By Joy Wong
So now that our book is published, our next steps are to “get the word out,” notifying our family, friends, and communities about the book, and inviting them to celebrate and support us by coming to our book events and buying and recommending our book to others, hopefully getting it into the hands of those who will benefit by it. Despite all the labor involved thus far of brainstorming, drafting, writing, editing, revising and re-revising our manuscript, I have to admit that there is no task I dread more in this publication process than I do of having to “sell” our book.
For example, just this past week, I was catching up with a friend and took the opportunity to tell him about the release of our book and our upcoming book celebration. Even as I did so, I could feel myself cringing inside for “promoting” my own work. In reality, I was simply summarizing the contents of the book and inviting my friend to our event. But it was so much against my habit of self-deprecation to deny the value of my own achievements (typically called “false modesty”), that I felt ashamed of myself for even a hint of what could be perceived as self-promotion.
Even as I try to say, “The chapter I wrote in this book is great,” the words get stuck in my throat and I don’t sound like I mean it. I can even feel my face getting a little hot as I utter the words, and all this, as I say it to an empty room!
Luckily, I figured out a way around this problem. While I have enormous difficulties with self-promotion, I have very little problems with promoting others. And because our book has seven other contributors, I’ve found myself saying things like, “Our book is really good – my chapter’s only ok, but the other chapters are really amazing!” – my way of achieving both self-promotion and false modesty in one fell swoop.
But is the false modesty really false? Or has it turned into an unhealthy form of negative self-talk that does not allow me to believe that I can produce anything worthwhile? Part of my embarrassment in promoting our book comes from breaking the cultural rule of modesty, but if I’m honest, part of it comes from a core disbelief that I can truly produce anything worth reading (and furthermore, worth buying to read)! Somehow, I wonder if a lifetime of being trained in false modesty has unwittingly turned into a disbelief in my own self-worth and potential. Perhaps this merits some further investigation.
Needless to say, getting eight Asian American women trained in habits of modesty and self-deprecation to increase awareness of their book will be a challenge. But by God’s grace, we will overcome ourselves to get our book into the hands of those who will be blessed and encouraged by it. Pray for us — we will need it!
Joy Wong completed a Masters of Divinity degree at Fuller Theological Seminary. She and her husband currently attend New City Church of Los Angeles. To contact Joy, please send your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.