Monday, March 18, 2013

Asking for Help Equals Vulnerability

"Asking makes you vulnerable." This statement grabbed my attention and shook me until my teeth rattled when Amanda Palmer said it in her TED Talk. I whispered it to myself. I said it aloud in the room. I went back and listened to the talk again days later to think about this one statement again.

Vulnerability and I have never been best friends. We've always had a bit of a love/hate relationship. Friends have complained "You never ask for help." and I don't know what they're talking about. I think I ask for help. I have an overwhelming fear of being overly needy and pushing people away with my neediness. But I really do think I ask for help; however, I don't like feeling vulnerable. I've written about my struggle with vulnerability a few times before. Most recently in Finding Strength in Vulnerability, but perhaps more on target in Self-destruction Masquerades as Strength.

I like to think I'm strong, and I learned early in life that asking for help has a tendency to expose weaknesses. I don't want to be seen as weak even when I feel weak because someone might decide to use my weakness against me. It's happened before...

I always try to do things myself before I ask for help. It's the way I think. Why should I ask anyone to do what I can do for myself? My Daddy always said "If you want something done right, do it yourself." I've come to realize that should be interpreted as "If you want something done your way, do it yourself." Yet, every time I start to ask someone else for help, I hesitate, not because I don't think others will do it right but because I don't see why I should ask someone else to do what I can do myself. This leads me to sometimes take on far more than I can do in the amount of time given, and then I find myself wondering why no one is helping me. Then I have to admit it's because I never asked anyone to help.

There are some things I really can't do for myself. For example, I am reliant on an audience to buy my books in order to have a career as an author.

In the talk, Palmer talks about giving her music away and letting people pay for it instead of making them. This may sound like simply playing a semantics game, but as I understand it, her music is actually free. In fact, I went to her website, and there is music available for free and a request to "support my mission" by entering an amount to pay. Apparently, people do pay voluntarily.




I run offers to download the Kindle versions of my books from time to time. Every time I have to tell people it's available for free, and every time I struggle with the part where I actually have to ask people to download it for free. Intellectually, I know I'm offering them a special deal, but I'm still asking them to download it. What if they say "no"? What if absolutely no one downloads even a single copy when it's available for free? My vulnerabilities kick in. The fear of rejection that I think I don't possess shows up uninvited. I give myself a little pep talk and promise myself I won't take it personally if no one shows up.

I've downloaded free Kindle books when other authors have offered them, and I have a lot of them to read right now. I will read them, and I will review them. I actually feel more of an obligation to review the free copies I receive than I do books I buy. I feel like it's the least I can do to show my support for the authors. Not that I'm going to stop reviewing books I buy. I just don't feel a stronger sense of wanting to pay it forward.


I have no problem asking others to buy the books of my friends, but to ask them to buy mine feels too much like begging or boasting or some weird combination of the two. But, I'm not different than any other writer, I need to sell books in order to keep writing, in order to keep sharing my work. So, maybe, just maybe, you'd like to buy one of my books now. Don't worry, I'll let you pay me for it. You might even like what you read...

Oh, and to make it easy for you, here are two links:

My Amazon Central Author Page (feel free to "like" me while you're there.)
My Website (where you can order signed copies




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