Are you uncomfortable with book promotion? Try this

“I’m really uncomfortable with book promotion,” an author told me recently. “It’s just not who I am.”

“What makes you uncomfortable?” I asked.

“I don’t know . . . ” she began. “I think it’s all that waving your book around and telling people how great it is. I’d like my book to speak for itself, without me always getting in people’s faces.”

I reassured her that there are many, many authors who view marketing and promotion the same way. They don’t want to be constantly posting on social media, attending book fairs, or looking for opportunities to talk about their books before an audience.

They just want to write.

Who can blame them?

But in today’s in-one-ear, out-the-other world, all authors have to be willing to take on book promotion. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a six-figure advance or you’re self-published and proudly referring to yourself as an “indie author.” You need to let your target audience know about your book.

Why did you write your book?

But you can do it without feeling like a shameless self-promoter. All it takes is making a slight shift in how you view book promotion.

Right now, your perspective is that it’s all “look at me, look at me, look at me!” And that bothers you. (It bothers me, too.)

But here’s the reality: You wrote that book for a reason. What is it? Is it one of these? Did you write it to:

uncomfortable with book promotion 2

No matter why you wrote it, you want your book to do something for readers.

How will your book have an impact if nobody knows about it?

Will you be able to achieve your goals for your book if nobody reads it?

Will your book make a difference — whether you want to entertain or change minds — if people have never heard of it?

Try this

It’s pretty simple: Your book won’t do what you want it to do if people don’t know about it.

And people won’t know about it if you don’t tell them about it.

Ergo, informing your audience that your book is available to change their world is a public service. I repeat: Sharing information about your book is a public service for your audience.

When you think about it like that — when you realize you are providing a service to the people you wrote the book for — it all becomes easier. You become much less uncomfortable with book promotion.

Will you ever be all up in their faces chattering away about how totally fantastic and extra special your book is?

You will not.

But it will be easier for you to speak from the heart at a book event. Or do a radio interview about how you found the courage to tell your very personal story in a memoir. Or write a guest blog post about the extensive research you did to make your historical fiction set in World War II Europe as reality-based as possible.

No longer uncomfortable with book promotion

Your book won’t help, serve, or entertain anybody who’s never heard about it. So do two things now:

  1. Figure out who will love your book.
  2. Let them know about your book in a way that you’re comfortable with.

You will be doing readers in your target audience a favor when you let them know how your book will contribute to their lives.

Provide a public service: Let people know about your book.

Need help figuring out your target reader? Watch my one-hour video training program, “Who Will Buy Your Book? How to Figure Out and Find Your Target Audience.” It takes the mystery out of the process for you.

How do you get over your discomfort with promoting your book? Please share your best tip in a comment! 

Tip of the Month

uncomfortable with book promotion 3I like to share a “Tip of the Month,” a free resource or tool for authors, on the last Wednesday of the month.

Have you created your author profile on Hometown Reads?

The site is dedicated to helping local authors around the U.S. connect with readers in their hometown through the Read Local movement. The Hometown Reads site organizes authors by local community, which helps authors both network with other nearby writers and get more exposure with local readers.

Just two years old, the site has launched programs in more than 100 communities. Is your city on the list  (scroll down on that page)?

Sign up today to take advantage of all this program can offer you with libraries, bookstores, and other authors in your region.

Like what you’re reading? Get it delivered to your inbox every week by subscribing to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter. You’ll also get my free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” cheat sheet immediately!


  1. I doubt anyone’s ever right at home doing face-to-face promotion of their own creative work. I wouldn’t even be surprised if there’s a Commandment in the Bible against it. It’s bragging, boasting, showing off—everything our parents taught us not to do. But I once read a blog with the question, “How long will my book keep selling?” And the answer was, “As long as you keep promoting it.” I’m afraid this is true. Therefore, biting the bullet (forever) is part of the program. But compare it to stage fright; if you’re too terrified, you can’t be in the play.

    Like anything, marketing takes practice. It does get more comfortable. There’s even a weird rush one gets in overruling fear. Especially when the results are good. The worst thing that can happen is your would-be reader politely declines. (Nobody’s going to slam you for offering your book—if nothing else, they acknowledge that you wrote the thing.)

    The #1 confidence-booster is knowing that your book is good. (So be certain that it is.) Our own excitement is contagious. Sales generate more sales, too (an object in motion stays in motion). Having more titles for sale also generates sales. If people have 3-4 books to choose from, it’s almost instinctual to pick the one they resonate with most. And once you’ve sold a fair amount of books, then your books ‘are selling,’ and that’s cool.

    I’ve taken notice how huge companies offer constant sales and discounts. From Honda to Haagen-Daz. They’re not worried about losing a couple of bucks per item, they’re busily winning lots more buyers. So I now offer a discount for all in-person sales. This enhances my pitch, makes me feel good, makes the customer special and more willing to take a chance, and….it works.

    Finally, as is advised everywhere, ONLY sell to readers appropriate for your material. As Sandra said, serve them. There are many, many people whose favorite thing in the world is a juicy new book to dive into. Please those folks from beginning to end and what’s to feel bad about?

    1. Wendy, I wish I could give you a prize for such an outstanding comment. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and advice!

      I’ll just note that there ARE people who are quite comfortable with face-to-face book promotion and, in fact, enjoy it. Some are better at it than others.

      I’m grateful you took the time to share here.


    1. Thank you, Howard! I’m SO glad it was helpful. Of course, once you accept that you can’t serve anyone who doesn’t know about your book, you then have to decide how to let them know about it. There are so many ways to approach it, though, that most authors can find a few tactics they’re comfortable using.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  2. Here’s the problem with us self-pubs. We create a book and think it has wings and it’s going to take off on its own. Sorry, we’re the wings. Your wrote a book? Congratulations, you just went into business. You say, you don’t wanna be in business? That’s okay. Writing is a medicinal hobby. It’ll keep you smart with a good heart.

    1. So true, Jim. Many traditionally published authors think it will take off on its own, too. Doesn’t work that way, unfortunately.


  3. I tell my clients to find the fun stuff to do. If you enjoy doing it you will continue to do it. If you get the results you like keep doing, if not try something new.

    You can’t sell books if they don’t know you have one. Tell someone everyday.

    Thanks for the Hometown Read tip. I’m checking it out.

    1. Yep. I give the same advice. The one many of the people I work with seem to dislike the most is Twitter, which is just fine, because it’s more effective for relationship-building, networking, and positioning, all big picture strategies that don’t contribute to book sales quickly. I tell them to ditch it if they hate it and find another tactic they might enjoy that will help them reach their audience. The key, though, is that what they do helps them connect with the right people and that they learn how to execute the chose tactic well.


  4. If there is anything I enjoy as much as books about bookshops (ref your recent blog), it is books about books! Jacob”s Room was one of my favourite books from last year, and I ordered it as soon as I read about it simply because of Howards End is on the Landing. I love fiction, but I find that the older I get the more non-fiction I read and own. Perhaps that comes with age? Like Susan Hill, I am a fan of re-reading favourite books. Besides, with a really good book there is always something more to discover.

  5. I never quite realized the informative impact books can have on small childRen, when it comes to explaining or clearing up topics (you kNow, besides those “mommy’s having another baby” books). But now that you mention it, it is an easy converstation starter, if a conversation is even needed! My daughter’s 10 months old now but she completely adores books with pictures of animals. She often leafs through them herself, cooing and squeeling at every specimen. My brother (who has two kids of his own) even gifted her an animal print book with pieces of wool and hair to touch, she can’t get enough of that! In fact, you should see her when she manages to get her hands on the cat ? We haven’t really landed in the area of educational books, but I’ll definitely give the books I purchase a second thought, just to make sure I don’t leave any opportunities unattended.

  6. As a newbie indie author (well, to be totally honest, newbie author period, having decided not to try the traditional route with this book, even though – or perhaps precisely because – I know there is a market for it), your blog post certainly resonates with me, Sandra. I think there are many authors for whom self-promotion is no stranger than breathing, but also many others who only want to be left alone with their characters to see where they’re heading next. And yes, I’m definitely in the latter group.

    But having taken this huge, scary self-publishing decision, it didn’t take me long to realize that the writing and then production of the book was the easy part. Now comes the marketing – and the time when I’d really like to have the selling and distribution resources of a trad publishing house firmly behind me. And, yes, I now know I’m in this situation for the long haul – for as long as I want my book to sell.

    So while I’d rather be working on the final edits/production of the sequel (and I’m itching to make a start on the third book in the sequence), I’m also in parallel making plans for every self-promotional event I can think of. It’s a historical novel set in the medieval period (telling the story of the real King Richard III), so I’m booking stalls at every appropriate medieval festival; it’s a book aimed primarily at children aged 10 and up, so I’m making overtures to local schools about author visits and to libraries; I’m attending events at my first literature festival next week to meet and network with local authors and hand out some leaflets (maybe even sell a copy or two). I offer to sign copies that I sell privately – despite the apparent egoism of such a thing. I post all my (amazingly good) reviews on Facebook and Twitter – and have received some fabulous (and let’s face it, ego-boosting feedback on there. These are all things I wouldn’t have dreamed of a couple of years ago.

    It’s tough for an introvert to do this, but I’m getting there – and reading your piece reassures me it’s the right sort of thing to do, despite initial misgivings. And, who knows, in a year or two, it may all seem no stranger than breathing to me too.

    1. Thank you, Alex. You’re a brave introvert! You’ve probably discovered by now that after you do it once and discover the sky doesn’t fall in, it’s easier to do it the next time, and the time after that, and so on.

      Regarding this comment: [I offer to sign copies that I sell privately – despite the apparent egoism of such a thing.] That’s not ego. That’s “best practice.” That’s really the only reason to buy directly from the author — to get that signature at the front of the book. It’s very smart of you.

      Keep at it, and please come back. Thanks for sharing.


  7. For over twenty years I taught mathematics at a large urban high school. I learned the best way to “sell” math to teenagers was to love the product. I was always enthusiastic about the subject and had no problem talking about it.
    I feel the same way about my book. I wrote it because I wanted a good book to read; since it is a good book, I love to tell people about it.
    I am so happy when I hear that other people love it as well.

  8. When you write fiction, claiming you wrote a good book can be seen as the height of arrogance. In traditional publishing, the publisher arranges for praise to seem to come from other authors, from reviewers, and, if you’re lucky, from awards from major prize committees, most of which either don’t accept self-published fiction, or are fairly expensive to apply to.

    Doing it as an indie goes against the reader’s idea of modesty, and blowing your own horn.

    Very tricky to navigate.

    I try to send people to Amazon to see for themselves (Look Inside feature) and see what the reviewers have said. I don’t have a lot of takers – people tend to forget something they promised to do as soon as the promisee is no longer in front of them.

    And in-person recommendations – from me or someone else – are on hold a lot during a pandemic. Before that, about 35-40 people in my new retirement community read my novel – I doubt more than a couple of those were sales (I donated a copy to our library). And I doubt anyone of them beyond the single friend who invited me to her book club in her apartment recommended it. People just don’t!

    Traction is very hard to get. Finishing the second novel in the trilogy should help some.

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