The Harsh Reality Workshop

I spent the weekend in San Francisco.  That’s kind of a remarkable statement on its own because I went alone.  By myself.  To a big city.  Through two big airports twice.  I had a generous space all to myself at a big Marriott Hotel.  My space included a huge bed graced with seven (seven!) pillows.  And two TVs.  Who in the world needs seven pillows and two TVs?  Me, I guess.

Before I tell this story let me refresh your memory.  I wrote a book four+  years ago.  I called it Running with Angels and self-published it with a small firm called LadyBug Press in California.  I was pleased with my effort and wanted passionately to get it into the hands of the at-risk teens who were my target audience.  I did a lot of things: hired a literary agency, hired a PR firm, talked about the book on the radio, sold copies on my own, gave some away, and prayed a lot.  Nothing really happened.

I still believed in my book, but it was obvious that I needed more professional help because promotion was something I, well, sucked at. So I re-published the same story with a new publisher (Balboa, affiliated w/Hay House), new title, new cover design. I loved how it looked.  I took the redecorated RUN GIRL RUN to the June conference in Toronto where it was promoted and I had the truly joyful experience of signing copies and giving them away.

Yet to this day I have not sold any copy to anyone except family and friends and acquaintances.  My marketing skills still suck.

So back to the present.  The event in San Francisco was called The Writer’s Workshop, put on over two days by the staff of the publisher Hay House, which specializes in inspirational self-help kinds of books.  Do you know of Wayne Dyer?  He’s a super-successful Hay House author, for instance.  I arrived there with very high hopes along with 300 other hopeful aspiring writers, all of us thinking we could be the next Wayne.  My expectation was that we would be given the keys to becoming successful authors.  And we were, maybe.

Saturday morning was three hours of pure inspiration, and I loved it.  The speaker was Marianne Williamson, a successful Hay House writer (of course), widely-known spiritual teacher, and all-around lovely lovely woman.  She talked about her writing process, advised us to read read read the classics, to ask “am I being called to say something?”  I jotted little bites down as she spoke:  an author is an observer; you are not the water, you are the faucet; it is not what the universe does for you but what you will do to serve the universe; BE OF SERVICE; there is a difference between ambition and inspiration; go where you’re moved to go, do what you’re moved to do.  And more: some of your biggest failures are your biggest successes; being precedes the doing.  MEDITATE FIRST, for your spiritual practice throughout your day will impact everything that happens that day.  And she told great personal stories of the ups and downs of her own career as a writer.  We couldn’t have felt more uplifted and inspired.  Yep, we were pretty PUMPED when we went off to lunch laughing and chatting and comparing notes.

For the afternoon session and the entire Sunday, it was all Reid Tracy, the fellow who runs Hay House along with founder Louise Hay.  Now Reid is a charming, warm, and friendly guy who knows the publishing business well, and is especially up on all the drastic changes to the industry in the last five years.  He was there to inform us and he did a thorough job of it.  I will share a bit from my notes.

There are not a lot of differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing when it comes to what is expected of the author, although a traditionalist does get the expertise of good editors and a selfer has to hire one;  also a traditionalist must have an agent to get in the door.  In both cases the author does pretty much all of the work; that’s 20% writing the book and 80% selling the book.

By the end of the weekend PLATFORM was a dirty word.  Any first-time author has to have one.  Your book is your business and your platform is everything you have done for potential promotion BEFORE you submit to a publisher, or even have written the book.  Do you have 50,000 friends on Facebook now?  How much traffic is coming to your blog and your website now?  What is the potential for increasing those numbers rapidly?  What is your specific plan for building a platform to reach huge numbers of potential readers.  Publishers will not think that with a mere 10,000 friends you are worth looking at.  Having big numbers is viewed as proof that you can reach and influence potential readers.

Here’s something to think about:  out of 80,000 books published, perhaps 300 will have the kind of success you are hoping for.

A lot of attendees took this information and much more in stride and appeared to be eager to get home and get started on that platform-building project.  I was not one of them.  In fact, I mostly felt confused about how I felt.  I often find clarity by writing it out, trusting that my Higher Self will bring me the information and insight that I am seeking.

I will share a few bits of what came to me . . . . . .

1.What I saw clearly and faced squarely today is this:  I do not have the drive, the skill set, or even the desire to build my platform.  Surprisingly I am terrifically okay with that.

2. I am so aware of the vast learning process that accompanied my book.  It turns out that the birthing process was the whole point.  I was never meant to turn it into my business.

3. Because I listened today with an open heart, my struggle with marketing is over and judging myself as a failure is done.

4. My joy lies in the writing, and in giving my books away.

5. It cost me a lot of money to see the simple truth, and I do not regret a penny of it for it has been a grand adventure.

6. It was an ego dream, not a heart dream.  Giving freely is my authentic heart dream.  Now that I have that understanding I feel free to proceed with joy.

So, I have two big boxes of RUN GIRL RUN in the bedroom.  I still believe it is a good book that kids and adults need to have and  I am looking for ways to give all I have away.

Please think about who you know and where you go to see if you can find a place where a book for teens–especially those at risk for running– could be useful.  They are free and I will gladly send you as many books as you can find homes for.  My deepest thanks to you if you can help.

Wow, moving on is totally inspiring!  I wonder what’s next . . . . . . .












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This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 8th, 2013 at 7:27 pm and is filed under Things to Think About. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to “The Harsh Reality Workshop”

  1. Anne on October 9th, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    I guess I am a little disappointed for you. Sounds like you’re ok with it. Keep on blogging!

  2. Martha Bailey on October 10th, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    I loved what you shared about what you learned. I had to smile when reading it because it is pure Robbie. You learned about yourself and now you are “terrifically okay with that”. You are ready to give away the books hopefully for the hands that need them most. It is all about learning!

  3. nelda on September 26th, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    Loved your story and your openness.