in a foreign country that is comfortable with death sentences? How do you convince radio/TV hosts that you’d make a great guest on their program and how do you get past their PAs in the first place? How do you spread the word without feeling like a door-to-door salesman? And how do you do it all in no more than an hour here and an hour there because you also have a “regular” life to lead and jobs to do? But these are all practical problems that can be solved (I’ll be sure to let you know just as soon as I figure them out!). The real challenge lies in believing.

Believing enough in your story.
Believeing enough in your writing.
Believeing enough in your reason for writing your story.
Believing enough in you.

Without enough belief, you cannot stand naked before the world and say, “This is me and, love me or hate me, what I have to say is valuable… Now hand over your cash!”

And in the end, that is what publishing a memoir is all about.

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