I’m taking a new class called Selling Your Book with Devon Hennig and I am learning so much. Our very first class was about the importance of knowing your demographic. Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard about this marketing concept, but I tried not to think about it too much because I didn’t want to write with a demographic in mind. I just want to share my writing and see if I can do something positive with it.
But now that it’s written, selling Unlove to people outside of my circle of friends and family necessitates me to think differently. So I went through the exercise that Devon gave us, and started thinking about my demographic like an actual person:
25–45 years old
recently divorced or separated or sustained some type of loss
spiritual but not necessarily religious
probably a fan of Oprah Winfrey and of Sex in the City
seeks growth and ways to improve
Wait a minute! That sounds oddly familiar. Wait … what!? OMG … that’s me! Did I just write this book for myself? Am I my own demographic!?
After picking myself up off the floor of the class, I took stock. Yes it’s true. I am my own demographic, and I did write the book for myself, and maybe, just maybe, that’s okay. Writing is how I communicate truthfully when I’m too overwhelmed to speak the words out loud, so the process of writing and taking pictures and collecting them into a book during my separation and divorce was very cathartic and healing.
Publishing the book though — now that’s a whole other story friend. I most certainly did not publish the book for myself. In fact, the book could still just be a document in some cloud somewhere where those clouds reside. It’s only because my boyfriend encouraged me — dare I say pushed me — into publishing that my book even exists in a publicly available format.
Like many of us, I fear judgement. My writing is so personal, so intimate, that any kind of judgement would be like a direct hit to the heart. Why would I ever want to put myself through that? No, I certainly did not publish this book for me.
The main reason I agreed to publish this book is because I had a vision of helping people who were in a similar situation to me through my writing. You see, I let a few of the people who are the closest to me read the book in advance of it being published. The feedback was pretty incredible.
My cousin Christine cried. She said that she could feel my sadness and desperation in the poetry, but by the end of the book, it gave her hope that I had healed. My best friend Kaye read some of the poems and said, “Yes! I can totally connect with these! You nailed it!” Someone else told me they could literally feel the emotions as if they were their own.
That’s what I wanted: a book of poetry that people could connect to. That someone who felt desperate and isolated could read, and realize they were not alone in their sadness. Somebody out there who felt the same way I did and came through the other side with a new life. That was certainly a reason to publish the book, despite the risk of criticism and judgement. Still, I hesitated. After all, these were my friends and family. Weren’t they obligated to say nice things to me and to encourage me? What about the rest of the world? In this age of anything goes criticism, was it really worth it to put myself out there?
As I continued to contemplate publishing Unlove, I heard about a movement aimed at promoting the plight of women and girls around the world. The movie Half the Sky introduced me to two organizations: The Somaly Mam Foundation that works tirelessly to stop human trafficking, and Room to Read, which promotes literacy and education for girls in developing countries. Both of these organizations spoke to my heart for different reasons.
I have come to believe that we are each responsible for the well-being of one another. If we are in a position to help, we should do so in whatever capacity we can. I was so inspired by Half the Sky that I tried to think about what I could do to help and it hit me: if I published Unlove, it offered me the opportunity to potentially help both of these organizations monetarily. It doesn’t take a lot of money to make an impact in the communities that these organizations work in. I decided to donate 50 percent of the profits from Unlove, and that is what finally pushed me to publish.
The idea that I could do some good by doing something that I loved overwhelmed me with happiness. Just the mere possibility of it totally overshadowed any doubt or fear I had about being judged. As crazy as it sounds, I found my purpose.
Although this journey of writing and publishing Unlove started out as a healing process for me, my intent is that it becomes a way for me to help heal others. Who knows what the demographic for that is? I guess I’m finding out!