What One Persistent Bird Taught Me about Book Promotion

Cardinal_2Some of you might know that for what seems like the last three months, a male cardinal has been smashing into my kitchen windows. Repeatedly. When he’s not hurling his tiny body against the glass, he’s staring up at us, glowering, as if we should do something about his problem. Or at least make him some coffee. We have named him Napoleon. I’ve tried every remedy friends have suggested to get him to stop doing this, but every morning there he goes, flinging his little body at his own reflection, thinking it’s an intruder threatening his domestic bliss with Mrs. Napoleon. Since he doesn’t seem to be going away, I figure that perhaps he’s here to teach me a few things, such as:

1. Persistence is noble, but keep the goal in mind. If you forget why you’re blasting out your message, if you lose sight of who you’re trying to reach and why, you might as well keep throwing your tiny, feathered body at a window. And that’s gotta hurt.

2. People tire of repetition. It helps to be adorable, entertaining, and infinitely “shareable” on Facebook, but even so, who wants to hear the same message ten times a day, seven days a week? Must fight bird. Thump. Must fight bird. Thump. Must fight bird. Thump. Gaa! (Are we now hearing “buy my book” in our heads?)

3. There’s a time to move on. The bird’s reflection in the window isn’t going anywhere. The reflection won’t stop fighting back. I can cut Napoleon some slack; his brain is very small and is acting on instinct. I can’t give you the same pass if you’ve been bombarding the world with the same sales message about the same book for the last five years. For all that is good and holy, find something else to do. Write another book. Offer to help other writers by beta reading. Or join Napoleon and find another window. We have lots.

4. You can only fight the same battles for so long. Eventually, everyone in your social media groups will know your stand on Oxford commas, Garamond versus Palatino, and the proper size of gutter margins. Give it up and let’s talk about more important things. Like coffee. And the new pictures I have of the bird that keeps crashing into my window.

5. Other authors aren’t out to get you. Yes, the red bird in the window is scowling at you. Yes, he looks threatening. He’s selling more books than you are, most likely, and he’s probably dating a supermodel. But like the reflection, he’s on his own path, his own plane. You’re on yours. The “threat” is mainly in your imagination. His success does not diminish or prevent yours. All that your bluster and jealously does is waste the energy you could be spending knocking into windows that might someday open. But if Napoleon gets a book deal, I demand a percentage.

Author: Laurie Boris

Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer. She has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of four novels. She lives in New York’s lovely Hudson Valley. Learn more about Laurie at her website and her Amazon author page.

34 thoughts on “What One Persistent Bird Taught Me about Book Promotion”

  1. Or maybe “stop banging your head against a brick wall (window) because the only one it hurts is you”. Remember the definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”.
    Good one, Laurie. It made me smile.

  2. Poor Napoleon; he’s probably brain-damaged by now. But it’s very true. What he’s doing is not changing his situation one iota, so it’s definitely time to change the plan of attack. Either he needs to lay off the machismo and get a life, or maybe you could get one of those hawk silhouette clings to put on the window. Hey, I just shared on FB a video of a cat in a shark suit riding a Roomba. Maybe you could get one for your patio.

  3. Kudos for finding inspiration in the little guy, Laurie. I’m ashamed to say that all our recent attach-Cardinal got from me was, “That d*mn bird is back again!”

  4. Dear little Napoleon. I think the glower is another thing he can teach authors – no one else can solve their no-sales problem… It’s up to you. And it’s hard work!

  5. Good lessons Laurie. Thanks for reminding us.

    Have you thought of applying some non reflecting surface to your window to persuade Napoleon to leave it alone?. Or perhaps something with a multi-faceted surface so he sees so many reflections he thins he’s outnumbered and gives up.

    1. Thanks, Ian. I’ve tried so many things. Tomorrow I’ll try taping a piece of bubble wrap to the window. At least then he can have fun popping it. Or it will cushion the blow.

  6. How cool to find a teaching moment in lil’ Napoleon’s Waterloo 🙂 Thanks for reminding me that there’s always something to learn!

  7. The idea of quiet persistence is a lesson for all of us. Have you tried fluorescent ribbon taped to the window? That seemed to work for my little guys.

  8. This comment has nothing to do about writing, but I am intrigued by you cardinal. My parents have a similar problem at their home. The cardinal either flies into their BBQ grill or the mirrors on my dad’s truck. It has them quite distressed.

  9. The cardinal is trying to tell you to write about a redhead, who tries to protect his true love while suffering great personal pain. Those around him can’t understand his persistence since the love of his life died weeks ago.

    We need to take inspiration from our surroundings!

  10. The more I read about your cardinal the more i think you’ve got his name wrong. He ought to be called Richlieu!

  11. -grin- I hereby swear I shall never become a Napoleon, or even a red cardinal. Great post, Laurie! I think I’d possibly enjoy social media more if the spam disappeared.

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