September 14, 2009

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Learning to Say "No" Posted by Lorraine (L.L.) Bartlett, and her faithful sidekick Lorna Barrett The other day I received an invitation in the mail. It's a library event. It's an event I've participated in for the past four years (this would make #5). The event is geared toward children, but the library has graciously invited local authors to the event. Most of the authors are self-published. The first year, I had nothing to sell. My first book (Murder On The Mind) came out three weeks after the event. But I handed out bookmarks and crossed my fingers that people would remember me and take the book out of the library. The second year, I had copies of the book with me. I think I sold two. The third year, I still only had that first book. Again, I think I sold two or three copies. Then I got published in paperback. Wee, last year I sold a total of three copies of three different titles. The event isn't very long (three hours), and I certainly want to support the library, but I wonder if it's worth my time. (And doesn't that sound arrogant?) I'm sure the library wouldn't be surprised if I turned down the invitation. As it is, the librarian told me she was surprised I accepted last year. She said traditionally published authors generally stop doing these kind of small events once they achieve a certain level of success. At the time, I didn't feel all that successful and shook my head, thinking I'd probably do the event in 2009, as well. But things do change. I've got family obligations that are keeping me close to home this fall. I've got a book to finish by December 1st. I'm up to my eyeballs in promotion for my third Booktown Mystery (which comes the week after the library event). There simply aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done. And yet . . . I feel guilty if I say no to the event. There have been times when I'd kill for an opportunity to do a meet-and-greet and get the word out about my work. I'm going to have to say no to this invitation, and I do feel guilty. The event will be a huge success without me. The local politicians will be out there pressing the flesh, and because it's a children's event, the kids will have a great time. Nobody will miss me. I am not a draw. So why do I feel bad about declining the invitation? Why is it that men can say "no" so easily and yet women find it difficult? And why do we feel guilty? Any thoughts?

Lorraine Bartlett

Five women, five weekdays, many surprises.

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