Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What Did I Get Myself Into?

The last two months, since the release of my book ‘Living Fit After Fifty’, have been a whirlwind of presentations, signings, and social marketing. I thought writing was the hard part. Now I wish I had time to write, which I enjoy. Sales have been good and the feedback has been wonderful, but when I am not actively promoting the book, sales slow way down. Will I ever be able to write again?

I did not write the book to get rich or even to earn a living. I wrote the book because I write for pleasure, and now that I have (or had) more time, I thought I would complete the process of becoming a published author. The debate regarding signing a contract with a publisher or to self-publish ended somewhere in-between. I went with a small-press publisher, which was very comforting for a first time author, as I received personal attention and did not have to relinquish the rights to the book. However, I am obligated to promote the book -whether I want to or not - as the publisher is in business to make money.

I am not a salesperson, but I am a people person. I enjoy people. I like to meet people and learn what they are about. I first realized this after I left my corporate job in the San Francisco Bay Area (boring) and moved to Alaska. My first job in Anchorage was in a busy medical clinic where I met everyone in town and loved the interaction with the rugged, adventurous population of this booming town. The year was 1976 and the Trans Alaska Pipeline was being constructed to bring oil from the top of the world, Prudhoe Bay, south, across the north-slope and the treacherous peaks of the Brooks Range. The project continued across miles of tundra, more mountain ranges, finally ending at the Port of Valdez, where the oil was pumped into tankers. This immense undertaking brought thousands of opportunists to Alaska from all over the world.  Oil companies, construction workers, engineers, scientist, and anyone hoping to profit from the rapidly growing population, made their way to Alaska.
After a year I left the medical clinic to become a flight attendant for the Anchorage based airline, Wien Air Alaska (I am on the right in the photo taken approximately 1978). Wien was the first airline in Alaska and we serviced the pipeline camps, bringing the workers back and forth from their week-on, week-off, schedules. During the summer months we carried sport enthusiasts to some of the best fishing and hunting spots in the world. Going to work was an adventure. The passengers were a fascinating group of individuals made up of native Alaskans, oil company executives and oil rig crews, naturalist, and tourists. Among the tourist were movie stars, rock stars, sports stars, and many of the worlds’ wealthiest people. I never knew whom I might meet and loved talking with anyone who seemed out of place. I had to know what brought them to Alaska and why they were in route to places with names like, Cold Foot, Lonely, or Dead Horse. His or her stories always interested me and since then I have been curious about everyone I meet. There are so many amazing people, each on a unique path, that I love hearing about.

My point here is I am turning the chore of marketing my book into another opportunity to meet new and engrossing people. This time most of the people I am meeting are women and I am once again intrigued by their stories. I learned so much about life the 12 years I spent in Alaska, the most important being that people are mostly good, interesting, and worth the time to get to know. What I was dreading – pushing my book – is turning into a positive opportunity for personal growth. So far I have met some wonderful people and have had some experiences I otherwise would not have had. My next book will have to wait a while.

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