Whilst writing and self-publishing ‘Red Earth Diaries‘ has been one of the most rewarding enterprises of my life, the success of the book and the recognition that I have received has been but just one of the positive outcomes. The more subtle, yet vital life lessons have been truly transformational, and thanks to this journey as a writer/publisher, I have changed for the better in many ways after three long years of relentless pursuit of my dream.
I hope to share my experiences through a series of posts and give you an insight into the struggles and challenges – of which there were a lot, and of the small victories and moments of joy – of which there were but a few. In this post, I want to share with you one of the most incredible life lessons that I learned as I embarked on my quest to gain recognition for the book: the ability to ask with a conviction so strong that the other person is bound to say Yes.
I knocked on many doors in the lead up to the book release. Some were acclaimed authors and personalities whom I contacted in order to get a book review, whilst others were people of authority (government officials, company CEOs) who I thought were potentially aligned with the storyline and who were in a position to help. It was a daunting exercise but I soldiered on, despite my fears and apprehensions.
The one mantra I kept repeating over and over to myself was, “Don’t be afraid to ask.”
Seems easy enough, but this skill is not something that comes naturally to most of us or something that we are comfortable with, even when we need to reach out and seek help from friends or family. However, to cold call influential people and ask them to endorse or promote your book is downright crazy and something that anyone will probably scoff at.
“Pfff, who will read my book, leave alone endorse it?”
“Why would Mr. XYZ even be bothered to read my email?”
“This is just a waste of time. I’m sure, the answer will be no”.
At the very onset, I was plagued with such disempowering thoughts that prevented me from taking action.
But I believed in my book, and I believed in myself.
And so, I decided to take action. I aimed for the very top of the food chain, and started shooting emails, making cold calls, and chasing down all the leads without exception. I worked day and night; I made a list of people and tracked my communication with each potential lead; there were reminders sent and phone calls made across time zones at crazy hours of the night. The initial response as anyone would expect was an unceremonious no. Most people did not even bother to reply. It was gut-wrenching but understandable.
The problem, I then told myself, lay with my approach. I then changed my strategy.
After a few weeks of desperation, I began focusing on the tone and content of my email. I worked towards building a connection with the person I was contacting, rather than just jumping right into his personal space with an outlandish request. I emphasised the reason I chose to connect with him, the particular trait or value which drew me to email him and the respect I had for his achievements or his position. Most importantly, the tone of the email carried the genuineness of my message.
And then things started to change. I began to get emails back from some of the people. Whilst some of the answers were still no, most of the people took the time to explain the reason, provided words of assurance and applauded me for my grit and determination as much as for my perseverance to write the book.
A very few people were in a position to help and offered me the assistance I sought, and this helped me leverage the book in the market.
I am sharing below just one such example of how I was able to convince a retail bookstore named Better Read than Dead based in Sydney, New South Wales to restock my book for an additional three months after the agreed initial term period of three months had lapsed with zero sales.
Now, I am not claiming that I have cracked the code of writing the best emails or seeking praise for my writing style. My intention here is to encourage you to likewise shed all reservations when requesting help of any sort or from anyone.
Whilst I did feel saddened by the fact that there had not been a single sale, the eternal optimist in me blamed it on Covid and the lockdowns in Sydney for the primary reason for this. I then drafted the below response to James, hoping he would restock the book for a further three months, although he had every right to withdraw them from the store entirely.
James, thanks to the goodness of his soul, emailed me back the very next day agreeing to restock the books for a further three months. See his response below
I am grateful that James agreed to carry forward the books for another quarter, but the main point I want to make here is if you genuinely believe in something and ask with the absolute conviction that the answer is yes before you have even heard back from the other person, you will be driven to make a request that compels the person to act in your favour. So in summary the three things I’d want you to take away from this post is that if you want to ask a favour from anyone:
- Be congruent in your message. Your thoughts should match your feelings and your feelings should match your words.
- Believe, in your heart, before you even reach out to the person that the answer is a ‘Yes’, and ask with this conviction.
- Moderate the tone of the request to appeal to the person’s higher self. Remember, at the very core, we all seek to empower and help each other.
What is your take on this matter? Do you agree with this post or harbour a different view? I’d be interested to know what you think. Please provide your comments below.
P.S.: If you are based in Sydney, I’d appreciate it if you paid a visit to the Better Read Than Dead store located in Newton. With a catchy name like that, it is bound to offer you a unique experience.