The question is simple, is aggression the only path to succeeding as a self-publishing author (or in the world)? I don’t mean foolish aggression like bashing or shouting at others or another form of verbal abuse. What I mean with aggression is the ability to make oneself seen and heard, so basically assertiveness. In a way, the book business is a popularity contest, and as a quiet and nice wallflower, it gets trickier to be noticed behind those who have no trouble saying me, me, me!
The thing is, I think my husband, friends, and writing colleagues who I have been talking to are right. You need to be assertive/aggressive to succeed in the world. To have the courage to put yourself out there even when you aren’t feeling so sure of yourself. And make a noise. I don’t mean empty words. They are good so far, but at some point, people will catch on (or I least hope they will). But the wrong aggression is harmful, the kind that others smell coming out of hate, contempt, jealousy, and/or desperation. There was a good example from this on Twitter. Where a writer I follow, posted updates of his writing, publishing, and whatever came to his mind every ten minutes. And then he wondered why he got blocked by some. This was more an act of desperation masked into the form of aggression than anything else.
But what is the right kind of assertiveness? Is it to be gentle, use poise and just claims to drive to the goal or go out demanding and see no other possible ways than one you have? Some do get away with the latter style. Is it because of a strong ego or existing status? I’m not sure. But either way, the idea is to put yourself out there and play the social game to be noticed and thought as a serious contender (of life? Sadly, yes.) If I don’t think myself to be valuable, important, competent, or worth to talk about, then who does?
Saying this is easier than doing it. With me, there is a barrier between me and asserting myself. I find it hard to say look what I did, hey what you are looking for is my book, I know what I’m talking about, and so on. This is the same underlying principle that makes me let my friend walk over me. Every time we see, she either claims me to be unemployed (I have said several times, I have a company) or that my writing is useless, meaningless, and won’t ever provide. That there are only a few noteworthy writers in the world, and they don’t write fiction with plots. And I let her because I know she is hurting. That she is jealous of my choices. But this shouldn’t be so? I should or you shouldn’t let people walk over us like that. And the thing is, I know I’m aggressive (yes, aggressive). I have been since my childhood. I have always wanted to win, be better than the next fellow beside me, and get annoyed by little things. And as a child, I broke things out of frustration (yes, me, the calm and good mannered me.) That is not a good thing, but there could have been a balance between being aggressive and working well with others and controlling my impulses and nerves. I was taught not to be what I was. I was taught not to make a noise, not to defend myself, not to say my opinions, to sit quietly and not make ripples and for Pete’s sake not to rock the boat. I don’t want to unlearn being considerate and nice (and start breaking things because of my nerves,) but I don’t want to keep letting people walk all over me. And I want to be able to protect my own business and grow it to what it can be. This is my livelihood I let my friend and others crap all over. (And no, I don’t have the slightest fear of her reading this. That is how supportive she is.) If I let them/her do that, then how can I defend my existence against those who should take me professionally?
So aggression and success? The sad answer is yes. It has a saying who might succeed against the odds. This isn’t always the case due to other circumstances or luck or something else. But in the current global world we live in, there are millions of people trying to do the same you are doing, and out of all of those you need to stand out. Not easy, when you can’t even open your mouth and say, “I’m a writer, deal with it.”
Thank you for reading!
P.S. There is a fine balance between being assertive and aggressive, and turning into a jerk.