Why are you sweating?

“Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can.

That is the only secret.”

Matthew Arnold

“Either a writer doesn’t want to talk about his work,

or he talks about it more than you want.”

Anatole Broyard


      I was originally going to come at this article with a “Shameless self-promotion sucks, and here’s why!” slant, but decided it was too negative.  Instead, I’ll keep it brief and try to be more positive, at least at the end.

     Whether you’re a self-published author or an author whose book was recently picked up by a traditional publishing house, there is a HUGE temptation to self-promote.  And I want to tell you now: there is absolutely nothing wrong with self-promotion.  It can even be fun, not only for yourself, but for your fans old and new.

     The problem is the shamelessness.  It’s rampant among authors today, even some who’ve “made it,” – but this article is primarily for those who intend to go the self-published route.  Unfortunately for writers, it’s really hard to tell what is you trying to sell your book, and what is you having no shame.  Shame is something we writers have constant problems with anyways – or at least it’s big brother, insecurity – so for self-published authors especially, it becomes a real conundrum of how far you should go to promote your work.  The fact is, almost no self-published author will have a marketing budget, nor access to traditional media forms to advertise in.  As a self-published author, you really feel that it’s up to you to “toot your own horn,” because there’s not a big publishing house with the manpower, green and simple prestige to do it.

     Let me explain, from my own point of view and personal opinion, what is acceptable and what is not.

     What is not acceptable.

-Constantly tweeting/posting links to places where people can buy your book, even in the “shameless self-promotion: check out my book…” format.

-Finding forums, discussions, blogs, chat groups (including Twitter hashtag chats), etc. where you can say “Hey, check out my book…”  See below for acceptable alternative.

Asking other people (friends, celebrities, bloggers, other authors) to promote your book.

     What IS acceptable.

-Offering to do interviews with radio/TV personalities or writing bloggers (only if they do interviews already – randomly emailing every writing blog you know of and offering to do an interview will just get a lot of “What the…” responses).

-Submitting your book to a blogger, website or anyone else who does book reviews.

-Tweeting/Posting relevant updates about your book (i.e., “OMG, my book just hit #1 on the NYT Bestseller List!” or “My book comes out in 3 days, I’m so excited!” or “I just finished my second novel.  Anyone read the first?”).

-Joining a forum, discussion, blog comment thread, chat group, etc. because you want to join that discussion, and only speaking of your book when it comes up (i.e., “So what have you written?”  “Oh, I wrote this novel called _____.  It’s on Amazon and B&N.”  instead of  “HeyeveryoneIwroteabookpleasegobuyitonAmazon!!!  …OR I’LL KILL YOU.”)

     The difference between the acceptable and unacceptable forms of self-promotion is that the acceptable ways don’t come across as a shameless, desperate, and usually not-that-great writer trying to peddle a crappy book.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t self-promote at all, nor that you should hide away from the world and hope that someone randomly realizes how awesome your work is and tells everyone else to go read it and they listen.  Look at this blog.  I’m not really promoting it, but I do have a Twitter account for it.  Just today, I found myself wondering “Is the Twitter account really necessary?  Does it seem vain to have a Twitter account for your blog?”

     And for a minute, I was honestly considering deleting the Twitter account.  But then I realized: No, I don’t think it’s vain.  I’m confident that this blog will grow into something bigger than just my obnoxious rants, and when it does, that Twitter account will be useful.  At the very least, I’ve gotten feedback from some of my five readers that the blog has been fun or inspiring to read.  That gives me confidence that I’m not the only one that believes in this blog.  In time (hopefully soon), I hope to have other awesome writers post on here, and post more interviews with writers (suggestions and offers welcome!  I feel weird asking people “Come post on my blog plz!”).

     Like Matthew Arnold said in the quote at the top of this post: “Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can.”  I know what I want to say in this article, and I hope I said it well:  1.  Self-promotion is not a bad thing, but have some respect for yourself and the people you interact with when self-promoting.  2.  Confidence in yourself leads to the knowledge that you don’t need to throw yourself at the world – be confident, outgoing and friendly, and put your work where people can see it – if they want it, they will come.  That’s why I don’t spam links to my blog over every forum I’m on and every post I make on Twitter or Facebook.  In fact, I’m active or semi-active on 4 forums, and only on one of them have I even mentioned my blog, and there only because I’ve been on that forum for close to 4 years and feel confident that it’s of interest to at least some of the people there.  I may only have 5-10 people reading this, but I know that those 5-10 people came because they wanted to, not because I cried desperately for them.

     In the end, I guarantee your confidence will outsell their lack of shame eight days a week.

…images from Step Brothers…


2 thoughts on “Why are you sweating?

  1. And I’m glad you posted on that one forum, because I wouldn’t have known about your blog otherwise. As you said, it’s not wrong to self-promote in an honest way. Fact of the matter is, your friends are interested in what you’re writing! (Well, mine are, and I’m interested in your writing, anyway.) But there’s a difference between making friends and spamming.

    As one of those 5-10 readers, I’ll say it again – I LOVE this blog. All of your posts hit home because I am a writer, whether it’s a new revelation or something I knew all along.

    Oh, and I’m not going to be presumptuous and call myself a “great” writer, but consider this an offer to write for your blog. Email me any time with the kind of things you’re interested in. And if I may make a suggestion, I don’t think it would be weird at all to email people whose writing you enjoy and ask them for posts. Me, I’d be flattered beyond belief and very inclined to write something for you as soon as possible.

    Because, hey, writing for your blog promotes my writing… in a non-spammy way.

  2. Nice article. I often wonder where I am in relation to the line between shameless self promotion and pompous seclusion. It’s difficult to find a happy balance between the extremes.

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