“Many of these people are no more qualified to dole out life lessons than you or I.” * * * decade and change later, I got a firsthand taste of the guru trade. Just keep me posted so I can tell everyone what shows to see you on and when.” Shortly after this pep talk, the marketing director at my publisher gave me one of her own.

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Bree ran the San Francisco chapter of The Learning Annex, that mainstay of adult education courses for the personal-growth set.

This was the mid-nineties, when people still called the New Age movement “the New Age movement.” Deepak was our big get that season. I just found it surprising that moments before the dry run now underway, this beacon of enlightenment, a man supposedly above the trivialities of ego and self-doubt, had asked Bree if the khakis he was wearing made him look fat.

“A book is just a means to an end,” one A-list blogger told me in the green room of a local TV station, where we awaited our upcoming live segment.

Eyeing her crisp red blazer and perfect blowout, I smoothed my rumpled blouse and tried to forget about my frizzy mane.

I also broke the news that I would not be flying first class around the country on my publisher’s dime or drinking Champagne from dollar-bill‑shaped flutes any time soon. Suddenly I was speaking in public, giving TV and radio interviews, writing nationally syndicated columns and recapping it all on multiple social media accounts.

For most nonfiction authors I knew, “going on a book tour” meant blogging obsessively and visiting a couple cities where you had couches to crash on and knew someone who knew someone who ran a conference or an event space at which you could speak. * * * ook promotion is both the best and worst job a writer can have.

(Thank you notes, gift cards, and the “opportunity to sell books afterward” were standard payment for D-List speakers like me.) I smiled sheepishly, desperate to make my way to the book signing table.

“You might want to check out Toastmasters,” she said, nodding toward the stage.

At bookstore and library podiums, it’s possible to pass off repeatedly losing your train of thought or bonking your glasses into the microphone as charming.