You might have noticed that the blog was unusually quiet last week, and for that, I apologize. Monday mid-day, I was on a plane to Atlanta where I’d be teaching the marketing teams at the American College of Rheumatology (WTF? Yup.) for the next two days. (Oh, and for the record, they’ve been long-time readers of the blog and found me on Twitter. Business gets done via social media, once again.) I also promised I’d name the winner of the signed copy of Gary V’s “The Thank You Economy” from the Business Unicorns contest, which I sucked at getting done as well. So congrats to Darcie Newton for this comment and her take on being financially smart in your business. I’ve dropped you an email so I can get your book on its way (Unicorn Gun included).
So why did I suck so much last week? Maybe the lyrics from a Ben Harper song will say it better than I ever could:
“I have an ability
It’s pounding at my door.
Screaming for more…
Standing at the edge of your life.
At the edge of our lives.
Don’t hold on
There’s no fighting back the years
so hard to unlearn fears.
Now your caught between
what you can’t leave behind.
And all that you may never find.”
Every writer…artist…singer…musician…painter…creative type in general gets scared when they find out that (omg) people seem to like what they’ve been doing. Yeah – welcome to my world. Y’all are picking up what I’m puttin’ down by the metric ton and some people noticed. Hell, I’m still shocked as daylights when I meet someone who says they read my blog. (true story)
Last week, I signed my columnist’s agreement with Entrepreneur Magazine and two book contracts. Three pieces of digital paper that give me all I ever wanted professionally – the ability to write for a living – and for a few days, it turned out to be one of the most paralyzing things that’s ever happened to me. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the experience of being a guest star in your own life, but for me, the script has looked a lot like this since Tuesday of last week:
That’s great, Erika. You did it. You got it. You called your mom. She’s proud. But if you tell people about it, will it sound like you’re being the big swinging dick? Like you’re bragging. Will you be the douchecopter? Should you even BOTHER tell people about it? Yeah, they know about the column, but the books. Lots of people write books. Why are you special? Who the fuck is going to buy the goddamned book? What if it sucks? That’s great – you’re already thinking about writing a book that sucks. What if they both suck? Oh, that’s precious, Erika. Now both books suck. Neither of them sucked, then only ONE of them sucked and now they BOTH suck. EVE! Your fourth face is ready! What are you so proud of anyways? Now, you have to sit down and WRITE the fuckers. Unicorns don’t shit books and even if they did, you killed off all of the unicorns last week. So now, you’re batting zero: you just signed two contract for books you haven’t written that already suck, you’re fresh out of book-shitting unicorns and you have to find time in the next six months to write two books that are already predestined to suck. Balls of fucking dammit.
In the role of the Self-Deprecating, Neurotic Redhead: Erika Napoletano, ladies and gentlemen.
Today is Sunday, and the first thing I do on Sunday mornings is troll YouTube. A geeky tradition, I’m looking for music videos to watch. Studio sessions are my favorite, yet today, I stumbled across the video for a Ben Harper song I’d nearly forgotten about: Fly One Time (some of the lyrics for which appear above). And with an unprecedented ease, I removed my head from my ass and decided to fly. One time. So here it goes:
It’s because of YOU that I get to live my dream. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: without readers, a writer is nothing more than thoughts screaming for asylum. Stories need other people to come alive and the reason mine come to life is YOU. Many of you have been along this crazy road I’ve traveled and stood by me through times where there was nothing I could do except write then hide in a blanket cave. And life? What a fucked up, unpredictable yet simultaneously delightful little unhousebroken pet. It makes you laugh at the most unexpected times and something about it makes you mind the times it pisses on your rug a little bit less.
So here’s the skinny, I hope you enjoy, and there’s nothing more important to me about these books than the ability to tell you “thank you.”
The Power of Unpopular: a counter-intuitive guide to selecting your audience, building your brand and rising above the “me too” economy (publisher: John Wiley & Sons / acquiring editor, Shannon Vargo) While the final title is pending, I’m pretty sure you can glean the what’s what. God knows, I’ve never been the popular girl and the way I go about business is anything but ordinary. A special thanks to Shelly Kramer for the initial introduction to Wiley late last year, a personal introduction by Amber Naslund (author of The NOW Revolution) to her editor at Wiley, Shannon Vargo, whose enthusiasm for my wild and wooly redheaded ways brought my message to the Wiley imprint. Additional thanks goes to Amy Fandrei at Wiley, without whom we might never have a look at what unpopular looks like. This will be littering books store shelves and hopefully, your bedside tables, in early spring of 2012, just before SXSW.
Cracking the Egg: An Insider’s Guide to Egg Donation (publisher: Demos Health / acquiring editor, Noreen Henson) Most of you don’t know this, but I’m a ten time egg donor and there are more than ten little half Erikas running around in the world. I met my co-author, Wendie Wilson-Miller in 2001 when I wanted to learn more about helping infertile couples have children. Not only did it result in a now nine-year friendship (Wendie was one of my first cycle coordinators for my egg donor procedures), but Wendie now owns her own egg donation agency in Studio City, California. The book is the first of its kind to address egg donation from both the donor and agency perspective and you can look for it on shelves in spring of 2012.
And one final note: if you’re any sort of creative, you’ve heard (and possibly experienced) the horrors of agents. I’m here to tell you that I have the best literary agent in the world, no contest: Stephany Evans of FinePrint Literary Management in NYC. I first learned about FinePrint by following the delightfully snarky Janet Reid on Twitter, and when the time came to send out queries on Cracking the Egg, I did my research through Writer’s Market and dug deeper into the FinePrint website. Stephany was our number one choice to represent that project, and thanks to a query letter that didn’t suck, she emailed back asking for the proposal not seven hours later. Eight months later (Think books move fast? Think again.), we’ve now placed two projects with great publishers together. Her guidance has been invaluable – she’s my “creative lawyer.” And if you need a take on why your business and efforts might need some sort of lawyer, watch this incredible presentation (Fuck You, Pay Me) by Mike Monteiro.
“Contracts are designed to protect both parties.”
I have a contract with you, my readers: I spare you the bullshit and expect you to call me out if I phone it in.
I have a contract with my clients: we each deliver what we promise.
I now have two new contracts, and I’m gonna fly. One time. Well, two times, actually. Discovering and subsequently admitting you have wings is a pretty scary thing, if only because the reality of falling becomes all the more clear. But fuck it. I’ve fallen before and if there’s one thing I can do, it’s get up and dust myself off (and I surprise myself quite often by not falling at all and creating something pretty damn niiiiiiiice instead). I might be a mediocre bike racer and suck inconceivably at installing wallpaper, but if I were going to fail at the writing thing, I’d have crashed, burned and called the fire department by now.
We’d all do ourselves a favor if we’d let ourselves fly, one time. Soooo…thank you for reading. Following. All the emails you send. For coming back post after post,replying tweet after questionable tweet. But most of all, thank you for sharing (the single biggest compliment a writer can receive). I don’t claim to write for everyone, and that’s why I keep writing for you.