Here’s What Happens When a Book Promo Finally Gets Real About the Agony of Writing

Amanda Rosenberg drops the cheery facade for 'That's Mental'

British author Amanda Rosenberg promotes her new book with the same dark, relatable humor she infused into the memoir. Amanda Rosenberg
Headshot of David Griner

Maybe you’ve never authored a book, but if you’ve ever written anything personal and ambitious, you’ve certainly experienced how quickly the process can turn nightmarish.

First there’s the intimidating expanse of the blank page, and if you muscle through that, you’ve earned the self-flagellating joy of editing (aka loathing) everything you’ve put down so far.

Published authors, understandably, downplay this part of the process and, with a stiff grin in place, focus instead on all the insights you’ll gain by reading their work.

Not Amanda Rosenberg. The British writer and satirist has her first book, That’s Mental, hitting shelves in November, and this week she took to Twitter to let everyone know about it.

While her homemade video promo starts out like most of the clips you see from emerging authors, it quickly veers into different territory (accompanied by language that, fair warning, might be a bit too salty for work or young children):

The promo itself is clearly a bit of theater and not an in-the-moment unraveling, but that doesn’t make her bleak reflections any less genuine. A bit reminiscent of Chris Hemsworth’s introspectively rambling Thor in Avengers: Endgame, Rosenberg works her way through an impressive range of emotions and frustrations in rapid succession before the clip simply ends unceremoniously.

Her fellow authors on Twitter quickly embraced the video as a dead-on distillation of the writing process:

We reached out to Rosenberg to learn more about the video. Here’s what she had to say:

Adweek: Was this a video you had planned for a while, or was it a somewhat on-the-fly idea?
Amanda Rosenberg, author, That’s Mental: I had a rough idea for it the night before, but nothing concrete.

"My goal was to take the piss out of myself for being the book promo clown I am and to make other people in the same position laugh because promoting your work is hell."
Amanda Rosenberg, author

You framed your video in a way where, if people don’t listen to the audio, they’re going to miss the whole point. Were you concerned some might just take your summary at face value and skip over it?
No. I framed it that way on purpose. I wanted it to look like a very real, very sad, book promo vid because to me, the funniest thing about it is that you don’t see the meltdown coming—unless you know/follow me in which case, you probably had an inkling. If I set it up like “check out this funny vid,” it’d look corny. My goal was to take the piss out of myself for being the book promo clown I am and to make other people in the same position laugh because promoting your work is hell.

Amanda Rosenberg
Kindred Photography

Is this tone of candor and transparency something readers can expect from the book as well?
100% yes. The book is about my experience with mental illness and I do not hold back. I write how I talk so the tone is conservational, unapologetic, and unpretentious. It’s a very honest look at different aspects of mental illness, from the gross and inappropriate to the funny and heartbreaking. I once showed an early draft to an editor and when I asked if she liked it, she said, “Well, it is radical. I’ve never read anything on mental health like it.” And although she never said she liked it, I’m going to take it as a compliment.

The video ends a bit abruptly. Was that intentional?
Yes. I’m not into a polished finish.

Other authors particularly seem to love and appreciate your message. How would you describe the range of responses you’ve gotten?
Anything from crying to laughing to “oh my god THIS.” I’m glad people liked it and felt seen. It’s good to know most of us hate this. It’s also heartening to see so many people relate to my breakdown. A real win for mental illness.

Your video is largely about the struggles of writing, but promoting a book often sounds even more grueling. What do you wish more people knew about the process?
First of all, I feel very lucky to even have a book published. Writing is hard, we all know that, but book promotion? Fucking hell. I understand it has to be done, especially for those who don’t have a huge team behind them. But it seems cruel that authors who have just finished writing A WHOLE BOOK now have to tell people how GREAT it is over and over and over.

They gotta post vids and pics and change their banners and profile pics to their book. YOU ARE YOUR BOOK NOW. Honest to god, I love my book but get it the fuck away from me. I’ve been tits deep in it for years and I need a break.

Some authors may be trying to write their second book but they gotta keep posting that #content and RTing pics of their last book. It’s marketing, I get it. But we’re WRITERS, the majority of us aren’t built for PERFORMANCE, that’s why we’re WRITERS, we’re built for off-camera frustration, sadness, and self-doubt.

Lastly, if anyone wants me on their podcast, talk show, or any other form of media I am fully available and ready for fame and fortune. Please contact my publicists if they haven’t already fired me.

Amanda Rosenberg’s book, That’s Mental, is available for pre-order and will be released Nov. 6.

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."