• Why is it so hard to promote my own writing?

    by  • February 6, 2009 • fear, marketing, promotion, writing • 2 Comments

    I seem to have a mental block when it comes to my own writing; I simply don’t have the self-promotion gene. My book, What You Need to Know to Be a Pro; The Start-up Business Guide for Publishers, will launch next month, but I haven’t done a blessed thing to market that book. I should have sent out press releases and marketing materials to reviewers and bookstores MONTHS ago. I haven’t even ordered postcards yet! I sent one letter to our local bookstore about hosting a reading, but I still haven’t gone back to the store to find out if she will.

    Why is it so hard for me to promote my own writing?

    There are thousands of small, indy publishers who publish their own books and who are annoying in their self-promotion. They talk about their books ALL the time, pass out business cards with the cover of their book emblazoned in gold lettering, and keep a box of books in the car everywhere they go so they don’t miss an opportunity to sell a copy. They make guest appearances on blogs to talk about their book, attend trade shows and conferences to talk about their book, grab radio time and pitch television stations to talk about their book. They drive everyone crazy because all they do is talk about their book.

    But me? I mumble “Yeah, I wrote a book,” while staring at the floor whenever anyone asks about it.

    I’m not just shy about my book. I also avoid talking about my plays. My full length play, “The Guru,” is finished and my friend Jody Gehrman is hosting a play reading, birthday party for me this Saturday, inviting many of her acting friends to read it aloud so I can hear the flow of the words. I’ve been working on that play for three years, growing it from a ten minute scene for a class, pounding out a full length version for Script Frenzy, and then spending 8 months revising. I finished a two act, full length play! I should be excited. But no, not me. Instead, if someone asks me about my play I shrug and say, “Um, yeah… it’s about a Guru at a health spa.” The person will wait for me to say more, but finally realizing I won’t, change the subject to cover the awful silence.

    Obviously I have poor self esteem when it comes to my writing. Do I really think I don’t deserve praise, despite the hours of hard work it takes to create a book? It’s more than praise though. It’s like I don’t think my work deserves to be read by anyone. If that’s the case, why write at all?

    My birthday was on Wednesday (Feb. 4th) and on that day I got an acceptance letter from Hip Mama Magazine, saying how much they enjoyed my wrestling essay and they would like to publish it in their “Secrets” issue. I was ecstatic! I get plenty of rejection letters, so an acceptance was a real treat, and on my birthday no less. But when Jody stopped by to wish me a happy birthday I didn’t tell her about it until she was leaving. She was stunned. “Why didn’t you tell me? That’s great news!”

    “Um, I got sidetracked,” I replied. Somehow, getting accepted by Hip Mama wasn’t as important as finishing my quiche.

    This has got to stop. I need to embrace marketing my own book with gusto. It’s already late in the book marketing game, but I have to start some time. I will order those postcards and update the website with book info today (has anyone noticed I haven’t even added the book to the Medusa’s Muse Press website? Geesh!).

    Seeing as I’m so bad at this, would you all mind spreading the word as well? I think I’m going to need my friends to generate a little buzz, while I try hard not to hide under my desk.

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    2 Responses to Why is it so hard to promote my own writing?

    1. February 6, 2009 at 8:54 pm

      We’re trained to say, “Oh, it was nothing” when the truth is we just Saved the Universe {dun-dun-DAH!}. Tooting your own horn is “egotistical”, which is “bad.”

      Only arrogant, self-centered jerks boast about themselves…so anything that might possibly be considered, you know, boasting?

      Bad. Ditto being pushy (“buy my stuff!”).

      That there should be a clear difference between being a self-absorbed, self-promoting jerk and a proud author of a fine book gets lost, somehow.

      Say it loud, say it proud: You’re a writer, and a damned fine one. Also, I love the cover of your new book. 🙂

    2. February 21, 2009 at 3:38 pm

      The book is indeed a wonderful accomplishment — testified to by the fact that I admired it even more upon my 6th (or it might have been 8th) reading than on the first 5 (or 7).

      However, you might help yourself by turning around your thinking — removing yourself from the equation. Instead of regarding it as “your book,” think of it as an incredible resource for people who are in the same position as you — a resource that you can’t wait to share with them.

      Think of it as a resource that you want to tell the (small press/self-publishing) world about because you want to play some small part in preventing others from having to struggle as hard as you have.

      Which is why you wrote the book in the first place.

      love you lots,
      j

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