Helping Others Sell Books is Fun but What About Me?

During the last few weeks, I have been testing the water of the PR world. I have a couple of authors who I have interviewed and arranged things for. Guest posts, blog tours and the like, and to be honest with you, I have thoroughly enjoyed the process. It has been busy, Skype calls, Facebook chats with the writers organizing things, and of course at the same time, thinking ahead of what we are doing now and towards what we are going to do next, to capitalize on everything. This has left me with minimal time to get my own writing done, but I have written close to 500 words a day, and that is something at least. It is vaguely consistent and steady enough for me not to worry. I am sure there will be days where I get in the groove and churn out several thousand. It is all part of the way things swing. images

However, the act of writing is not part of this post. What is bothering me at the moment is the whole PR side of things. As authors, promoting out work is the largest, and often hardest battle. It is a war we wage against ourselves and against the market. What I want to ask you is this:

Why can I (we) help other authors sell their work, but fail at doing it for ourselves. 

Having watched myself from the shadows of my mind, I have seen not only the technique I need to set up PR campaigns, albeit basic campaigns at this point in time. I have seen how easy it actually is to do, just be bold, approach people and off you go. Most of all, I have had a ball doing it. It has actually been good fun! So why the fuck can I not do this for myself also. Every time I try to plan some sort of PR event for myself, I fail, or worse still, do not even trying.

To tell you the truth, I already have an answer… or two, and I want to share them with you. I am interested to hear your side to the questions however, because maybe, deep there within lies the one true answer, the key to the puzzle that will solve it all for us.

Two things that stop us from selling our own book.

Fear is the first answer that comes to mind. Not even conscious fear, but rather that subconscious fear that lays in wait deep inside our minds, and grabs us without warning. Promoting someone else’s work does not pull much attention to you. Ok, it does but in a directly indirect way. Are you with me?

I guess it stems back to that old adage “It is easier to talk to a group of strangers than your peers.” If you twist the meanings around a little bit, it is easy to apply the same logic to writing promotion.By standing up and helping another author, we are promoting ourselves as people, but we are not the main focus of attention. The other writer is. It is they who is coming under scrutiny, and their own which is being offered around. As crazy as that sounds, because the only writers I would take on a tour and stand up to promote would be good writers. I would feel as positive about their own work as I do my own, but still, the fact that the attention is not on me, goes a long way to answer part of the question.

The second thing is control. While I am contacting other bloggers, and setting up the tour in the same way you would for yourself, the other aspect of it, the posts themselves are completely within my control. Sure, guest posts and extracts are mine to create, but interviews… that is a different story. I can interview the writer in question, ask the questions I want to ask and then approach other blogs with the questions (and answers) in hand. Whereas if I were organizing a tour for myself, I would have no interviews at hand, but would rather be asking other people to interview me, and in my head it just sounds whiny and attention seeking.

I know, I know, it isn’t, but that is part of the problem. I need to readjust my way of thinking. My sales have been disastrously low and it is because I have done little or no promo work. I need to push myself out there and get myself interviewed and touted around the same way I am doing for others.

2013-06-01 Highway to HellI have ten pieces of writing published… TEN. That is no small feat, and it gives me plenty of promotional scope, so why do I not just stand up and do something with it? I am proud of my work, in fact, I think it is damned good, and the reviews I have would be inclined to back that statement up. So what is stopping me?

There is something innate in most people I think that stops us from ‘tooting our own horn’. Some part of our psyche that makes us feel uncomfortable doing it, and in most walks of life it is good, because nobody likes a big ego.. unless you have the skills to back it up. Do I? However, in the world of promotion, you need to adopt a different mindset, and that is just what I intend to do.



19 thoughts on “Helping Others Sell Books is Fun but What About Me?

  1. As I said to a friend of mine who recently started her own blog, you can’t be backwards in coming forward. You’re right, you work especially hard to promote others, so perhaps there are ways that you can capitalize on that work. Get those, who like me, take full advantage of your service to start plugging your books – we all have our own blogs, or websites, or Facebook pages. Use us.

    I’m more than happy to help.

    I’d actually be interested in interviewing you – what do you say?

  2. Terrific post Alex! I couldn’t agree more. I barely sold five copies of my first book and it was because I never advertised it. P & M are very important, and most people don’t realize that. Congrats to you for getting over this tough hurdle!

  3. The fear thing relates to vulnerability. When we help promote other people’s work we aren’t vulnerable. When we promote our own work we are. Plus there’s that little thing about being incapable of taking our own advice!

    Btw congratulations Alex – 10 pieces of published writing is fantastic. 😀

  4. Oops… P.S.!!!! Why are you not showing all ten pieces in the sidebar of your site? Visual cues are hugely important and I for one had no idea you had such an extensive body of work! If you display all your work, with links directly to Amazon, it just makes it so much easier for people to read your posts and then check you out.

  5. I know exactly how you feel. I crossed the same hurdle as you over the previous couple of weeks and am working to revamp my advertising and push forward. It’s not easy and can be daunting, but then so was releasing that first book. lol The trick is to never give up.

    I wish you the best of luck moving forward. My blog’s always open for you. 🙂

  6. I think by doing for others you can make some good contacts and at a later date ask the authors you helped to do the same for you – not all of them will, some people are very one-sided about things but some will and that makes it worth the effort. For the other aspect I think you already answered your own question. Get someone close to you to do the work for you. Tell them what you need (a book signing at a small store, interviews, etc.) and ask them if they would be able to set it up. It takes the fear of rejection, vulnerability, and failure out of your hands and then you can concentrate on how to best sell your ideas/stories when the promo event comes. There is much more power in 2 people than one.

  7. Funnily enough, I too am asking the same questions at this time. My book sales have plummeted despite the fact that I am tweeting/FBing/networking more than ever, and I just don’t know where I’m going wrong. I seem to be doing enough to help other authors promote their books, but my own efforts are very slow to show reward. I suppose we will continue to seek the holy grail of successful book selling…

    1. That we will Catherine, no matter how hard the road we won’t turn around and walk away from it all. It isn’t who we are. Although a few sign posts along the way would be nice. lol
      Thank you for sharing the post.

  8. Hey, Alex I just get out there and promote my book, online and in public. But I’m an “old broad” so maybe that comes with age. On a more serious note, what has helped me is teaming up with other authors (from writer’s organizations I belong to) where we all promote our books through readings. I also got myself connected with area library branches (it helps that Toronto, Canada has 99 library branches) and done readings/lectures/book selling, etc, including one with a library branch book club so that meant x number of pre-sold books). No, I’m not selling books like crazy, but it was really great to get my first royalty cheque the beginning of May. and other online book sales places help. But so did this variation of other comments to you here. I emailed a cousin in Michigan, USA who missed my book launch with a link to my reading from Beyond the Tripping Point (mystery short story collection) on You Tube. Gene did so, liked what he heard/saw, ordered the book in print from, and then he and Kathy liked it so much, Gene sent an email to 20 family and friends about how good the book was. And here’s where the lack of fear about self-promotion helps – I emailed Gene thanking him and asked him to post a variation (no family mention) as a book review on my author profile; he did.

    I would be interested in doing a guest blog posting trade with you. This would be my blog Maybe you interview one of your book’s characters – that seems to draw in readers. And of course, there would be links and book icons (well from a few of your books).

    What do you think?

    1. The trouble I have with Libraries and readings is that I live in a non-English speaking country. So there is only a very small audience and nothing in my immediate area. But thanks for the tip, I will bear it in mind.

      With regards an interview or post, I would love to arrange something with you. I have not done a character interview before. None of them survive long enough to be interviewed lol.

      1. Hi Alex:

        Finally replying. I know your characters don’t live too long but what about having one do an interview from the dead? Please email me directly at and we can set up when you can do a guest post on my blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s