The Plight of a Writer Living Abroad: Lessons Learned About Getting Support

by Nora Dunn on December 14, 2009

IMG_2223_1About a year ago, an acquaintance of mine became a published author. The book was about weight loss (and I am a 5’8” 125 pound semi-weakling). But you know what? I bought a copy anyway. Why? Because somebody I know became a published author, and I wanted to buy a copy to support her. So I paid (exorbitantly) to order it and have it shipped to Australia. Why again, do you ask? Because….that’s just what you do….right?

So in May of 2009 when I became a published author, I figured that friends and family from all over would flock to support me in the same way I had supported this other acquaintance of mine. Whoops – I guess I was wrong.



Note: Occasionally, I use this blog as a platform for personal rants. Although this post may initially reek of personal rant, you will see that I use my experience to develop a roadmap for how writers who live abroad can get the support they need. Please bear with me; the negativity has purpose.



My Search for Moral Support While Living Abroad

I was mildly perturbed when I discovered on my return visit home last July/August, how few of my friends had purchased a copy of my book. Plenty of complete strangers and mild internet acquaintances I’d never met ordered copies (some specifically to support me if you can believe it), but none of my close friends did. I eliminated the potentially painful variable of family not getting copies by actually ordering and sending each family member a copy myself. (I’d like to think they would have ordered copies regardless).

IMG_3503_1Not having the support of my friends struck me as odd and hurtful, but I chucked it up to the fact that copies weren’t yet available in Canada, and maybe ordering from Amazon in the States was too overwhelming. (The book is now available in Canada, by the way – at select stores and online through Chapters Indigo (no – it’s not an affiliate link!) and a few other vendors).

But there’s more to it than that, as I’ve realized on reflection. I have already come to accept the fact that distance breeds apathy in friendships – something that I also learned dissipates when reconnecting in person. I do not expect people back home to get up in arms about things going on in my life while I’m on the exact opposite side of the globe. They have their own busy lives in which I’m not an active participant; I can only expect the same in return. (I will discuss more about how to elicit support from long distance friends later on).

However, my attempts to release certain “friendship responsibilities” (as I see them) from people back home in Canada has meant projecting similar responsibilities onto people physically present in my life abroad – and perhaps unfairly so.

We have a terrific group of friends from a broad spectrum of backgrounds here in Australia. It is partly why staying here for so long has been easy; we’ve not felt so much at home anywhere in the world since leaving Canada. We even have a friend whose parents have become such staunch supporters that they’ve appointed themselves as our adoptive-parents-away-from-home.

Since 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget is not yet available in Australia, I painstakingly ordered 20 copies (and paid $150 in shipping costs) to get some for Aussie friends who said they’d love to buy a copy. 20 was considerably more than the amount of people who said they were in for a copy, but since shipping is exorbitant, I figured it would pay off to order more and lower the cost per book. (I figured I could sell 20 copies at cost over the next few months, and the shipping costs balanced out my author’s discount to make it a reasonable price overall).

Although some friends bought the book and others didn’t (or haven’t yet), my world was turned upside down when my adoptive parents didn’t buy a copy. Their reason cited? They might not use all the tips in the book.

Wow.



(Personal Rant: If they had written a book, I’d have bought it, read it, and probably even reviewed it on this Site. If it was crap, I’d have found a diplomatic way to tell my readers that it was written by a friend of mine, and I do everything I can to support my friends – but that the book might not be for everybody. Why would I do all this? Because that’s just what you do to support your friends.

Or maybe that’s just what I do.)



I was crushed when my “adoptive parents” didn’t buy a copy. But on reflection, I realize that it’s not their fault. Any number of variables could be in play:

  • In setting up our playful “adoptive parents” relationship, I likely attached too much expectation of actual parental support to them, and hence a burden to purchase the book on them – all of which is unfair to everybody involved.
  • They may have expected me to give them a copy for free, and were offended that I try to sell it to them (even if only to recoup my cost).
  • There might even be an unspoken Aussie cultural policy around the etiquette of selling your own stuff that escapes me. I’m generally as humble and non-pressuring as possible, but maybe that in itself is part of the problem.

Possibly the biggest x-factor here is that none of the people who have withheld their support thus far in the story are actually writers; nor do they understand the sort of work that goes into writing a book, and the moral support an author requires throughout the process. (And that the moral support can very specifically take the form of buying a writer’s book and letting them know you did).


My Search for Professional Support While Living Abroad

IMG_1322_1I happen to have another manuscript, fully written. The book is a combination of a travel memoir and educational/reference tool. When I was preparing to send it to agents and publishers, I asked a select group of people (both back home in Canada and here in Australia) to read it for constructive advice, and they agreed.

That was a year ago. Nobody (with one exception, which I’ll get to) read it. Or if they did, they didn’t tell me. The most feedback I’ve elicited is squished up faces, sighs, and promises that they’ll get to it, or have started it.



(Personal Rant: If you agree to read a manuscript, then you read it, plain and simple. If you don’t have time, then don’t agree to read it. Sheesh.)



As a result, I have lost the courage to persevere with the manuscript. I’m convinced it’s crap, and although I still think the concept is sound, if I try to make something of it in the future, it will involve a complete re-write. (I must also note that in the last year I also queried a number of agents who asked to see the manuscript, but said that it wasn’t for them after reading it; this latter group is more instrumental in my decision to re-write, but I can’t deny the painful silence of my other readers as having a big part as well).

Again, I must take the blame off my chosen reviewers in this instance, for the following reasons:

  • Very few of my chosen reviewers were the target audience for the book. They wouldn’t buy it for themselves, and so reading it with interest (or at all) would obviously be difficult.
  • I wanted honest opinions, but chose close friends/family to give them to me. These people may have found it difficult to criticize the work of somebody so close – especially if they are far away and communication is tough to begin with.
  • I didn’t follow up as lustily as I could have. Again, in the name of being humble and unobtrusive on the people I love, I waited for them to take initiative and read it and respond. Maybe they were waiting for me to ask, or to ask more often.
  • If I were to be really honest with myself, I probably didn’t want criticism from these people at all; I just wanted them to read it and tell me how fantastic I am. My chosen group was largely my moral supporters, but not necessarily people with the knowledge to help me with the manuscript.

As I alluded to, there is one person – and one person only – who read my manuscript and gave me feedback. He was a fellow author with whom I had exchanged manuscripts for feedback. Although I did this with two authors, it only worked with the author I could meet with in person (possibly a coincidence, but likely not).

So how does a writer living abroad get the support they need? I think that a writer needs two kinds of support, from two groups of people: professional support from writers and people in your target audience, and moral support from friends and family. And I think there are some game rules for both.


Professional Support Tips for Writers Living Abroad


  • Professional support will come from other writers (hopefully in your style or genre of writing) who can give you useful constructive criticism on your project.
  • Professional support will also come from people in your target audience who shape your writing and key messages. By selecting somebody (this could even be a friend) who is the ideal audience for your writing, you will get the most genuine reply.
  • Although nobody likes a nag, don’t be afraid to ask for honest opinions and be somewhat aggressive about getting them. Don’t wait by the phone for feedback – it doesn’t come.
  • Professional support can be found online with writer’s groups and forums, but it is best to have at least one professional supporter who you can meet with in person. The quality of feedback and communication of it will be so much stronger. (This can be difficult, depending on how remote, culturally removed, or constantly on the move you are).


Moral Support Tips for Writers Living Abroad


  • Moral support will come from your family and friends, and can be as simple as staying in touch by email, Skype, or telephone. Given your distance from home, these are the likely bonds that will hold you to your moral support network back home.
  • You can also get moral support from your new friends on the road. The depth of these friendships also depends on how remote, culturally removed, or constantly on the move you are.
  • Buying your product isn’t necessarily a pre-cursor for moral support. Sometimes people have the inability (or lack of desire) to buy, but aren’t lacking in support.
  • Again don’t be pushy, but also don’t be afraid to ask for moral support, and define what that means to you. You stand a much better chance of getting what you need by defining it, and then asking for it.



I am writing this article because I wonder if there are other writers who live abroad who are struggling for support in a lonely career on the (sometimes) lonely road. Are these good tips? Is this a base for getting the support we need on the road as writers?

What about supporters out there (in general – not necessarily specifically mine): How would you feel as a “moral supporter” for somebody who lives far away? What would you do – or what wouldn’t you do – to show your support for them?

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Philip Brewer December 15, 2009 at 1:11 am

I’ve seen every reaction. I’ve had people buy books just because they include some of my work (some were writers; others were just friends). I’ve had people want to borrow a copy so they can read my story. I’ve had people hint that they’d like me to give them a copy. Plenty of people not only don’t buy copies of the books, they don’t even get around to reading a story when it’s available for free on the internet–but I can’t really tell for sure, because other people read the story but don’t mention it for a year and then tell me how much they liked it.

I’ve found myself surprised in both directions. Somehow, I’m simultaneously surprised that so many people bought books just because of a connection with me, while also being surprised so many people didn’t.

In the end, I guess it’s something that a writer just needs to get over. Be surprised and pleased whenever anyone takes an interest in your work. Be especially surprised and especially pleased whenever anyone buys a copy of your work. Don’t take it personally when friends and relations (even good friends and close relations) don’t buy (or don’t even read) your work. And, if it would really hurt you to learn that someone didn’t buy your book, be sure to give them a free copy.

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Rachel Cotterill December 15, 2009 at 2:26 am

I figure that when I get a book published, that’s Christmas presents sorted for that year ;) I hope you find the right support network soon.

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Mark December 15, 2009 at 5:52 am

Not that you’re looking for justification, but I believe you’re right to be hurt and surprised. I also think this is not particularly related to being a writer. If you produce something and producing that something was difficult, it is entirely within the realm of reasonable expectation that people close to you will want to support it in any way they can.

I’m glad that you’re accepting circumstances as they are and learning from them, but I guess I’m ultimately just disappointed in your friends, family, and even acquaintances. I mean, seriously. “We might not use all the tips”?? Is that really the point?

Honestly thinking about buying a copy just for some sense of justice,
mark

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Thursday Bram December 15, 2009 at 6:47 am

Unfortunately, I’ve seen similar reactions even with those people that I’m near and could easily find my books at the local bookstore. It’s even worse with ebooks! (Because there’s no cost to make a copy, the number of people that ask for free / review copies is huge — I even had one relative ask for a free copy and then proceed to email it out to all her friends.)

I’ve been trying to get myself in a grateful frame of mind whenever anyone does take enough interest in my work to buy a copy, although it can be tough not to get frustrated by all those that I hope would be interested and aren’t. The best I can do is to avoid dwelling on it. If I’m worrying too much about that sort of thing, I try to focus on a new writing project instead.

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theprofessionalhobo December 15, 2009 at 9:27 am

Thanks for the feedback, guys!
@Philip – True enough: I have had a few pleasant surprises in there too; people who have supported me without much of a prior relationship. I should celebrate that!

@Rachel – Indeed – Christmas prezzies. Problem is, I don’t want to be “that person” who gives out copies of their own stuff egotistically. I’d like to give my book to people who will see the offer as a genuine “you’ll get something good out of this book”, not in a “I’m in this book, look at how great I am” sort of way! I guess I’m the one who can ensure that the message gets across the right way.

@Mark – No I wasn’t looking for justification, but I do truly appreciate your support and understanding! (But don’t buy the book for justice; buy it for the awesome tips)! :-)

@Thursday – I wondered how similar the plight is for locally based writers. I’m sorry to discover through you that it’s the same! But you’re right: from now on I’ll be pleasantly surprised at anybody who takes interest, instead of setting expectations that can lead to disappointment.

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Amanda December 15, 2009 at 9:32 am

Nora, I can totally relate to all you say, and have been similarly surprised at the non-interest in my writing successes along the way, but it is definitely independent of whether I’m living at home or abroad – pretty much I can only rely on my Mum, and a couple of friends who reliably follow my career in pretty much the way you described at first – just because they want to, because it’s you, whether or not they’re interested in the subject matter.

And I don’t think there’s any Aussie cultural quirk about selling your own stuff, I think it’s just the way it is. It sucks, though, right!

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Frank December 15, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Hi Nora,
This post made me feel quite sad for you. I emailed the link to a couple of authors I know (webby “friends”) for their thoughts.

Even writing my humble eBook I can see what you mean. Best to seek support within sometimes I reckon!

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theprofessionalhobo December 15, 2009 at 3:05 pm

@Amanda – I was hoping you’d weigh in on this one! Thanks for your support (see? All you lurkers – leaving comments is great support for us writers!), and it’s nice to know I’m not the only one.

@Frank – Aw…don’t feel too bad for me! Life on the road in general has had some surprises and adjustments, and the writing-support issue (which, from some of the comments above appears to be universal) was exaggerated for me by virtue of my lifestyle. Writing this piece actually helped me come to grips with how to take responsibility and move forward constructively. I’m hoping that other writers can take something from it as well. Cheers, mate! (and keep truckin’ on that e-book….I’ll read it! Really, I will!)

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Frank December 15, 2009 at 3:23 pm

No dramas Nora, I KNOW you are waiting for the freebie! It is a few days off being souped up into a new design , can’t wait to see it. Will send you a sample then…

Have another one in the pipeline , just sorting out the financial / collaboration details. Should be fun!

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Morgan December 15, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Maybe next time just send one chapter per person out for constructive advice. Taking on a whole book is a large request and it is difficult to distinguish insincerity from politeness.

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theprofessionalhobo December 15, 2009 at 4:50 pm

@Frank – Darnit, you got me. I’m in for the freebie all the way! (winks)

@Morgan – I think that’s great advice. Indeed an entire book – especially one that either has to be printed out (which is a pain) or read on a computer (which is also a pain if you don’t have an e-reader) – is a tall order for somebody to read for constructive advice. Cheers!

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John Bardos December 15, 2009 at 5:25 pm

In my opinion, I couldn’t sell books to friends or adoptive parents. I personally feel that there shouldn’t be financial transaction in personal relationships.

In Japan, foreigners (non-Japanese) often have parties but then try to charge for it. That always rubs me the wrong way. You don’t invite someone to your house for dinner and then say, “$30″ please.

If it were me, I would give the books to friends and acquaintances for free but only if I thought they would read it.

It is too bad about your manuscript. I agree that if someone says they will read it, they should. Promises don’t mean much anymore. Everyone tries to be nice online so they have a hard time saying no.

What is your manuscript about?

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theprofessionalhobo December 15, 2009 at 6:13 pm

Hey John – Indeed: I’ve found it terribly awkward to ask my friends to buy books, which may in part explain my so-so success at it! I am however, torn; some friends specifically asked me to get copies for them to buy, and the truth is if I don’t ask people if they want a copy, I’ll never know.
Financially, on a Professional Hobo’s budget, I just can’t afford to buy and give copies out to all the people in my life that I’m close with. Most people who know me understand this. If I could, I would. So I’ll give a few away for Christmas presents – but as you say – only to people who I think will enjoy reading it.

I can also see how the charge-a-party concept in Japan would be irksome; is it done in the name of making a profit, or just recouping expenses? In some ways, if no intentions of profit is present, I would actually appreciate the opportunity for everybody to come to the table equally and enjoy a good time without one person bearing the entire expense of throwing a party.

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Dick December 15, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Hi Nora,

Have heard of Blurb (as in Blurb.com) ? There you can do the whole “damned thing” yourself . Design it ,publish it, set your own price, sell it. etc. etc. And then take ALL the profit and credit yourself.!

You’ll find me there after I toiled and slaved and then slaved some more till the early hours of the morning. Forseaking all others. Now the dishes are still there,crying for some water, plants are gone (finally) and desperately needed some food.

And you know what ? They misprinted the whole thing. But they were, quick, wonderful and generous about it, so three cheers for Blurb ! You’ll find it all under the name Parisian Dreams. (now there is a shameless plug !. ) Don’t buy this though, new one is in the works as are others.

Cheers,

Dick

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Dick December 15, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Hi Nora,

Re-reading my ” two-cents” it does come across (at least to me) that I am shamelessly : off-topic, plugging myself and/or Blurb and totally “ignoring” your plight . Not intentional of course, I just thought you would be interested in another side of the publishing coin.

Bowed heads all around,

Dick

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Maya Frost December 15, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Nora,

I had to laugh when I read this because I certainly felt the same way at times during the process of writing, publishing and marketing my book while living in Argentina! But now that I look back on it, I realize that writers really do have to get their ya-yas in a sort of vacuum. We have to enjoy the process and have our own jump-on-the-couch moments along the way without relying on others to validate us. Once you accept that, you start to feel grateful just to have the chance to do what you love–write–rather then feel hurt or bummed that you’re not getting the “support” you need.

I’ve found it helps to remember that I’m not necessarily “supporting” my friends’ work, either–I don’t applaud their fabulous presentation at work or celebrate their promotion in any sort of tangible (paying dollars) way–I merely congratulate them wholeheartedly. There’s no money exchanged, and so it’s odd to be in a position in which “support” comes from dollars spent on Amazon or hours spent reading a manuscript.

I didn’t have a group of writer friends during the process of writing my first book (nor my second, come to think of it) and that worked out fine for me. I didn’t feel the need to have someone else go over my manuscripts–mostly because the people I know are not my target audience. Would you be willing to spend hours reading a sci-fi novel even if you’re totally not into sci-fi? I probably wouldn’t–or I would, but grudgingly, just so I could tell my writer friend that I read their work!

As expats, it’s hard to remember that people “back home” seem to be frantically busy all the time. I actually have tons of time during which I could read a book, but I realize I’m not like most people. It’s the same with email–I get back to people immediately and sometimes get miffed when I don’t get a timely response back, but it’s because I honestly don’t have that much to do and most everyone else is juggling 100 emails a day plus a full-time job.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve found the best way to deal with the Writer Abroad Plight (and it IS a challenge!) is to say, “Yay, ME!” when I need to and bless my lucky stars that I get to live where I want and write what I like. It’s pretty cool, when you think about it! If we happen to have link love and Amazon love and adulation come our way, well, that’s just icing on the cake. ;-)

Hugs from a writer in Buenos Aires,
Maya

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Kim P December 16, 2009 at 5:13 am

You know, this is one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn recently, I can not expect people to react to me the way I would react to them. Is it hurtful when you give your support to someone and them to not reciprocate in return, yes. I guess that is one of life’s little surprises, but will it kill me? No.

We all want constructive feedback and support for our endeavors, but you know how awesome you are Nora! You have inspired so many people with what you are doing and that’s proof enough!

Different things appeal to different people, but I hope one day those people will come around because they do not know what they’re missing out on!

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Dave Adair December 16, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Nora, I know of people I’ve never met who anxiously await my travel newsletters – and some of my very closest friends don’t read them at all. (I can tell by the questions they ask!)

But we can’t make someone care, and just because WE think it’s important doesn’t mean that they do. I vote for writing for the love of it, and letting go of the results. Not so easy, but a good practice, nonetheless.

Keep up the good writing!
Dave

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The Longest Way Home December 17, 2009 at 1:07 am

Hi Nora,

Sorry for the delay in commenting here. I actually tried through my phone but the browser crashed a few days ago and it’s taken me this long to get back. But, I did :)

I really feel for you here. I won’t comment on the personal relationship with your “adoptive parents”. However I do feel you are on the right track when mention maybe they would have expected a free copy. But I also see your point.

I will chirp in on how your friends might be feeling. Would I be right in saying most of them live their own lives, maybe even 9-5? Some might not like travel, and some might not want things to change. All of which I am sure is mentioned in your book.

My point being. I would struggle to find the time in reading a friends book about “bowling” if they wrote one. I’d be really hankering to read the latest travel book, or DIY wordpress blog out there.

Yes that person is also my friend, and I’d be curious. But unless I had an interest in the subject, I’d struggle. And I’d also struggle on how to tell them without offending them.

I think the thing is not to push it. Sit back and let things happen naturally. In a few months you might be at a friends house and one of them might bring it up with a newcomer.

Friend 1 – “This is Nora, she’s a writer you know? I’ve read her book?”

New Friend – “Really!” Looking over at Friend 2. “Have you read it too?”

Friend 2 – Goes bright red and looks to the ground. She’ll be ordering it tomorrow online.

At least that’s my scenario. Let peer pressure between friends and family take the plight from you and onto their shoulders.

If you ever need any support drop me a line!

Dave

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theprofessionalhobo December 19, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Woah – awesome comments; I’ve been on the road for a few days and have come back to this awesome forum.

@Dick – Thanks for your input (and no worries on the plug for Blurb – I thank you for sharing your experience with me)! I have indeed thought of self-publishing, and may end up going that route yet. I think that different types of books (and writing styles) beget different types of publishing – be it self-publishing, more traditional publishing, or e-book publishing. I’ll be at that point soon again when I’ll make that decision and gear my content accordingly.

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theprofessionalhobo December 19, 2009 at 2:51 pm

@Maya – Amiga! How beautifully written – thank you for your contribution. Indeed – I think a pervasive theme for writers is that we write because we want to, need to, and love to; and that it would be most rewarding if we let go of the outcome.

You make an excellent point about my attachment of moral support to dollars and cents. In fact, I feel ashamed for it in this light, and you’re absolutely right – you don’t have to get behind somebody financially to be behind them in spirit. I have some friends who read this blog (which is, obviously, free), and others who don’t. (I will go on record as saying that both my mum and Kelly’s mum are among my greatest supporters – thanks guys)! I am in the process of coming to terms with the fact that even the people who don’t read it can be supporters too, though.

As for having writer-friends or a professional support group of sorts to read manuscripts, everything I’ve read indicates that before you send a manuscript off to publishing-land, you are best to have it read by people you know who can give you feedback. Isn’t this true? I really do think it’s incredibly valuable, but – as you say – is also a tall order; (especially for expats, who may not have an immediate group of people to share with in this way). Indeed – I would have trouble getting into a sci-fi novel is sci-fi wasn’t my thing, and my reaction would therefore likely be to say “no” if asked to (or at least try to read it with no promises).

I’ll finish by taking on your own concluding advice to me – to:
“bless my lucky stars that I get to live where I want, and write what I like. It’s pretty cool, when you think about it!”
Indeed – thanks for the reminder!

PS – Although I don’t get 100 emails a day, it’s up there. Good for you for staying out of that fray!

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theprofessionalhobo December 19, 2009 at 2:51 pm

@Kim P – You’re awesome. I draw from your words a personal challenge for myself: to truly give without expectation of reciprocation. I’d hate to admit that I do expect reciprocity (on occasion, at least), but maybe subconsciously it creeps in there. Truth is, you never really know how the things you do come back to you in the end…but it generally does come back.
Thanks for your awesome words of support and encouragement.

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theprofessionalhobo December 19, 2009 at 2:52 pm

@Dave Adair –
“I vote for writing for the love of it, and letting go of the results. Not so easy, but a good practice, nonetheless”.

You said it! Truly, I have nothing to say except thank you, and I agree completely.

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theprofessionalhobo December 19, 2009 at 2:53 pm

@The Longest Way Home (Dave) – You got it, man. I think my sense of urgency in trying to get the book out there is largely unnecessary; the book will naturally work its way into the scheme of things. And it’s not everybody’s cup ‘o’ tea – and that’s okay too.

You know what the interesting thing is about my adoptive parents now? Not knowing if they expected a free copy – but being more than happy to oblige, I now feel uncomfortable extending the offer! If they’re not all that interested in the topic anyway, what’s the point, right? I mean, wouldn’t it almost be offensive? I don’t know. I think I’ll just let this one go. Again – their support of me is unfailing in so many ways; a silly book is not going to get in the way of our friendship. Thank you!

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Becky December 20, 2009 at 11:32 am

This is a very interesting post for me because I am a writer (and former magazine editor) and my 2nd book will come out while living abroad and these are things I didn’t even think of but I have a feeling I will feel the exact same way!

My husband and I actually argued about giving away free copies to friends and family. I said we shouldn’t because if it were MY friend I would want to buy a copy to support them. He said we should because it would mean something to them. We still don’t see eye-to-eye on that one!

Also, I have great support system at home, writers group, fans, etc but it’s true I didn’t even think about the lack of it now that I’m in China. I had my writer friends read the rough draft before I left home so I’m not so worried about that now, but I am really curious at the way people will react when the book comes out and they won’t see my puppy-dog eyes guilting them into buying a copy.

So thanks for the advanced warning I guess, and I don’t feel you are being ungrateful or too whinny or anything! After all, we pour a lot of ourselves into our writing (even in fiction) and sometimes we just need a little support and acknowledgement from those we love.

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theprofessionalhobo December 20, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Hi Becky – Thanks for your support and your two cents! Good luck on your next book launch….I’m glad that my tips will be helpful to you. You’ve already had a kick at the publishing thing though (being your 2nd book and all!), so you probably won’t have as much of a learning curve in being abroad and doing it as I did. Keep me posted on the release!

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Lisa Bergren December 20, 2009 at 1:49 pm

It’s taken me quite a few books to really remove myself from the whole sales process on the personal level. I’ve felt your pain–right here at home, not even as an expat! Like your readers have weighed in…I’ve come to find out that books either sell or they don’t, regardless of whether your ten best friends/family members purchase/tout it. If you hit a felt need at the right time, it will find its niche. If you don’t, it fades away and you move on to the next. Your job is to write the best dang book you can, let people know about it thru blogs/tweets/professional channels, occasionally remind your professional buddies and see what happens. (You can tell your friends/family members through an annual holiday letter.) Sometimes God smiles. Sometime he doesn’t. We move on.

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theprofessionalhobo December 20, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Hi Lisa – Indeed: your experience shines in your sound advice. I can usually let go of the outcome with my smaller articles (due to the sheer volume that I write), but somehow I thought the book would be different…it’s not really. It’s still my writing – just more concentrated! :-) In the meantime, I’ll keep writing what I’m passionate about and making it as good as possible. Cheers!

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Delphine January 15, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I would gladly read your manuscript and give you honest feedback, as one of your target audience. I am a big fan! Please email me if I can help you in that way.

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theprofessionalhobo January 16, 2010 at 10:21 am

@Delphine – Thank you so much for your offer! I really am going back to the drawing board with this manuscript, as I believe my extra year of travel – and life – experience since the last version will make it a different book.
But please stick around….I’ll put up a post the next time I’m looking for feedback….

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Laurie January 27, 2010 at 5:41 am

All of this is really good advice, not just for writers, actually. Anyone who is trying to do something on their own and put themselves out there in some form or another professionally should carefully consider your list of lessons. It really makes you think.

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theprofessionalhobo January 27, 2010 at 10:48 am

@Laurie – I agree! Other artists and entrepreneurs could stand to benefit from these guidelines too. Cheers!

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Sherry Ott February 1, 2010 at 10:33 am

Nice post Nora and appreciate your honesty. At a much smaller level, I’m going thru the same thing. Upon returning home after being away for 1 1 /2 yrs I”m finding that my family or friends no longer even read my blog. They are full of apologies though…but that doesn’t seem to help me much. I no longer feel bad about not remember their kids names or ages!

Distance and friendships is a difficult thing. While living abroad, I came to the conclusion that I really couldn’t depend on anyone but myself. Probably not the exact right stance to take, but it helped me survive.

I know just how much work you put into your writing career and can appreciate everything you said in this post. I don’t really have any answers, as I’m currently struggling with this.
I hope you do re-think your other manuscript, you have absolutely nothing to lose.

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theprofessionalhobo February 1, 2010 at 11:53 am

@Sherry – Thanks for your support! What a life we choose, to live abroad, huh??? (smiles)
You also bring up a good point; one about not remembering some of the personal details of folks back home…I think we all experience a mutual “apathy” (for lack of a better word!) towards staying up the latest of people – even friends and family – who are far away for long periods. I have to wonder what support I’ve unwittingly withheld from my own crew back home, and how they feel about it.
And no worries on the manuscript – it will come out (again) when it’s ready! I’m at relative peace with it now.

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Lenka March 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Oh, I’m exactly the same with helping others. Or if I can’t perhaps purchase something, I can’t but at least try help them promote it via social media. To set an example – somebody has a page on FB, I immediately like it and share it on my wall to help them. Then I make a FB page for my blog, share it on my wall and nothing. Not even from the people I helped before. And I’m surrounded by artists, whom I believe should help each other as I feel like we are all on the same boat, yet I sometimes feel like most people have the mentality of “more for you, less for me” and I totally disagree with that. But sometimes I’m thinking that I’m perhaps naive and should take off those pink hippie sunglasses I’m wearing. But then time to time people approach me and tell me something positive about my work and it just makes it. All forgotten. I also learned through the time that I can’t reach everyone and stay in touch with everyone. Being away, doing some work or achieving things filters people around you. The right people stick with you through the down times, through the up times. The other ones come in the up time all wooed, but once you trip and fall, they aren’t there to pick you up…

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theprofessionalhobo March 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm

@Lenka – Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and observations. I think sometimes if we’re not getting the support we want, that we just need to ask for it outright. Somebody recently asked me to like them on FB when they liked me and I didn’t reciprocate, and frankly I liked the reminder since it had slipped my mind.

In regards to people picking you up when you fall, it reminds me of a quote I read recently:
“Friends will pick you up and dust you off when you’re down. Best friends will push you back down and laugh at you.”
It’s somewhat irrelevant (and irreverent), but I liked it! :-)

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Lenka March 3, 2012 at 5:21 pm

That’s an interesting thought, somewhat I’d expect it to be the other way around. :))

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Baron's June 25, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Nora, just read this post…you are full of surprises and I love the fact that you tell it from the heart…like it is, very candidly.
BTW: I am also trying to understand how E-bboks are made and published….

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theprofessionalhobo June 26, 2012 at 8:09 am

@Baron’s – Thanks! As for publishing e-books, check out the comment I left for you on this post:
http://www.theprofessionalhobo.com/2012/06/from-the-grand-canyon-to-the-great-wall-im-published-again/

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