As a professional book launch coach and an author myself, I’ve discovered the biggest obstacle to having a successful career is…drumroll…your writer’s brain and its propensity to think dramatic thoughts. Yes, the same brain that creates a brilliant and complicated plot for your novel will also try to sink your career before it even leaves the dock. This is especially true when it comes to marketing. I frequently say to clients, “Rethink your marketing mindset!”
I can hand an author a checklist of everything they “should” do to market their books, but very few writers will take action until they take a serious look at their thoughts about marketing first.
If you have resistance to the idea of promoting your books (and, by extension, yourself) here are five steps you can take to rethink your marketing mindset, start feeling good about what you’re doing, and find success with greater ease.
1. Write down ALL your thoughts about marketing.
Grab one of your many notebooks and your favorite pen and write down every little thought that comes up when you contemplate marketing your book.
Imagine sending a pitch email to a podcast. What comes up? Is there a sudden shame storm rampaging through your mind?
Imagine doing a reading in front of a large audience. Are you ready to throw up?
Write it all down, the good, the bad, the things that make you want to hide under the covers forever.
Some common things I hear from my clients when we do this exercise are:
- “I worry about being sleazy.”
- “My publisher should be doing this for me.”
- “I’m a nobody; I won’t get any traction pitching influencers.”
- “I’m panicked. There’s too much to do and not enough time or desire.”
Once you get all the thoughts down on paper, it’s pretty easy to see why you’re not taking action on your marketing—it’s because you hate the very idea of it and think it will be the end of you. You’ll be laughed at, ostracized, or ignored.
Don’t beat yourself up over your negative thoughts! You have a human brain and it’s just been doing what human brains do. You’re about to rethink your marketing mindset and empower yourself by taking a look at what’s really going on, then decide how you want to move forward.
2. Question your thoughts
For every thought you wrote down, ask yourself, “Is it true?” Pretend you’re on a high school debate team and there’s a big trophy and a love interest awaiting you if you prove yourself wrong.
Example: I recently talked to a writer whose picture book is coming out next spring/summer. He keeps telling himself, “Without a book to push (yet), I don’t have anything to offer.”
Which, of course, isn’t true. He could be offering any number of things to attract subscribers right now (giveaways, his charming, witty stories on podcasts, etc.) and then have a pool of people excited to buy the book when it comes out.
Often, we simply believe our thoughts without ever questioning their validity. We let our negative, untrue thoughts run the show and prevent us from doing what it takes to build an audience.
When we interrogate our thoughts a bit, our case against marketing begins to crumble. That’s good news and frees you up to explore new ways of carrying out your marketing—and to do it with enthusiasm.
3. Tally the cost of your negative beliefs
Now, for every thought you wrote down, ask yourself, “What is believing that thought costing me?” Or, from another angle, “What would I be able to do if I didn’t believe that thought?”
You may find you’re willing to try all sorts of marketing activities when you rethink your marketing mindset and no longer believe the negative voices inside your head. Most writers I work with discover that the biggest thing holding them back is their own story about why they can’t make it.
Again, don’t fret about this or be hard on yourself! It’s never too late to turn things around. You have now taken back control and can get intentional.
4. Think some “on purpose” thoughts
It’s time to find some new thoughts about marketing. As you rethink your marketing mindset, take care that you don’t simply pick the opposite of the negative thoughts you uncovered. Your brain is not suddenly going to go from thinking, “I’m a nobody” to “I’m a freaking rockstar!” And you don’t need it to.
Pick a thought you truly believe that is at least slightly more positive than your old thoughts and opens up some willingness to take action. “I don’t have a big platform yet, but I’ve got some ripping good stories I could tell on a podcast,” is a big improvement over, “I’m a nobody.”
5. Practice your new thoughts
Reprogramming your brain with more intentional and productive thoughts is not a one-and-done operation. You’ll need to practice your new and improved mindset and catch yourself when you fall into old thought patterns. Find ways that work for you.
I have clients who leave little notes for themselves or reset their passwords to remind them of their new thoughts. You can add re-writing your new thoughts to your daily journaling habit or your morning pages. You can give yourself a pep talk right before you start any marketing activities.
I hope this post has helped you realize that if you’re not taking action on marketing and building your platform, there are some simple steps you can take to figure out why and get yourself motivated again. With some intention and practice, you can truly make your mindset your biggest career asset.
Tell us in the comments below: How are you going to rethink your marketing mindset?
As founder of Pages & Platforms, Sue Campbell is the mindset and book marketing coach writers look to when they are ready to honor their dreams, address the negative stories they’re telling themselves, and share their work with their ideal readers to maximize the impact of their words.
Sue has helped hundreds of writers, from newbies to bestsellers, transform their inhibitive mindset around marketing and realize their full potential as authors. Her clients have exponentially increased their email lists and book sales landed articles in prestigious publications such as The New York Times, done guest spots on popular podcasts, and more.
Sue understands the world would be a better place if more people lived their creativity. Get free marketing and writing resources when you subscribe to her newsletter.