Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Asking for What We Need

On this blog and in real life I’ve often said I hope I never stop learning. Well, I’m still working on a few things, and I’d like to share them with you.

I was raised to be obedient, to put other people’s needs before my own, even to try to divine what others’ needs and desires were, and fulfill them, before they spoke them aloud. You can guess what kind of mess that ‘training’ left me in.

Over the years I’ve slowly worked my way around to putting myself first, not in a selfish way, but in a very practical way. I can’t help or support anyone else if I’m a shambles. And honestly, I deserve fulfillment as much as the next person. We all do. Sometimes, though, asking for what we need is the hard part, especially when we’ve been taught that doing so is selfish.

In the past few weeks this lesson has popped up again as I enter a new phase in my life. It’s been a full decade since I last put out a book through a traditional publisher. Sure, I’ve happily shared my novel Jaguar Sky with you on this blog, and even put it up for sale in Kindle format, but I haven’t gone through the process of putting together a book for ink-and-paper publication in quite a few years.

Right now, I’m facing the same practical issues I did with my first two books, but I’m handling them differently, thanks to a few lessons learned.

The first time around, the people I surrounded myself with were not the best choices I could have made, but they wanted to be my friends, so I accepted them. They weren’t bad people, at least not most of them, but they were so caught up in their own problems that they never thought to offer to help me with mine. And here’s the thing: I never asked them. I never stood up and said, out loud, what I needed.

Ancient Spellcraft by Laura Perry
The first book I published, many moon ago (still in print!)

So when they all made it clear they expected free copies of my books because they were my friends, I obliged, even though I couldn’t really afford it. Even though I needed those books to send out for marketing purposes. Even though I purchased copies of my writer friends’ books and wouldn’t think of asking them for a free copy myself. I didn’t say anything, because I wanted to please my friends.

Not a single one of them ever bothered to post a positive review on Amazon, even though many of them said they liked my books. But again, I never asked them to do that for me.

I don’t know what kind of response I would have gotten had I spoken up and said, “I’m sorry, but I need my author copies for marketing. I’d appreciate it if you would buy a copy of my book.”

I don’t know how they would have reacted had I asked them to post reviews on Amazon or any of the other websites where readers can share their opinions. I don’t know because I never asked.

Had I spoken up, I might have gotten what I needed: help and support for my writing career. Or I might have found out that some of them were not the kind of people I should have in my life.

But I never spoke up. I never asked for what I needed.

The Wiccan Wellness Book by Laura Perry
The second book I published, a slightly shorter time ago

In fact, to please other people, I even went as far as writing the books the publisher wanted, rather than pushing the topics that were really close to my heart. Yes, I’m proud of the books I’ve written, but they weren’t what I wanted to write. They were what the publisher’s marketing department thought would sell, and to me, that’s not quite the right reason to pen a book.

So this time around, I’ve written a book that speaks from my heart, that means a lot to me, with a Minoan theme. Fortunately, a good publisher also saw it as marketable material, but the most important thing to me is that it’s what I wanted to write. It will be available later this spring; I’ll keep you posted.

As I go forward with this new project, I hope you’ll bear with me as I request the help and support I need. I’ll always do it politely, and I’ll always understand if what I’ve written isn’t the kind of thing you enjoy reading.

But I’ve learned my lesson. No one else is going to stand up for me, so I have to stand up for myself.

I hope you can give yourself the same gift.