106. How Modesty Is Costing You Book Sales

If you’re reluctant to talk about yourself and your achievements publicly, you’re not alone.

Most of us—especially those socialized as women—have been taught not to hog the spotlight.

But here’s the thing: if you want to reach more readers and sell more books, you’re going to have to do some bragging. There’s just no way around it.

In this episode, discover what effective bragging looks like and why you should learn to embrace it.

For more writing tips and inspiration, follow me on Instagram @candiceldavis.

Mentioned in This Episode

Authors Ignited: Group Coaching Program for Nonfiction Authors

Jump-Start: A free guide to help you jump-start your nonfiction book.

Complete Author Coaching (1:1 Coaching)

Allison Lane of Alison Lane Literary

Bree Caroll of B Carroll Events

Episode Transcript

Hey there, and welcome to Nothing but the Words, I’m your book coach Candice L Davis. I hope your week and your writing are both going exceptionally well. 

Recently, I was speaking to a couple of different colleagues on different occasions, talking about the marketing and selling of books. 

And if you haven’t even finished writing your book yet, hold on, this still applies to you. 

If you’re publishing with a traditional publisher, if you’re publishing independently, if republishing with a hybrid publisher, this still applies to you. 

We were talking about the fact that most authors wait very late in the process to start promoting their books and that backed us into a conversation about how most authors don’t celebrate their accomplishments in other areas of their personal or professional life in a public way, in order to sort of prepare people for their books. 

So let me give you an idea of what I’m talking about. 

If an author is publishing articles in prestigious magazines, for example, that’s something they might want to share with their audience. Whether that’s via email, or social media, even if the audience never clicks to look at the article, it positions that author as an expert. 

“Oh, wow, they published in Harvard Business Review,” right? 

That’s prestigious, it’s impressive, it positions them as an expert, but only if they tell people about it. 

So if you have been reluctant to brag about your accomplishments, if you think they’re irrelevant to the book that you’re writing, or if you just don’t want to do it, know that I can relate. 

You’re not alone. 

Like me, many authors are introverts, they are just not accustomed to constantly talking about themselves, or their accomplishments. 

Other authors who are traditionally publishing, or even publishing with a hybrid publisher, have this fantasy that the publisher will do all the promoting and marketing for their book. 

This is 100% not true. It is just not going to happen. 

In addition, our culture really warns us against bragging, right? We’re taught not to brag because our accomplishments could make somebody else feel bad if they didn’t do the same thing. 

We’re taught not to brag, because it makes us look like we’re big headed and stuck up and we think we’re too good for everybody else. 

Women especially have been taught not to toot our own horn—we don’t want to be seen as thinking too much of ourselves. 

This is a problem for authors. 

It’s a problem because you have got to be able to talk about yourself and your work. 

You’ve got to be able to get eyes on you in some way—doesn’t have to be about your personal life, necessarily, it could be if you’re writing a memoir, but it doesn’t have to be. 

And here are a few reasons why. 

One reason is that you need to be building visibility now, not just when your book comes out. 

There is never a time where it’s too soon to start building your visibility. 

If your book’s coming out five years from now, you could successfully be growing your platform and expanding your visibility right now. 

My friend Allison Lane of Alison Lane Literary helps authors sell more books. 

She always encourages authors to start their promotions no later than six months before their pre-orders begin. 

So if pre-orders for your book are starting six months before your book is published, then you need to be promoting a year before your book is published. At the latest. 

It’s never too late so don’t freak out if you’ve waited, but she’s talking about best practices. 

Part of that promotion is not just saying, “Hey, I got a book coming out, Hey, I got a book coming out, Hey, I got a book coming out,” but doing other things to build your visibility and that includes telling the world about some of your accomplishments. 

It includes bragging, my friend. You can do this by sharing valuable content on your platform, right? 

That shows off your knowledge. 

That’s not necessarily saying “hey, I did something great,” but just showing off your knowledge and your experiences. 

And also by bragging about your speaking engagements, your media appearances, including podcasts you might appear on, bragging about your successes at work, or in your business. 

Bragging about new courses you’ve completed or certifications you’ve obtained, degrees you’ve gotten, bragging about personal successes. 

Depending on what you’re writing about, you know, you may brag about running a 5K or brag about finally successfully baking a chocolate souffle. 

I don’t know. Whatever is relevant to you and your audience. 

You can brag about the other products and services you offer and the results your clients are getting there.

Brag about the lessons you’ve learned today, or last week, or 20 years ago. And brag about the articles or essays, or stories you’ve published.

You don’t have to have all of these. They won’t even be all relevant to you or to your blog or to your audience. 

My point is that you are accomplishing things in your life, and you need to be sharing that with the world. 

Recently, one of my brilliant coaching clients Bree Caroll of B Carroll Events, the only event strategist that I can wholeheartedly recommend, posted on Instagram, a celebration. She was celebrating her 146th, I can’t say it, 146th post on Instagram for her business. 

Nott 150, not 100, like most of us would do, although most of us would celebrate nothing along those lines—but like many of us would do. 

But 146 she just picked a day to celebrate. 

It was a demonstration of consistency for her. 

It’s not a round number, but it means that she has continued to show up for her business in the public eye. 

So you can brag about the big things, but you can also brag about the small things and that bragging can look like a celebration often it should. 

It’s not about putting anyone else down. 

It’s about sharing what you have accomplished. 

Another reason you should brag about what you’re doing is because there’s so much noise out there. 

We are constantly consuming information. 

If you say a thing one time, the likelihood is that most people in your audience will not see it, they will not hear it, they will not take it in. 

So you’ve got to say it more than once—you say it multiple times in multiple places. 

Share the link to the article you published through your email, on your personal social media platforms, on your professional social media platforms. 

When you post your own podcast, when you go on other people’s podcasts. You gotta make noise to be heard over all the other noise out there. 

Also, people don’t just want to hear about your book, they want to hear about you and/or your expertise and your interests. 

That allows you to create connections with people before your book even gets published. 

It positions you as an expert, and it generates interest in what else you got going on. What you got coming up. 

And that will be your book eventually. 

Lastly, talking about your other accomplishments is good practice for when your book comes out and you need to talk about it. 

You will be talking about your book probably a lot more than you talk about the article you publish or the podcast you appeared on, or the number of episodes you’ve released of your own podcast. 

Your book is a big thing and you’ll be talking about it for a long time in a lot of different ways. 

And the more practice you have of celebrating yourself, talking about your accomplishments, pulling lessons in insights from those accomplishments to share with other people, the easier it will be for you to talk about your book. 

You don’t have to brag all the time, friends, you can tell stories about your missteps and your mistakes too, of course. 

No one wants to follow the perfect anymore, right? 

We’re used to humans having a bit of transparency in the media these days, whether they want to or not. 

So you don’t have to brag all the time, you can share the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

But you do have to brag. 

You do have to let people know what you’re doing, what you’re accomplishing, and why they should listen to you. Give them a reason, and you’ll give them a reason to buy your book. 

That’s all for this week’s episode, my friends. 

Thanks for listening to nothing but the words. I’m your book coach Candice L Davis, and I’ll see you next time.

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