105 Ways to Give a Book

It’s a Risk

As I’ve been working on the KidLitosphere Conference, I’ve already made some mistakes. I’ve already heard some suggestions that are too late for this year. I’ve already had a period of feeling like a failure for not getting more participants. Because while we are right in line with the previous years’ attendance, I was sure that the proximity to New York City and the need for publishers and authors to find more ways to boost their online presence would make this year’s conference a sellout. I would have bet money on it. In fact, I kind of did, and it’s only due to the supreme kindness of the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel (book your next author’s luncheon there, folks!) that I’m not out a chunk of cash.

Why am I telling you this?

Because when you put yourself out there in a big way, it’s a risk.

I know that a lot of people appreciate me taking this on, and it warms me. I’m excited about the opportunity to contribute to my community in this way. And yes, I love doing something important because it makes me feel important.

But I will also hear criticism and I will make mistakes and I will leave people out and I will hurt people’s feelings and I will feel stupid and I will wish I hadn’t bothered.

Because when you put yourself out there in a big way, it’s a risk.

If I remain open-minded, I hope that the criticism will lead me to different ideas. I will learn from the mistakes, and can pass that knowledge to others. I’ll remember the many different people involved and make the effort to include them — not just on my terms, but on theirs as well. I can allow myself to feel stupid, and then ask for help. I’ll recognize that it is always worth the bother.

Again, why am I telling you this?

Because my friends addressed legitimate issues in an online initiative, and are getting dismissed as naysayers and haters and sour-grapers. And the person who ran the initiative is a good person who is feeling bad, and her dismay is bringing her support from her friends, but sealing this perception of meanness without really knowing the issues.

Because it reminds me in another way of what I’m seeing in Congress, where there are legitimate concerns about health care reform on all fronts, but it’s all about naysayers and haters and probably some sour-grapers instead of being about fixing the problems.

And because, on the other hand, being afraid of the criticism, the mistakes, the hurt feelings makes it so much easier not to try — whether it’s leading a cause or running the show or writing a book. As William Shakespeare says, “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

Or as Sawyer from Lost says, “Cowboy up.”


Charlotte said...

Ah gee, Pam, you were so brave to raise your hand to run the thing this year, and I'm so happy you did. I hope you have a lovely time, once it has pulled away from the dock and gotten underway, and that you'll have a chance to sit back and enjoy...

Jen Robinson said...

You rock, Pam! And the conference will, too. Thanks for being a voice for community.

Alix said...

Great quotes :) You should write them up to look at if things get tough the next few weeks.
I'm sure the conference will be fantastic I'm really looking forward to it.

Liz B said...

It will be a great time.

And I think the hardest thing to do is what you say: I hope that the criticism will lead me to different ideas. I will learn from the mistakes, and can pass that knowledge to others.


If we were all born perfect, it would be easier. And more boring. And then what would books and movies be about?

That said, I'm buying you a drink in DC!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

I so wish I could go! I know it will be great. Worth all the angst and effort. Thank you for all your hard work in bringing it together, and your willingness to hear all the voices.

tanita✿davis said...

Cowboy UP, baby.

Wish I could be there.

Leila said...

Great, great post, MR.

I also wish I could be there.

DARN THIS weekend-long hotel debauched party thing that we've already RSVPed for!

Susan T. said...

So sorry I can't be there, MR. I do love a good train ride (imagine the silence, the reading, the looking out the window, sigh) AND seeing my online friends.

Melissa said...

Yeah. What everyone else said. You are awesome, Pam. Not only for taking this on, but being so honest about it all. :-)

Michelle said...

Pam, I'm so glad you took on organizing this event and that it's going to be here in DC. I'm very much looking forward to attending and having a great weekend of learning and fun.

Saints and Spinners said...

You are brave. You are strong. I take heart from you.

Mary Lee said...

Listen to the Miley Cyrus song, "The Climb." There's your soundtrack.

You said it all about risk. And all true.

Color Online said...


"WORD." Let it be official that people over 40 are cool. I don't mean to date, Liz, but I'm over 40 and "Word" works for me. :-)

Pam, you know I think you rock.

Risk is inherent, failing comes with the package and failures lead to success. I don't know of a single successful person or event that didn't fail before the success.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

It's such a big world of difference between constructive criticism and complaining. I felt the conference would be in good, capable hands as soon as you volunteered to run it, Pam. I'm still just sad I can't be there.