Monday 25 October 2010

My Views on Self-Promotion

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.  


  1. It's hard work doing all this self-promotion as you say and sometimes, it feels I'm selling my soul. That's why I prefer promoting others. If we all did that it would make things much easier for us all and would take away that nasty taste left in the mouth when promoting one's own work.

  2. I think it depends a bit on the kind of book you have. If you have any kind of niche, I think a soft sell approach works much better - getting involved in the things your readers are into - just hanging out in forums getting to know them, commenting on blogs etc. Let it be known you're a writer, but that's all - and then focus your "hard sell" on getting editors who are in control of the review sections of places where your readers hang out to review your books. Podcasts of your work are great as well.

  3. That's very true, Lorraine, and you do a great job promoting others on Authors on Show. I try and recommend other great books I've read too, while trying to strike that balance.
    Yes, Agnieszkas, I think the soft cell is a good approach and I agree, it's as much about getting to know the writers themselves and networking on writing and social networking sites.

  4. Hi Kate! I've only just stumbled upon you via LinkedIn and, as the author of several books during the past 20+ years (with an enforced break for a few years) I do so agree with what you say.

    In the old days, it was just as much of a hard-sell. Often, I'd have back-to-back talks / book signings / readings at various venues around the country which, with radio and TV broadcasts, meant I was away from home, quite literally, every other week. The difference, of course, was that my publishers arranged it all.

    Nowadays, we're Jacks and Jills of all trades, to the point (I find) that its often difficult to carve out enough quality time for the Real Job - writing. Oh, well. C'est la vie.

    But I think Lorraine has a point! I'm only just beginning to find out about Virtual Book Tours. Is this something we might work at together - promoting each other via our respective websites / social networks? Let me know what you think.

    Mel Menzies

    1. Hi Mel!

      Only 6 years too late but I was revisiting this blog to post to a friend about writers behaving badly and just endlessly spamming Facebook groups! So I apologise for only just seeing your comment! And you may or may not see this for another six! But things have got worse, if anything, in the last six years. Best wishes - Kate