Redefining “Promotion”

The Promotion of Fear

One of the hardest problems most writers face is the fear of self-promotion. It has been my greatest obstacle, and it’s one I’m still battling.

For me, like for so many other writers, it’s hard to stick my neck out and beg people to buy my books. Do I want to sell my books? Sure! But I don’t want to pester people with my sales pitches and selfish propaganda.

But you know, this fear of self-promotion is really an egotistical fear: we’re afraid to promote ourselves, because we don’t want people to think we’re selfish, because then they wouldn’t buy our books. It’s all a tangled mess of self-centered timidity and anxiety.

To cure ourselves of this fear, we’ll have to take a step back and re-examine the meaning of the word “promotion.”

True Promotion

Promote (v.) to further the progress of

The word comes from the Latin prefix pro, meaning forward, and the word movere, meaning to move. “Promote” literally means “to move forward.”

Now answer these questions:

What are you moving forward? What are your books promoting? What do you write about, and why? What is your purpose in writing what you write?
What do your readers get from you? Are you giving your readers information? Do you give them entertainment? Do you teach them? Do you encourage them to be better people, in their lives, in their work? What is it that you do to help them?
What are you doing with your money? You have to make a living somehow; you need money to support yourself. But are you spending it all on big houses and sleek sports cars and fancy dresses, or are you using it to help others, family, friends, charities?
Who are you helping more: yourself, or your readers? Let me answer that one for you.

You are helping every reader you touch. You are in countless hands, in countless homes, touching countless lives, because that’s where your books are, or soon will be. Your books are walking with people, speaking to them, people you will never meet. You are a friend to more people than you could ever have the time for.

Don’t measure your success by how many books you sell, but how many people you help.

You are a writer: Everything you write is a part of you. You are giving yourself to people, and if you just give them the best part of yourself, you’ll be giving them something truly worth while.

Promoting Truth

Okay, let’s be honest here: Not everyone will love what you write. There will be people who don’t like your work, and that can’t be helped; but if you help every nine out of ten readers, or even just every four out of five, it’s all worth it. Those you do touch, you will touch deeply.

And it’s encouraging to think that even the readers who don’t like my work will get some small something from it; even if it’s just an improved knowledge of how to prejudge the way they will enjoy a book.

Give yourself to your readers, truthfully and honestly; they’ll thank you for it.

So stop asking yourself, “How can I sell more books?” and start asking “How many people can my books touch?” That’s the important question. Your books aren’t helping many people if you don’t get them out there.

What are you doing to help your future readers?


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