Friday, 10 July 2015

Turning That Frown Upside Down!

As I mentioned in my previous update I've been tackling my anxieties by doing more book related promotion etc. If you haven’t read it, in short, I was selling copies of my book down at Gloucester Docks, known as the Quays. This was terrifying each time but built my confidence as people actually came and talked to me about the book, and some people were so kind and actually purchased a copy from me. It was so good for my confidence. Especially as on the 8/7/15 I woke up and just felt overwhelmingly anxious and fearful. There was no reason why, it was just the chemicals of fight and flight had been triggered for some reason. So I forced myself to go to the Quays and try to sell some books. Just being out, doing my drawing and inviting anyone who looked interested over to see the book, helped me be distracted and let the anxieties phase out.

It took so much effort but by doing this I know I was reprogramming a lot of my fears and using something negative as a motivation to do something positive i.e when the fears try and win- go to the docks and do something to fight it and replace it with positive experiences.

However, disaster struck today (09/07/15). I was sitting with my little set up and a security guard told me what I was doing was illegal. I asked him how that could be and he said I need a licence from the council (I hate red tape, the establishment and the government claiming to support business and entrepreneurship, yet, they squash the little guy who is just trying to do something positive for himself). I could have a massive rant about this but I’ll refrain. After a genuinely nice and polite chat with the security guard (it wasn’t his fault he was just doing his job) I went to the council building to look into getting a licence. £20 POUND A DAY!!! F!T!S! There’s no way I could pay that! I nearly burst into tears as I just wanted to do something that was helping me with my mental health. I was scared about what I could do now to help me in a way that was so good for my confidence. I went into town feeling very dis-hearted and angry and worried. I controlled these emotions though and didn’t let them win. There had to be a way to still do what I was doing, or do something similar!

After some time I thought, ‘Screw it! I was selling copies! Surely Waterstones would stock it. Let’s give it another go and worse case I have to try and figure something else out.’ So fulled by my anger at the situation I went into Waterstones and explained what I had been doing, that I was selling copies, and what had happened to stop me. The manager I spoke to was very nice, looked at the book, and said they’d stock one copy and ordered it. Words cannot describe my shock. I thanked him and left a bit dazed. It isn’t until now as I write this late on the evening of this happening that I’m nearly crying with how happy I am that something positive came from this situation. I can now still market and do things in a way that isn’t going to cripple me through my anxieties or fatigue, but still fight against them and not let them win. I can feel productive and not completely useless which is what happens when I’m trying to figure out how to make my life have meaning. And today I nearly lost that feeling but thankfully still have it and in a more positive way than before. Waterstones are stocking a copy of my book! (Does happy dance)

The next update should be soon and very positive too as there’s more cool stuff in the works. I’ll write about them when they happen. I’m just going to try and enjoy this positive experience that has evolved from a negative- life can be strange like that, as often it happens that way, although requires us to also make the positive from the negative too. Anyway, that’s enough philosophising. Until next time!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Getting Motivation Back!

If you’ve read my other blog you’ll know some of what’s been going on over the last few months, but if you haven’t here’s a quick overview- I ended up in a mental health hospital for the last two months. I have a number of physical and mental health struggles and they all just flared up really bad and I had to be looked after for a bit. I was looked after incredibly well and now live in supported living and I’m getting my life in order. Before being in hospital I was really struggling with motivation to do book marketing and felt like I was getting nowhere. Everything I tried just felt like a dead end.

Being in hospital has been an unexpected catalyst for me getting my motivation back. After the first couple of weeks I was healthy enough to do more than just lay in my bed most of the time. At this point people from the occupational therapy department visited to try and get me out and about. They helped motivate me into joining in with activities and doing things I enjoyed. When talking to one of the workers I mentioned I enjoyed writing and that I had written a book. He said he’d take a look but I thought he was just being nice. The next day he mentioned that he downloaded a copy and I was very grateful for his kindness. He then continued to update me on how much he read and this started to give me some faith in myself and my book again. Word spread to other staff and I handed a few business card out to those who wanted them. I then started thinking of ways to do some marketing again.

I thought about door to door sales again, but I know this really effects my anxieties and I just can’t do it, especially as it feels too pushy to me. From thinking about this I came up with an idea to perhaps do some market research about the book and at the end of it ask if they would like a copy of the book. I actually managed to build up the courage to try this but realised it’s still too stressful on me. My anxieties just kick into overdrive and after doing it for only ten mins my heart felt like it was going to explode. I was annoyed this hadn’t worked, but the same night I came up with another plan.

I realised the only way it was going to work was to let people come to me. I decided to get a white board and take copies of my book to a bench down in Gloucester by the docks where a lot of people walk. I wrote on the white board that the book was for sale, the price, and to please come say hello if interested.

It was still extremely nerve wracking (Tight chest, fast heart rate, struggling to breathe at times, head hurting and the feeling of intense fear), but I set up and sat with a drawing while people walked by, doing my best to ignore my anxieties. As I sat there I realised people would look, read it, then keep on walking. So I tried to be more welcoming and smile at them when they had finished reading, or say hello to them. This seemed to help and I made a sale! I can’t express how happy I was. It boosted my confidence and self esteem. The person was so nice and I’m thankful for them willing to give my book a try.

After this I also realised I needed to actually invite people over when they read it so pushed the anxieties aside as much as I could. This lead to another person coming over and talking to me and we chatted for a little bit about the book and life, and she decided to buy a copy. It was so kind of her to do so. A few more people took business cards and I decided I had done really well and to quit while I was ahead. I also met a lovely lady who is having an arts and crafts fair in august and she said I’d be welcome to have a stall, which is another wonderful opportunity. This whole experience gave me some confidence and belief, and to have an experience of success, where my anxieties didn’t lead to me freaking out and running from a situation, was exactly what I needed.

In hospital more people found out about the book and it was talked about here and there. It’s a difficult thing for me because part of me didn’t want the book stuff to take over or even be known. I get a bit embarrassed by it as people are always so nice and encouraging, and I don’t feel deserving of such kindness. I also worry that their faith is miss-placed and they won’t even like the story. Then the other side of me is thankful and happy that people are buying it and reading the story, especially when so much work has gone into it. So it’s a difficult thing for me sometimes. However, I made sure I stayed focused on being thankful and happy that people were being so kind. It’s very humbling.

An interesting situation did happen in regards to the book towards the end of my stay in hospital. I had been selling the paperbacks for £9.99 as they always had been. However, apparently Amazon had been selling the paperback for as little as £1.24 to clear some of the copies they had. I had no idea and felt terrible for having sold it for £9.99 when people could have brought it for such a low price. I’m not even sure how Amazon could sell it for that price as printing costs alone are a lot more. I don’t know who takes the loss where that’s concerned. I guess I'll find out at some point. Anyway, I’ve managed to resolve the guilt as best I can, and the price is back up to £9.99 on Amazon. Anyone that did get it for so cheap, you're very lucky lol.

Well, that’s the tale of how I’ve got some of my motivation back. The plan is to keep trying to sell books in the same place without letting my anxieties win, and to think of other marketing ideas. I guess I’ll see how it all goes and write posts as and when interesting things occur.

One thing to add- if anyone reading this has read the book and not posted a review on Amazon it would be so helpful if you did- thank you for all the continued support.

P.S. I’m posting this the day after writing it and today I went back to the same spot and sold two more copies and handed out a few business cards. As before, it was terrifying, but I know the more I do it the easier it will become. It also helps when everyone I speak to is so nice, kind and pleasant. I also find it fascinating that one of the main reasons I’m doing this is to fight against my anxieties to try and make them go away, so in a way it’s because of my anxieties that I’m having a bit of success.