Publishing Isn’t for Sissies: I’m A Recovering PR Wuss

Modern authors must promote. Even the top dogs. But what if you’re a writer who cringes at the thought of sell, sell, selling yourself to your audience? Suck it up, TPTBs say.  And, well, they’re mostly right. Mostly. Because not everyone will promote effectively the same way. And too much of the advice we hear these days is that THIS or THAT are the only ways to really entice more potential readers to give your stories a try.


Don’t drink the Kool-Aide.

Yes, a writer’s business must include a healthy dose of consistent promotion planning an execution. And unless you’re one of the lucky few “branded” authors out there, what you affectionately refer to as your PR Department will be comprised primarily of you and you alone.

But, where I see most hard-working, business savvy writers flounder (myself included) is when they attempt to force themselves into a promotion mold that doesn’t fit their personality, strengths, writing genre and time/lifestyle demands. We’re not all natural sales or marketing persons.We don’t all have time to travel or the gifts of public speaking. Some of us cringe when confronted with crowds, can’t introduce ourselves to strangers without breaking out in hives, and don’t have a knack for the quick and prolific writing schedule demanded of a daily blogger.


So what do we do, when we’re told that one or more of of these missing traits are THE ONLY WAY WE’LL BE SUCCESSFUL as a modern writer?

First of all, we remind ourselves that it’s the quality of the story and our passion for what we’re writing that’s most important. Ignore the PR/Marketing guru that tells you to promote first, write second. If you don’t believe your story is the best it can be, if you don’t absolutely love what you’ve done and if you’re not prouder of it than anything else you’ve ever written, how the hell are you going to honestly, authentically promote it to readers? Do the work first. Do it well. Protect the writing.

Second, we take inventory of what we do well, or more importantly what we DON’T do well. Me? I don’t hand sell.I can’t go up to a stranger and say, “Hi, read this. I wrote it.” Not at a book signing, a conference, in an email newsletter, a FaceBook status or a Tweet. I feel like I’m going to hurl every time I try.

I admire folks who can do this, and I don’t have a problem when someone approaches me with a genuine interest in sharing their work without doing the hard-sell, used car dealer thing. But I can’t do it and not feel the need to slink under the nearest piece of furniture. So, you won’t see the hard sell at the bottom of any of my blog posts, urging you to buy my latest creation because It’s PERFECT for you.

What you will see me do is come at the same opportunity to introduce myself and my writing to new people from a different angle–one I’m very comfortable with that others might not be. I’m good with sharing what I’m excited about, and I’ve discovered I’m good at it.I love to teach. I write short articles on various topics quickly and use doing so as a daily exercise to keep my daily writing process fresh and new. So I blog about the basis for my stories, whether it’s the parapsychology behind dream theory, psychic phenomenon, family dynamics, the well being I find in spending time in nature with water, or my rant/rave posts on the crazy things I hear. And since I can’t travel as much as I’d like to to teach, and teaching is one of my top passions, I also blog about writing craft and the publishing industry trends and topics that most interest me on my own journey.

And that’s the key, I think. Yes, I’m releasing regular content that I hope will interest readers and fellow writers (who read) in my work enough to sample it. Yes, it’s a marketing/PR tool that works for me because I’m comfortable with the form and the process of consistently building my blog audience. But, most importantly, I’m sharing not just my latest book release (which is displayed strategically on my blog). I’m not saying, buy this because I say it’s great. I’m sharing my journey and my perspective, and I’m talking about a lot of topics that if you find interesting, you’ll likely feel the same about my books.

I’m sharing me. Just like I am when I write.


I’m giving a new piece of me away and asking others to join in the conversation and share something of themselves. I want to know more about things that interest me, and I’m networking with others who like the same things. And then once that door’s open, let’s talk books. Let me share with you this really cool story I wrote that I’m so excited about I can hardly stand myself. Let me show you how my love for dream science and almost-reality psychic activity lead me to write Dark Legacy and Secret Legacy the way I have. Let me show you how I used my own writing craft and revision and drafting techniques to write 15 novels in six years. Let’s share a workshop together, where I’m learning as much from you during our time together, as I’m teaching to the group. Let’s talk about what I see happening in publishing and how you see things, and let’s figure this crazy ride out together…

Watching me at in-person events you’d most likely think I LOVE promotion, because I’m thrilled to talk with anyone who stops by about anything they want to discuss, and I love people.I’m the chatty, fun girl. As long as you’re excited about what we’re discussing. As long as you’re engaged and loving the conversation, too. Put me at a table next to a writer who grabs total strangers who pass by and says, “You have to read this book I just wrote…” and I’m breaking out in hives while looking for the nearest exit to escape through.

I’m the same with social media/online marketing. I avoid the promoters who stand on their heads to get attention. I’m much more comfortable offering content I think you will benefit from or be entertained by, then I hope you’ll notice the rest of my story once you’re engaged on my site or blog. I’d frankly rather not make a new contact, if doing so requires me to hard-sell or be someone I’m not, to get your attention. Because enduring that kind of lack of authenticity is hell for me. I just can’t do it.

So, I’m promoting. I have to, to continue to brand myself and claim whatever edge I can in the publishing market. But I’m doing it by having conversations with people that aren’t beating them over the head with MY MAY 2011 SECRET LEGACY RELEASE…or whatever book comes next. Because that’s what I needed to do to stop being a PR wuss.

It’s part of my job, this marketing thing. And I take care of my business, just like I nurture my writing and creativity every day. But I’ve learned enough over the years to know the damage I can do to both my career and my writing productivity if I try to force myself to do what doesn’t feel natural to me (yes, I’ve burned out a time or two along the way, exhausted and dismayed and cynical beyond the ability to do or write one more thing).

Publishing Isn’t For Sissies is about to get very specific in May/June. I and the other professionals helping me promote Secret Legacy’s release will share the tactics and PR techniques we’re attempting for my first significant digital promotion push. We’ll even talk about moving into the Sci-Fi/Fantasy world of print publishing and what it means to market to that audience of independent and dwindling chain book sellers who stock the trade paperbacks sci-fi/fantasy readers still love.

I’ll be honest about why and how I’m executing each piece of the plan we’re putting the finishing touches on this week. I’ll share what works and what doesn’t. And, as always, I’ll be open to any thoughts and suggestions (positive or negative) that you have. But remember, this is the way I’m choosing for this moment in  my career. YOU have to figure out which pieces of my PR process and the next author’s and the next author’s will work for you, given your place in the industry.

In the end, writers have always been responsible for promoting their own work, even those of us who don’t like the marketing part of our jobs.Unless we’re very lucky, putting ourselves out there publicly is a huge part of our jobs if we want our books to sell to people beyond our network of family and friends. So, tough love time, it’s time to stop being a wuss and discover your own marketing strengths and weaknesses.

I hope reading PIFS helps you on your path! And if it does, you know…look around the blog  and my website a bit. You might just find something else you like just as much ;o)

To catch you up if you’re new to this blog series, here are some of the most recent PIFS posts:




  • Literary Agent Michelle Grajkowski rides the Digital Wave
  • Best Selling Authors’ take on the Indie Wave
  • Build Your Own Community
  • A Reality Check
  • A Team Approach
  • NetGalley
  • Borders, Dorchester and You
  • Embracing the Obvious





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    One Response to “Publishing Isn’t for Sissies: I’m A Recovering PR Wuss”

    1. Regan Black says:

      So very true and relevant to readers and writers alike! ;)

      It took me awhile to find and get comfortable in my promotional ’skin’, but just like finding your writing voice, it’s worth the effort (for everyone involved) to take the time to find your personal strengths and weaknesses for promoting.

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