Selling Yourself Short

One of the main reasons I went down the self-publishing route for my first book, Writing for Wellness: Surviving Lockdown One Word at a Time, was that I thought I would do my own publicity and marketing. I have a background in public relations and I have done rather well on social media over the years. But now it comes down to it I am finding it harder than I thought.

It’s not the number of sales that’s the problem. In that respect it has exceeded my expectations. It’s that I have had so many negative experiences of other people trying to get me to buy their book that I am hesitant to put others through the same.

Here are some of the big no’s I have picked up along the way:

  • Don’t beg people to buy your book – it comes across as being desperate and at the end of the day not everyone will be interested in reading your genre. Your book isn’t for everyone, so it’s about finding out who might be interested in it.
  • Don’t flood people’s DMs with requests that they buy your book
  • Make sure that the vast majority of tweets are useful to the community you are addressing. They say only one in seven should be you asking anything of them

I’m not comfortable flat out asking people to buy my book, but I do know who my target audience are. They are people who love writing, who would like to write more, who may be nervous about doing so, or think they are not good enough. It’s also for people who may struggle with mental health issues and who discover, perhaps through my book, how writing it out of their heads and on to the page can be therapeutic for them, and finally it’s for people who enjoy reading something that is semi-autobiographical.

If you fit in one or more of those categories, then you may find my book interesting, and possibly even inspiring. There, I said it, someone. out there might actually enjoy reading it.

I could, of course, run free giveaways and other such promotions, but unless I can get the book in front of my target audiences there is little point. It will just become yet another free block of pixels in someone’s rarely visited Kindle library. Surely it’s much better to hold the book’s value and continue the search for the people who would equally value it? I’d love your perspective on this.

Then, of course, there’s the issue of reviews. I absolutely refuse to ask anyone to review my book and consequently, even though it launched three days ago, there are no reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. Of course, I wish there were, at least I wish there were some good ones, but I can’t quite bring myself to ask people because that would feel like cheating. Not quite as bad as paying someone to do them (which I believe happens in some instances), but still, at the very least incredibly awkward.

Some people might think I’m selling myself short in all this. Perhaps I am. Perhaps I’m doing what most people are not doing, and that’s simply talking about my book and sharing what I have enjoyed about writing and publishing it, what has been difficult for me, in the hopes that it will organically find its way into the right hands. It certainly feels like the way of integrity, but I doubt I’ll get to retire on it anytime soon.

What do you all think? What are some of the marketing and publicity techniques you’ve used for your books?

On a final note, I will say this. If we were not in lockdown, things would be different. There would be certain events I could go to where I could sell my book and do signings, and talks I could give where I could do the same. When the only marketing platform is a digital one, it’s tricky not to fall prey to the temptation to start screaming as loud as you can in the hopes that you will be heard above the din.

Here’s one small voice, speaking to the other small voices in the universe, saying I’m here, I have something you might like. Have a read and see what you think.


3 thoughts on “Selling Yourself Short

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  1. I must admit, it’s the marketing side of self-publishing that I really struggle with. The imposter syndrome of “I’m not a real author, am I?” always makes it harder to bang my own drum too much, especially when I know I’m still learning in so many ways with my storytelling.
    I have used free giveaways (which usually have some takeup, interestingly quite often in Germany as well as UK/US) to try to generate some reviews, but that’s only achieved anything with my first (and weakest) book.

    I have tried promoting it through Amazon ads too, but that didn’t generate sales, although did give me some useful metrics to work from, which helped to show me which blurbs and covers seemed to be most effective.

    It doesn’t distress me too much – I write because I love doing so, and as much as I’d love to entertain people and make some money out of it, that’s reason enough in itself.

    Anyway, I’ll try to remember to leave a review once I’ve finished yours!

    P.S. I think I’ve done 3.5 things that were on your bucket list 🙂

      1. Ah, that’s a story in itself! Short version: my first ever trip abroad (for work, just after Uni) involved standing on the deck of a small, ice-covered boat travelling between naval vessels in an Arctic fjord somewhere near Tromsø. There was the merest hint of flickering in the sky, which I’m assured was the aurora borealis, but it was disappointingly dim. So I gave it a half!

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