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by Donna Miscolta

Writing a book seems almost effortless compared to promoting it. I don’t think I ever suffered from writer’s envy before I had a book published. I’m pretty sure I have it now. Not chronically or acutely. Just now and then.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely grateful for the support I’ve received from friends, family, and my local bookstores. But like a spoiled child, I want more. I want bigger. I want what she has, the one with the book tour, or her with all the interviews, or him with the movie deal.

I’m on my own path, I tell myself. So when I’m tripped up by writer’s envy, I tend to my bruises with my own particular remedies.

Put it in perspective – In my day job, I oversee a program that provides workshops and classroom presentations on environmental topics. My job is to increase awareness of the impact our daily activities have on the planet—without being alarmist about it. But let’s face it, people. There are phthalates in our shampoos, pesticides in our produce, formaldehyde in our wrinkle-free clothes, plastics in our oceans, and greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. So to paraphrase Bogart, “I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that one little novel doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

Flex some muscle – I mean this literally. Other than a thickening waistline, I’m slightly built, but years of running, biking, and yoga have resulted in calves that when flexed show the different bands of muscle just like the anatomy posters in your doctor’s office. In a foot race with other writers in my age group or even below my age group, I’m pretty sure I could kick some butt.

Commiserate with other writers – Yes, a pity party with your writing group! But mix it up with positive stuff, too, which is easy if you have an outstandingly cool writing group like mine. Alma GarciaAllison Green and Jennifer D. Munroare smart and funny. They’re incisive readers and wonderful writers. My writing group kicks butt.

Watch The Muppets – They sing, they dance, they save their beloved theater. And they’ve been labeled commies by Fox News. The Muppets kick butt.

 

Sit slack-jawed in front of the TV – We watch very little TV at our house. We used to have cable and I had a boggling assortment of channels not to watch. Now that our options are much reduced, it’s easier to decide on a program to distract me from my writer’s envy: The Amazing Race. Unlike writing, it’s meant to be competitive. On the show, teams of two race around the world, completing challenges along the way that are supposed to connect contestants to the culture of the country they happen to be in during this jet-fuel guzzling, continent-hopping odyssey. For instance, contestants have tested their ability to solve a puzzle while spinning in teacups at Legoland in Denmark, construct toy trucks out of drink cartons at a school in Malawi, and wash an elephant in Bangkok. There’s other stuff, too, like driving a car at 100 miles an hour and walking a tightrope strung between two high-rises. Foolhardy, madcap things to raise the stakes and one’s blood pressure. My husband and I often speculate how we would fare as a team. He’s calm. I’m easily ruffled. He’s analytical. I’m easily ruffled. He’s strategic. I’m easily ruffled. Yet, I’m pretty competitive. I’m thinking we could win a few challenges—though we might end up kicking each other’s butt.

Do crossword puzzles – Another validly competitive activity. Online, a little clock silently ticks away in the corner of the screen, a ceaseless bully. Provocation to work fast, incentive to kick butt.

Comfort yourself with comfort food – Chocolate covered almonds. Rich cheeses. Yeah, I indulge. The downside is ending up with a bigger butt to get kicked—not to mention a cholesterol spike.

Celebrate what you have – Our roof leaks and our front porch sags. Our water pressure is a trickle, likely due to the tree out front doing a subterranean strangle of our pipes. Our car is twenty years old and begs to be put out of its misery. But, hey, we have a house. We have a car. We have jobs and health insurance. Oh, and I’ve had a book published. (Some say it kicks butt.)

Read – For pleasure, to be humbled, to be inspired. Here’s some stuff I’ve read lately. All of these writers kick butt.

Write.

Donna Miscolta
About Donna Miscolta

8 Comments

  • Jen Marlowe
    10:57 PM - 27 December, 2011

    i TOTALLY get the whole “hey, how do i get the publicity for my work that SHE has” writer’s envy thing! and–i like your solution. clearly i need to be eating more chocolate covered almonds and watching more muppet movie…

    • Donna Miscolta
      5:57 AM - 28 December, 2011

      Jen, yes, more chocolate! And remember why we write. And just do it. (By the way, my daughter was happy to get a copy of your book and looks forward to reading it.)

  • Rebecca Meredith
    1:00 AM - 28 December, 2011

    I know whereof you speak, Donna. Mostly I try to use that envy like jet fuel, but since my book is so recently published and is indie published to boot, I have to stay away from second-guessing what my trad pub sisters and brothers might have that I have to scrap for! That said I’m having a ball publicizing it, and learning a whole new way of thinking about marketing. And then of course there’s my hero, Miss Piggy…

    Good entry. Nice to know I’m not haivng to keep envy alive and well all by myself!

    • Donna Miscolta
      8:17 PM - 28 December, 2011

      I hear you Rebecca. Small press and indie authors have a bit of a hill to climb in terms of promotion. I have to admit I find it rather difficult, but am taking inspiration from your positive outlook and the fact that you are enjoying the marketing aspect.

  • Jackie Shannon Hollis
    5:41 AM - 28 December, 2011

    Wonderful post. It seems each time we meet a goal or dream, we set the bar higher, go into comparison. It’s wonderful to just take the time to let it wash over you…your book is published. YAHOOO!

    • Donna Miscolta
      5:57 AM - 28 December, 2011

      Thanks, Jackie. You’re absolutely right.

  • Erica Bauermeister
    5:02 PM - 28 December, 2011

    Don’t forget the most important one — DIY. I was lucky and was given that advice early on (thank you, Jennie Shortridge!). Set up your own bookstore events and prove to your publisher they can be successful. Consider a book tour with another author – saves costs and pulls in more readers for both of you. Do drive-by signings (notify the stores ahead of time) — signed copies help both you and the indies. On your Facebook page/blog/website, tell your readers you’ll send them a signed bookplate or bookmark (they aren’t expensive to make or send). Keep track of the email address of every reader who sends you a letter and let them know when you have events in their area or a new work coming out. Contact blogs you think would like your book and offer them a copy for review, or offer to do a guest blog or book giveaway contest. Think about whether you’ve got an off-the-book-page hook that you could turn into non-fiction articles for magazines, etc. In other words — turn that jealousy into action. You probably already do a bunch of this stuff, but this is a good forum to get the word out there. There was a time when publishers did all this work for us, but it’s simply not true anymore, sadly, and if we’re going to create that New Girls Network we’ve got to get out there and kick some promotional butt.

    • Donna Miscolta
      8:20 PM - 28 December, 2011

      Excellent ideas, Erica! Some of these we all can and should use, such as contacting blogs and keeping track of email addresses of readers. Also, setting up readings with other authors is a great strategy. Those of us with books from small presses do have a harder time getting into bookstores and that may pose one of the biggest barriers to finding readers. I do love the idea of the New Girls Network and it looks like we have one right here on this Hedgebrook blog.

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