Friday, April 30, 2010

On Self-Promotion

There's been a whole lot of talk the last few years about what authors need to do to promote themselves.

Well, I am now going to weigh in on this topic. I know, you readers have been DYING to hear my opinion on the subject, and you can't believe your luck. Quite honestly I'm surprised that you all have hung around reading my snoozapalooza posts long enough to hear my opinion on the subject. But now you're dearest wish is about to be fulfilled.

You are so welcome. Glad I could oblige.

I've been giving this a lot of thought. You see, I've had a lot of time on my hands as I wait to actually sell a book. So I figured I'd get an early start on the self-promotion thing and see what happens.

Well, obviously, not much. Because one thing I have learned is that it's a whole lot easier to self-promote if you have something you're promoting. You know, like a published book you've written.

But I have learned a few things that I do think are important to know. They are (in no particular order):

1. It's more important to enjoy yourself than it is to promote yourself.

Yes, I do believe this. I will let you in on a little secret: I did start this blog because I wanted to get my name out there into the world. Name recognition can be a good thing. However, I also started this blog because I genuinely like to blog. It's kinda like writing those journals I used to write when I was a teenager. (And I wrote a LOT of those. Seriously, I think I filled at least 7 or 8 in about four or five years.) And I really like the freedom of writing something spontaneously, with only a few minor edits as I go. Sometimes the constant revision process really gets to me, and this blog is a place where I can feel a little more free. (I am well aware that it is probably not a good idea to be so spontaneous on a blog, but I doubt I'll be changing that anytime soon. I'm just not very good at plotting things out beforehand. It's the process of making it up as I go along that excites me the most.)

Anyway, through that last paragraph of ramble-y randomness, I was trying to point out how much I ENJOY doing what I'm doing. I genuinely enjoy my silly tweets about my imaginary twitter empire, which is currently locked in a struggle of monumental proportions against another empire who will remain nameless as to not give that empire any leverage with which to thwart me (just check out my tweets to see this struggle in all its glory). I genuinely love reading comments from the few people who actually comment on my FB or blog. I love Verla's message boards where I hang out waaaaaay too much and lament about the weather. (Do you know it has snowed at my house this week? Seriously, what is up with the weather?)

But I also love to talk on the phone. Or hang out in person and chat with someone for hours. I like knowing things and being involved in projects. I like being in the middle of things.

So if I didn't genuinely enjoy social networking, I could self-promote until I'm blue in the face but it probably wouldn't do me any good. Because people can spot a fake a mile away. And if you aren't enjoying yourself, people will know. And they won't want to hang around someone who is such a drag. I'm just sayin'...

2. If you're going to self-promote, the best thing you can do is be approachable.

What do I mean about being approachable? Well, for one, actually reply to comments from your readers. I try to reply to every comment I get (which, sadly enough, is really easy to do since I usually have less than a dozen comments to worry about). I love it when someone takes the time to reply to my comments. I'm betting my readers feel the same way, so I want to make sure to encourage them. Plus I really really love keeping the conversation going, so it's a no-brainer for me.

But being approachable also means leaving your little blog bubble and visiting others'. I don't do it as much as I should, but it's so sad to find a blog post that I've really enjoyed and notice that there has been ZERO comments on it. Don't you think that blogger would love to know how great his/her blog entry was, or how it made me think in a new way about something, or just made me laugh? So comment widely and spread the wealth. I firmly believe that a single blog commenter can change the world for good. Plus it's a great way to enlarge your circle of "friends" while doing something enjoyable. (Well, I find it enjoyable, anyway.)

3. Whatever you do, it's enough.

I know. You're scratching your head over that one. You usually hear "there's always more you can be doing." Well, I disagree. Kinda. Well, not really. Let me explain.

Sure, there is always something more you can do to promote yourself. ALWAYS. But does that mean you should do it?

Absolutely not.

I know so many authors who have done so much to promote themselves that they've practically collapsed from exhaustion. And not a bit of it made any difference to their books' bottom lines. And I've known other authors who've done nothing and have had runaway success. I've also known some who've done a lot and it's made a huge difference in their success as authors. And I've known some who've done nothing and have had nothing happen in return.

So what do I really mean? What I'm trying to say is that you should do what you think you can. And if you do, it'll be enough. Don't feel guilty that you aren't doing more.

Do what you can. It'll be enough.

Repeat with me.

Do what you can. It'll be enough.

4. The best promotion is word of mouth.

So give those mouths something to talk about. Write the BEST BOOK you can, and then get to work on the next BEST BOOK you can write. Writing good books over and over again is the best way to promote yourself.

And if you happen to mention my blog to a friend, I won't mind. Because word of mouth really is the best way to spread the word.


  1. Snoozapalooza.....snork.

    This was a good read. I'm still on the fence waiting to blog publicly and tweet and twit and stuff. I'm one of those crotchety old grumps that yells at annoying people, so random stranger-trolls with nasty comments will surely kill my rep (if I ever HAVE a rep). I'm convinced of it. I am afeared.

  2. Great post, Elissa! :)

    I think always replying to comments and visiting other blogs is definitely important. The other suggestion I have heard is to go to your commenters' blogs and comment there. That's fun, too, when you visit a popular blog and then find a comment from them on yours. :)

  3. Yes, Aimee. Snoozapalooza. That's what this blog has been from day one, if you ask me. I'm working on it.

    And I don't think I've had a nasty comment yet. Maybe I'm lucky, but I think it has more to do with the low number of people who actually read this blog. *shrugs*

    Good luck with your own online adventure! And thanks for commenting.

  4. Thanks, Larissa. And you're right. It is fun to see others comment back. In fact, I'm certain it is how a few bloggers have hit it big. One of my first followers was a nobody when she started following this blog. Now she's a mega blogging star. And I'm certain it's because she took the time to comment freely.

    And thanks for commenting here. I really appreciate it!

  5. Good ideas, those. Thanks for sending your opinion into the cypersphere. I like what you said about enough. I've had to work really hard to get followers, but for some people, it just seems to happen. So I'll keep plugging away and try not to freak out if my blog love numbers aren't as high as I'd like.

  6. I hear you, Kaylie. Mine are abysmal. It's a good thing I like blogging just to blog, or I'd be a terrible role model.

    Good luck! And thanks for commenting.

  7. I came to your blog through twitter... so people are tweeting it. That's a good thing!
    I enjoyed reading this and I like your idea that what we do is enough. Nice to hear that for a change!
    Thanks for a great post.

  8. Words of wisdom to remember. I especially like point number three and will make that a mantra if I ever get a book deal. (Especially, since at this point I'm mostly focusing on my writing and just tip-toeing around social networking.)

  9. Dana, thanks for coming over! And a small yay that people are tweeting me. Often I feel like my tweets just fly out into the ether, never to be seen again.

    You are welcome for the post, and thanks for commenting.

  10. Serenissima,

    It's a good mantra to have, imo. I'm hoping that book of yours sells, since I think you've been on submission longer than I have.

    And do me a favor, take a deep breath of that PNW air for me. (I miss being there!)

  11. In the spirit of note 2, I guess I should wave hello. Nice post.

  12. *waves back* Hello, Cate.

    Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

  13. I agree. You can promote a book to death but if it's not that good - the word of mouth thing won't happen. But I do think there is merit to initially getting it out there, creating the buzz and then seeing if the word of mouth takes off. Which hopefully it will for you when your book sells!

  14. Aw, thanks, Laura! I can only hope that there is buzz when (and I mean when, dangit!) my book is published.

    But I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know people through this blog and my LJ blog, plus various other social networking sites.

    Thanks for commenting!

  15. I smiled reading your comment about your feelings when a blog has no comments - I've even resorted to begging my sisters to 'not just read my blog post but comment too!!'
    They're not into writing but do like what I blog about. So it's always an extra pleasure to get a new comment from someone who chanced upon your blog. :P (Like this one!) cheers from Australia, Elissa.