Feel the fear and put yourself out there – advice for shy authors

A while ago I was at an author event about book publicity. Finding magazines, blogs and broadcast media that will review our book or interview us. How do we do that? The first thing to do, said my friend Ben Cameron of Cameron PR, is to get the right mindset. Think of it as creative. And fun.

Afterwards, I fell into conversation with Tina, who didn’t see it as fun. She said: ‘I don’t feel comfortable putting myself out there. Asking people if they’ll interview me or feature my book. I just can’t. How do you do that?’

I’d just been conducting my own campaign for Not Quite Lost. It went better than I expected. I managed to pitch successfully to bloggers, mainstream print magazines and BBC radio stations. The first time I pressed Send I had to gird my courage, but after that it didn’t feel embarrassing.

I told Tina that. She wasn’t convinced.

This interested me because Tina wasn’t exactly a mouse. She taught workshops. She controlled groups of creative people and made them do stuff. She was also a playwright, and accustomed to plain-speaking feedback from actors and directors. Yet she was saying: ‘Asking for publicity … it’s like walking into a roomful of strangers and trying to talk to them. Don’t tell me you find that easy?’

I agreed I didn’t. Not remotely.  ‘But that other stuff is different.’

‘Why?’ asked Tina, which made me think.

Obviously, you get used to pitching. You learn that magazines, newspapers and radio shows are looking for material. They don’t open your email and cackle at your ridiculous hubris. You’re all in a day’s work. They actually hope you’ll match their requirements.

But the biggest realisation – the one that let me pitch without a qualm – was the realisation that none of it, actually, was about me. I was not seeking attention for me. It was for my books.

So it’s not about you, tiny naked vulnerable mind being dragged into a big bright light to explain yourself. It’s not even about personal confidence, whatever that is. It’s about confidence in your work.

This week I had a book club event for My Memories of a Future Life. It went well, but last night, I had the anxiety dream. In it, I was talking to a presenter from BBC radio who said: ‘I think I’ll cancel this interview. I don’t like you very much.’

And this is the thing. Whether we’re seeking publicity or releasing a book, it will always take a little of our skin. But I think this is like the anxiety that puts a performer on their mettle, or makes a doctor careful with their responsibility for a human life. It’s unavoidable, so we might as use it as a strength.

Though I still have problems walking into a roomful of strangers – and had reason to consider this in my latest newsletter.

Give me your thoughts!

PS I had a nice surprise this week when Feedspot nominated me as one of their top 3 UK blogs for selfpublishers. If I should thank any of you guys for this – then thank you!



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  1. #1 by tracikenworth on July 8, 2018 - 11:33 pm

    Reblogged this on Where Genres Collide.

  2. #4 by acflory on July 9, 2018 - 10:01 am

    I think it might be generational – the phobia about self-promotion. I can happily promote other people’s work on my blog or on Twitter. That’s easy. That’s /right/. Promoting my own stuff? -rolls eyes and cringes-
    I’m the product of a generation of women who were told that nice girls didn’t boast, didn’t blow their own trumpet. Nice girls were humble.
    Even when you recognize the conditioning, it’s still almost impossible to overcome it. 😦

    • #5 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on July 9, 2018 - 6:14 pm

      I know that feeling, Andrea! I sold a friend’s set of cut-out theatre figures to a national mother-and-baby chain by just walking into the shop and talking to them. I had no qualms at all. But selling my own stuff? Big brave swallow.

  3. #7 by The Story Reading Ape on July 9, 2018 - 1:05 pm

  4. #10 by Jean M. Cogdell on July 9, 2018 - 2:49 pm

    I have no trouble asking or promoting others but when it comes to myself, yikes. Sweaty palms, nervous stomach, attack with a vengeance. I feel your angst. 😦

  5. #12 by Monique Desir on July 9, 2018 - 3:53 pm

    Reblogged this on adaratrosclair and commented:
    Putting yourself out there . . . in order to get where you need to be is often scary at first, but necessary.

  6. #15 by Jacquie Biggar on July 9, 2018 - 6:01 pm

    I love this: So it’s not about you, tiny naked vulnerable mind being dragged into a big bright light to explain yourself. It’s not even about personal confidence, whatever that is. It’s about confidence in your work.
    Still shy though 🙂

  7. #17 by Maria Donovan on July 11, 2018 - 4:15 pm

    I appreciate the way you thought about that writer’s reservations about self-promotion. It’s a serious difficulty for the author who is naturally likely to want someone else to do the job for them. It’s time consuming and takes the kind of skills that people don’t necessarily expect to have to learn when they set out to write. But if we do not have confidence in our own work, why should we expect anyone else (people who don’t know us) to bother with it? I do think that talking about your writing, being an advocate for your work, is something you can get used to, just as you can get used to reading and performing your work in front of an audience. Thank you for the insights!

    • #18 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on July 12, 2018 - 6:08 am

      Hi Maria! It certainly is a serious difficulty – and moreover, it’s at odds with our talents. We’re writers because we’re good at being solitary, deep and thoughtful, because we blossom when we’re alone with a page. It sounds like you’ve been through this path too – and found a working solution. Thanks for stopping by!

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