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Overwhelmed by the Thought of Selling Your Writing? Help is Here

If you’re a writer who gets overwhelmed when you think of marketing and selling your writing, you’re not alone! Not wanting to promote my writing is why I hesitate to pursue a literary agent and get my books published.

Here’s how a fellow writer describes it:

“The thought of all the details I must be sure to cover in this hypertechno age of social media in order to sell my work wholly overwhelms me and paralyzes me,” says X. on 5 Ways to Overcome Fear of Success for Writers. “I write. I have two books published. However, the amount of time and energy to market books in this climate sucks the life out of me.”


I always feature a book in my Quips and Tips articles because I love reading, think books are one of the best ways to learn stuff, and like to promote authors. Oh yeah, and I like to learn commissions from Amazon!

In this case, I have two types of books to suggest: one on tapping into your creative, artistic, free self – The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. On Twitter, published author MeiLin Miranda says, “It’s terrific – it got me out of a bad writing slump last year.”

And, I recommend a book on learning how to use social media to efficiently sell your writing – The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue.

After all, you don’t want to give up on your goal of writing books just because you don’t know how to sell them, right?

Tips for Writers Overwhelmed at the Thought of Promoting and Selling

The writer who I referred to as “X” above actually called herself “year and a half late for this blog” on my article.

But she’s wrong! She’s not too late – I’m just as tuned in to my old articles as I am to my new (if not more so). It is never, ever too late, my friend, for anything. Most things, anyway.

Now, for a few thoughts on selling your writing…

Figure out what’s holding you back

One reason I recommend The Artist’s Way is because I’m currently on Chapter 3. I’m reading it with a group of artists who want to be more creative and free – and it’s changing how I think about writing, blogging, and my career. It’s both practical and inspirational.

Cameron’s book can help you figure out why you resist selling your writing, and help you flow through it.

For example, X says, ““I wish I knew exactly what I fear. I think it has a lot to do with my inner life needing calm and quiet and a very slow pace – like a prayerful monk.”


It sounds like she may be an introvert who feels drained and exhausted at the thought of aggressively or even assertively marketing and promoting her books. Me too! So, I don’t sell my writing. I list my ebooks in my sidebars and sometimes feature them in my articles, but otherwise couldn’t be bothered.

“Perhaps another issue is the ‘comparing mind’ of knowing my stories are good,” she says. “I write great sentences, I have had fabulous feedback from readers…but I don’t feel like I’m good enough, compelling enough… I want to be a better writer – that is what I work on.”

Maybe there’s not one single reason X is overwhelmed at the thought of selling her writing…and maybe she doesn’t need to figure out every single obstacle. Maybe she just needs to do Morning Pages, as recommended by Julia Cameron, and get all the fears, insecurities, and self-doubts on paper. Once she gets all the dreck out, she’ll be free to focus on what really matters: writing.

Also – learning how to promote books without feeling overwhelmed can’t hurt. And, learn what writers do when they get stuck!

Learn to write for the sake of writing

“Even now I’m rambling on because I’m sure no one is reading this anyway since it’s a year and a half old,” she says. “I was compelled to write, am compelled to write…but otherwise I retreat to my garden.”

Me too! Except for the garden part. I write my Quips and Tips articles and rarely get feedback from readers. I know my articles are read because I see my traffic stats, but hardly anyone comments or asks a question.

Writing is lonely work. Even published authors don’t always know the impact of their books…and there’s no guarantee that a bestselling author’s new book will be read. It’s just the nature of the beast.

How do writers get around this? They train themselves to write for the sake of writing. Not to be read, not to become a bestselling author, and not to get lots of praise and thanks from readers. Writers write because they love it – they’re compelled to write, like X is.

Fellow scribes, make everything you write the best it can be – even your comments on an old blog post. You never know how people will respond and even use it! 🙂

Take marketing, promoting, selling your writing one step at a time

“Part of what I fear is getting a ball rolling into marketing and attempting to do all the social media engagement and not being able to follow through because ten months out of the year I am 100% teaching a very heavy load,” she says. “I have nothing for writing, let alone marketing.”

Instead of looking at the big picture and getting overwhelmed at the thought of marketing/promoting/selling your writing, take a long, deep breath. Seriously – right now, take a deep breath. Feels good, doesn’t it?

Now it’s time let go of all the angst and insecurity and whirlpool of writerly crap that holds you back, and get down to the boring stuff. The practical action plan. Maybe now is not the time to write books because you have no time to market and sell them. Or, maybe you need to scale down on the teaching and commit more time to writing and selling your books.

Maybe you can’t do it all.

Fellow scribes, do you have any tips for overwhelmed writers?

X asks you this:

“On the outside chance someone has some kind of simple, step by step, hand-holding, practical things to do to chip away at getting across this chasm, I welcome your thoughts. If anyone knows of an agent looking for a novelist who prefers to stay out of his/her way in the process of marketing and public relations, and would love to work with someone who is interesting, low key, talented, creatively energetic and who will love to go to book signings, speaking engagements, and all that but can’t do it herself, please please let me know!”

Here are a couple articles on selling your writing:


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Comments and tips welcome below the stuff that pays the bills…

16 thoughts on “Overwhelmed by the Thought of Selling Your Writing? Help is Here”

  1. Great read. I love writing and get to do it everyday as a job. But I am not sure if I want it to be published. I’m happy sharing my writing with blog readers and friends but cant see myself publishing a book. It’s too much pressure and I don’t think I will be able to handle any negative feedback. I’m happy to just blog.

  2. Sean R. Nicholson

    Love the post!

    I have more than 10 books under my belt and the thought of going through the commercial publishing process again gives me tummy troubles. Writing is definitely not easy and getting something published is 10x harder than putting the words down. I took a break just to write for myself and get back to just writing for fun. If I could share one piece of advice from my experience it would be to take time and write for YOU, even if it’s a personal blog or a journal. Putting words on paper that no one else gets to edit is cathartic 🙂

    Great post and comments!

    –Sean

  3. I get overwhelmed when I think about all of the steps involved in ‘selling and marketing’ my writing. I take a deep breath and do one thing at a time. This helps me to stay centered and focused. I don’t freak out as much.

  4. My Aunt used to be a old time author who used typewriter. Gone are the days as people are using social media to promote their work. Even my kids are encouraged by school to write journal online 🙂

  5. I love writing. It makes me turn on that kind of person that I am not. Even I have started my blog in order to have the opportunity more people to read my articles and give me some critics about them.I do not have the courage to publish, but one day…

  6. I love writing so much but I am not sure if I want it to be published. But I am sharing it to my friends though. Maybe I am just afraid of rejections that is why I am not trying any of it. I am just happy that through blogging now I am able to share it with people and also earn from it.

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