Trust the Process

I have probably written this before, but it’s something I keep reminding myself. Write my blog, even if it doesn’t have a hundred followers (I do, but they don’t read regularly, I guess). Talk about my books wherever I can, even if it doesn’t yield many readers. Post on TikTok, even though I don’t reach over 250 humans (assuming they’re all human). Write that newsletter every three weeks, although I know that less than half my mailing list reads it.

Why do I keep up with my social media? Because I won’t get more readers if I don’t. I remind myself that 250 TikTokers are greater than zero, and 100 blog readers are greater than zero, and someday I may have more readers and more reviews on my books.

Photo by Pixabay on

It’s hard. Writers want to write, and by writing, I mean works that showcase their talents. We don’t see promotional work as showcasing our talents as much as writing short stories or poetry or novels. In addition, we don’t enjoy promoting ourselves. It seems like bragging, or like annoying people while they’re drinking their morning coffee.

I have to trust the process — write my best, don’t always directly promote the books, be funny but be natural, and hope for the best.

Thank you for reading.

The Thing I Hate About Writing Books

Writing is the simple part

Writing the book is the simple part. You come up with an idea when half-asleep or when distracted by something else, surreptitiously write the first draft while others do more normal activities, suffer from writer’s block, get an alpha reader who tells you what’s wrong, go through the developmental edit only to dissolve into despair, get some beta readers who tell you what’s wrong, despair over the book some more, edit until your mind is thoroughly sick of writing, and then publish. (I can only address self-publishing; traditionally published people have extra hoops to run through.)

Promoting myself: A Baby Boomer No-No

First, I should explain how I feel about bragging about myself: I am a Baby Boomer — a young one, but a Baby Boomer. I am also female. These two points are relevant in explaining how I simply loathe self-promotion.

The status of females in the 60s and 70s was that society expected women to be internally perfect at educational pursuits but externally mediocre. To win first place in the spelling bee, but hope nobody noticed. (With traditionally male pursuits, society expected women to be obvious failures.)

Repeat after me, Boomer women: “Oh, it’s nothing.” “I’m really not that good.” “I was just lucky this time.”

This big roadblock

Photo by John Guccione on

So with promoting my book, I feel a literal crawling feeling, a resistance to putting the book out there as often as people suggest I should. The book isn’t good enough. People won’t find it interesting. I can’t make it look interesting. I don’t want to shove it down their throats. Sound familiar?

I’ve tried a few methods — promoting here, on Twitter, on Facebook pages. There are several methods I’m just scared of — Bookbub and Goodreads, for example. There are so many places I fear working with. Can someone walk me through this?

If I have anyone out there working through internal perfection/external mediocrity, please let me know!

Learning to self-promote

I spent yesterday getting my author’s presence on two websites that handle reviews: Goodreads and BookBub. This largely consisted of trying to figure out how to do it, which is not obvious by going to the page.

I’m discovering how much of promoting the book is learned by sitting in author’s groups on Facebook and asking questions. I don’t know what I would have done before Facebook groups. I certainly didn’t know how to find this information and my Google game is excellent. 

One thing I’ve observed — I don’t think I need these connections with other professionals until I actually need information. This is a failing of mine, because it assumes that I can’t give back, and eventually I will be able to. But maybe it’s a common failing, especially for an introvert like I’ve become.

And now for a shameless self-promo moment:

This is what my author page looks like. If you want to see it bigger, look here

Promoting my novel

 Someone in a romance novel group on Facebook asked if I had a promotion plan for my new book. I hemmed and hawed, and pointed out that I had made advertisements for it. Marvelously, she gave me many websites for making a promotion plan, and I’ve perused the first site, Quick and Easy Guides, which has a course called 75 Ways to Promote Your Book. (This can be accessed for a nominal cost). I liked this course because not only did it have those 75 pointers, but it featured instructions on how to write a media kit, how to write a “cold letter” to bloggers, and how to write elevator pitches.

I have been working through these suggestions for my new book (due November 1) and I have a bit of a way to go. I need to find 5-10 suggestions on her 75 Ways page that are workable for me and write it into a plan. I also need to actually follow up on those, because planning is not enough.

Here’s a sneak peak at one of my promos:

My Qualms about Self-Publishing

I said I would share my reservations about self-publishing.

  • My first reservation — and I might as well get it out of the way — traditional publishing feels more legitimate. Agents and publishers curate one’s work and bestow the title of “author” and all its blessings unto the writer. The reputation of the publisher reflects upon the writer. Traditional publishing speaks of centers of commerce, big cities, a certain cachet. On the other hand, self-publishing feels to me like declaring oneself an author, hoping nobody puts an asterisk after it because it’s not blessed by a publishing house. Do I need someone else to tell me I’m an author? Honestly, yes. It sounds stupid, but there it is. 
  • My second reservation relates to the first — I feel unsuited to self-promotion. There’s a reason I didn’t go into sales; in fact, professoring is the polar opposite to sales. As a professor, my work is judged on its scientific and factual merit, its rhetorical accuracy, and its readability — not its saleability. I fear that promoting myself will consist of getting into people’s faces and disturbing their regularly scheduled Facebook lives and begging them to read my book. I can’t even bring myself to ask my Facebook friends to read my book, much less strangers. I tried putting one of my books on WattPad, and had a total of 21 readers, whereas much more poorly written items had thousands of readers.
  •  My third reservation has to do with resources — how much of my writing time will go into promoting my book? I have a full time career already, and I’m the sole earner in my family so retiring early isn’t an option. I also have little money to put into promotion.
  • My fourth reservation? I have no idea what to do for self-publishing past “Write, edit, find a cover, post on a platform”. Someone suggested asking a published author to make a recommendation — I am acquainted to one, and she didn’t return my request.

What isn’t a concern? Making money. I’m still not in this for the money (although it would be good to break even in terms of editing and promotional outlays). I want to be read; I want people to think my work is good. I’m not expecting a huge number of readers, especially as agents don’t champion my work because they don’t think they’ll get a return on it.

I’m just really, really scared of self-publishing.

Inching closer to self-publishing

I am closer — much closer — to self-publishing.

 I would be giving up a dream. Traditional publishing is my big dream, I think, because it’s external validation. Someone gives you a big shiny star, someone picks you for the dodgeball team. I was always the last one chosen for the dodgeball team. This might be why I have a dysfunctional relationship with the whole traditional publishing process — I want to be picked for the team and I still end up on the sidelines.

I’m still not easy about self-publishing, because I don’t know how to get people to read my book. I can’t just plop my book on the virtual bookshelf next to the other million people on the virtual bookshelf and expect people to read it. The quality of the books on the virtual bookshelf vary from very good to very poor, because not all people who self-publish go through the dev editor and beta-reader process like I do. How do people figure out what’s good to read? The rating system. How do books get read in the first place so they can earn those stars? Advertising and self-promotion.

I have to figure out how to self-promote, hoping I can get someone to read what I have to offer. I wish someone could do that for me, but I don’t anticipate having any money to pay for that.  Even offering it for free — you can do this sometimes, but if you make it free all the time people think you’re giving it away because you have to.

I feel a certain peace, now, thinking of self-publishing. My career doesn’t end with the rejections. I am not trapped on the sidelines of the dodgeball game. I will wait out the rest of the queries I still have out — rejections or six months out, whichever comes first. Then, if no agents take me on, I will self-publish Prodigies. And hope for the best.