Permission Granted: Why It Is OK To Embrace Self-Promotion

by | Marketing And Promotion | 4 comments

October is National Self-Promotion Month! Writers, it’s time to shed the belief that self-promotion is “bragging” and get out there to spread the good word about your work.

Successful authors know that sharing their literary accomplishments and marketing their novels, poetry, and short stories can mean the difference between total obscurity and building name recognition. Unless you’re Toni Morrison or Stieg Larsson, you will need to actively share the news, create a solid author platform, and take advantage of online marketing opportunities to sell your work. And you should not be ashamed to do it!

These Days, Self-Promotion For Authors Is Justified And Necessary

Self-promotion is different from selling cars or coffee. Authors must promote themselves in order to promote their work, and they do this by creating name recognition and developing a readership.

Author familiarity can be a key factor in book sales, but traditional publishers (with their shrinking budgets) are unable to invest a great deal of time or money marketing new authors. And with a growing number of writers turning to self-publishing, the burden of “getting the word out” falls more heavily on the author’s shoulders than ever before. It’s something today’s writers have to accept as part of the process.

But how do we handle self-promotion without feeling self-conscious about it? How do we market ourselves and our writing without cringing with embarrassment?

First, we accept that creating a buzz is part of being a writer. And most writers are not only proud of their work, they’re proud (as they should be) when their work is published.

So focus on the love and care that went into your work—and vow to put the same love and care into sharing your work with the public. Substitute the word “marketing” for “bragging” in your internal vocabulary, and decide what steps you will take to promote your writing and build your fan base.

How can a shy writer avoid becoming overwhelmed by promotion? Writers have several means at their disposal to promote their work. There are press releases, book signings, reviews, and interviews. Most authors have a website, which is a great way to build name recognition and readership, and Facebook and Twitter are popular places for self-promotion—perfect for updates, announcements, connecting with readers, and news of interest related to your writing.

But just because all these opportunities exist, doesn’t mean you as a writer have to excel or even engage in ALL of them. Pick a few marketing routes that are exciting to you, and let the rest go. Give yourself permission to NOT do everything, to just do what you can. You’ll find it easier to go the distance without suffering from PR burnout.

Also keep in mind that there’s a fine line between savvy PR and obnoxious PR. We’ve all encountered writers who are really, really good at telling people how awesome they are. Some are blatant; others are smooth. Keep in mind that just because one writer talks incessantly about how great his/her book is, it doesn’t mean YOU have to. The key is being yourself.

Trust your personality. You don’t want to be annoying and bombard every person you’ve ever met with emails, Facebook posts, and tweets full of desperate pleas or high-pressure demands—until no one wants to claim knowing you, much less buy your book. (Check out our article on how to avoid the eleven deadly sins of online promotion.)

The bottom line: Some authors are shy about talking up their own good points. And that’s okay!

But, if you’re building a brand, remember that marketing your work isn’t personal—it’s just part of the publishing process. You probably have a group of people who would love to hear your good news or read your short story or buy your memoir, so it’s important to let them know where they can find your work. From there, it’s up to you to decide what other marketing avenues you’re willing to pursue. (For ideas, see our interview with Gabrielle Gantz, senior publicist at Picador.)

Above all, love your own writing. Your enthusiasm for it will translate to others.

READ MORE: Check out our articles that are full of countless self-promotion ideas for writers!

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 QUESTION: What are some of the ways you have spread the good news about your writing?


  1. Beryl Reichenberg

    Your post really hit the mark for me. Being inherently shy, I find it difficult to self-promote. I write stories for young children and so am dependent on getting the word out to parents and grandparents and people who buy for young children. I sometimes think I am selling books one painful book at a time. Beryl

  2. Mari Collier

    I’m not shy, but it is the energy it takes that wears me out. I do have another group signing this weekend. My website offers a free read, and so does my blog about once a month. I never thought to mention how well developed my characters are until I read your post. That is what makes my science fiction different. Maybe I should start doing that.

  3. Deborah Hubbard

    These are thoughts that plague me, too – and I’m not even all that shy! It would be easier to promote a product that wasn’t so closely identified with oneself. But as a fiction writer, all that’s in the book,I put there. It takes some getting used to, to promote my own intellectual wares. To express it another way: I’d rather be writing!
    But since I want to publish, I guess I have to learn the arts of platform and promotion.

  4. Lawrence Parlier

    I’m a little shy when it comes to promoting myself, but I’ve been doing it since my book was released last month.So far the investment has yielded very little gain.I need new ideas because the social media thing, thus far, has proved a bust.


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