A few weeks ago we talked about support, how it can vary from person to person, how not everyone will give you the level you want, and that’s okay.
I think it’s important to keep hitting this, though, because I think there’s this misconception with support and with things like marketing and networking that you have to go in with what you want out of people, and if people aren’t singing your praises all the time or helping you in such and such a way, then somehow they don’t believe in you and they’ve failed you.
Please don’t go down that road. That’s a bad, bad road to go down, my dudes. Tempting, because it feels so good to think that we’re approaching everything right and everyone else just doesn’t have the endurance, belief, etc that we do, but trust me. This is a BAD road.
The people around you are human. They’re going through their own path along with how they interact with you. I get you may be frustrated with how a title is doing, how a project is going, how your career is going (join the club, yo), but I need you to also stop and take a breath, and remember that the people around you have their own Things. Whether that’s busy schedules, baggage, commitments, different situations, I don’t care, they have a Thing, just like you have a Thing.
That doesn’t mean they don’t support you and that you can never talk to them, ask them for anything, or go to them for a good vibe pick me up.
At some point, you need to understand there are some things they may not be comfortable with. I know some people who are cool with interacting on social media, but leaving reviews is a lot of pressure for them. No bigs. I know some people who might live in an area I do events at, but are just too busy to get there, so they try to tell people and spread the word. Awesome. I know people who may never buy a copy of what I write, but I know they’re in my corner and they’re there if I need a shoulder. Maybe something just isn’t someone’s thing. Maybe retweeting promotional stuff isn’t in their comfort zone, or maybe they don’t even have social media. Maybe they’re super busy or have an odd work schedule or just don’t have the energy at present to be the reassuring presence you need. Maybe there are times they just want to talk to you as a person and not as a sentient spout of marketing media.
Sure, it’s frustrating. We have plans in our head and need to check boxes and get things done, right? And it would be so much easier if people just did what we wanted, because we’re working our butts off, right?
Yes, yes you deserve to be proud of your accomplishments. Yes, you deserve to have a support system in your corner. Yes, you deserve good things you beautiful, creative human you.
Not everyone can be everything to you a hundred percent of the time. This does not make them less of your friends, this does not make them not supportive, disloyal or disbelieving.
This. Makes. Them. Human.
Again, for the people in the back:
Your readers/audience, your PR people, your fellow writers/artists/actors/musicians/pottery enthusiasts, those who you hope to network with:
They. Are. Human. Too.
You don’t always know what they’re going through, or what they have to deal with. They aren’t machines purely there to spread the word about your project or to applaud or give you the good vibes you may need at any given hour of the day. This is also why self-care and working on your sense of self as an artist is super important: you need to be able to lift yourself up, because there are times when people can’t do it for you constantly.
I’ve had to learn this the hard way a couple times, and I still have to rein myself in on occasion. I’m growing, too.
It’s okay if everyone in your circles aren’t with you a thousand percent of the time. They can still cheer you on. You are still allowed to see them as your supporters. This is your path, and it’s going to change depending on what’s going on. The people on it with you could change, too. Or their capabilities could change. And that’s perfectly okay.
That does not mean they don’t believe in you. In fact, the best way to assure they don’t is to keep pressing the issue.
So, what to do?
- If they ask for ways they can help, or if things come up organically or through a marketing post or something, definitely tell them! In conversation, definitely include what all is going on and what you’re excited about!
- If you ask something of someone and they can’t follow through, or it isn’t in their comfort zone, be understanding. Tailor requests to the person.
- Save the big stuff for the pros. Whether that’s pr people, blog tours, your publisher or editor or agent or WHOEVER, if it’s something that’s best suited for someone whose whole wheelhouse is that thing, then save it for them.
- Save the undiluted marketing for your media, events, etc.
- THANK THE PEOPLE WHO ARE HELPING YOU.
- THANK YOUR AUDIENCE/STREET TEAM/HELPFUL FRIENDS AND FAMILY/OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR AREA OF EXPERTISE.
- BE THERE FOR THOSE PEOPLE, TOO. Seriously, if I only hear from a person when they want something, it’s amazing how fast I find other stuff to do. And yes, that’s a little mean, but I’ve also learned that it’s the only way that I make sure I have free time to do the things I actually want to do.
- Just go and hang out with people. Seriously, you’d be amazed at what happens when you just have it in your mind to be chill and open your ears and take things in, especially if you’re hanging out with other creative minds. If things come up, great, if not, no bigs. You’re allowed to spend time with people without it having to lead to something. Interacting just to interact is not a waste of your time or a dirty phrase.
- Thank people again. Also, this is where a gratitude journal is awesome. It’s so easy to get bogged down with the ‘people don’t believe in me/I’m doing this all on my own/no one helps me’ mindset, when I bet if you chronicle it as people show up for you, you’d be surprised. Sometimes we all need to be reminded of this, because it’s super easy to get stuck in our feelings.
- Show up for other people, whether that’s sharing their work online, buying and reviewing or mentioning it through word of mouth, helping them with projects, being a shoulder, bringing them food to make sure they stay alive, whatever.
You may not always get the showing you want or think you deserve. Believe me, I get it. The journey can be disappointing, but focusing on the good people are doing for you, besides your overall focus on your career plan/goals/marketing plan/etc, is a potent thing. You are absolutely allowed your feelings and happiness and disappointment and frustration. You’re allowed to be human.
Just remember that other people are, too.