“Check it out! Another 5-Star review by one of my fabulous readers!” or “Publishers Weekly just called my book the best of the year!”
We’ve all seen authors leaving comments like that around cyberland and usually it evokes one primary response: eyeballs rolling into the back of our heads. We think, “Sheesh, they’re really tooting their own horns.”
Krista Phillips asked this question: The thing about marketing that scares me is this: I do NOT want to look prideful or egotistical. I have this fear that everyone will look at me and think I'm all snooty. . . How do you market yourself without making the eyes of those around you roll?
Krista’s question reflects an issue most of us struggle with: self-promotion. We know we’ll need to market our books. If we self-publish we’ll bear the brunt of the marketing. But even with traditional publication, authors are expected to participate in the marketing plan.
We tell ourselves that we’re only seeking the attention because we have to, because that’s the modern way of selling everything, because if we don’t, other authors are going to do a better job and draw people to their books. Then ours will be left sitting on the shelves.
But is there a way to engage in self-promotion without it coming across as sounding selfish, self-serving, and self-inflated? I’m at the beginning stages of promoting my debut book, which releases in about a month. So, I’m still learning a lot about what works and what doesn’t. But here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
Promotion often comes naturally out of the relationships we build.
Social media should be 90% (or more) about building relationships and 10% (or less) about mentioning our books. I’m more likely to buy a book from an author who uses social media to socialize, rather than from an author who uses social media to hit me over the head with the greatness of their books.
I’m not actively trying to sell my book. I haven’t had any contests to boost my pre-order sales. I rarely mention the book on Twitter or Facebook. And yet, people have expressed interest. Why? Because they’re getting to know me as an author.
When people like us as authors, they’re more willing and excited to give our books. In fact, Michelle Vasquez, a non-writer who reads my blog said this in a recent comment, “You already have a fan in me and I haven't even gotten a hold of your book yet!” (Thanks, Michelle!)
Maybe we can’t connect on a personal level with everyone in cyberland, but when we’re vulnerable and real, and when readers feel like they can relate to us, they’re much more willing to promote us.
Promotion works best when it comes from others.
When we take the time to develop genuine writer friendships, those friends will help promote us the most. They’ll be our biggest cheerleaders. I've found this to be an incredible blessing and benefit that's come out of using social media. We form a community that supports and promotes one another.
I’m also making use of interviews and guest posts. I’m not doing a traditional blog tour for my book release. Usually those kinds of tours end up being somewhat redundant, with everyone in the same circle of friends hosting the author and book and saying about the same thing. Instead, a large majority of my interviews and guest posts are in different places, hopefully reaching a new set of readers. It’s also another easy way I can let others showcase me, instead of having to shout out my own praises.
Promotion is received better when accompanied with genuine kindness.
In September I’ll be starting some more obvious hoopla for my debut book—countdown to the release date of Oct. 1. First of all, it’s an exciting time for me, and I want to share the wonderful memories with all my cyber friends. And secondly, I know it’s time to increase the buzz.
But in all the hoopla I don’t want to lose focus on the most important thing—friends, readers, and fellow writers. When we’re in the midst of promoting ourselves we can make sure we’re still looking out for the needs of others, promoting them, helping when appropriate, being a good listener, offering encouragement, etc.
“A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” When we give out a genuinely sweet flavor, then it’s easier for everyone to swallow the medicine of our marketing efforts.
How about you?Have you ever rolled your eyes at someone’s marketing efforts? How do you think writers can engage in self-promotion without it coming across as selfish?
*Thanks to my sweet daughter for posing for the above picture. She has perfected the art of eye-rolling!