Just as a high-stress job can lead to Sunday Scaries as the dreaded Monday deluge approaches, many authors experience what I call Book Promotion Scaries as a launch date for a new book nears. In fact, I don’t think I know a single author who doesn’t get a case of nerves from putting their newest work out to the world, including the most seasoned Big Five pros!
But don’t let your fears get the best of you. Promoting your work is an important part of building a readership and being a good professional publishing partner—and it’s also exactly what you’ve been working toward! This is your big moment! Don’t let fear hold you back from embracing it.
Easier said than done, believe me, I know it first hand! But with each new book I’ve released into the world, I’ve also learned a few reliable tactics to reduce and overcome the fear.
Remind yourself of the why behind your story.
As a writer, you possess a basic creative drive that keeps you coming back to the page, but why this story? Why these characters? Why now?
You may not have had clear answers to these questions when you started drafting this story, but odds are you have answers to these questions if you reflect on it. Odds are there are some common threads between your story’s themes and what you’re wrestling with in the world around you, or personal questions you’re exploring, or the values you find most important. It’s just the nature of storytelling!
Whatever it is, identifying these threads in your story and putting words to them can help remind you why your story matters, and give you the conviction to get that message out to the world. To me, it always helps to remember that there are core elements of my story that are bigger than myself, and that others are bound to be passionate about, too.
Get a confidence boost from your critique partners.
You didn’t get all the way to publication without a few trusty writing allies rooting you on and helping you make this story its best. When you feel those nerves coming on, any critique partner worth their salt is there to cheer you on.
After all, all that time they invested in helping you refine and polish that story was a reflection of how much they believe in you and your work! No one is better equipped to remind you of your story’s strengths and why it matters.
Invest in your publishing community.
Being a good literary citizen is one of the best habits you can build as a member of the publishing industry. You likely already do your fair share of cheering on other authors and helping them spread the word about their work, but there’s no better time to double down on this than when you’re counting down to your own book launch.
Sure, this practice strengthens your relationships with those most likely to cheer you on when it’s time. But even more, for me, it reinforces the muscle memory of how supportive the writing community is—and that quells my nerves more than anything else.
Build an action plan and refine your core messages.
Well before any launch, it’s worthwhile to build out an action plan for your promotion. Having a timeline and core messages in place before the nerves start to warp my judgment helps me to take those first steps of promotion in good faith, trusting my earlier-self to have set a sound path forward, no matter what doubts I might feel when it’s time to take action.
Put it in writing, work ahead as much as you can, and then just follow the steps you laid out for yourself. Trust me, it’s much easier than trying to make these big decisions amid the frenzy of launch day!
Finally… You Have to Just Face the Fear Head On!
Even several books in, I still don’t have a solution that can eliminate those Book Promotion Scaries altogether, and I’ve yet to find an author who does. At some point, you simply have to trust your book will find its readers and take the leap. Luckily, I’ve also found every single time that my writing and reading community are there to catch me—and celebrate with me! In my experience, nothing makes the Book Promo Scaries easier to face than practicing making the leap and allowing them to carry you forward.
By day, E. J. Wenstrom is a digital strategy pro with over 10 years at communications firms. By early-early morning, she’s an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author of the Chronicles of the Third Realm War novels, starting with Mud. She believes in complicated characters, terrifying monsters, and purple hair dye.