Whoa! That’s your book title? Are you sure you want that?
One Book Industry Expert said… Your title and cover art will not sell your books!
Spoiler alert: My goal with the book is not about making people feel comfortable…
When spirit told me my book would be called Angels, Herpes and Psychedelics, I wasn’t so fast to jump on that bandwagon. Who in their right mind would want to talk about herpes in public when it’s such a taboo topic??
Now I’m a published author of a book containing herpes in the title. What?! Who knew that I would have the balls to do such a thing? And at the same time, be inspired and happy to be discussing such difficult topics on a global stage. But it wasn’t an easy or fast road to get to where I am today.
It’s taken me years of learning through many life lessons and ongoing determination to build my spiritual toolbox. It’s been an interesting journey peeling back the layers of the mind and experiencing the bliss of Divine oneness, and I wish this for you too!
But today was another critical test. After feeling unseen, unheard, and misunderstood by my publisher, I decided to cancel the book marketing & PR launch campaign with them. I felt I needed to find an agency focused on the awakening genre to get my book out into the world. Just as I was searching and sifting through many PR / publicist agencies, a friend called, exclaiming she’d met someone in the book industry I needed to meet. It seemed serendipitous, and I love when the Universe swirls great people together. In less than 12 hours, I was on the phone with the publicist sharing about my book and my situation with my upcoming launch.
After answering her question about my goals for the book, she responded with kind comments about my articulation regarding my intentions to assist in the awakening and healing of humanity. She then shared that, in her experience, the author’s enthusiasm and mastery of their content is one of the main drivers of success. We were off to a good start! Then she asked if it was ok for her to be candid with me. I love the truth and welcomed her thoughts and feedback.
I wasn’t expecting what she would say next.
She started with a question asking, “Are you married to your title and cover art?” I think my response was vague as I said something like, “please share why you’re asking.” Ironically, I had just provided the final approval for my cover art with my publisher the day before. So, the chances that I would change it after everything I’d already been through was extremely unlikely. But I wanted to hear her feedback and didn’t want her to sugarcoat what she was going to say. As I heard her comments, I started frantically writing them down on my sticky notepad. I wanted to capture her exact words so that I wouldn’t twist them later into what I wanted to hear versus the intent behind what she was wanting to get across.
In about 7–10 minutes and four jam-packed sticky notes full of scribble later, her message was clear. She didn’t think my title or cover art was something her agency could get any lift on within the industry. She told me I wouldn’t get publicity coverage and wouldn’t sell many books. Her sentiment was that the three words I’d chosen would not be of great interest to many people. Further stating that each one of them would turn the masses off and repel them from buying my book. This hit home because the title coach assigned to me by my publisher also tried to get me to consider changing it.
This feedback wasn’t going in the direction I’d hoped.
She went on to emphasize that these three words together would culminate down to such a minuscule minority of people that would be interested. Basically, concluding that it wasn’t worth spending the money to hire her team. Mind you, she said all of this from a caring place, and at no time did I feel she was trying to be malicious. She was simply telling me from her expertise as a publicist that my title and subtitle were not something that the mainstream would want to see or feel comfortable with on a cover.
I listened intently as I wanted to hear what the ‘experts’ had to say and wanted to take this into consideration as this was my first book — well, other than my coffee table book Flower Power 4 Pure Love. One thing I know about myself is that I have strong opinions. I also leaned in to reflect on the stubbornness I often carry along with my opinions. I didn’t feel any part of me was willing to consider changing the cover or the title, but I wanted to get THE message she was delivering.
I thanked her for her candidness, hung up the phone, and sat at my desk staring out the window. I wondered, was I making a mistake? My publisher had said similar things to me, especially challenging my title. I stayed strong in my knowingness that I was following Spirit’s guidance. She was emphatic that the cover art, which I designed, was breaking all the rules, had industry no-no’s all over it, and that it didn’t look professional. The weird thing was that none of the designs my publisher had created and sent to me — in the eight rounds of revisions — looked anything like the message of what I wanted to portray in the book. And it wasn’t because of a lack of communication. We were just on different planets.
Now I was facing the same situation with this publicist whom I was hoping could be my agency in the awakening space. I couldn’t ignore how she graciously delivered the message that my title wasn’t going to work. Was my stubbornness getting the best of me?? I knew there had to be a reason the Universe put this conversation into my schedule, and I was determined to crack the nut.
I called my podcast partner as I wanted a grounded yet celestial being that would tell me the truth, not just try to make me feel better. In short, she quickly reminded me that I am here to be a pattern disrupter. This quickly got me going to realize that perhaps my book cover had triggered the publicist. No one would deny that it caught her attention which evoked a dissertation of reasons why people wouldn’t be attracted to the title. The ah-ha moment came at the same time I heard my partner remind me further that my goal with the book is not to make people feel comfortable. It’s to inspire people to bring some of the most uncomfortable wounds to the surface, release them, and stop suffering in silence.
I’ve known from many conversations that the word ‘herpes’ is especially uncomfortable for the majority of people. But I didn’t believe this was going to niche my book to a small minority of people. In fact, of all the people I’ve shared the title with prior to launch, I’d often get someone quietly pulling me aside and whispering to me, “do you have herpes?” followed by an admission that they’ve been suffering from this virus. It was obvious that they wanted to talk about it, but it wasn’t the right place as they weren’t going to expose themselves to the group. Even with that, I wasn’t putting the pieces together until recently.
I can’t believe I didn’t think to google how many people suffer from herpes until today, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t already done it! According to the World Health Organization, over 450 million people are reported to have genital herpes. I don’t think this includes all the people who haven’t been tested because they don’t want anyone to know. And it certainly doesn’t account for all the loved ones and romantic partners that it impacts. It might be safe to say that the number could be double or even triple. But if only the 450 million people who’ve had to deal with this virus find some reverence for the suffering that this tiny little “gift that keeps on giving” brings to so many, I’d be thrilled.
So, is the market size that small? Do people really not want to talk about it? Maybe not. But I do know that anyone who’s had to deal with it wishes they had a trusted source to talk about the trauma it’s caused but are too scared. For fear, they will be rejected, seen as damaged goods, and made out to be lepers by society with their dirty little secret. Most people would do almost anything not to have it, other than to talk about it. I know opening the discussion alone will help to prevent it – simply by making it more comfortable to discuss openly. It provides an opportunity to learn about solutions and heal…we have an opportunity to make a huge shift.
I think it’s time we start talking about difficult situations and release the trauma endured by many experiences that our life’s journey brings for our healing and awakening.