The Author-in-the-Headlights Syndrome

POSTED ON May 30, 2019

Judith Briles

Written by Judith Briles

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By Judith Briles

Have you been guilty of AHS? Also called the Author in the Headlights Syndrome – that glaze that permeates the brain and creates author stuckiness.

It’s common when the topic of deadlines surface; when someone tells the other that blogging is a must and that must needs to start pronto; when the dreaded phrase social media marketing pops; and for that matter, when you realize you will be doing the majority (or all) of the book marketing for your book.

The big gulp has arrived.

The AHS creates the author-in-the-headlights glaze factor. As it settles in, the heels dig in and resistance oozes from every pore, sometimes draining the ability to continue in the publishing path.

I know that resistance—I resisted it to. The last thing I needed on my plate was something that could literally suck hours of my time each day. That was the thought that went through my mind when I was working on a website redesign several years ago and the designer said, “Which social media platforms are we including on the Home page?”

My response? “No freaking way am I going to waste my time on this stuff.”

That was then; this is now.

Now means that I’m advocate of both social media and the power of your website.

Most authors immediately say—I don’t have the time … I just want to write. In other words—leave me alone.

Fine … so who, then, are you going to hire to market your book … your words … your writing?

“I don’t know,” is the usual response. That is, if there is one—maybe just the glazed look—the author-in-the-headlights response.

Okay … this is where all those social media platforms come into play—the Big 5 for authors will most likely be:

.Authors who are introverts don’t have to get in front of people—their fingers can do their talking … and shouting. And for those who have no fears, fingers and mouths can roar. Perfect for the leave me along group.

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and all the others start with just a few in numbers. As time progresses, numbers build, as your engagement and influence does.

At my annual two-day Book Publishing Unplugged workshops, I see the author-in-the-headlights glaze spread across the face of many of the participants. That’s when I share the Let me show you what can happen … moment. The first time I did it, it wasn’t planned, just that it was the right thing to do at the time for the attendees. Now, it’s always included.

All had their computers; all were online throughout the two days as we worked through a variety of examples and how-tos in the author and book publishing worlds.

My computer opened on my Hootsuite task bar … waiting for me to “wake it up”—which is exactly what my creative brain needed to do. Taking just a few of my participants’ titles, I opened the Amazon page of each, copied its URL and then began …

Next, I “composed” messages for Twitter; longer ones for Facebook and LinkedIn, linking each with the book’s URL on Amazon. I added hashtags and if they were had accounts on any of the platforms I was using, their handles, names or links.

Then, it was shout out time. Within SECONDS, I recommended their books via these platforms to millions of potential eyes via my followers, fans, and peeps.

I didn’t do it once; I did it multiple times, copy and pasting messages out over a variety of times and days over the next few weeks. Time involved on my side: no more than five minutes. Yet each time I posted, over 60,000 had the opportunity to see it directly within my two Twitter channels alone. Adding hashtags, the opportunity increased to a million at a time.

All through the power of marketing; the power of social media. The possibility of a million eyes seeing what an author is doing is worth five minutes of your time.

Those in attendance were encouraged to immediately check their own social media feeds. What they saw were my messages beginning to pop up.

Taking it one more step, I encourage them to do a “like” and share out with their followers.

Seeing it live, in person, on the large room screen and their own—a transition started. The non-believers, unsure believers and believers saw the seeding of a social media message. It could have been their message.

Within minutes, I got direct messages from some of my followers—they liked my message and many reshared them.

Did any of them turn into book buyers? Post the event, some reported increased book sales; some reported new followers; and some reported that their websites had increased adds to their subscription feeds.

What I did know was that the odds that these new titles wouldn’t have come into my followers’ eyes if I hadn’t done a push and the spontaneous live demo if I hadn’t cared enough to support them.

Today’s author must get this: Social media is the town hall of book marketing.

Stop digging in your heels. If you want to be seriously successful as an author, take the first step, a small one, and get started. Now. Most of you are on social media … but are you really using it? Now is the time to start.



You don’t need to be the featured author-in-the-headlights. Yes, it is work. There are ways to create shortcuts. And, it can be fun!
Photo: BigStockPhoto

Judith Briles

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Judith Briles

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