How marketing your writing can be like surviving high school P.E.

When I was in high school in Florida, we had physical education class every day.

I was bad at it.

I coped well enough with track, aerobics, gymnastics, and even volleyball (only because I was a fairly reliable server), but all the other team sports were nightmares. I could be counted on to let down my team. Softball was especially painful. I hated waiting in the outfield, desperately hoping no fly balls would come my way.

But then I figured out how to get through it: volunteer to be the catcher.

Was I a good catcher? Hell, no. (Not until I watched Bull Durham years later did I learn that catchers are supposed to be strategizing with the pitcher! Who knew?) But nobody else wanted to do it, what with the strained posture and ungainly equipment and chance of catching a ball or a bat the hard way. So they were happy to let me do it.

Sandra Hutchison as an uncoordinated teenager holding two inflatable pool floats

This may be the closest I ever came to being any kind of athlete. Even as a teenager, I looked like a librarian.

And it was SO MUCH BETTER. I didn’t have time to pray no ball would come. OF COURSE it came. Repeatedly!

I spent the whole inning catching and throwing. I had no time to get nervous. Hell, it was even fun.

Yes, once in a while a foul ball popped up or a run headed home and gave me the chance to disappoint my team, but I couldn’t stop and brood about it. Because there was another pitch.

After remembering this recently, I realized that’s the approach I need to take to marketing. Especially the newsletter part, which I’ve been procrastinating literally for years now.

Like a lot of authors, I hate marketing my own books, especially to people I know. Because my mailing list is so small (especially now!), a lot of people on it are people I know. And whether they know me or not, I fear I will irritate them or bore them or look desperate or tacky or clueless, or (most likely now) get marked as “spam” by people with no memory they signed up for my newsletter years ago.

To be fair, I have also repeatedly run into bewildering tech issues. Let me tell you, bewildering tech issues are THE BOMB if you’re looking to put off something uncomfortable. (I ran into more trying to publish this very post, which is why it’s out a day late.)

Restarting the blog last year was my first step in overcoming what had become a case of near-paralysis on the marketing side. Could I write something every single month that at least some people were going to read? Yes, I could! (Okay, always on the last possible day of the month, and I just missed February, as noted above.)

Would this renewed blog ever be brilliant or make any difference to my book sales? Not so far. But it does, at least, suggest that I’m still in the game. This is something, especially if you publish new novels as slowly as I do.

But the mailing list is the thing I really need to do. So… those few of you still on my list at this point and also reading this, which may be nobody … you are about to start hearing from me regularly, on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, with something shorter than this blog ever is.

(Check your promotion or spam folder if you think you’re on the list and don’t get anything – or sign up again at the bottom of this page.)

This frequency is not what I promised when you signed up. So if you find this annoying, I cordially and absolutely without angst invite you to unsubscribe. It’s actually ideal, if you’re not interested. Mailing lists above a certain size cost an author money, after all. (Yet another reason to procrastinate!) And you can reliably hear about new releases or promotions if you follow me on Bookbub or Amazon.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do about this blog. I enjoy this format, but it takes serious effort to get a post published, and the mailing list will be my top priority this year. I also don’t want to take away too much time from novel writing. (Novel #8 is finally under way!) So that’s something I’ll be thinking about a little more.

As always, I’m happy to hear your opinions if you have any. (Also, I’m curious if you have your own ways of psyching yourself into doing the stuff you find anxiety-producing!)

And now … I need to go play some ball.

2 thoughts on “How marketing your writing can be like surviving high school P.E.

  1. This post was good! FYI, it’s Ann Norman. I don’t know why my real name never shows up, just a “gravatar.” Like you, I hate attacking technical issues. If I did, my day off would disappear.