…I sold 50 books. A milestone, of sorts, that highlights my transition from dyslexic, hobbyist wordsmith to barely functioning, shy published author. Rounded upwards for dramatic effect, my first year’s earnings will average to about 18 cents per hour that I spent on creating said book. Good thing I didn’t get into writing for the paycheck. Which, by the way, I haven’t received from the publisher yet.
In comparison, I sold zero books in 2021. If I omit the fact that my book wasn’t published until the summer of 2022, and ignore the indivisibility of 0, my sales would have increased 5000% year over year. If I was a business exec, those would be impressive statistics.
Were the radio plugs, podcast interviews, and the shameless social media promotions of my work worth it? I wouldn’t know because I turned down every single opportunity to promote my book. I still don’t have a coherent reason for my avoidance to do anything that would benefit my sales, but I have a sneaking suspicious this avoidance falls between an inferiority complex and a fear of being misunderstood.
Self-deprecation is a tool used to right size our place in the world while maintaining our composure. It allows us to reframe our perspective to what reality is, rather than what we would like it to be. Did I have grand expectations about my debut into the writing world? Not really. My short-term goal was to get the story in my head on paper and out into the world. Mission accomplished. However, the sting of realizing that once I took my closest friends and family members out of the equation, very few people were interested in my book. This fact does make me hang my head a bit lower than I’d like to admit.
The second volume of my book “Oddments” remains half written in my cloud library. I have the outline for the rest of the series stored there as well and feel confident that it is a good story. But my hesitation to continue working on it exceeds my normal level of procrastination. So, I spent a few weeks looking inward to understand why this was happening.
The answer came slowly through other people. The solution wasn’t in my ability or lack of willingness to promote myself, it’s that I didn’t want to be defined by my book. While my immediate goal was to become a writer, my over arching goal is to normalize PTSD. While my book does bring awareness, it lacks the normalization aspect, primarily because it is fiction.
My book Oddments was a way to manifest all the complicated aspects of PTSD into characters and reflect my personal experiences in an entertaining way. And while it is a great story, it falls short of my goal of normalizing PTSD because at best it is a hazy reflection of trauma because it is fiction. If I really believe that PTSD can and should be normalized, I need to share my own journey.
This newfound knowledge of myself triggered two things, First I abandoned my series Oddments, for the time being. I plan to pick it up after my next book is published. Second, I started my next book, which is about my experiences, that up until the last few years, I couldn’t even speak of to my closest confident. Now I plan to share openly to the world because the progress I’ve made was built on other’s sharing their experiences and hope with me. Now it is my turn to return the favor.
Besides, my expectations have been right-sized, and I now have something accurate to measure against. I may not be ready to share my story with the entire world; but I think I can handle 50 people.
Today, I will remember that I am one amongst many. To normalize something means to take its shock value away. If I want to practice what I preach, I owe it to myself, and to anyone who is willing to read my words, an honest account of my journey with PTSD. So, that’s what I’m going to do.