The Remedy For Author Overload (Hint: It’s a Very Short Word)

by @thewritermama on January 22, 2010 · 23 comments

This post goes out to my students who now, after many years of hard work, are having books published.

You have become an author, congratulations!

You’ve launched your book into the world and oh my goodness, the response is overwhelming.


Propositions are coming at you, seemingly from every direction.

Not that you are complaining about your success. You are thrilled beyond words with your success, it’s just that you can’t even seem to go to the bathroom without somebody stopping you in mid-stride to ask for a favor that holds the promise of something called “exposure” for you and your book.

Listen for this word.

You might hear it like this, “I’m sure this would be great exposure for you and your book.”

Did you catch it? You’ve got to listen for it. Because you are going to be hearing it a lot.

Here are all the ways the offers are going to start flying at you. Via…

  • E-mail
  • Phone
  • Snail mail
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

…and any other way or place where you are visible.

The requests will vary, but are likely to include:

  • Requests for coffee with complete strangers
  • Offers for you to drive long distances to reach crowds of unknown proportions (for no speaking fee, of course)
  • Requests for guest blogs…with original content only, please
  • Requests for you to do teleconferences so that the person coordinating the effort can package the teleconference up and sell it (hopefully to some of your e-mail list)
  • Ditto providing your content to for-profit membership organizations that would like to use your expertise to attract more paying members to their group (paying them, I mean, not you)
  • Requests for phone interviews, podcast interviews, e-mail interviews, Skype interviews, and Twitter interviews
  • Requests to volunteer your time for a myriad of good causes or to give your books or earnings to support good causes
  • Offers from unknown production companies to share their peoples’ offers with your permission-based e-mail list (something called “database leveraging,” which should effectively alienate everyone on your list forever)
  • This list does not include the requests you will get for a mysterious thing called “help” — as in “Here is my terrible situation… (I can’t get published, I can’t take classes, I can’t pay my bills, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t…). You seem to have things figured out. Can you possibly HELP?”
  • Or you’ll get requests from people who read your book and applied what you suggested…and now, they were just wondering, if you could you take just a few minutes to take a quick look at what they’ve done and discus their progress.

Can you do all of this?

Will you do all of this?

Should you do all of this?

Initially, you will heroically think, YES I CAN!

And you’ll think you should. You will try heroically to say yes to everyone.

You might even pat yourself on the back for getting so many requests for your time.

And then the next thing you know, you won’t have any time. No time to go to the bathroom or shower or speak to your child or your spouse or your friends. You’ll miss out on paying opportunities to write, teach, and speak for vetted audiences who would likely become long-term fans.

You will become poorer and poorer because you will be so busy spending money to promote your work only to be overwhelmed by the demands of the very people you are paying to market yourself to that you will lose sight of the big picture.

And one day you will start to wonder, “How the heck did this happen?”

It happened because you never dared to say one little word.

And soon—sooner than you think—you will realize that too much time has whizzed by and the hub-bub is dying down and not as many people are offering you “exposure”…and, hey, things have finally started to calm down a bit.

But what if you haven’t accomplished the things you had really hoped to accomplish with momentum that you had because were too busy responding to what everyone else needed?

And now it’s over.

How does this sound to you?


Authors, don’t become this person.

Have a prioritized to-do list of what you hope to accomplish with your book launch and get that list done first. If you treat every request for your time as an excuse for losing focus, you may never get back on track before your four minutes of fame are up.

What I’m saying is, if you can’t say no from time to time, you will never realize your personal goals. And then you will feel disappointed. Majorly disappointed.

And I bet your publisher will too. Because while you were busy saying yes to everyone, your friend, who got published at the same time as you, was getting on a major TV show, or being profiled in a magazine, or invited to speak with a nice fee and expenses paid.

So repeat after me. It’s just one little word. And the word is, “No.”

Once you figure out how to say it graciously, you’ll be able to create the results YOU want.

And you deserve it after all of your hard work.

Photo by antwerpenR

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