Why Creative People Have a Trauma Reaction to My Books

I was listening to Seth Godin’s podcast in my car yesterday. It’s the one called, “It Stinks

It explained why the audience I have most wanted to reach with my books is repelled rather than attracted by them.

I noticed this problem a couple of months ago. I have been working with a professional artist, a painter, on selling her art. I lent her my Authentic Marketing For Introverts, sure that she would appreciate the help in it.

She texted me right when she got home and said, “I opened your book. I couldn’t read it. It was too overwhelming. I didn’t make any marks in it so you should be able to sell or give it to someone else.”

She hadn’t even BOUGHT it and she wanted to give it back to me.

There’s an urban legend/cliche/common ‘knowledge’ or whatever you want to call it that’s been around forever. Creative people are too right brained/too distracted/too creative to handle money.

It’s finally dawned on me this is false. 

The truth is, handling money, having a business, tracking sales and spending, requires SECOND GRADE MATH. There is not one creative person in the world who can’t do second grade math.

The problem is, they don’t usually even read the text. I tried to crack jokes and explain things very simply and clearly so my hoped-for creative readers would feel relaxed and held and safe. But they never even get that far.

All my books, even though I tried to make them friendly and easy, look like textbooks. Before the readers can register my friendly writing, their bodies are already viscerally recoiling because of the associations they have with being traumatized about money and math in school and after.

This is what Seth talks about in the podcast. Our most basic sense is smell. If I could make my books smell like chocolate chip cookies, maybe I would have a chance of people opening and reading them before they freaked out. Since I can’t do that, I needed to make them LOOK and feel friendly and informal and inviting.  Before people get to the text, they’ve already processed the look and feel and made an unconscious decision about whether the book is for them. Their unequivocal answer is NO!

This is why appearances matter. This is why I don’t want my office to resemble the Motor Vehicles office or a bus waiting area. It’s why my website needs to be proofread so there are (hopefully) no typos. 

It’s why my next books can’t even look like the second cousins of textbooks. 

Is there a place in your business where you’re sending non-verbal signals that don’t match your conscious intentions? If the answer is yes, it may explain the results you’re getting (or in my case, not getting).

I’d love to hear your comments.

Now I know.