One Indie Author’s Techno-Terror and Promo-Phobia

anxious author at work laptop-868501__340It is an accepted truism that those of us with high artistic aptitudes often lack business aptitude and vice-versa. Many writers bemoan the necessity of and time spent on promotion. We want to write. Most of us do not enjoy the aspects of our craft that involve promotion, marketing and the non-creative side of our profession.

Let’s say that I am the poster-child for this problem. I have a website. When it was set up, (and I needed someone to do that for me) I promised myself I would post regularly on it. I don’t. We are told by those who know that we need an email list and a newsletter to let fans, friends and followers know what’s new, what’s coming and generally stay in friendly contact. In spite of repeated self-flagellation, I have not done so.

We are told we need to maintain a social media presence and build a following there. We know we need to advertise on occasion, write guest blogs, participate in groups, network … The list is long and varied.

Over the years I have done my best (honest). Yet, although I have over 7000 Twitter followers, over 1000 Facebook friends and a strong connection list on Linkedin, I seem to be unable to use these sites to anywhere near their intended potential.

Why? Because I have techno-terror and promo-phobia. I am at the extreme end of the continuum. My aptitude, or rather lack thereof, for computer programs and techniques is so extreme that even the thought of learning and signing up for a new useful tool causes such anxiety that I freeze. I just don’t “get it” and every step of the process is agony. What to most people is logical and easy, to me is a foreign language with an alien alphabet.

“How silly,” you may rightly say. I have tried to tell myself that very thing for years. I have forced myself to set up accounts on the aforementioned Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin as well as Goodreads and several other sites. It took ages to work through those registrations and I was so proud when I could tell myself “I did it”. But registering is only the beginning. I only stab at maintaining and growing my presence there. Why? Partly because there is more to learn, there are better ways to make them work for me that I fear I will not “get” or that will take so much time that it will not be worth it. What takes others minutes will take me hours.

Each time I hear of a new promotion site I ought to try, each time I think of learning the finer points within these programs, each time I see a post about a way to expand my reach on new sites, my head tells me to do it. Then my gut clenches, and I procrastinate so long opportunity or the inclination passes. Once more, I feel like a failure.

I have berated myself so often for my lack of effort. After all, it’s supposed to be easy – everyone says so, right? Thinking about my lack of aptitude for this aspect of my career undermines my confidence. I feel utterly stupid. This past winter it got so bad I almost gave up writing altogether. After all, what’s the point if no one will read it?

Yet, the pressure to build an email contact list and to use it for promotion has not gone away. I still feel the “need” to write. I want people to read what I write. I want to make the occasional sale, to get the odd review, to see that someone bought the second or even third book after enjoying the first.

The extremity of my problem recently came to the attention of a friend. She, a hybrid writer, both traditionally and self-published, discovered and extolled the virtues of BookFunnel as a tool for building an email list.

I mentioned my phobia to her and how my lack of aptitude held me back. “Oh, it’s pretty easy,” she said, “I’ll help you set up MailChimp and get you started on BookFunnel”. I could have hugged her. In fact, I think I did hug her. We set a date. I worried, lost sleep, and my anxiety grew until the appointed time.

When we began to work through registering on MailChimp and creating my email list, she sat beside me and coached me every step of the way. It took some time and we encountered a couple of minor setbacks but we got both the MailChimp and BookFunnel sites set up.

Afterward she remarked that she had never seen anyone so uptight, that I sat with my shoulders hunched, had trouble finding files because I was so anxious and seemed frozen at times. But she also told me that I had needed far less help than she anticipated.

This was the first time, with the possible exception of the friend who helps me with my website (thank you Carolyn) and saw some of this, that anyone had actually witnessed just how extreme my fear was, and how crippling it is. In a way, it was a relief to have this acknowledged. Somehow I felt less alone with it. Jane Ann, I think I love you.

Now I have registered for two promotions on BookFunnel and in order to do my part I must write and post a newsletter on MailChimp to promote them.  There is, obviously, a deadline involved. My wonderful friend has offered to come back and coach me through that part of the process. That means that I will follow through, this time at least. I hope I succeed in growing my email list. I hope I gain some new interest in my work. I hope that the results will build my confidence enough that I will continue to follow through with newsletters and promotions.

Will it work? Will my anxiety dissipate enough so that I actually am able to carry on with this? Only time will tell. Wish me luck. I think I’ll need it. But Rome wasn’t built in a day – was it?

Author: Yvonne Hertzberger

Yvonne Hertzberger is a native of the Netherlands who immigrated to Canada in 1950. She is an alumna of The University of Waterloo, with degrees in psychology and Sociology. Her Fantasy trilogy, ‘Earth’s Pendulum’ has been well received. Learn more about Yvonne at her blog and her Amazon author page.

37 thoughts on “One Indie Author’s Techno-Terror and Promo-Phobia”

  1. Ugh – I had no idea you experienced such anxiety, Yvonne. I wonder, perhaps the problem is that you’re not doing what you enjoy?
    I agree that some technical knowledge is necessary, but what if you promoted your work through more face-to-face interaction?
    When it comes to promotion I’m hopeless, but I wonder if maybe you couldn’t talk to your local bookshop, maybe do a reading? Or the library? Anywhere that you can be with people instead of technology?

    Anyway, thanks for making me feel guilty about not having a newsletter. :p

    1. Thank you. I do sell more books face-to-face than through media. Hence I sell more paper than e-books. But the reach is too narrow. I have offered readings to the library here. They seem reluctant – possibly because I am self-published and they still live in the Dark Ages.

      And you’re welcome. lol

  2. Yvonne, I saw your book situated alongside mine for the Epic Worlds promotion. I cheered when I saw it! I know your series rocks. The exposure you will gain from the cross promotion will help tremendously. So many writers feel the same way as you do. The indie path is a tough one, one that drives many back into the traditional fold. The learning curve is steep and the journey can be very lonely. But it is only as lonely as we make it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those who are nailing the social media and advertising aspects. One thing I have found is that the indie spirit is very generous. There is a helping hand out there, you only need to ask 🙂

  3. I am so a member of your club, Yvonne, perhaps even a charter member. Believe me, you’re not alone. Whenever I even think about that stuff, out comes the Advil, aspirin, Naproxen… Well, you know. For me, part of it is … I just don’t know what to write. I can work on several novels at a time, but when I think about having to write posts on a timely basis …. ugh! Thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one.

  4. 🙂 You’re welcome. That entire (unfortunately necessary) aspect of being an author really freaks me out. Half the time, with computers, I just push buttons till I get what I want. Needless to say, it doesn’t always work.

  5. Hello Yvonne
    There are many of us. I can add to the technophobia. I just don’t like marketing. It bores me. It’s dull. It’s not creative. I was not born into this world for business purposes. You have given me a prod though. I am tempted to go for Mailchimp and Bookfunnel. I am trying to whip up some enthusiasm. If you have the time it would be useful to know if you have gained any extra book sales.

  6. I don’t have technophobia, but I do have a very high resistance to sending out emails to a list. I suffer from the exact same symptom of extreme procrastination — even though I’m someone who literally worked for years in direct mail publishing writing letters to sell books! I’ll put it off even though there are things I’d like my 200 or so email subscribers to learn about first, even when essentially breaking a promise to them if I DON’T share something with them first.
    It would probably take weeks of therapy to uncover the true reason for this, but my best guess is that it’s some combination of feeling I’m intruding on people, or fear I’m not being authentic, or just plain not wanting to get depressed when all I hear in response are crickets.
    Anyway, you’re definitely not alone!

  7. Yvonne, it’s really a testament to your will and drive that you have done as much as you have. Computer understanding seems to be one of those things that are either built-in, or not, and I know for those who weren’t born with it, it’s a constant struggle. I applaud your effort, and I believe you’ve accomplished a lot. I hope you won’t let your own self-doubt diminish your successes.

    1. Thank you, Melissa. You’re right. It is a constant struggle and those who don’t share it don’t “get it”. Some days I AM proud of what I’ve done. Others it just feels like too much to face. But I am a fighter. I keep crawling back. And I am so grateful to all those that have supported, coached, and helped me.

  8. We are kindred spirits, Yvonne. I have overcome some of my fear of trying new things, but the procrastination is still there. One of these days, I’m going to try all the ‘new’ things I’ve read about. By then, they’ll be ‘old’ things, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll be successful anyway.

  9. Kudos to you for stepping out there and getting it done in spite of your techno-terror. That’s not easy to do, and it’s quite an accomplishment! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Melinda. Just an hour ago I posted my first newsletter on MailChimp about the two promos I am in on BookFunnel. My finger hovered over that send button for a long time before I had the courage to hit “send”. I expect it will slowly get easier as I am more familiar with the process. In the meantime…..
      Life is for learning and growing.

  10. Yvonne, I don’t have techno-terror or promo-phobia, rather I am not enthusiastic about marketing. I do it in a happenstance fashion because I know I must. I find it a very frustrating exercise as it pulls me away from writing which I love. And I’m never sure if my efforts will result in more sales, which is what every writer wants. It’s so difficult to switch hats, but you and I are not alone. Every creative person finds this an enormous challenge.

    Thank you for your thoughts. Wishing you much success.

  11. When I started out four years ago, I was gung ho. Designed my website, started a blog, wrote articles, interviewed authors, participated in countless online writers’ group, followed all the tips for developing my Amazon page, learned about formatting eBooks. I did blog tours, Facebook parties, Goodreads’ events, and supported other authors–the whole nine yards.

    Then, little by little, the indie author’s life eroded. It started with Kindle Unlimited and culminated in punishment with the loss or reviews. Ads became more difficult to secure and more expensive. FREE books became the norm of the day. Even expecting a reader to pay $0.99 was too much! Along with the decline, reviews turned nastier. In essence, the party was over and the fun ended.

    I’m not techno-phobic, but I am promo-phobic. It hardly seems worth the effort to me anymore. If I sound slightly bitter, I’m not; I’m just disappointed at the way self-publishing deteriorated into what it did. I’m sure there are a lot of successful indies out there who never give up. I’d tip my hat, but I threw mine into the self-publishing ring, where it’s lying somewhere, trampled.

    On the positive side, I’ll never regret my journey or the wonderful writers I’ve met along the way, many of them right here on Indies Unlimited. Group hug! 🙂

    1. You told my story, Linda. 🙂 For me, the best part of the journey has been all the wonderful writers I’ve met. Maybe there will come a day when I’ll crawl out of my cave and start promoting again.

  12. Great article, Yvonne. I read it with a “insider’s” delight. It was a pleasure to help you – you’re a quick study and much better than you give yourself credit for. This, however, is where you excel – you have knack for striking a chord with others – probably because you’re so courageous about revealing your vulnerability. And yes, I will see you next week to help you download all those new readers on your Bookfunnel account onto your Mailchimp list!

  13. Give yourself a little credit lady, when we first began to work on your website you told me you’d never be able to do anything for yourself, but you’ve overcome so much anxiety and now you can do loads of things. Just take that ‘ought’ and ‘should’ language out of the mix and do things because you choose to! Good luck with the newsletter!

    1. Thanks Carolyn. If it weren’t for you I wouldn’t have that beautiful website. I do learn, yes, but the anxiety makes it so stressful full of anxiety when I do that it takes me ten times as long as the average person. Thanks to you and Jane Ann for having my back.

  14. I’m a total techno-phobe and promo-phobe. Thanks for sharing. Great article. Made me feel better about my anxiety to know other indie writers feel the same way.

  15. Oh Yvonne, Yvonne, you are so not alone. I am a Luddite. If it is made of wood I can probably operate it; I wouldn’t be able to use a computer if Macs hadn’t come along. I fully understand the frustration of not “getting it.” My solution has been to keep asking anyone who has done whatever I need to do to please help me and take payment for it. It’s still not so good as doing it myself (things do get lost in the translation), but I would never get anywhere in a technological environment without the help of others.

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