Reasons why I’m horrible at promoting my book

image Welcome to this week’s edition of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, when I draw upon my 15 years as a columnist to offer pearls of wisdom which, much like pearls from an actual oyster, started off as a small irritation before natural mucus secretions created something rare and highly coveted. But don’t just take my word for it! Many of today’s most prolific authors have referred to my weekly NWOW as:

“Something … actual”
“Highly … written,” and
“A rare … secretion.”

Awww shucks! Enough with the accolades!

This week’s NWOW is going to be a bit of a departure because, as you can see, the shameless self promotion of my book has begun and, to be quite honest, I am discovering I have a natural God-given gift for discouraging people from buying it.

Maybe I’m too honest.

Maybe I’m not polished enough at schmoozing.

Maybe I have a subconscious desire to leap naked into a pool of lukewarm Carmel Nog coffee.

(Yes, I realize that has nothing to do with promoting my book, but I think it clearly illustrates just how truly BAD I am at this.)

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in my book. In fact, I think it’s fair to say, given the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, the world NEEDs my book right now…

Too much? You’re right. Sorry. But you can see my problem.

The truth is, a lack of self promotion skills is common among writers. That’s because we’re better at expressing observations about others than we are about ourselves. A writer sitting in a restaurant can tell you how how many times the 50-something mail carrier waiting for his to-go order at the counter checked his watch and jingled his keys, but ask them what kind of bread was on their own sandwich and they won’t remember they had pancakes. Writers make a point of inhabiting others in order to effectively communicate the subtle nuances that galvanize a compelling and believable character into the minds of readers.

The face that launch a thousand birdcage liners.
The face that launch a thousand birdcage liners.
My most galvanizing quote from the Coast Central entertainment article to the left?

“A couple of years ago I was sitting in my car…”

See what I mean?! BOOOR-ING! Sure, there was more to that statement, but you can see it was already heading off a cliff on its way to destination: Boringsville.

Here’s another riveting quote from that article that will get people to run out and buy my book:

“…I’ve been talking for several years…”

WOW! Really?! Fascinating stuff, Ned!

Again, there’s more to that sentence, but who’s going to read it if they can’t stay awake? And I can’t fault the writer, Jack Davis. He did the best he could with what he had to work with. Those are actual snippets from my quotes, so you can see he had his work cut out for him. And remember that I do a lot of public speaking, and not just when ordering fast food, but in front of actual crowds who aren’t holding carnival tickets. I’ve hosted pageants, spelling bees and dozens of fundraisers, spoken at churches and clubs about writing and humor… but ask me to promote myself and you get:

“… as a child, I was surrounded by people…”


Fortunately, I was smart enough to enlist the help of some folks to speak on my behalf for the back cover of my book. I guess you can think of it as pre-emptive spin control, like George W. Bush’s White House press secretary clarifying things before and after each presidential address. Except without the free cowboy-cut steaks and baked beans in the press room. My point being that Outback Steakhouse turned down my idea of offering a free Bloomin’ Onion coupon on my back cover. So instead, we went with this design which, as you’ll notice, leaves a small space at the bottom should Outback change its mind on the coupon opportunity…


The one thing I can talk about with some level of authority is the cost of the book. That’s because, as someone who writes for a living, I can tell you I probably couldn’t afford a copy. I’m not saying YOU shouldn’t buy one! Hahaha! That would make me the worst marketing person ever! What I am saying is that I had no say in determining the price, so please don’t be mad at me when you see it and always, always remember that I love you.


And like this post, it’s getting deeper by the minute.

If you decide to wait for the cheaper eBook version in January, I will understand. Although those copies are a lot harder to sign.

As I said at the beginning of this post three days ago, today’s Nickel’s Worth was going to be a bit of a departure. Thank you for not only coming along, but for always joining me on the platform when this crazy train pulls into the station.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available here from Port Hole Publications for Christmas)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

57 thoughts on “Reasons why I’m horrible at promoting my book”

  1. As someone who lives on a small Caribbean island, I kinda doubt your book will make it to bookstores here. I actually doubt if they have bookstores here. So I’ll be forced to wait till the e-book comes out. But regardless of your pitiful marketing skills, I have a feeling it’s going to be worth the wait. (So perhaps your honesty is not such a bad marketing tool;))

  2. I cant WAIT SHIRLEY Q !!
    On that note…MY POST TODAY…was posted to yours truly…on my behalf but to you…well, for me…but ….to you…well, for me…but to you. For you, but ….for me….well, go ck it out…you will be AMAZED! Just tilt your wee lil head just to the right…just a lil now…it is only ONE minute and 30 seconds….BAM! It rocked my world. Like…I know your book will too.
    See, I could sell the fool outta your book…..

  3. Congratulations! You know, I was about to ask you about that book. I actually looked for it on Amazon earlier today and it wasn’t there. That was a great article, too. Self-deprecating humor (or, was it defecating?) ran in my family. Sarcastic Irish – if they didn’t joke about you, that meant you were not worthy!
    Truly, I am very happy for you, Ned. Please don’t forget us wannabe’s when you’re in Hollywood consulting for the movie. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, Colleen. Receiving a compliment from someone with your lineage is a real honor πŸ˜‰ The book will eventually makes its way to Amazon, but probably not until January. It might reach Walmart, but that’s not a definite. Whatever happens, my wife and kids will keep me grounded. Seriously, they’ll take away my privileges and won’t let me play outside…

  4. Awesome! I’m going to wait for the eBook, since you said it’s okay to do that. I understand your plight regarding hesitancy or weakness in promoting your own work. That’s why when I publish something and no one buys it I just pretend it never happened and publish something else. It makes me very productive, but doesn’t help me quit my day job. If sales don’t go the way you’d like them to, I recommend quickly writing another book.

    Congratulations on the accomplishment and best of luck to a big sales season!

    1. I think that was Harold Robbins’ strategy, and look where it got him. I just keep telling myself my body of work will be worth a fortune some day.

      Then again, that’s what I used to think about my actual body…

      Thank you for all your kind words and support, Paul πŸ™‚

      1. Who is Harold Robbins? My first guess is Earl Baskins’ partner, but I really don’t know. It’d make sense, what with the 31 flavors and all.

        Will January also bring a cheaper eVersion of your actual…nevermind.

        1. You nailed it, Paul! Not many people are able tot make the connection. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’re the ONLY one…

          And yes, the eVersion will be like me in my early 20s: cheap and available.

  5. ha! I know what you mean man… I find myself almost talking people out of buying my book… I keep think it’s not that good… and then when someone says it’s good I just figure they’re trying to be nice… I can tell people all day to go buy other folks books… but heaven forbid they even think about getting mine… I just suck at life 😦

    of course you’re great at promoting your book while insisting that you’re not… it’s ingenious… I can feel myself slowly being brainwashed into getting it… oh the humanity!

    1. Haha! I know exactly what you mean. I tell you what, you sell my book and I’ll sell yours! πŸ™‚

      And the true level of my marketing genius remans to be seen. But let me just say this:

      You’re getting sleeepy… very sleeeepy… πŸ˜‰

  6. Hey, I would read your book Ned! And I also realized that we have something in common: I, too, have been talking for several years since I began the habit in childhood. We’re like, totally, alike.

    1. Wow! That’s so CRAZY! They say everyone has a twin. We just happen to be different genders! I mean, each of us is just ONE gender, but that we’re different from each other’s gender. Do you follow me?

      Wait β€” of course you do! We’re twins!!

  7. i am closely observing you promoting your book, and noticing you jingling your keys, and checking your watch, as you struggle to come to grips with promoting your book, now writing about it, and don’t know if i could promote my own book either, if i had one. or do i?

    1. I see you’ve already caught onto my subconscious ploy, inspired by Pavlov; whenever I promote my book, I jingle my keys. Eventually, all I will have to is jingle my keys and people will but my book without even realizing it. So far, though, all I get is a lot of drooling. I probably should try some place other than the retirement home…

  8. Ned, I must have a signed copy, an e-version will not suffice, I’m old school that way…how else can I doodle all over the pages? Now, how do we do this when I’m downunder ‘n’ all? REDdog

  9. If your book is that expensive, can’t you afford a speechwriter? I could not find you on the Amazon pre-order (although I did find an apron with the Hickson coat of arms), so how do we get a copy of this book?

      1. Gosh! You’re right! Do you think I’d get it in time for Christmas? I’m the only one here who likes e-books, so I want paper or cardboard or whatever is around the words.

          1. You didn’t tell me that the distributor doesn’t have them yet. I will expect a hand-written letter of apology to my husband if it’s not under the tree. πŸ™‚

            1. I PROMISE you it will arrive in time, and (I just found out) all copies will be signed.
              By me.
              Or even someone else, if you’d like πŸ˜‰
              In the event a natural disaster or all-you-can-eat burrito night at the Enfermo Taco delays shipping, I promise to read a chapter to your husband each night until the book arrives.

              To clarify, this will be done over the phone… πŸ˜‰

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