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“Hey, Shane wants to order 50 copies of your book and have us do a book signing in Toronto in three weeks. Want to do it?”
“I haven’t even published paperback copies yet!”
“But if you do, you’re guaranteed to sell at least 50 copies.”
Sales isn’t really my strong suit. Really talking to strangers, or humans in general, isn’t either.
So you could say I was more than a little nervous standing behind a table with a stack of my books at the Toronto RV Show on Saturday afternoon. Heath conveniently walked away to talk to someone—probably as his subtle way of forcing me to do this on my own.
I couldn’t think of a single person I knew in Canada. A familiar face might’ve made it easier, but instead I stood there alone, admiring the covers of the real-life copies of my book. I couldn’t decide what would be more embarrassing: lugging the books back to America when no one wanted one or actually trying to convince strangers that my book was worth reading.
I rocked back on my heels trying to decide.
A woman wandered over to my table. I didn’t say anything. My eyes widened and my throat got all dry as I watched her pick up my book and read the back cover.
What’s written on the back cover? I don’t even remember! Is it good? Would it convince someone to buy it? Oh wait, these are free… What if the back cover is so bad that this woman wouldn’t want to even pick up a free copy?
I panicked, re-thinking all my life decisions.
The stranger asked a polite question—which I, of course, don’t remember because I was mid-panic attack and all—and walked away without a book.
One awkward encounter down, one million to go.
On the screen next to me, played a video of Heath and I. It showed our adventures to the Florida Keys, kayaking on lakes in Tennessee, and hiking to watch the sunrise in Maine. I was oddly comforted watching our Youtube adventures playing out on the screen next time. RVing really is fun, I mused.
I watched as the video grabbed passersby attention. People tossed glances my way so I scrolled through my phone pretending to have international cell service so I appeared slightly less creepy.
“That’s her,” a voice whispered.
I looked up from my “No Internet Connection” screen on my phone that was previously capturing my attention to lock eyes with a man pointing at the tv.
“Letchworth State Park.”
“That’s where we’re going this summer! Wow.” The couple sauntered over.
“What’s your book about?”
I opened my mouth and closed it.
No one has ever asked me that before. I almost said that aloud, but that would probably come off as unprofessional.
“My husband and I have been full-time RVing for four years and in the book, I cover everything you might want to know before you start full-time RVing from picking your RV to what life is really like on the road. Have you ever thought about traveling full-time in your RV?”
I’m not sure who it was who started talking. She sounded like me, only more confident and friendly. She asked people about their rigs and their favorite places to travel. She really sounded like she knew what she was talking about.
A few months back when I published this ebook, I talked on the podcast about how I struggled with imposter syndrome. Who was I to be teaching people about full-time life on the road?
But as I started speaking yesterday, I realized for the first time that I know my stuff. “Where do you stay in your RV?” someone asked.
I prattled off options for RV parks, provincial parks, and boondocking. I shared a quick story about boondocking in Banff National Park and somehow even kept all my answers relevant for Canadians.
I recommended apps and websites and said things like “oh I talk about that in chapter 12.”
I asked people how to spell their names and signed the first pages of their books. I decided to sign them all in cursive because that seemed like something a real author would do and all.
And all of the sudden the stack of books was gone and we were free to explore the show. It was a trial by fire, but the best way for me to finally learn how to confidently talk about my book. How to proudly say “Hey, I wrote this book, it’s an Amazon bestseller and it will teach you all these things” and realize that all that stuff is true. I’m not an imposter. I’m a real published author, with a real physical book.
The more I’ve talked about my own experience with imposter syndrome, the more people who have shared they too struggle with this insecurity. I’ve spent the past few months trying to figure out how to overcome it. Five-star book reviews didn’t help. Emails from readers didn’t help. Google offered no solutions. And since everyone I’ve talked to about it with shared in my suffering, no one could offer any advice on how to ditch imposter syndrome for real.
But here’s what I learned during my book signing: You’ll stop feeling like an imposter when you’re willing to stand up and claim that you’re the real deal.
Imposter syndrome feels like you’re worried about what other people think of you, but the clinical definition is the “psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.” Or to summarize, it’s your inability to recognize your own awesomeness.
So this weekend as I signed books and taught strangers about RV life, I let it sink in that I wrote a book. My book teaches people about something I’m an expert in. My book is good. And against all odds, people actually want to read it. That little dream that I had in my head for 20 years actually happened. I’m an author.
And while that imposter syndrome will probably creep back in the next time I launch something new, for now, it’s gone.
You can check out the paperback copy of my book, A Beginner’s Guide to Living in an RV, on Amazon.