Self-promotion: Things to do and not to do

I used to be all about the me-me-me approach to self-promotion, but now I realize that sucks.

Oh, you should be proud of your work. I am; my writings are great. As Barbara Fine said at BEA16, “No one cares as much about your book as you do.”

So true…which means no one wants to hear all about your book all of the time.

An author I follow on social media–who will remain nameless–had her first book published. Yay! That’s awesome! She’s doing book tours and signings, and I admit, I’m a smidge jealous of her opportunities, ones I don’t have yet. However, all she shares with her fans and followers is her writing signings and appearances, so much so that her feeds are boring. I mean, really boring.

Lucky the puppy

Lucky the puppy, relaxed or bored?

She writes in a genre that I don’t write in, on a subject that doesn’t interest me. I doubt I’d ever read her book, but I don’t have to read it to be supremely supportive of her accomplishments. However, it’s hard to get excited when all she blogs and Tweets about is my book–my book–me and my book!

I’d have to go back through her feeds from months or years ago to find out if she ever shared other things, like personal quotes, her writing space, photos of something other than her book cover, stories about her pet, travels, anything. I’m curious, but it’s not worth it to go back.

What would make her better? She could add tips to up-n-coming authors about the do’s and don’ts of book signings. She could share her mistakes, funny stories, and her inspirational insights. She could offer suggestions about how to get those book signings, places to contacts, things and events to look for.

What does she offer her readers and followers?

Nothing. Nothing but book news and updates.

With every update, I ask myself, should I point this out to her? I don’t because I don’t want to insult the author. Would that change her approach? I don’t want to sound bitter, and I don’t know her well enough to gauge her reaction to my unsolicited criticism. Heck, I don’t know her at all. There’s no connection because there’s no substance.

I used to do that, plugging my books with a link at every opportunity I had because I am proud of them. Plus, I want to sell books. My wake-up call came when one of the judges from last year’s NFPW Communications Contest commented on my blog post contest entries, “Writing is OK, but too self-promoting to keep this judge interested.”


I like naps. A lot.

I like naps. A lot.

I refocused after that and like to think that now my followers and fans know me, at least a little. I graduated from Penn State; I write memoir and haikus; and my in-laws have a puppy that my husband can’t stop talking about. I belong to several writer’s groups; I wear funky socks; and I’m a Certified Zentangle Teacher. To-Do lists are my friend and my enemy; I write in coffeeshops with colored pens; and I scrapbook. If you didn’t know anything about me before, now you do.

See what I did? I made a connection with you. Whether you like Penn State or not, scrapbook or not, prefer tea over coffee, whatever, we have a common ground to begin a conversation from. You may not agree with all of my interests, but most likely you follow me because of one or more of those connections. Because of our connection, every time I publish something or my writing is acknowledged in some way, you can be supportive of me without ever reading my book…but I hope you will read!

I want to support a fellow author an writer, and that’s why I still follow her on social media. However, that’s all I do because it’s hard to be supportive of a stranger.

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8 Responses to Self-promotion: Things to do and not to do

  1. Arlee Bird says:

    I totally agree with you on this. The worst ones I’ve seen (and fortunately not too many) are the bloggers who have been posting for a few years or more, always of the “me and my books” variety, and still have few followers and mostly no comments. Seems like that would send a message to them. I’ve left comments on some of those blogs and hear nary a word from them in return neither with a comment on my blog or a response on their blog. If they treat their audience as though they don’t exist then maybe they will end up with customers who don’t exist as well.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    • I love comments. (like this one…!) They are what make the social media world social. I’m glad I had that rude awakening so early in this; I know now how to better treat my fans/followers/friends. Nothing wrong with proudly promoting yourself, but give your readers something of value. That’s what keeps folks coming back.

      • Arlee Bird says:

        By the way, I’m so glad you fixed things where I get notified when you respond to a comment. Unlike many bloggers, I do monitor the posts where I’ve left a comment so that responses to my comments are not just words in the wind.

  2. denizb33 says:

    I like your suggestions of what that author could be doing a lot. Especially on Twitter, it’s so much more fun to follow people who connect in real time, and don’t just put up automated posts.

    • There’ve been a number of times I needed (okay, wanted) an immediate answer to something, and the Twitter account manager/author/company made it happen. Wow! Real time personal, specific responses. Cool customer service, so to speak. I want to be that kind of person.

  3. Genevieve says:

    Totally agree. My marketing philosophy is to post once when a new book or product comes out, but any future posts that mention the book or product will have added value. For example, a colouring technique video that uses a page from one of my colouring books, or a video on how you can use my mandala stencils to create your own mandalas to colour.

    And I respond to all comments, I think that’s very important.

    • Absolutely to all! You’ve got a great strategy there: subtle and practical. I’m processing/playing with/testing ways that my books can connect with me, my blog and other aspects of my life. I don’t have practical, visual posts in the ways you do–technique enhanced by product–but I know I can be relevant. Somehow. 🙂

      I’m supremely appreciative of EVERYone who takes their time to share thoughts on my writing-posts-topics, and I want to keep the conversation going, even if ends in a simple “Thank you.”

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