How to Unsell yourself–Lesson 2

I want out 1971

I want out 1971 (Photo credit: Thierry Bonzon)

Are you ready for your next lesson? Hopefully, you’ve internalized the MOM RULE! If you want to UNSELL yourself, then don’t tell your Mom what you do. She’ll brag and sell you to fame. That’s not what we want to do. We want to be unknown, unsellable, and overlooked.

Rule #2 for unselling yourself is:

Don’t enter contests

Contests are bad! They put your creative work in the limelight to be judged and noticed by others. You don’t want to do that.

To illustrate this point, I’ll tell about a contest I entered for a 600-word story. I spent a couple weeks working on drafts until I had a 597-word story titled PREY. It had drama, a bit of characterization, and clutching climax (maybe not a solution, but I would have needed 8 more words for that—AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.  THE END—and I only had 3 to spare).

I went to the submission guidelines and found that I had to upload my story (which was 1.5 pages long) and place it on SELL EVERYWHERE (or something like that) to submit my entry. It was their tricky way of getting you to learn how to publish to official channels. I hesitantly did this, and was appalled to see that my BOOK? (it is questionable to call a story that is only one page a book!) was priced at $8.99.  Yikes!  An e-book of it was 99 cents. That’s a little better.  But wait!

It was one and a half pages long! What does a one and a half page book even look like?  I mean, sure, it’s probably a little more than that since they throw in a title page and blank pages at the end and maybe even a copyright page if I’m lucky, but that can only put it up to maybe 8 pages.  Maybe laminates the pages for that price.  I certainly hope so.

The contest promoters encouraged you to market your submission and sell as many copies of it as you could, since it was now listed on the internet—the gateway to the world. They wanted you to Facebook and Twitter all your friends: “Go buy my book. It’s cool. You know me. This is cool! Come on. Buy my dang book!” Basically they wanted you to break all the rules of unselling yourself. Evil!

Contest officials rubbed their hands together in glee hoping that everyone would be so star-struck to see that they had an official page on the internet where people could buy their books that they would call their moms and say, “Mom, I wrote a BOOK? Go buy it.”

And of course, moms would. Remember Rule #1.

I didn’t call my Mom.  I knew Rule #1. But I had broken the second vital rule of unselling…and these were the consequences I suffered. I began having nightmares after hitting that submit button.

1st nightmare: Some gullible Joe out there that I don’t know from Adam came across my BOOK? and bought it. He said, “What the hay!  I’m bored and need something to read.  This author has an exotic name, so they must be good.” When they finished 1 page later, they ranted and screamed and gave me a 1 star review on Amazon.

2nd worse nightmare: Someone I KNEW happened to google my name and saw that I had a BOOK? for sale.  It looked all official, and $8.99 wasn’t too pricey. So my friend from high school that I hadn’t seen in 25 years bought my 1 page BOOK? When they finished it 1 page later, they unfriended me on Facebook!  Agh! The shame!

3rd even worse nightmare: A guy named Joe surfed the internet and came across my book and thought that the title PREY was about communicating with God (he’s a gullible Joe that can’t spell). In my dream, this Joe sent me a scathing email after reading my 1 page BOOK? that didn’t bring him any closer to God and accused me of tricking him and wasting his money!

I woke up sobbing, and knew I had to take my BOOK? offline and unsell myself again. To heck with the contest.

Even though I was very curious as to what my 1-1/2 page BOOK? actually looked like, I had learned my lesson from trying to sell myself the hard way and knew better than to buy my own book. The fame might have gone to my head. And it was already filled with plaguing nightmares.

That, my friends, is why you should never enter tricky contests that try to promote you. You will only suffer pain, humiliation, and endless nightmares. Trust me! It’s not worth it. You can unsell yourself…you can. Just think positively…and don’t enter in the first place. It’s like the alcoholic’s first drink…DON’T PARTAKE!

As Forest Gump would say: That’s all I have to say about that.


Stay tuned for the final tip later this week. This was already too long (I blame it on the nightmares)

17 thoughts on “How to Unsell yourself–Lesson 2

  1. Oh no. That’s a nasty little scam. That darn Joe. I think he’s reviewed one of my books too! I’m not a fan of Joe.

  2. I’ve not heard of that. Yikes. I’ve entered one contest (which I don’t expect to win, but I figured I’d make the effort), and I might enter a couple more, but only after careful research. Thanks for the heads up on scams like these. Helps to know what I’m up against. Unfortunately, the time and effort it takes to enter some of these things are time I could better spend elsewhere.

  3. Great warning advice wrapped up in that humorous post! I admire the honesty of some authors I’ve seen on Amazon. They make it clear in the title that the work is a SHORT STORY. And I appreciate them making that clear. There are undoubtedly some good short stories worth every penny of the 99 cents. But I would feel bad if someone thought they were buying a full-length book.

    • It is nice when you know exactly how long or short a piece you’re getting for 99 cents. I don’t mind a short story, but would rather the author give me a collection of several shorts to make me feel better about my purchase.

  4. Oh, how terrible! That’s a great way to build a nasty reputation. I’ve considered entering some of my photos in contests but I really have to read the fine prints on all of them. Many websites/organizations say you can retain copyright of your photo but you allow them to sell them almost anywhere and everywhere, without paying you a single penny. What’s the point of keeping copyright if someone is making money behind your back? You really have to be careful these days. It’s a sad world we live in.

  5. What an awful experience! If you want to reduce your exposure to sharks in the industry, head on over to the Absolute Write Forums where they have a discussion section set aside for ‘Bewares, Recommendations & Background Check’.

  6. Pingback: How to Unsell yourself–Part 3 | Joy in the Moments

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