Writer, Promote Thyself!

Monday, February 06, 2017
Before I wrote this post, I moseyed through a dozen posts here at The Muffin, but just the tag lines and links of all the bloggers. See, I wanted to write about the importance of promotion, how writers should take advantage of marketing opportunities. And then bam! It suddenly smacked me upside the head.

I did not have any witty words of promotion following my own posts!

For cryin’ out loud, I thought, writer, promote thyself. But that directive was immediately followed by an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. Followed by a couple of equally uncomfortable thoughts:

But I don’t like to brag about myself.

And really, I don’t have anything special to say about myself.

Besides, nobody likes a writer who goes on and on and on about herself.

Maybe you, like me, struggle with promoting yourself and your writing, even when you have perfectly good opportunities to do so. Why is it so hard for us to market?

Well, I don’t know about you, but for me, I think it’s growing up with family and teachers who applauded success but only up to a point. A hearty “Congratulations!” was fine. A nice certificate was good. Possibly a small—very small—piece in a local paper if a scholarship was given or an athlete won an award. But there were no status updates about achievements plastered across social media, no huge celebratory parties, no group texts, alerting every contact in the cell phone.

Boasting of achievements just wasn’t allowed; humility was drummed into my head. And I’m pretty sure that’s why I squirm now, talking about myself. Even though I know it’s an important part of the writing business. So how to combat this natural reticence at promotion for me, and perhaps you, too?

First, accept that times have changed. It’s okay to promote your writer achievements; most people expect you to promote. And by people, I mean publishers, editors, or agents. They want to make money, and to make money, readers have to know about the writers and their work. Because let's face it. There are an awful lot of writers now!

Second, promote wisely. It’s still not okay to go on and on and on about yourself. If your Twitter feed is nothing but promotion about your latest book, you will drive readers away instead of attracting them. Everything in moderation is still a good rule.

Third, your writer friends can be your best allies with promotion. Share interviews on blogs, do group book signings, exchange reviews. Reciprocity is always a good idea (and more fun, too)!

And finally, believe in yourself. I’ll bet you’re the first to congratulate a friend, give ‘em a push or a bit of encouragement. Isn’t it time that you did the same for yourself?

So, I’m taking my own advice today. Even though I’ve got this huge knot in the pit of my stomach. It gets easier, right?

(How about you? Do you struggle with promoting yourself? How do you deal with it? And tell me the truth, y’all. Is this Muffin bio any good?)

Cathy C. Hall is a kidlit author and humor writer.
 If you’re a friend or family, or even if you’ve just 
waved to her in the grocery store, you’ll end up in
 something she writes. So better go see if you’re in
 her latest here.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--I think your bio is great. It's short and sweet and kind of funny.

I don't have much to promote. When there are Chicken Soup events and I'm invited, I gladly go and participate.

How about an event where you lead people through writing down some of their memoirs--their slice-of-life stories? You could do it at your local library, they'd probably be thrilled to host the event, and you could sell your books as well.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Why, thank you, Sioux! In all these years, I've only done a couple of Chicken Soup signings; I give away lots more of those books than I sign/promote!

And I do a lot of workshops where I promote children's writers in my area. In fact, one of my jobs in SCBWI is to coordinate opportunities for our published members. I'm fine giving others a push...it's a little harder to push myself but your idea of working with my library is good. They DO love me. :-)

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

You already know where I land on this issue...it's so HARD! Like you, I've had to work to overcome the whole "don't brag" thing. I've had to force myself to actively promote, and although I'm better at it now than I used to be, I still pretty much suck at it. Some people have the gift of promoting themselves without sounding obnoxious, and I guess my concern is that maybe I do sound obnoxious, so when it comes time I have to hold my nose before I jump in. Your points are well taken though. As always.

In this era of self-publishing and publishing companies not helping with marketing and promo the way they used to, the bulk of it falls on the author. More and more our careers are in our own hands. It should be empowering, but it mostly scares the crap out of me because no matter how much I read about it or how many workshops I attend, I still feel as if I have no clue. Throwing spaghetti. Hoping it sticks. Probably not the best method. *sigh*

Cathy C. Hall said...

Lisa, I think you do an excellent job at promotion! I can see how far you've come and I'm sure it's translated into sales.

So whatever you're doing, keep on keeping on 'cause it's working!

Pat Wahler said...

I can stand up and talk about a cause--not so much about myself. Maybe I need to turn myself into a cause?


Cathy C. Hall said...

Pat, that's a super idea! I'll join you! Hahahhaaa!

Suzanne Pitner said...

When I was in high school, I wanted to be in drama so badly! Then, when I realized what was involved in standing on a stage in front of an audience, I changed my mind. I decided working behind the scenes with the sets was my gig. There's no tooting of one's own horn behind the stage curtain.

Self-promotion has to be the worst part of being a writer, don't you think? I mean, here we are, home alone with our words, loving our introverted lifestyle. Then, once we're published, it's all about getting out there and promoting. I'm not good at it, and I have to admit, I don't like it. That's why I love writing for the educational market. No promotion required. You just write to spec and they take it and run with it. I love ghostwriting, too. I'm a behind the scenes kind of person. I really admire how you get out there and keep it up, and in such a friendly and funny way, too!

Debra Mayhew said...

Thank you for balancing promotion with graciousness. It IS obnoxious when writers don't find that balance and are constantly promoting themselves without supporting and encouraging others. A classy, gracious attitude goes a long way. I'm turned off by people who can't see that there are other writers out there besides themselves.

I struggle with self-promotion as much as the next writer, but one thing I've learned it to make a connection with the local newspaper editor. I put it out there for her that I have something and let her decide if she can use it. Most times, she is appreciative of the opportunity to showcase a local writer.

Lastly, I loved the bio, but would have liked to have the title of a publication or two in there. I'd be more likely to check out your writing that way instead of just a link that I'm too lazy to click on. :)

Donna Volkenannt said...

I love writing and talking about writing, but talking about myself doesn't come as easy.
Family and friends are always supportive--my sisters brag about me, and my former co-workers and Bunco friends always want to know when I have another story coming out in a "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book.
What's also been very helpful is when writing friends promote each other or do joint signings, like a few local "Chicken Soup for the Soul" contributors have done at local libraries. It's helpful, not just to get more comfortable speaking in front of a group, but also being able to piggyback comments from other contributors.
Blogging and visiting other blogs has also given me insight to the writing process as well as introducing me to other writers.

Linda O'Connell said...

It is difficult to embrace the idea that promoting isn't bragging.But it is necessary. Great article, and I like the link at the end.

Linda O'Connell said...

It is difficult to embrace the idea that promoting isn't bragging.But it is necessary. Great article, and I like the link at the end.

Mary Horner said...

Cathy, you have hit upon a universal theme with a lot of writers. Thanks for sharing, and I've heard to put a little humor in your bio, so good job!

Cathy C. Hall said...

What a bunch of great comments--thanks, y'all! We shall all work on this together, right? :-)

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