Are You Too Scared to Sell Yourself?

I am.

The illustration below is by the renowned and redoubtable Victor Juhasz. It expresses exactly the way I feel when a book is done and it’s time to get out and sell it.

Resistance at Marketing Time

Arrrrrgggh!

For the past few months I’ve been working full-time promoting my just-published novel, A Man at Arms, and I have to tell you … I am waaaay out of my comfort zone. No doubt you guys yourselves are a little pissed-off at me for the various promo e-mails and pop-ups you’ve seen on this blog and in your Inbox, not to mention Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, podcasts, and everything else I can think of.

Here’s how I feel about it. I don’t see it as selfish (though no doubt there are self-interested elements in there.) For me, it’s about fidelity to the book and, especially, to the characters.

There is no worse feeling for a writer or any artist than to see their book, their film, their comedy, their music go out there and die. Or worse, go out into the world and nobody even knows they exist. I’ve experienced it more than once and it’s heartbreaking.

So I’m promoting A Man at Arms. I want its lead character, the solitary mercenary of the ancient world, Telamon of Arcadia, to have his day in the sun. I want the little girl Ruth to get her moment to shine. If readers don’t respond, so be it. I did the best I could. These characters did the best they could.

But what is unforgivable for me as their champion is to let them sink beneath the waves with no one even knowing that they stood up and acted.

So I’m promoting A Man at Arms.

It’s not my natural way. The enterprise is decidedly not in my wheelhouse. But Resistance works its destruction at marketing time too, just as it does in the writing itself. 

I can’t yield to its sabotage of me and of the characters who have come out of me.

So I apologize, you guys, if I’m flogging my stuff to you too blatantly.

But this is the game today. I have to embrace it for my stuff and you do for yours.

We can’t let ourselves be too scared to sell ourselves.

DO THE WORK

Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

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THE AUTHENTIC SWING

A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.

The-Authentic-Swing

NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T

Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.

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TURNING PRO

Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"

Turning-Pro

A Man At Arms is
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31 Comments

  1. Joe on March 3, 2021 at 5:16 am

    No apologies required. People are cheering from the stands.

  2. Mary Doyle on March 3, 2021 at 6:03 am

    We’re rooting for you, as always!

    • Joe on March 3, 2021 at 7:56 am

      Agreed, Mary. Pass the peanuts.

    • Peter Brockwell on March 3, 2021 at 2:30 pm

      No need to apologise, but it’s lovely that you did. Especially in this world that is so merciless and combative.

      All these fine people in your tribe, Brian, Joe, Mary, and the others, show up every week to root for you, to belong and learn and grow, and to be inspired and edified, and even entertained. Every one has already said everything so I’ll shut up.

  3. Brian Nelson on March 3, 2021 at 7:16 am

    I have found it to be as instructive and inspirational as any of your books or blog posts. I even mentioned this to Joe last week, “Damn, Steve is really out hustling for this launch!”

    It demonstrates to us that the work is not done with ‘The End’. No matter how great the writing, the story, the impact it will have on an individual reader–all of that does not happen without someone actually reading the book.

    There is so much noise–even in a mostly digital detox–that your loyal fans might not remember the book is for sale.

    I have been taking notes. It is also a demonstration of true humility. It is not a publicist team that is pimping the ride, but Steven f-bomb Pressfield himself who is out hustling, doing podcasts, creating incentives, responding to content.

    I, for one, haven’t been annoyed. I have watched with great attention. So this is how a book becomes a best seller!

    I also think that ‘A Man at Arms’ might bring in 1000s of new readers. Then they read ‘War of Art’, the blog. Then they, too, become better people.

    Basically you’ve demonstrated that to do good in the world, we need to fight for our very lives. It doesn’t just happen.
    Thank you for the continued lessons.
    bsn

    • Joe on March 3, 2021 at 7:55 am

      There you go. Good comments.

    • Sam Luna on March 3, 2021 at 8:08 am

      Well said, Brian. Ditto.

  4. Tamlin Barlowe on March 3, 2021 at 8:45 am

    You, Sir, MUST toot your own horn.😁

  5. Maureen Anderson on March 3, 2021 at 8:54 am

    Oh, Steve. I never thought of marketing this way — giving your baby a shot at a good life out there in the world. Thanks.

    You remind me what Sculptural Firebowl creator John T. Unger once said: “The business side of art is also an art.”

    Do you get the feeling the more you cop to how difficult this (life!) is, the more we love you? I deleted “love” just now and substituted “admire.” Then I thought, “No. If Steve’s brave enough to share what he just did, I can admit I love him for that.”

    • Brian Nelson on March 3, 2021 at 12:07 pm

      Maureen,
      Good for you! Agree 100%.
      bsn

  6. Chuck DeBettignies on March 3, 2021 at 10:24 am

    Since you have something that will make their life better (probably in many ways), you’re morally obligated to “proclaim your good news” from the rooftops. To fail to do so, would be to deny them an opportunity to benefit.
    If you sell excellent food, and there are hungry people passing by, it would be wrong to be shy and let them go hungry!

    • Diane Barron on March 6, 2021 at 1:09 pm

      I agree , shout it from the roof tops ! I just thank God you did or I would never have found you.

    • Bojan on March 11, 2021 at 10:14 pm

      Well said…

  7. Brian Nelson on March 3, 2021 at 12:17 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this all morning as I’ve walked my dogs, listened to another podcast, and shared some texts between another Writing Wednesday’s acolyte.

    I did notice how hard Steve is working to sell ‘A Man at Arms’. It is totally different than ’36 Righteous Men’ or “The Knowledge” in approach.

    I think it might be even more instructive to blog about this change in greater detail. Why did you change tactics? Is the book more important to you? In my opinion, “A Man at Arms” is the best fiction I’ve read since…well, hard to say. This might be the best yet. So was it the product?

    Was it a recognition that the 20th Century marketing model is dead? To be honest, I accidentally came across SP Instagram page–saw how much content is there–and realized, “SHIT! If a true professional, a best selling author, someone of Steven Pressfield’s reputation, gravitas, and acclaim is ‘wasting time on Instagram’…well, then, maybe it is NOT A WASTE OF TIME NELSON!!!”

    I just launched my own website, and due to SP’s model–have a LinkedIn page, working on a Facebook, and will also try to figure out Instagram. Where are the Millennials when I need [email protected]?!?!?

    Anyway, instead of apologizing–which that authenticity is probably why 95% of us show up here, this might be another lesson for all bubbling creatives out here. I despise social media–and maybe that disgust is simply Resistance showing me that I’m more afraid than angry.

    I would love a ‘In the Trenches’ series about the change in marketing efforts with “A Man at Arms”, and then to conclude the series–maybe some cold hard data on how the change improved the sale!

    Just thinking…
    bsn

  8. Harriet on March 3, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    As an introverted musician I find this approach really helps with performing (it’s not about me, it’s about sharing great music with the world that I think deserves to be heard). But I’d never before thought about applying this to writing or other types of marketing too. Now I hope I will. Thanks.

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  10. Aaron Lambert on March 5, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    There are few things I dislike as much as marketing myself or even my work.
    Steven, you do it with such natural style and class, I’m amazed to find that even a pro like you struggles with it. Thanks, as always, for the honesty. As you (rightfully) lift up A Man At Arms before the world, you’re also providing the inspiration and motivation for me face my own resistance in this area!

  11. Diane Barron on March 6, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    Your thinking is a ray of sunshine. There is no other like you, a great teacher and a great writer. Thank you

  12. seth godin on March 8, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    And it gave us another chance to talk. Bravo, Steve.

    Thanks for leading.

  13. David Griggs on March 8, 2021 at 1:49 pm

    I applaud your marketing efforts for this book. Here’s what it did for me. I have been a fan of War of Art for a few years, but hadn’t read any of your fiction yet. I’ve subscribed the the blog for the better part of the year of Covid. My own writing got stuck in a resistance rut over the past few months. Well, let’s be honest, constantly over most of my life! But I listened to your interviews recently with Lex Friedman, Tim Ferris and Rich Roll (all great!). I got the emails about the early offers on the book. I bought a signed copy from Vroman’s (on the way!) and bought The Knowledge, which I’m really enjoying reading now. There is something about your story, your hero’s journey and artist’s journey, that speak to me. I’m getting back to that novel, and looking forward to reading more of your work. So, keep up the marketing!

  14. John Vena on March 12, 2021 at 8:17 am

    Read it. Loved it. Will never forget Telamon, David or Ruth. I think when someone creates – like you have – a compelling story and characters of such pungency (can I say that?) they don’t sink below the waves ever. Well done, sir! Thank you.

  15. Steven Reynolds on March 12, 2021 at 10:00 am

    Cheers Steve – just finished A Man at Arms in two days. Reminded me of Pilgrim’s Progress:

    ENJOY THE CHALLENGE!
    “The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence,” said Jesus, “and violent men take it by force.” Matthew 11:12

    Pilgrim’s Progress

    “Then the Interpreter took Christian and led him up toward the door of the palace; and behold, at the door stood a great company of men, as desirous to go in, but dared not. There also sat a man at a little distance from the door, at a table-side, with a book and his inkhorn before him, to take the names of them that should enter therein; he saw also that in the doorway stood many men in armor to keep it, being resolved to do the men that would enter what hurt and mischief they could.

    Now was Christian somewhat in amaze.

    At last, when every man fell back for fear of the armed men, Christian saw a man of very stout countenance come up to the man that sat there to write, saying, “Set down my name, sir,” the which when he had done, he saw the man draw his sword, and put a helmet upon his head, and rush toward the door upon the armed men, who laid upon him with deadly force; but the man, not at all discouraged, fell to cutting and hacking most fiercely.
    So after he had received and given many wounds to those that attempted to keep him out, he cut his way through them all, and pressed forward into the palace.” – John Bunyan

    “If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong in the broken places.” Ernest Hemingway

    Another wounded healers – Steve

  16. Linda Gardner on March 13, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    Steve, Steve, it is impossible not to love you. Somebody has to be the first one off the plank. When I am circling the “Bad Writer!” drain for the third time I remember to play “The War..” CD on the way home from my non-writing job that actually pays a near-living wage and soon I am laughing and feeling fine.
    Your honesty is all that has kept me going many a time. Don’t stop. Annoy the Hell out of us. It never occurred to me that we owe the characters as well as ourselves.
    Sail on, my friend. You remain a critical discernible light in a world that is all to happy to try and pull itself up by stepping on anything we might try to do. Which endeavor requires more courage?

  17. geometry dash on March 16, 2021 at 2:54 am

    I think myself is invaluable so protect it at all costs, don’t allow anyone to take me out as a trade. That is stupid.

  18. John Wolcott on March 18, 2021 at 7:07 pm

    Self-promotion – it’s an obstacle I have to overcome every day as a creative who inherently feels self-promotion equals selling out.

  19. Barbara L Newton-Holmes on March 26, 2021 at 9:04 am

    Go, Steve!

  20. solitr online on April 7, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    The illustration below is by the renowned and redoubtable Victor Juhasz. It expresses exactly the way I feel when a book is done and it’s time to get out and sell it.

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    Hello,I really like your thoughts, as an introvert person I have never thought about this before, but it seems to me that now I will listen to your idea. Such thoughts help me to stop and think about who I am. Its so important to do it sometimes. Thank you, keep creating further! I think your thoughts are very deep and they can help people, so dont stop!

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  23. Michael Embry on May 30, 2021 at 6:57 am

    I know and feel the pain. Good luck!

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