So you’ve written a great book. You’ve had a good editor go through it to make the manuscript the best it can be. You’ve bought a fabulous cover from a graphic artist. You’ve uploaded the book to CreateSpace, Smashwords, Kindle, Nook, Kobo. It’s there, ready to be read. Only problem is, you are afraid of the whole selling aspect of the process. Facebook and Twitter and blogging seem like distractions from what you really want to do, which is sit alone in a quiet space and write your heart out.
I know a lot of authors who are introverted people. That makes sense, really. Writing is primarily a solitary activity. That personality trait is an asset to writers in that respect. However, there are some serious downsides to being an introverted author as well.
Just the other day, I saw an author post on her Facebook page “I’m not really comfortable with self-promotion,” and then she proceeded awkwardly asking people to sort of, kind of, maybe look at her book if it wasn’t too much trouble.
I understand wanting to seem humble, but this sort of approach to the situation only made her seem to have no confidence in the quality of her work. No one will buy a book from a person who seems to feel that they’re not offering anything of value. If you’re not certain of yourself, no one else will be either. And if you’re not comfortable telling people about your work, then maybe a career in writing is not for you.
Yes, being an author is about writing. But you also have to think about the business end of the process too. You’re creating a product. That product won’t sell if you’re not willing to put yourself out there and promote it.
Even famous authors who “have people for that” still do their own promotion in addition. They go on book tours and to conferences. They make speeches. They make commercials. They blog about their projects. They tweet about their work. They are interviewed by journalists. All of that is self-promotion. And that is half of the work of being an author, if you plan on making a career out of it.
You are not just selling the book. You’re selling yourself. You’re selling your name as a brand. And people want confidence in the product they’re buying, whether it’s a novel or a pair of pants. Coke didn’t become a household name without the executives being willing to promote it. The same is true for authors.
The main problem seems to me to be a matter of confidence and of not wanting to seem like you’re an egomaniac. But it’s important to remember that being confident does not make you a braggart. Unless you plan on just passing around a copy of your book for friends and family or are content being the next Emily Dickenson and waiting to publish after you’re long dead, you’re going to have to get over the fear of self-promotion.
Ask yourself these questions:
Even if you’ve got a publishing contract with a top agency, you are going to be expected to step forward and say “Hey! I wrote this thing, I’m proud of it, and I think you’ll like it because of X, Y, Z.” And if you’re self-publishing, there is just you as a one-person show to sell others on your work. So stop selling yourself short and get busy!
Having an online presence only works if you make it work for you. That doesn’t mean posting “BUY MY BOOK” over and over. It means building a rapport with people who are interested in the same things you’re interested in. It means networking with other authors in your same genre. And yes, occasionally saying “MY BOOK IS AWESOME, AND YOU SHOULD BUY IT!” Your writing should make you excited. And excitement is infectious.
If you think your work isn’t good enough, work harder. Make it better. It’s that simple.
If you’ve done your best, then get busy telling people about it so they can be as energized by what you’ve written as you were when you sat down in that room by yourself and let your imagination go. You’ve got to be passionate, head-over-your-heels, bursting-at-the-seams excited about your story to carry it through to the end when you’re writing. Let that passion drive you and guide you to then share your creation with the world. Because that is what is at the heart of self-promotion. It’s not begging for money. It’s giving readers all of the emotion and effort that you put into what you made. It’s sharing your imagination with the world.
Good article, Delia. Self promotion is difficult. We’re always taught as a child not to brag or boast and here we are, being encouraged to do so. It takes some getting used to!
Thank you for reading and commenting. You’re so right. It’s a habit we’re taught oftentimes from a very early age, not to be a show-off. It’s important to remember that you’re not showing off by promoting your work. You’re sharing what you’ve done with others and giving them something valuable. Your hard work is worth something, and there is nothing wrong with being proud of your own achievement.