Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Nice Girls Aren't Pushy

How to self-promote when you’re a new writer? This is tricky. When I still had a day job, my repeated mantra to diffident colleagues looking to improve their prospects tended to be, “If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will." And I still believe this to be true, a real shame then I can’t take my own advice.
    At the risk of being controversial, there are times when I should just ditch my mother, not the real one of course, but that ‘censoring voice of mother’ that whispers in my ear, “Norma dear, nice girls aren’t that pushy.”
    Take last Thursday as an example. I’m at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Industry Panel event. three speakers have finished answering our questions and we’re having tea and a chat. There’s a really approachable agent and I’m dying to talk to her, but it is sooooo hard. I saunter up, she’s talking to another so, trying my hardest not to look like I’m waiting in line, I admire the paintings on the wall behind her head. Fiddling with a biscuit, I make inconsequential conversation with another writer, who’s also trying to look like she just admiring the paintings.
    Both of us fully know the truth. We really want to tell this guardian of a gateway to successful publication, our books are, ‘the next best thing,’ and she’d be mad not to grab us while she can.
    And when I get to speak to the agent, what do I say – not  a practised hard sell about my brilliance as a writer, or even that I’ve a finished book – oh no, I mumble something about how awful it must be to be approached by yet another pushy author. The agent, newly arrived from New York, where I guess they do things differently, gives me a quizzical look. I make some weakish joke about having my mother on my shoulder – she looks at me again as if I’m mad and I retire - to kick myself. In a previous existence I’ve actually run assertiveness training courses, I’ve advised others what to do, I know all the theory – so why the hell can’t I do it for myself. Eh?


  1. Lampie, I know the feeling only to well. It is that little voice. We hold back. But there is actually some very good advice in Mireille Guiliano's book on Savoir faire (see my blog before last) on networking and how to get yourself noticed. She discusses what you should talk about, for instance, and how you should make your approach. Being assertive is not enough. Mireille says 'say something intelligent that requires a response and which could begin a conversation - eg 'I've been thinking what you said about.....and I wonder if.......'

    Food for thought anyway.

  2. A quote from a friend - 'Nice girls get to heaven , bad girls get everywhere'.

  3. Next time. Lampie, next time.....

  4. Faith is right - there will be a next time and you will be ready for it. In the meantime, stop kicking yourself - any of us might have done the same thing - or even less!