To shamelessly self-promote or not? That is the question…honestly.


I began a blog as thought I would use it to showcase my writing and be a “portfolio” for potential clients. Subsequently, I changed my mind and thought I would post literary masterpieces that would shine of their own accord; you know what I mean, the dream blog, with an avid army of followers who hang on my every word. And then reality hit me.

Nevertheless, that is not why I am writing this. The reason I am writing is to get your opinion, especially those of you who are regular followers of my apoplectic musings (thank you for being so patient, I should add at this stage). Not being much of a social media aficionado, I have been thinking of how to promote my new book, which will be out during the summer, if all things go according to a wonderfully crafted plan  which will probably mean mid- Autumn if I know my luck! The reason I have been thinking of promotion is that I read everywhere about how one should do it and tweet and pin things and so on, and it has begun to rub off on me.

Having read the great and the good (and some downright shameful), I get the distinct feeling that I am at a disadvantage in my sales pitch, in fact, I might even be at so much of a disadvantage that it is no longer merely a disadvantage, but a glaring chasm. I guess my failings on social media platforms derive from essentially being a shy person, more at home with a good book and lost in thought rather than online checking what the newest trends are in publishing and how to engage readers and sticking myself in everyone’s face whether invited to do so or not. I do not know about you, but I find the need to be online just for self-promotion a little daunting.

The question I need answering is whether my writing is actually good enough for it to be bought by people for its own merits and not because I have built up a successful social media presence. One that will coax, cajole, and maybe even brainwash potential readers to buy my book with endless messages and updates and promotion.

In fact, the whole concept of self-promotion that society has embraced as one would a long lost child, or even the prodigal one, is fraught with concerns (am I the only one concerned or are there others who think the same?).

My main concern is quite simple and I will sum it up quickly: someone who writes a good book but does not follow the herd will not get the requisite recognition; however, another author who writes a not so good book and is a master of social media will be feted as a genius. This concerns me. I know life is not fair, Mum and Dad told me so at an early age, but they also told me that if I do something to the best of my ability and have a little luck, I should do all right. Not amazingly, but just all right and I like the “all right” concept; all right is good, and certainly better than bad. Not as good as great, but then how many of us can call ourselves literary giants?

Now, I may hear some mutterings about me being arrogant (feel free to tell me if I am). Well, yes okay I admit that I am being somewhat arrogant, and I stress somewhat in this case. Others will say that it is survival of the fittest and expound Darwinian theories, for if you cannot adapt then you are but a dinosaur, and great though they were, they are dead. I get your point too.

However, spending “50%” of my time promoting my book and the balance writing and working (I still need a day job) seems to me to be the wrong way round (I cannot tell you how many articles I have read from authors who expound the idea of social media to become a “successful” author and other similar advice), not to mention impossible.

Surely, we should be concentrating on the craft, telling a story rather than telling people how good our work is going to be. I, for one, am in the “minimal social media to promote my book” camp, you may call me an idiot, naive, or whatever else comes to mind (profanity is allowed in this case) and in most cases (profanity notwithstanding) you could be right. That is just me (I reserve the right to change my opinion if enough of you convince me otherwise).

What I would really like to know is where do you stand on this issue and whether I should join the herd, now that the book is nearing completion, or should I plod along and release it and then have a social media blitz, or both, neither, something else??? 

 

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13 comments

  1. Self promotion is a must. A “real” literary agent I am hooked up with wants his clients to make their own sales plan, provide a record of sales for similar books, gauge current market trends, and provide a list of connections for possible book signings or appearances. The industry is changing drastically, and authors I know from Old School thought are perplexed by it. I did book chapters here at first…more than 500 words, forget it. Now I just write to entertain…get some attention if people like it, and like others who have books out, put an image and information on the side. That’s not being pushy, or arrogant, or anything but practical in the new world of on-demand and e-book publishing. One Opinion.
    Later…

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    1. I am moving in the direction you mention… Though I am surprised at how agents are now getting authors to do their work for them. Thanks you for the insights and for the comment! Let’s see how it goes. Cheers.

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  2. A very interesting blog and something I can relate to as I’m just starting out as a writer and have read about how integral it is to have an online presence. I suppose it’s how you use it that’s important. If you are badgering people through constant emails or giving a false impression of who you are as part of a marketing strategy, then that’s not so good. However, you seem like you are self-aware enough not to fall into this trap, and therefore your social media presence can just be an extension of yourself and open up your work to an audience that otherwise may have missed it…Therefore, its’ got to be worth a go! Good luck with the new book!

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    1. Thanks for taking the time out to comment! I agree, being sensible is the key, though I do love in the hope of a “blind test” for there things but life just isn’t like that anymore, sadly. Covers and social media are what we are judged by these days… One can, and does live in hope…

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  3. I do not agree with shameless self-promotion. It’s obnoxious. I tried to promote my first novel via MySpace and it was a total waste of time. I went on Goodreads and most of the friend requests I got were from other writers trying to push their books on me. Same for Twitter, etc. They had more “friends” than I did, but not a lot more sales.

    It’s important to have a presence, but you need to decide if you really have the energy to scream over the cacophony. I’m not on any social networks. I’ve chosen to use my blog as my sole internet presence and it’s worked out wonderfully. I’ve treated visitors as humans rather than potential customers. I think it’s important to be yourself as a writer. Let your personality shine through your internet presence. People will find you. If that’s not good enough for an agent, then oh well. They take 15% of your earnings. They should earn it.

    I’m aware that this is probably a much different opinion than most writers will have, but I thought I’d give you my perspective anyway.

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    1. Music to my ears… I am firmly in your camp despite knowing that I probably should get tweeting and liking and all that pahlava! Like you, I am not on fb, and the old account I had set up for the blog has two friends who are students (what a nice charitable lot they are too!). I feel like going down the agent route… If anyone will have me… But more importantly I do know a lot of people who will provide honest reviews… And that is what I am hoping for, not glowing (glowing is good though) but honest… That is my poor sales plan. Thanks for the comment… And loved that grass colour (again!).

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      1. (I was just going to post this follow up when I got your response)

        Goodreads is, in my experience, the best social network to promote your work, if you do it in moderation. Readers on there are fed up with pushy writers spamming them. Post reviews of books that you’ve read and comment on others. Do a Goodreads Giveaway. Offer to give people free copies of your ebook in exchange for a review. I’m not on there anymore, but I still get people adding my novel, because of reviews that others posted years ago.

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      2. Oooh! You are a star… I was just getting onto the net to read up on goodreads and what one should do… As you can see I am not that technologically advanced… Well I am, a bit, but I am just crap at marketing myself. Thanks again!

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  4. I always thought that if I ever wrote something good enough to be published, I would feel very sheepish, anyway, self-promoting it. We talk about authors all the time, but I think in most cases he should be pretty transparent, certainly while reading the novel, and probably the rest of the time, too, so this whole thing makes for some dissonance.

    So, my opinion, I guess, is that authors should remain transparent, unless or until they actually develop a following and reach celebrity status–since you can’t stop these things–and concentrate mostly on the writing and the product. I temper this with the disclosure that statistically, it is probably incorrect.

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  5. The market – readers that buy books is divided into e-readers and old fashioned paper readers and as time moves forward that division is projected to be more e than p, the natural course of our over technology dependent world. Unfortunately, that means promoting in the “e” environment will be critical to selling to the market that will give you the best results and yes, that means marketing eBooks and paper books…the readers are shopping online more than brick and mortar stores. Having time to do that, to write and to work and to have a life is a huge problem for all of us. I believe the key is to find the way that works best for you and is effective – no, that wasn’t a simple answer. You have to try things, see what works by measuring the results and adjust your plan accordingly. I recommend trying things that allow you to capitalize on this very important aspect of selling books – readers will buy a book that they know something about the author before they will buy a book that has a good synopsis on the back cover. Readers want a personal connection with the author and to your advantage, the self promotion gurus out here are spending so much time on “buy my book” pitches that they are not really doing the sales strategies that are more natural and gently lead people to the sales button….who likes a pushy car salesman? Develop your website to share things about you, not just a standard author profile, but what made you interesting yesterday and what makes you interesting tomorrow…blog about your writing (I follow your blog by the way, nice blog site!), follow and comment on other blogs and reblog content (did you know that back links will raise your search engine rankings and boost your sales and you are using them everytime you reblog a post? or write a guest post on another blog site and then make a note on your blog that you did this?) that you are interested in and set your blog up to automatically send tweets and posts to the social media market. Statistics show that using social media to pitch sales is the least effective way to sell and blogs are much more successful…but, you are not sales pitching, you are being a writer and an interesting person that is sharing information and content with your public – include a buy button on your pages, or a link to the sales page, whatever….if you build it they will come. Goodreads is a great way to connect with readers, doing events through them and sending out tweets and such is effective…talk about it all on your blog. Learn how to link your different profiles together and have a stream of automatic events that slims the work down for you and let’s you write. Consider hiring someone just to do content for your blog or to help you with marketing strategies – there are experts out there that are very cost effective and want to help. Authoroptions.com is one…she is amazing and is priced to support our growing community of authors, not take advantage like the big firms can be. Select the right book reviewers and submit, submit, submit. Stop by http://authorshelpingauthors.wordpress.com any time for more information on such topics. Thanks, Debra L Hartmann

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      1. Thanks! My pleasure…I tried to market my first novel last year, no experience, no where to turn for advise, completely lost and had to spend days and days researching and learning about today’s market. There are a few of us that believe in helping others and want to keep people from learning alone and the hard way, like we did, you’ll find us at that blog site, please be our guest anytime. As you learn more about blogging and using backlinks, you may want to consider becoming a contributor with us…that’s the biggest help we can offer you aside from the content that’s there…contribute an article, we publish you, we promote you and we both have a new back link to raise us both in search engine rankings. You may have content on your blog already that you can use so now you have accomplished a big sales push with little time and effort. Take this concept further, find other sites that want contributors and repurpose as much of your content as you can and you reach a LOT more people and that are already engaged than you would on social media. Holler anytime you want to chat..aha4real@gmail.com Deb

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