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Where can I find some chutzpah?

March 3, 2011

Did you enjoy Rachel Lyndhurst’s visit yesterday? Her advice was very helpful, wasn’t it? She sounds very clued up about being a published author.

Now, I’ll let you into a secret. I first ‘met’ Rachel a few months ago when she wrote to me saying she’d read all my books and liked them (always a good start) 🙂 and then a few paragraphs later, mostly detailing her guilt and embarrassment, she asked me if I’d like to read Storm’s Heart. How could I resist? I love romance and Rachel’s work had been recommended to me by a writer friend so I was more than happy to help.

I know Rachel found it difficult to ask me to read her book – I’ve been in the same situation – but it goes to show, that as a writer, you need to step out of your comfort zone, quite often, quite far!

I’m not one of those people with natural chutzpah. They are the people chatting easily with agents and editors at parties, smoothly delivering their elevator pitch and looking relaxed and ‘at home’ at writers’ events, even before they get a deal.

You may admire them, you may find them slightly scary but the thing is… you need a bit of chutzpah if you’re going to be a published author. You’ll need it to send your book out there, to take the rejections – and not give up.

You’ll definitely need a bit of audacity to promote your book.

Maybe it’s a British thing or an age thing – I had loving, supportive parents and family but when I was young, you were kind of expected not to boast, not to draw attention to yourself or shout about your achievements. That feeling runs deep and never goes away entirely.

In my day job, I love promoting clients’ products and services but I found it quite scary to write about myself. I think a lot of writers do. Even when my first LBDs were published, it felt strange to give interviews, talks and blog about me, me, me.

Immersion therapy helps.

Last year, my US publisher, Sourcebooks, cheerfully put me up in front of the world – or at least the women’s fiction and romance world and I’m so happy they did.

Daring to step outside my comfort zone led to me meeting many new readers and writers as well as garnering lots of reviews. The odd one was snarky, most were warm and friendly – some were wildly enthusiastic and some of those were ‘big’ review sites I might not have dared to approach myself. Guess what? I survived and had far more fun than I’d ever expected.

So maybe I have developed some chutzpah, not a lot but a tiny bit.

So, is too much chutzpah a bad thing? Is it confidence or audacity? Or is it just daring to believe in yourself?

And by the way, anyone know where I can get some more?


Posted by Phillipa @ 6:23 am | Leave a Comment

Comments



  1. bccmee Says:

    Everything comes more easily with practice. So my advice is to practice. Or become an American! 😉


  2. Rachel Lyndhurst Says:

    Dear Phillipa,

    I can still remember how sick I felt when I sent that email. I was still smarting from A N Other saying ‘no’ and really didn’t want to do it. But I’m so glad I did, I made a lovely friend, :0)

    I do think being British has something to do with our reluctance to shout – I’ve grown more used to it in cyberspace now, but I have yet to step outside the front door and do anything like it in real life. I will probably be a complete wreck when I roll up to my first RNA do!
    X


  3. Rosy Thornton Says:

    Phillipa, you seem to me to have it just right – a great brand of slightly apologetic, very British chutzpah!


  4. Hazel osmond Says:

    Reading your comments is always so helpful – I feel exactly the same: used to promoting others but hearingy Mum saying ‘Don’t show off’ whenever I have to do it now for me.

    Someone told me I should channel a public figure I admired to get over it so I am and it is helping – I’ve chosen Dawn French and Joanna Lumley. I’ll let you know how it goes.


  5. Nell Dixon Says:

    I think Chutzpah is on the shelf next to the marmalade. I know what you mean, I am rubbish at big event type things, I’m a bit deaf so have to try and lip read over the noise. I can never recognise anyone so frequently say completely the wrong thing to the wrong person and I hate asking people for favours.


  6. Phillipa Says:

    Becemee -I find most American authors seem to have a natural way of being positive without being arrogant. It just seems to happen.

    Rachel – it is a british thing, definitely…

    Rosy – thanks.

    Hazel – that sounds like a great idea. I think I’d channel Julie Walters – and some people I know who met her said she is just as lovely and self effecaing and funny in RL.

    Nell – LOL re marmalade. And I don’t recognise people either and who could hear a thing at an RNA party! 🙂


  7. liz Says:

    I can only do the big event type stuff if i focus on the other people and not me…by not thinking about myself and just using curiosity and politeness I can work a room…otherwise I spend the evening in a corner.

    Pushing yourself out there is hard – especially in an unknown environment. Well done for doing it.
    lx

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