Ever feel like a chugger (charity-mugger) when promoting your work? Leaping on people saying ‘here is my book – buy it’ until the casual passer-by feels guilty? If your answer is yes, then you’re not alone. It is more than slightly alien to many if not most of us and yet we’re told this is what we should be doing in this day and age.
Now I’ve done more than I’ve ever done before in the self-promo department: posted samples of my writing on various writing sites, joined Facebook, supported other writers, built a website and am now blogging and you still get this feeling it’s a drop in the virtual ocean.
Take blogging. The internet is aclog with blogs, you could spend all day and night reading blogs and still not finish. Or are blogs the new books? Flog-a-blog. In their day, when few people had them, blogs were obviously the way forward. But now we have Facebook and Twitters and Zuckerberg only knows how many other social networking sites.
I’ve certainly made some great writing friends online and read some superb writing. I have started buying books from my ‘must read’ list as a result of this mutual support and these writers sites. At the pace I read that will keep me in books for the next few years. I like to savour books. Get under their skin. I don’t want to rush something the writer has taken months writing.
So my point is, does self-promotion and shameless plugging work? Or even shameful embarrassed plugging? Well, it doesn’t do it for me. If I want to buy something, I’ll buy it. I like the joy of discovering books for myself or on recommendation by friends with similar tastes. Over-exposure or people endlessly plugging their books (or other people's) can have the opposite affect on me, like those who tell you 'you must see this film'. All the hype can put me off, which is unfortunate if the film is a classic.
I’m sure it’s a two-way street with my work as well. The sales I’ve secured are, as far as I’m aware, from people who are genuinely interested, and if they’re genuinely interested they’ll find out how to buy it, won’t they? I don’t want to turn them off. There’s also something to be said for the joy of the chase, a book that plays a bit hard to get rises in value in my book (every pun intended).
Now I’m not saying go down the road of zero-promotion – of course visibility is important, but it's a fine line between just-enough exposure and too much.