In Part 1, I spoke about the business side of why you should disregard family & friends when it comes to your sales projections. Here, in Part 2, I plan to discuss the even more messy bits of what I have to say.
The personal reasons why…
You may have a phenomenal support group, so you MAY not notice what I’m about to rant about. It’s okay. I understand. We’re not all from the same background and we’re not all surrounded by the same types of people. Count yourself lucky, and of the minority. Far more of our brethren will be let down by the lack of support.
For me, as a whole, family and friends have been the most disappointing. By far. Sure, that’s mostly because there’s a certain level of expectation, even an assumed willingness, that comes along with having a close relationship with someone. But, is it so bad to think that they, more than strangers, would want to show encouragement and support for this wonderful thing we’re pursuing? I don’t think so. That’s why, when we learn about their reluctance first hand, it stings so much. In some cases, it’s even heartbreaking.
When I first launched my writing business, I wanted to hit the ground running, so I reached out to family and friends. They knew my situation; knew I’d just left my job and was trying to support my children. Surely, they’d see the importance of what I was trying to get accomplished.
I asked for help with a few key things:
Out of twenty-five of my closest acquaintances, twenty SAID they’d help. Out of those twenty, ONLY six actually took the time to stick by their word. Of those six, I had to remind and “pester” four. Of those four, only one correctly did the steps I asked them to help me with…
Now, I know I was asking for a favor, and more and more people are busy and tired and broke these days. But I didn’t ask them to buy anything. In fact, I GAVE them digital copies of the books I wanted them to review. I’d be more forgiving, but I launched my writing business long enough ago that they’ve had ample time to squeeze me in by now. But, they haven’t. Seriously. I know this because I’m still waiting. What I learned was that helping me, their friend or family member, wasn’t important enough to postpone their tv show or mobile game an hour or two, which is to say, I wasn’t important enough.
Time to reevaluate my social circle.
To make it worse, I bet the majority of those twenty won’t even read this. (If I’m wrong and you are reading, then message me “tuna fish”!) You can’t blame me for being skeptical. They haven’t liked or commented or shared any of my posts. Or, maybe they have, but they took the easy path, the path of least resistance. Which is to say they Liked and Shared the link I posted on my Facebook page without actually clicking it and engaging with the content on my website.
Those “friends” haven’t made any purchases either. They’ve said they would, but they haven’t. Again, not that the purchases matter, but it’s the principal. They can’t say they were waiting for payday, because plenty of paydays have come and gone. They can’t say my books are too expensive because I GAVE them digital copies, remember? Heck, if they read their emails, they’d see I’ve even sent them coupons for half off. Two of my books are FREE to them!
Oh, and about emails. I use Mailchimp, and Mailchimp provides me with detailed reports telling me exactly who opens my emails and engages with them… So, basically, I can see which family and friends haven’t even been reading those. To make it sting more, half of these people, who I considered (past tense) close, have kids who are picture book age, meaning they’re my target market. Ugh.
I know I’m ranting and sounding bitter, and that’s because I am. The experience made me reevaluate my friendships and even my bond with certain family members. It hurt, but it helped me see more clearly. I may not have reached the point of forgiveness yet, but I’ve moved beyond expecting their support. As I said in Part 1, my advice to you is to simply not factor family and friends into your sales projections at all. Don’t avoid them, but don’t ask either. No, actually do ask, just don’t be disappointed if they blow you off and insult your intelligence with some lame reason why they “haven’t yet”.
Your goal is to reach strangers. Then connect and bond, through your creative works, with those strangers until they become true “fans”. These will be the people who have your best interests in heart and support you, which is fitting, because they’re the ones you’re ultimately trying to please as well. If you’re taking this publishing life serious, then you need to grow beyond family and friends to have a sustainable business model. Far easier said than done, but if you make your plans without factoring friends and family in, then their support can count as unexpected buffers to help you through hiccups.
I’ll add one more piece of advice to this. Ask yourself, seriously ask, how good of a family member or friend have YOU been? Have you treated your family and friends like discard-able customers and pushed your products down everyone’s throats? I sure hope not. For me, I say one and done. If they each show me support once every now and then, then I cut them some slack. Figure out what you find fair, and lower your expectations.