Did you catch how I aired my dirty pages in public on my first solo pod episode, with my, whoops, swear words? I couldn’t help myself. Sharing dashed book dreams ain’t easy. FUCK! But I’m so glad I got over myself, stopped calling my sound engineer to kill the recording, and posted it all over the interwebs. The many DMs and texts I received (and social media comments from courageous love bugs) told me that, hey, I’m far from alone. This book shit is often so HARD, even for us “experts” and “bestsellers,” the people who write happy endings. 

You know this. Life stories don’t always follow the script. But you still love the game. Same! I’m quite sure I always will.

Quick context: Three of my published books woke me up at 3:00 am last summer with urgent messages for you and me. (Who knew previously printed works could still have more to say?) I bawled my eyes out, performed an impromptu healing ritual, and had many ah-has, goosebumps, and laughs.

I “heard” to audio record my real-time insights to share later. Forever changed and grateful, it only took the next eight months to figure out how to let you in on it. You’ll wanna listen in for the full effect, but as promised on the show, I’m summarizing my favorite takeaways from each book for you here. (Not the dramatic details about my disastrous launch day for Beautiful Writersand most of my book launchesreally appreciate it, inherited family trauma and epigenetics… You suck, by the way. Admitting those on the pod was enough.) Tips you can use right now and for your launch that, I’m telling you, are gold and could save you or make you a lot more $$$ with your writing.

Here are the top TEN truths my books and I want you to know: 

From Lives Charmed: Intimate Conversations with Extraordinary People (1998):

#1: When promoting your book, know who you are and go with your flow. If you try to approach your marketing and PR in a way that’s contrary to your nature, it will not work. You won’t stick with it. When I started, online promotion wasn’t yet much of a thing. Authors sold books via expensive PR and book tours while speaking anywhere and everywhere. You’ve heard writers talk about selling books out of the back of their cars. That was fact, a deal. A deal I was not willing to make. I had a young boy, animals, and a husband who needed lots of attention. I looked at globetrotting author friends who were single or didn’t yet have kids and realized I wasn’t willing to do what they did to sell books. 

I wouldn’t mortgage my home to pay for an expensive publicist. I wouldn’t leave my family for weeks or months on tour, not in the US, not overseas. I was still recovering from my mother’s death, and my father soon got sick, and I craved security. I chose the least painful way to get it: writing for others, and it worked. Yes, it was hard, but the hard of my choosing that matched my style. 

I think of the most prominent authors we all love, the ones I’ve had over and over on my show. Many traveled for years, doing 100, 150, or 200 dates per year. Most of them no longer want to do that but were willing to for a long time. I was not.

Know who you are. Know what you need and get honest about what’s realistic for you and your life. I find touring a blast in small spurts. But I’m a homebody. Even my retreats are in the same place, my home away from home, La Playa Hotel in Carmel by the Sea. People have tried to get me to teach them all over the world, including offering me big bucks to take them to Dubai. But Carmel is my childhood and happy place where I feel most effective, tapped in, and alive.

Thankfully, fellow homebodies, there are many ways to promote your books from home these days. Magic. 

The second big lesson from Lives Charmed is one I wrote about in Beautiful Writers and everyone thanks me for it even though it’s painful. Ready? 

#2: Key friends and family members won’t read your book, probably not ever, and this includes your nearest and dearest. Ugh, this sucks so hard. I’m so sorry. I don’t know why this is true, but it is—I have some ideas, below. (If you haven’t heard my interview with Mark Manson, author of the New York Times bestseller, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, he had a cool perspective on this with his books.)

Mark Manson on the podcast
So, what makes someone close to you not read your book? On the episode, I read a bit from page 154 of Beautiful Writers from a chapter called “The Power of Shared Belief, Writing Groups and Accountability Buddies.” (The format of each chapter, by the way, opens with a writer’s universal dilemma or pain point, then goes quickly into my writing memoir pieces with celeb author stories scattered throughout in boxes where our topics align. Then, at the end of each chapter, I close out with takeaways. This snippet is one of those takeaways):

“You’re not special. It happens to all of us. Maybe your loved one won’t read your book because they can’t stomach the possibility of not loving it, or they’re sick to death of hearing you talk about it and resent how it steals your time. Perhaps they’re short on time, or they love you for you and don’t need further convincing of your worth. Maybe they just suck. All the more reason to find your book people.

“Remember, reading and writing where your first teachers gave you feedback, perhaps even gold stars, started as collaboration. Think about who you can bring with you on this journey that wants to be there. You may have outgrown those footie pajamas, but that doesn’t mean you don’t still need a shoulder to read on. Writing and world-changing is better with a bud or a group as in richer creativity, a flatter learning curve and stronger results, more sanity and laughter. Fellow word lovers can help you blow past apathy, excuses, overwhelm, and writer’s block.”

It never gets easier, though. Tough titties! my friend Laura Belgray would say. (I loved recording her episode with Jenny Lawson.) Agreed. 

#3: A small advance can be a financial godsend, making you more money.
Say what? Hear me out. My first book had a tiny advance of $5,000, and yet it led to decades of abundance—writing for magazines and clients, many other books (my own and ghostwritten), friendships, teaching, my podcast, hosting writing retreats, selling products—all of which saved my son and me. Because I threw myself and my lousy punctuation, at least initially, out into the world with that first pie-in-the-sky dream of a book that was in print for twenty years, a long time. 

Of course, given the option, most authors choose a large advance over a small one. It shows that your publisher has more skin in the game. At the same time you’re hyper-focused on that twelve-week deadline; how nice not to worry about funding that organic kale, bee pollen smoothie habit. However, the stress of making a big splash in the first ninety days can be substantial once the book’s out. One of the blessings of publishing a book with a small advance is that you and your publisher don’t have to be so consumed by the numbers. You have time to breathe and find your audience, and you’ll likely be in print longer. 

Plus, you’ll start receiving royalty checks sooner. Since advances are paid against royalties, “earning out” is easier when we’re talking four or five figures instead of six or seven. If you’re a spender and tend to blow through your money quickly, a monster advance may not be in your best interest. Ha. And if you don’t earn out, meaning you don’t sell enough copies to balance the books (which unfortunately happens more often than not), it’s a lot harder to argue for why they should invest in your future titles. I think two, three, or more book deals are better than one. 

Smaller payments up front may just mean that you get to keep doing this thing you love a lot longer.

From Generation Green: The Ultimate Teen Guide to Leading an Eco-Friendly Life (2008): Certainly, all three lessons from Lives Charmed held for this title, too. But here are the new ones:

#4: If you can’t live with the deal, it’s no deal. Meaning, if they won’t publish your eco book on eco paper, fuck it. I wasn’t getting sap on my hands. You’re the one who must live with the results of your deal for years. If they don’t share your vision, whatever that vision is, don’t share your masterpiece. Find your people or assemble your dream team when you can afford to self-publish. I recently posted two episodes with clients who’ve made a fortune self-publishing, millions of dollars. Listen to them and see how happy they are that they trusted themselves. While they were the perfect candidates for self-publishing, not everyone is. But life is too short to regret the things you could have controlled. 

#5: Big publishers = big reach. This second lesson from Generation Green may sound like it counteracts the first lesson, and in some ways, it does. What can I say, it’s a dualistic universe. While people complain that publishers are just printers these days, big publishers are still intimately tied to media and are just flat out more likely to get you big PR. No one can guarantee they’ll use that reach on you and your title; they don’t always. However, access to key people, placements, and awards is more likely. 

I was so devastated by the breakup of my first marriage and saving my home from foreclosure that I couldn’t focus on getting myself media coverage. And yet, every other day, I got calls from the publicity department at Simon Schuster with great news about new awards and magazine coverage. 

In summary: No, no matter the packaging, steer clear of the wrong deal. But if a top publisher wants to put their substantial weight behind you and it feels right, JUMP. Just watch your head and your spending!

#6: While your spirit is infinite, your promo energy is finite. You will never be able to take advantage of all your PR opportunities. Do what you can and let the rest go. I have told this to many clients, and I hear back a lot how much it helps. We are people living with limited energy and never-ending shit to do. With the internet and the Ph.D. level research you can do on your own, and with all the people you can follow who are doing amazing things to promote their books, the ideas you have will be endless. The opportunities to connect are endless. And yet, you still have to live your life, much of which has nothing to do with your career. Stuff like raising your little people, grocery shopping, and I don’t know, sleeping. So, you’ve got to find a way to rectify the things you could be doing and aren’t, some way to find your Zen. Take up meditation, hot yoga, or therapy.

The systems you use to organize your PR can bring enormous results and freedom in this area, too. I love how Hal Elrod recently talked about his daily PR system that ensured his ticket to bestsellerdom on this show. It took longer than he thought to sell his first million books, but with consistency, he didn’t have to give it much thought. His good habits brought record-breaking sales while also giving him tons of time with his wife and kids, and now they’re farm animals. 

When you make touching your PR every day a habit, as Dani Shapiro touches her writing every day, you can relax knowing you haven’t left your book baby unattended in the corner.

From Beautiful Writers: A Journey of Big Dreams & Messy Manuscripts—with Tricks of the Trade from Bestselling Authors. I’m still learning with the third title that called out to me that night. But as you might imagine, the main lessons so far have been powerful. Comin’ in hot… 

#7: Capture and conquer, with screenshots. When you are hot, when all eyes are on you and your new book (or a heck of a lot more eyes than usual), it’s tempting to think it will last. But it don’t. Not for anyone. I’ll explain. You might be thinking, But Linda, hold up, it lasts for some authors. All right, let’s take the case of Brené Brown, the gal whose episode on my podcast got tens of thousands of downloads more than any other celebrity guests I’ve had, including Tom Hanks, Anne Lamott (with Glennon Doyle co-hosting, no less), and Steven Pressfield.

Brené told a funny story you may remember. She said that one day she noticed her friend Elizabeth Gilbert had tweeted out something like, “Holy shit, Brené, you’ve got three books on the top 10 New York Times list!” Brené was shocked. As anyone would, she took a screenshot, printed it, and posted it in her study. 

It was a moment,” Brené told me. “And it was a great moment. And we celebrated it. And then it was gone.” That’s life in the big city. In the early morning hours of launch day for Beautiful Writers (before shit went seriously wrong that morning, which you’ll know as soon as you listen wink, wink), it was tempting to feel like I was hot. We were the number one new release in a bunch of categories on Amazon, including overall new releases.

Beautiful Writers New Releases
Beautiful Writers New Releases

I had no idea, either. Every time I looked up, someone was texting me, emailing me, or DMing me screenshots. The tweets, re-posts, and online sweetness came in fast and furious and were so appreciated. I felt like I had an army of investigative PR agents. I posted some of them to my IG stories and on Facebook and Twitter. Offers and PR opportunities came at me from every angle those first few weeks after my launch and continued for months. How wonderful, I thought. I’ll get back to everyone as soon as my life calms down. But you know how that works, right? Calm can take a while. And many of those people sending you dancing girl and fireworks emojis and please-will-you-come-on-my-show or do-this-event-with-me emails will have moved on. They’ll be supporting newer, hotter books. New is fun. Everyone wants in on it. 

So, take those screenshots because if you don’t, you’re going to forget. Even if you don’t find yourself in the eye of a shitstorm, like I did, frustrated by your inability to focus on feeding and caring for your book baby once it’s born. I still want you to record to memorialize the fantastic blur that is your lunch.

It’s like your wedding day when you’re so busy hugging guests and dancing that you forget to eat, and before you look up, they’re clearing the buffet. You end up ordering pizza. Later on, when you want to remember what happened on one of the most impactful days of your life, you can pull out the wedding album, or your screenshots, or IG book highlights where you curated all those posts to relive the magic. There will be magic, no matter if you have drama or not. It’ll all be there waiting: The pics you barely remembered of that reader holding your book under the dryer at her beauty salon, another on a boat deck next to a hot pink bikini, a third snuggled up to someone’s adorable horse. You can see examples of those and more on my book highlights here and here (do what I did; it’s so much fun!). 

Another reason to keep photographic evidence: to use it in your future book proposals. As an example, I had a whole repost and retweet section in my proposal for Beautiful Writers. You have that proposal as a download if you’ve purchased my Book Proposal Magic Program. I had a blast crafting the marketing and PR pages for that proposal, where I included screenshots of people who’d reposted and retweeted me in the past—Van Jones, Maria Shriver, Glennon Doyle, and even O Magazine. Those gems resulted from hosting this show, and you may not have an equivalent. I didn’t always, either. We all start as newbies, and you will have your successes, so get to screenshotting and saving for a rainy or sunny day. 

#8: Be your own book advocate. Take the time to write the book you love and fight for the cover that reflects that love. I don’t know if you’ve heard me say this before, but I tell writers you want to agent your agent. Not to be a nuisance but to ensure they ask for what you want. As an example, you may not be able to get it, but always ask to have final cover approval. Your publisher wants you to be happy, and they’ll usually get the cover right. But no one will ever champion your book like you can. If you don’t love your cover, it will bother you to no end. 

I loved all of the covers BenBella sent me for Beautiful Writers. But I wanted green leaves around the typewriter in the one I chose. They disagreed. I pushed back over several back-and-forth emails, and I got my greenery. It’s my favorite part of the cover. 

Be willing to seem high maintenance as long as you’re kind. Your team will likely agree with you soon enough. 

As for the editorial process, I don’t care how many emails or phone calls to your agent or editor it takes. Even if you must ask for an extension on your deadline, get your book right. Once Beautiful Writers was in copy edits, my editor sent me an email saying that in this last round, I could only request changes if there were grammatical errors. So, what did I do? I read the book aloud again, caught 402, no lie, changes I wanted, and sent the very long itemized list to my editor.

Can you imagine? Very few were grammatical. The people-pleasing part of me felt like the most enormous ass, but the I-wanna-be-in-love-with-my-book part of me was skinny bitch confident. I knew we wouldn’t be late on our release, and no one cared. My editor liked the upgrades and thanked me for my hard work because I caught some problems she’d missed. She made 401 of the 402 changes I asked for. Whenever I look at my book now, there’s a joy no one can ever take from me. I want that for you, too. 

#9: Maintain spiritual or woo-woo practices before, during, and after publication.

To know me is to know I believe in magic. As a kid, I could see a ghost that no one else saw in our house. She was a happy old lady, and she made me feel safe. As an adult, I prayed for my first husband at a spiritual seminar with the most specific and outrageous list of desires you have ever heard, met the exact guy on the way home, and married him eight weeks later. (Whoops! Forgot monogamy on my list. Live and learn.) 

If you’ve read Beautiful Writers, you know how I went to a healing session with Guru Singh in West Hollywood and heard his over-the-top prophecy for my future writing career, my secret dream. And then, things manifested quickly from there. You get the gist. I’m a practical and yet highly mystical girl. 

My best post-launch advice is to get or keep whatever mystical practices light you up while writing and all the way through your launch in PR because I didn’t. And I’ll never know if things could have been smoother for me if I had. Did you hear that episode I did with Marie Forleo and Elizabeth Gilbert where we talked about, as Liz said, dreaming our worlds into being. We shared wild stories about magical things we’d done to supercharge our bestseller realities.

For example, I told a story of looking into the mirror every night with a wink for over a year, saying: “Goodnight, New York Times bestseller.” Then, it happened in real life—my name at #5 on the most coveted book list in the world. Marie and Liz had similar stories. If you’ve ever heard Gabby Bernstein talk about dreaming her publishing goals into existence, you know she meditates on who her readers are and feels the feelings of giving them the stories that will change their lives. Gabby talks of seeing and feeling every bit of being on Oprah. To the point of saying something like, “Oh, I’ve been expecting your call” when the call came in. 

I had been so tightly scheduled on the march to my latest launch that I got spiritually complacent and didn’t meditate, visualize, or affirm hardly any success for myself before or after. Wait, I take that back. I did one excellent 10-minute visualization that did come true. I pasted a picture of me next to Marie Forleo and made a graphic in Canva of the two of us together on her show, MarieTV. And when Marie’s assistant emailed me with that exact offer, I gasped and sent it to her, which she loved.

Fantasy pic:

The real deal:

I can’t guarantee that if you see yourself and feel yourself experiencing all sorts of blissful ease and blessings, those things will come true, but, Oh my God, what have you got to lose? A few minutes a day to smile in silence and feel some inner peace? Go for it. Namaste, motherfuckers. 

Oh! I realized one other thing my books all have in common that might be valuable for you:

#10: I live for creating things (I’m guessing you do, too). Awards, media darlingness, fans fanning, thank you, thank you. But the daily joy of crafting my creations? That’s where it’s at. 

I’ll close by saying that until it’s too late, it’s never too late. Someone gave me the best idea at one of those delightful Happy Women Dinners book events in LA last week. She said: “You should look at this time as the relaunch of Beautiful Writers. It’s almost spring. Your publisher said the audiobook is almost done. [Please, God.] And you’ve got your energy back. Why not?” I think she was spot on. It feels good to think of this time as my book’s relaunch.

SHAMELESS PLUG: So, you want to play with me? If you’ve already read and loved her, please consider leaving Beautiful Writers five stars and/or a comment on Amazon or Goodreads to help an algorithm out. And if you’ve got a book club and want me to zoom in and answer questions, I promise to shower! Podcast interviews? I’m all over it. Have you got any blog or media connections? I’m open to all of it. Email me at team@bookmama.com. Or DM me on Instagram. And when you leave five stars on a comment for the pod, wherever you listen to us, it always makes my day. I see it all. I love it. I thank you from the bottom of my writerly heart.  

I’m sending you a huge virtual hug, my friend. Write on.

PS. If you’re wondering if you’re carrying the pain of your book-writing process or launch in your body, you probably are. Holding on to the weight of creative drama is common. So is holding your book back with your unprocessed pain. Be a good steward, midwife, or book mama (or papa!) with the book healing ritual in this episode. It helped me so much. I can’t wait to hear about your process.
PSS. Find any of this helpful? Planning to do a book ritual or already have? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment on my IG, Facebook, or X

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