Sunday, April 14, 2019

Advertising Hype

I attended a writer's conference this weekend. It had been billed as an A to Z of self-publishing, and since I'd just regained the rights to two of my books, I thought it a timely discussion. So, despite the prediction of rain all day, off I went, on a 3-hour round trip in the pouring rain to have the speaker impart her words of wisdom. Come hell or high water, I wasn't about to miss this talk.

When I arrived at my location, it wasn't just raining–it was pouring. Sheets of rain slammed down on the hood of my car.

My in-car umbrella decided to play hide and seek with me, so I sat for a few minutes in the downpour, hoping for a break–which didn't happen. I wasn't about to sit in the parking lot and miss the meeting, so I took off at a brisk walk toward the door.

Brisk pace or not, by the time I got inside the building I was drenched. My t-shirt clung to my back in a cold, icy grip and I could feel my muscles begin to seize up. My shoes made little squishy noises as I walked across the marble floor. My hair, never known for putting on a good show, gave up completely and dribbled onto my cheeks. A quick check in the ladies' room proved what I'd already guessed. I looked like something the cat had drug in, after she tossed me in a few puddles.

I wiped the mascara off my face, propped my wet locks behind my ears, and proceeded to the meeting. I am nothing if not motivated and persistent. But, alas, here's where the problem began. (I  know what you're thinking...)

Either I'd read the wrong meeting blurb or the speaker had, but the talk wasn't about self-publishing at all. Rather, it was how to write and market a book. The speaker had come prepared with a slide show and handouts. Which she then proceeded to read.

This type of speaker has always bothered me. I'm a writer, as is everyone else in this meeting. Which means we know how to read. Words are our business. I don't need someone to read for me what I can read on the screen myself. I want embellishment on the points being flashed on the screen. So I got grumpy. Not only was I not getting the talk I'd driven here for, it was being read from a screen to me, as if I couldn't make out the words on my own.

Or maybe I was just cold and damp. The puddle under my seat kept growing.

After spending most of my professional life in the advertising business, you'd think I'd have learned not to trust the advertising hype. I sat quietly, damp and cold, and kicked myself for not double checking the agenda. Then, the speaker told me something new. Something I'd never thought of before. Eureka!

As I drove home, I realized hell hadn't come to North Carolina, but some of the rivers were running out of their banks. And while I didn't learn anything about self-publishing, I learned something. Time well spent.

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