Don’t be afraid to ask

With Ghost Girl set for publication in 2020, I want to make sure it does well. One of the things in the Immortal Works Author Marketing Guide (a primer given to their new authors to help your new novel hit the ground running) was this:

Famous Person Cover Blurb: Do you know anybody famous? Now is the time to leverage any droppable names you know who care for you enough to write a quote about your book. Famous authors would be best, but actors, politicians, news reporters, or anybody with a name likely to be recognized (even if it’s just locally) will work. Big names endorsing a book can help make the difference when readers are deciding whether to try it.

Who do I know that’s famous? I once met Bill Murray at a shopping mall, but we don’t keep in touch. Who could I ask? I heard Stephen King likes to help out new authors. But, then I thought of a connection I may have. I’ve take a number of writing classes at the excellent Masterclass. I was in R.L. Stine‘s first class. I was a course previewer for Neil Gaiman‘s class. Both were excellent, by the way.

It can’t hurt to ask them, right?

This got me thinking of something I found and saved called Do the Coffee Challenge. (I can’t remember where I found it, so I can’t properly attribute it, but thank you whoever you are.) See what you think:

Go to any major coffee chain – Starbucks, for example – and ask for a 10% discount when you’re about to pay.

It sounds simple. And it is simple. But it’s not easy.

When I first heard about this I thought “yeah, I could do that.” But I didn’t. Weeks went by and I did nothing about it even though I kept thinking about it. Thinking you could get out of your comfort zone if you really wanted to isn’t getting out of your comfort zone.

But one day I just decided I was going to do it. I’d had enough of not doing it.

I went to Starbucks and I told myself I was going to just do it… but then I felt nervous.

Too nervous. I hadn’t expected to feel this nervous.

I felt nervous because it was “wrong” to just ask for a discount for no reason. Because that was part of the challenge too. You ask for a discount, and if they ask you why, you have to say “just thought I’d ask.” Giving a reason ruins the challenge.

Then more people got in the queue behind me. I felt even more nervous. What would they think of me? Wouldn’t they think I’m weird? What if they laughed?

I ordered my usual and she told me how much it would be.

I hesitated. I smiled. I didn’t ask.

I put my card in the card machine and felt disappointed.

I’d so wanted to do it… but I’d chosen not to. It would’ve been easy to blame my nerves for not doing it. But I knew better.

I sat in Starbucks with a coffee I didn’t deserve and I started to write.
I was hard on myself. I was angry with myself. I was disappointed in myself that I couldn’t seem to just do the thing I’d wanted to do.

But then I’d had enough of being hard on myself. I wanted to do something about being hard on myself.

“I’m going to do it,” I thought to myself.

I left Starbucks, walked out of the shopping centre, and across the road to Costa Coffee, a popular coffee chain here in the UK.

“I’m going to do it,” I told myself again. I kept telling myself. I had to keep telling myself because I couldn’t feel that disappointed again.

I queued up. I felt nervous. But this time I was more ready for the nerves. I was more ready to make my own decision.

There were people everywhere. People serving, people sitting, people behind me. Why did there have to be so many fucking people?

She told me how much the coffee would be.

I hesitated.

I asked her to repeat the price. I was trying to put it off any way I could.
She said it again.

I hesitated. I smiled.

“Can I have 10% off?”

“… sorry?”

“Can I have 10% off?”

“Erm… for what reason?”

“No reason. Just wanted to ask.”

“Erm… oh, no, I’m sorry. We just can’t…”

“That’s ok,” I said.

I’d done it.

It was uncomfortable, and awkward, and she’d kept the conversation going much longer than I’d expected… but I’d done it.

I sat down with a coffee I didn’t even want and felt more energized that I had done in a long time.

I just sat there. Existing. Being happy.

And then I thought: “What else can I do?”

It can’t hurt to ask. Bob and Neil, I hope you say yes.