Social Media: How Much is Too Much Self-Promotion?

Writers are expected to help in the promotion of their books. In the age of “Books-a-Million” why wouldn’t we want to make all the effort we can to help our books stand out from the other millions of books?

But how much is enough promotion? And how much borders on too much?

We’ve all seen others work at promoting not only their books, but their blog posts, articles, links, etc. If you’re like me, sometimes you might wonder if a particular author is trying too hard. There are times when I wonder how others perceive my self-promotion and whether they think I’m too pushy.

That’s the thing about promoting ourselves. It’s about US. We’re tooting our own horn on what we’re accomplishing or writing. And it feels a little strange to actively attempt to bring attention upon ourselves when we’re accustomed to living humbly and in relative obscurity.

Recently the Bethany House marketing and publicity department sent me a questionnaire. It read: As a department, we strive to do the best we can to publicize and sell your book. In order for us to do this the most effectively, we’ve come up with twenty questions that will help us get to know you and your book a little better.

Even though the questionnaire took some time and deep thinking, I was excited to fill it out, knowing I have a group of people who are willing to help me sell my book. It brought to mind a couple of concepts in relation to self-promotion:

Self-promotion is always better when you get others to join your effort.

When someone tries to sell you something, are you more likely to take them seriously when they say “My book is great”? Or when someone else says, “Her book is great”? Which statement has more credibility?

I’d much rather have Bethany House publicizing my book, getting out the word, and shining the light on me, than me trying to do it all on my own. Likewise, I’d prefer to have supportive friends who get behind me and spread the word about my book.

When we get others to join us in promoting our books, blogs, or whatever it is, we take some of the pressure off ourselves. In the process we gain credibility because the “shout out” isn’t just coming from our own mouth.

Pre-publication is a great time to begin forming relationships with people who will someday genuinely be excited about spreading the word about our books. I’m sure we can all think of those who’ve befriended us once their book was almost out, and we felt as if they were “using” us for their promotion. Instead we ought to spend the early months and years joining the writing community, getting connected, and forming real friendships.

Self-promotion is always better when we’re able to strike a balance.

If all we do is promote ourselves and our books or blogs, eventually that’s going to come across to our followers. Yes, the social media outlets are the place to “sell” ourselves, but if that’s our primary focus we’re likely to turn others off.

Instead, we should look for ways to promote others too. I mentioned this in my post about Twitter Etiquette. Twitter is a great way to help point the spotlight on others, particularly when they have a helpful or inspiring blog post. I’m sure Facebook can operate in the same way.

Also, we should find ways to give back to the writing community. Whether through helpful advice, links, critiques, contests, or encouragement, we can be working to make this writing journey less about us and more about others. In other words, we're trying to strike a balance.

My summary on self-promotion? It’s a necessary part of the writing business. But like anything else, we should strive to do it professionally and with humility.

What do you think? Have you ever been turned off by someone’s self-promotion? How much is too much? And how much is enough?

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