Pimping the Product

One of my most enthusiastic readers.

We writers aren’t allowed to be introverts anymore.

Back in the day, a writer was a man most times (women were home frying the bacon and changing the diapers) with thick dark hair that he pulled with one hand as he wrote down his words furiously on paper with his special pen.

Then that man walked dejectedly to the local pub or bar and drank away his creative problems. Somehow, he produced a masterpiece with a good editor, and then his publisher made sure the book sold tens of thousands of that hard-earned tome.

Those were the good ole days.

Now men and women write on fast-paced computers, editing with a keystroke, and banging their heads against the monitor between washing the sheets and emptying the dishwasher.

That’s the best part of being a writer. The part when she is alone with her thoughts and the dirty laundry.

But once the masterpiece is written – the thriller or the romance, the children’s book or the mystery – her delightful solitude is over, as is her romanticized notion of her writing ego.

Time to pimp the product.

Birds of Paradise, book dessert, truffles, author and illustrator

Me (in red) with illustrator Shelley Steinle at book signing with a “chocolate nest.”

I hate sounding so cynical, because the last thing I am is a cynic.

What I am is …. Scared.

People scoff when I tell them I’m an introvert. I’m not quiet or shy (well, I am, but I hide it well). I work with people and laugh and join in social activities.

But secretly, I fantasize that I’m back home with my characters and keyboard.

But in this day and age, the majority of authors don’t have agents or publishers selling their next best book.

We authors need to do that ourselves.

The social media ‘stuff’ isn’t so bad – after all, we can still tweet in the privacy of our writing space.

But then it’s time for book signings and talks to book clubs and libraries and book stores and schools.

It’s time to pimp.

I wince when I send out e-mail notices to my friends from East Coast to West, shouting out my newest publishing news. Birds of Paradise! Ages 3 and Up! Not only do many of them buy my book for their children/grandchildren/nieces/nephews/neighbor’s kid next door, they write me letters and e-mail me how much they L O V E Bert and Bessie.

Birds of Paradise, children's illustrated book, young reader

A friend sends me a photo of her grandson who is enamored with this book.

(Please, I beg silently, write a review on Amazon then!)

They send me photos of their grandchildren dragging the book to bed, unable to let it go (please, I think quietly, write a review on Amazon).

They buy more books to give as gifts for birthdays and Mother’s Day and “just because.” (Yay, please, please write a review on Amazon).

In the meantime, I fly to Tuscaloosa AL and, with my illustrator, sign and sell dozens and dozens of books at the bookstore Ernest & Hadley. People gush over the story and drawings – (please, go home and review the book, I plead silently).

Ernest & Hadley, book signing

Book signing at Ernest & Hadley.

Because in the end, the amount of books sold depends on the amount of people who learn about our product.

This week, I suck in my fear of extroverting and talk at local libraries about “Publishing My Children’s Tale…and Tail.” Attendees are sweet and complimentary and buy copies with enthusiasm.

Do I dare ask them at the end: “Please, write a review!” Or is that just pimping?

write a book review, Amazon, thank an author

114 thoughts on “Pimping the Product

  1. I love the promoting, visiting bookstores, libraries and schools. Getting reviews is the tough part. Sounds like your book is doing well. Keep up the good work!!

    • Well Darlene, the very best part of getting out of my introvert-ness is making so many friends in the blogging world-like you! I made up the term pimping the product because it’s pretty edgy and it shows how difficult I think it is for most of us writers. I wish I had your ease with standing in front of groups and talking. I actually enjoy it once it begins because the attendees are generally really “with us” and ask lots of great questions. But it’s the getting there that gives me the shivers. :-9

  2. As an introvert who is frequently mistaken for an extrovert, I hear you. Not published anything yet so haven’t experienced this first hand, but pretty sure I’ll feel exactly like you. Good luck with the pimping!

    • Your review is absolutely lovely, Jill! I didn’t realize that you had bought Birds of Paradise. But yes any bird lover would love Bert and Bessie. Thank you thank you. By the way, we are getting many hummingbirds this season! You also? Oh, and PS. I just read an article that hummingbirds love to nest near hawks. Hawks do not eat hummingbirds because they’re too small to make it worthwhile for them. But other predators of hummingbirds stay away because they don’t want to be near the Hawks. 😳😏😉

      • You plus birds…how could I not buy your book, Pam! It’s wonderful! I’m happy to hear your hummers have arrived. We’ve had a lot of action so far, but still only have one feeder out. We’ll be putting out another one in June. Those hummers are smart, aren’t they? They know how to stay safe. Enjoy your weekend! ❤

        • I think there is no such thing as a ‘bird brain’ in the negative sense. I think the birds are very smart. We added a really colorful pink and orange and red hanging basket, and the hummers are really going after that too. 🌸

  3. I too am an introvert, mistaken for an extrovert. And while I thoroughly enjoy the book readings, book club discussions, panels on self publishing, social media and all the rest, I must take time to reenergize myself. And I do that at home, alone. What I hate about this marketing side of the business is the asking, the seeking, the pushing. And so, because it’s so easy to not do it, I don’t. Not anymore. I write. And if asked, I’m happy to oblige. I don’t sell as many books, but I’m content.

    • I think you have the right attitude, Janet. And for the most part that’s where I’m going also. As you say, it’s fun to talk about our books to book groups or schools or other writers who want to hear about our publishing process. But pimping pimping pimping is just not comfortable. 🙃

  4. It’s something none of us ever expected we’d have to do as writers. I’m sure most of us thought we’d write a book and then get on with the next one without having to learn about marketing and promotion. Good luck with the pimping.

    • You are so right, Mary. Would we have even began this path to being authors if we’d known about the marketing aspect? I’m not sure about that. But I do know that I believe in my books so I get myself out there as much as I can without being too uncomfortable. 👍😘

  5. It looks like your book is doing well, Pam. Good luck with getting reviews!!
    My published books so far have been academic books–most have been reviewed by journals and such–but few reader reviews. I’ve received a few good ones (and messages and stories from people who have been inspired by them), but honestly, most of the the reader reviews have been just weird or even nasty, and I doubt if the people even read the book.
    I don’t think I’m an introvert, but I’m shy and never taken for an extrovert. 🙂 Public events are definitely anxiety-producing for me.

    • And yet, Merril,, you do get yourself out there to book signings etc. which is very impressive. Whether our books are nonfiction or fiction, they still come from a place within us and take a lot of time and effort and love. It’s difficult for us to ask for a review even from those who tell us how great the book is! I think we writers are just naturally humble. 🤓

  6. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Reviews make a difference in an authors life! It takes less than 5 minutes to write a couple of sentences and can make an author smile from ear to ear. Pam’s blog post today is a really cute way to ask for them. If you love a book, tell them on Amazon or Goodreads, or both… an extra minute to copy and paste.

    • Smiling, Arlene. I certainly do try to be a “socially adapted introvert.” But when it gets to be too much, I just close the door and hide in my writing space for as long as I can. 😳💕

  7. I follow many writers and I don’t think it’s a bad idea to ask (or beg) for reviews. Non-writers do not understand the power of the number of reviews received. Once they understand that, many are willing to give one even if it’s a simple paragraph.

    • Yes-a simple paragraph can definitely do the trick. I think you’re right. A lot of readers do not understand that the more reviews a writer receives on Amazon, the more their book moves up in line and receives more attention. Thus, good books should get as much attention (reviews) as possible! 🤗

  8. I think for my next order of author swag (bookmarks, postcards, etc.), I might include an order for bookmarks that ask for a review and tell the reader where to go to leave one. I might even include some short tips for writing a review. Then pop it into each book that is sold and the reader takes home a visual reminder of the importance of reviews. What do you think?

  9. I agree with you Pamela…whole heartedly…most humbly…I agree! Readers don’t think like writers though. My daughter is a voracious reader and must have read thousands of books, many of which she liked too but NOT a single review! Would you believe that I asked her to write a review of my book and she just smiled it away? Would you believe that she doesn’t buy a product or book a hotel without reading a review? I must discuss this with her…I have tried at times but her little children always come to her rescue…always butting in with their own questions and the conversation gets drowned…
    I love your creative way of emphasising the point… ‘Readers, please consider writing a review!’

    • Perhaps you could share my blog post with your daughter, Balroop! You make such a fun valid point. Many in their 20s and 30s review so many things like their hotel room or their meal at a restaurant, but don’t realize that it’s even more important to review a book!! Good luck. 🍀

  10. Oh, so many of us are in the same boat, Pam! I’m in introvert, too, and even find promotion on social media difficult. I’m still at the stage in writing where each review is a gift, and I’m through the roof with thankfulness. Besides the friendships on social media, I find it the best source of reviews because we understand how hard it is. 🙂

    • Yes, as much as I fought the idea of going on social media like Facebook to share with friends about my writing projects and accomplishments, I have suddenly found that high school and college friends are so supportive and buy my books and cheer me on. Now, we just have to get them to understand that we also need them to write a review! 😉

  11. It’s never easy, is it? There’s so much more I could do in the way of promotion, but I shy away from it. But as you point out, gone are the days we can do that. Like you, I’m not comfortable asking for reviews. I did it once when someone told me they really liked my book, and I felt icky about it for days. Haven’t done it since. But companies ask for reviews all the time. Some even send us emails after we order their product. Not sure why we have to feel so weird about it as authors.

    • I have learned a lot from you Carrie as you published and quietly promoted your excellent books of fiction and also wrote a blog that so many followed. And I also like seeing what you do on Twitter. Yes, most authors I think are a bit shy and introverted, so it’s really difficult for us to put ourselves and our work out there. But I don’t think we have a choice anymore!

  12. I do love this post with all my heart. Like every other author, I do my best with marketing … but my effort with the latest book is a fail. So many other more tempting things to to than promote your own book. Serves me right, but how bittersweet are all those compliments…

    • I go back-and-forth Rachel. On some days I just feel like no I’m just not going to talk about my books anymore; on other days I brave the fear and discomfort and make my self promote through my blog or Twitter or even Instagram. The nice thing is that I truly have only received good responses when I do that. The bad thing is I still hate doing it. 🤓

      • Sometimes the moment I rebel in writing (as in ‘the woman who wants to fail: me’) — that releases me and I quietly make a little marketing gesture.

  13. As one who will be eventually “pimping” a book I understand your hesitancy, but no I don’t think it is wrong to ask.
    I believe many would be glad to do ir its just not something they think about.

    • For sure, non- writers don’t think about the importance of writing a review at all.
      Many writers are just so busy that they forget to take the time to support each other by reading each others books, and then writing a review. Totally understandable. Good luck with your pimping!

    • Yes, yes, yes! Artists also have to go through the same thing. My book’s illustrator, Shelley, has just been asked to do a show with her illustrations from my book as well as others she has done. Promoting the show is pure torture for her. But she deserves the attention so much! Good luck to your friend!

  14. LOL! First time I’ve heard that expression in relationship to promoting a new book. That’s why you create your platform in advance of publication. You’ve done that. I have no doubt you’ll find your way and have a great time sharing your book!

    • I shivered when I decided to use this title, Patricia. I’m usually a family centered blog. But I guess I felt strong enough about the subject that I allowed those words to be used-plus it was great alliteration. 😏

  15. I think it is okay to suggest that your readers write a review, as long as you make it clear that they can choose whether they are comfortable doing that or not. (Some people may rather not.) But I think most of your readers simply don’t realize how much that helps writers.

    • All true, Ann. I have had several friends who have bought my book and love it, but have admitted to me that they are quite intimidated about the idea of writing a review on Amazon. I guess we writers don’t realize how difficult that could be to non-writers.

  16. Getting the story out there is the easy part, Pam. I’d like to go back to the old days where publishers did all the work, but they don’t even do that anymore for their best-sellers. It seems everyone has to pimp now days and it’s a real slog. Well done with all those great reviews and keep up the good work xxx

    • Thanks Dianne. You are so correct. I follow some of my favorite authors on Twitter and Facebook and notice how much they promote right before and during the introduction of a new book. And then they tweet and put comments on Facebook just to keep themselves in front of their readers between books. On the other hand, I think some of the really successful authors have marketing people doing that for them. 😏

  17. It isn’t pimping- it’s called product promotion and I would not feel guilty or otherwise. When one seeks a job one must have a resume, etc. I don’t see any difference. Good luck, Pam. I think you’re on your way. 🙂

    • Since this post, I have had a number of additional reviews on my Amazon page! And because of that, my book has moved up on the page that lists books called “Birds of Paradise.” Yay!!

  18. Pimping the book is a tool you have at your finger tips with social media… asking for reviews? Why not? Its marketing… it is these very points and hard work that stops me publishing my own book… but keep it up you seem to be good at it…

    • Sometimes, the hard work and the need for promotion make it difficult for me to approach my writing table. But I keep going at it because I get such wonderful comments from people like you. Thank you!

  19. Lovely post, Pamela, and we do need those reviews. I am pleased you are selling your book, but you do need to ask people to review it. I remember reading about your book before, and thought I bought it at the time, but I don’t have it. And I’ve just checked Amazon and Book Depository and they don’t have it listed. I would love a copy, and when I work out how to acquire one, I’ll definitely leave a review. Best wishes with getting lots of wonderful reviews, and even more sales.

    • Many thanks, Norah. I’ve left a message with my publisher about the best way for you to order a copy of Birds of Paradise. It’s on the Amazon US site, and IS available for any country, but will figure out how best to get it. Yes, after lovers of Bert and Bessie have read my post about reviews, I’ve received quite a number more 5-star ones. And it does make a difference!

      • That’s great, Pam. I’ll have to try again. Thanks. I’m pleased you’re getting more reviews. It doesn’t do any harm to ask. 🙂

  20. I would like to purchase 4 copies signed by the author please… how do I go about doing that??? I don’t think there is ANYTHING wrong with “pimping the book” as you put it! Social media can be a machine when used properly. It is those who use it for evil that I try to watch out for!! 😉

    • Working on my smile…and my message when I talk at these Library presentations. I’m finding quite a lot of people are interested in writing a children’s book, so they enjoy hearing about my process. I think in today’s publishing world, there are so many choices of HOW to publish our books. Thanks so much for your comment, Judith!

  21. You go girl! I’m with you, the introvert who appears as an extrovert lol. I love hiding behind the computer. The publishing and marketing is every Indie writer’s albatross. 🙂 We just want to write.

  22. Pam, I think most of us are happier behind the keyboard, writing, connnecting away! 😀 I’m impressed with all your promotion and the positive reaction must give you a real boost. As for pleading silently for a review, I was wondering is it so wrong to ask politely for one by letting people how important it is for you and the book – I think many genuinely don’t realise. Oh, the picture of your friend’s son with your book is so cute and heartwarming! Best of luck with the sales promotion and have fun! 😀❤️

    • Thank you, Annika. Writing this post has pushed me along to tell people, when they e-mail or mention in person how much they love the book – “please write a review!” But it’s interesting how many people are reluctant to do that. They feel that their writing would be inferior or judged (not sure by whom). I forget how intimidating ‘writing’ is to many.

      • Pam, that’s a very good point and one I’d forgotten, others have said it to me when I mentioned reviewing books…difficult to know how to encourage them in such a case.

  23. Cheers to your success and to many reviews! Too bad those children can’t write them themselves yet. 🙂 I think it is OK to nudge people a little bit and ask them to leave a review – you are right, the word needs to get out on Amazon and Goodreads. I am so excited for you and your wide market. Most everyone knows a kid who would enjoy your lovely story and its illustrations! Happy pimping! 🙂

  24. I feel exactly the same way. Your book is beautiful though and I’ve never seen such an enthusiastic reader! I’m going to have to get this for a couple younger relatives and will make sure to leave a review since they’re not at the writing stage yet. 🙂

  25. I hear and feel your pain, Pam. It’s too bad that people fail to write reviews. Even writers drop this crucial ball–actually, I don’t understand the writers who don’t review when they know how important it is. And I know what you mean about feeling all gross about “pimping” yourself, but it must be done. Put on your gold chains and get out there, girl! 🙂 Good luck to you!

    • Ha ha, thanks for the encouragement, Kate. Yes, short skirt – check. High heels – check. Gold chains and long drop earrings – check.
      UGH. Well, this post brought me some beautiful reviews from those who have bought and read the book. I liked some earlier comments here about making a bookmark or business card to place inside each book that says, ‘If you love this book, please write a review.’ with the link shown. Sigh. But many readers don’t ‘get it.’

  26. I personally feel writing up a cute and funny note 1) thank them for the purchase (s) 2) ask if they would mind promoting it by writing a review and explain the process. Amazon for virgins as myself is daunting! I almost bought a slew of books because I kept adding to the cart Kindle versions.
    Yikes! I had to call the company to find the hard copies, not as prevalent and some of my friends don’t have all their choices available. . .
    I didn’t purchase your children’s book yet, but did buy the one with mystery and a Mr Right. It is going to be posted on my June 21st summer reading list for my vacation with about 5 others.
    (My money’s short but helped a friend send her dad’s ashes back with shoes for impoverished children in the Philippines. I’m telling this true reason to my grandies who think 4-5 of them should always go to see movies together with me. Secretly may sneak off to see Paul McCartney in the Pirates movie minus kids. 😊
    I am sayimg

    • You make a fabulous suggestion here, Robin. Yes, I should do that – after a purchase, ask the buyer to write a review. So many look at me like deer in the headlights at the suggestion, though. I’m on Amazon so often that I forget that many are not as comfortable with it. As a matter of fact, this past weekend I went on Goodreads and Amazon and wrote reviews for the last few books I read. I need to walk the talk!
      I’m thrilled that you’ll read The Right Wrong Man during the summer. Whoo Hoo!!! ❤
      Oh, and Paul is in the PIrates movie?? I didn't know that – want a movie mate. 🙂

  27. GETTING REVIEWS: I offer free books to readers who blog about books and kindly ask that if they like the book to leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads as well. Also, I’m a member of #RaveReviewsBookClub and invite you to check out the club and join us. Here’s the link https://ravereviewsbynonniejules.wordpress.com/ I’ve been a member for three years and the reviews keep growing. Enjoyed your post! 🙂 P.S. If you would like to gift me a copy of your book, I would be delighted to host you on my blog’s MEET THE AUTHOR feature and leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. ALSO, if you are interested in a read/review for any of my books, I would be happy to GIFT you a copy from Amazon. You can find them at http://www.amazon.com/author/betteastevens Have a wonderful day! 🙂

  28. Personally, I have never minded putting on a dog and pony show to sell my wares. In fact, I rather enjoy it. A lot.

    But a book signing in Alabama would give me pause. In short, you are a far more driven and devoted book pimper than I. Well done!

  29. I think it is all that which stops me from writing a book in the first place.. As I love to write, but so love my solitude too..
    Wonderful write and I am sure your book will fly after all of the ‘pimping’ lol.. 🙂 Sending Hugs and wishing you HUGE success with Birds of Paradise 🙂

    • Sue, I just replied in an email to a young woman (early 30s) who attended many of my creative writing classes, and who wrote a lament to me similar to what you say here. She loves to write but is overwhelmed with the idea of what we writers have to do after the ‘product’ is completed. My advice to her is to not think about that! The fact is, to write well, we need to write first for ourselves. We need to not think about ‘the public’ or what happens with/to our stories. We just need to WRITE. Let it go. Be creative and enjoy. After that process – the best process of being a writer – then you can decide if you want to follow up with all the other kind of work that consists of ‘getting it out there.’ I’m not sure I ever would have written Birds of Paradise, or my two books of fiction, if I’d know how much work it takes to then publish them. I didn’t know at the time that I’d want to publish them. Sorry for going on and on. It’s much like childbirth though – it’s better to not know what’s ahead of you. ;-0 I’m still reeling from all the promotion work, and at times I place myself in my little office hole and don’t look out. B U T, I also now have readers (kids and adults) who live in Italy and Delaware, in Canada and South America, in Alabama and California, reading and loving my story about Bert and Bessie in Birds of Paradise. I must admit, that makes my writer’s heart glow. xo

      • And rightly so it should make your heart glow.. You are right of course.. Writing should come from the heart first and I have toyed so often with the idea of putting several things I have written into book form.. One a story of sorts that is still half finished and the other a selection of poems.. But poems are not always so well received.. You and I have a mutual blogging friend Debby who is often encouraging me to write and publish some of my words.. And I keep finding excuses such as the ones I use above as to why not to. 🙂
        So I thank you for those wise words of wisdom Pam.. 🙂 I should create it first.. then worry about what and when in the event of it ever being published..
        Many thanks for that.. I really appreciate the time given in replying..
        Love to you and I am just thinking of the pleasure my granddaughter gets when reading a wonderful children’s story.. So Well done to YOU and the pleasure you have brought to many other children reading your words xxx ❤

  30. I would have loved to have you go see this and give you a “break” for the promotion trail. It is a series I used to go with either one of my daughters, but they have men who watched the pirates over the years and go with them now.
    By the way, a flyer is what I meant to include for you to describe the process of reviewing, Pam. (Above in my comment I mentioned writing how to do it. )
    You could include a bird coloring page with your warm thanks and hope you don’t mind reviewing my book! It could be in a stack next to your books!
    My library allowed me to promote our historical home tours (the money went towards a scholarship for a “Be Wise” camp for middle school girls for science and mathematics at an Ohio university) by featuring a one sheet flyer with a pen and ink drawing by me of one of the favorite houses of about 6-8 homes. . . It usually got grabbed up and tickets sold out.

  31. Thx for writing a blog that so perfectly describes what it’s like to be a writer today, and my own experience. I love the repeated silent pleading for reviews, and the love of sharing despite shyness. Now I’ll look for your book for my granddaughters!

    • I’m so glad to hear you related to my words on “Pimping the Product.” Ugh, I hated using that title, but really, sometimes it does feel that difficult. Many thanks for your comment. xo

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