If you’re a writer who gets overwhelmed when you think of marketing and selling your writing, you’re not alone! Not wanting to promote my writing is why I hesitate to pursue a literary agent and get my books published.
Here’s how a fellow writer describes it:
“The thought of all the details I must be sure to cover in this hypertechno age of social media in order to sell my work wholly overwhelms me and paralyzes me,” says X. on 5 Ways to Overcome Fear of Success for Writers. “I write. I have two books published. However, the amount of time and energy to market books in this climate sucks the life out of me.”
I always feature a book in my Quips and Tips articles because I love reading, think books are one of the best ways to learn stuff, and like to promote authors. Oh yeah, and I like to learn commissions from Amazon!
In this case, I have two types of books to suggest: one on tapping into your creative, artistic, free self – The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. On Twitter, published author MeiLin Miranda says, “It’s terrific – it got me out of a bad writing slump last year.”
And, I recommend a book on learning how to use social media to efficiently sell your writing – The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue.
After all, you don’t want to give up on your goal of writing books just because you don’t know how to sell them, right?
Tips for Writers Overwhelmed at the Thought of Promoting and Selling
The writer who I referred to as “X” above actually called herself “year and a half late for this blog” on my article.
But she’s wrong! She’s not too late – I’m just as tuned in to my old articles as I am to my new (if not more so). It is never, ever too late, my friend, for anything. Most things, anyway.
Now, for a few thoughts on selling your writing…
Figure out what’s holding you back
One reason I recommend The Artist’s Way is because I’m currently on Chapter 3. I’m reading it with a group of artists who want to be more creative and free – and it’s changing how I think about writing, blogging, and my career. It’s both practical and inspirational.
Cameron’s book can help you figure out why you resist selling your writing, and help you flow through it.
For example, X says, ““I wish I knew exactly what I fear. I think it has a lot to do with my inner life needing calm and quiet and a very slow pace – like a prayerful monk.”
It sounds like she may be an introvert who feels drained and exhausted at the thought of aggressively or even assertively marketing and promoting her books. Me too! So, I don’t sell my writing. I list my ebooks in my sidebars and sometimes feature them in my articles, but otherwise couldn’t be bothered.
“Perhaps another issue is the ‘comparing mind’ of knowing my stories are good,” she says. “I write great sentences, I have had fabulous feedback from readers…but I don’t feel like I’m good enough, compelling enough… I want to be a better writer – that is what I work on.”
Maybe there’s not one single reason X is overwhelmed at the thought of selling her writing…and maybe she doesn’t need to figure out every single obstacle. Maybe she just needs to do Morning Pages, as recommended by Julia Cameron, and get all the fears, insecurities, and self-doubts on paper. Once she gets all the dreck out, she’ll be free to focus on what really matters: writing.
Learn to write for the sake of writing
“Even now I’m rambling on because I’m sure no one is reading this anyway since it’s a year and a half old,” she says. “I was compelled to write, am compelled to write…but otherwise I retreat to my garden.”
Me too! Except for the garden part. I write my Quips and Tips articles and rarely get feedback from readers. I know my articles are read because I see my traffic stats, but hardly anyone comments or asks a question.
Writing is lonely work. Even published authors don’t always know the impact of their books…and there’s no guarantee that a bestselling author’s new book will be read. It’s just the nature of the beast.
How do writers get around this? They train themselves to write for the sake of writing. Not to be read, not to become a bestselling author, and not to get lots of praise and thanks from readers. Writers write because they love it – they’re compelled to write, like X is.
Fellow scribes, make everything you write the best it can be – even your comments on an old blog post. You never know how people will respond and even use it!
Take marketing, promoting, selling your writing one step at a time
“Part of what I fear is getting a ball rolling into marketing and attempting to do all the social media engagement and not being able to follow through because ten months out of the year I am 100% teaching a very heavy load,” she says. “I have nothing for writing, let alone marketing.”
Instead of looking at the big picture and getting overwhelmed at the thought of marketing/promoting/selling your writing, take a long, deep breath. Seriously – right now, take a deep breath. Feels good, doesn’t it?
Now it’s time let go of all the angst and insecurity and whirlpool of writerly crap that holds you back, and get down to the boring stuff. The practical action plan. Maybe now is not the time to write books because you have no time to market and sell them. Or, maybe you need to scale down on the teaching and commit more time to writing and selling your books.
Maybe you can’t do it all.
Fellow scribes, do you have any tips for overwhelmed writers?
X asks you this:
“On the outside chance someone has some kind of simple, step by step, hand-holding, practical things to do to chip away at getting across this chasm, I welcome your thoughts. If anyone knows of an agent looking for a novelist who prefers to stay out of his/her way in the process of marketing and public relations, and would love to work with someone who is interesting, low key, talented, creatively energetic and who will love to go to book signings, speaking engagements, and all that but can’t do it herself, please please let me know!”
Here are a couple articles on selling your writing:
- Book Marketing Tips – 10 Ways to Market Your Book
- Promoting a Book – Should You Hire a Book Promotion Company?
Comments and tips welcome below the stuff that pays the bills…
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello and share your thoughts below. If not, go well....and don't forget to come back.