Are you a shameless self-promoter?

There’s a discussion happening now in my fiction marketing course about what is, and isn’t, shameless self-promotion.

Not surprisingly, in this group and others I’ve worked with, there are different definitions.

Some authors are uncomfortable putting “my” and “book” together in a phrase that goes in a sentence (you know, as in “my book”). But I’ve seen others fill their Twitter feed with nothing but “Buy my book” coupled with an Amazon link.

Gender differences

There’s a gender divide, too.

While men can be just as uncomfortable as women putting themselves out there to talk about their book in a way that attracts media and book buyer attention, more women than men tell me they’re uncomfortable with the process.

Many women — including me — were raised to believe we shouldn’t call attention to ourselves or our work, so we feel “shameless” when we do it. In reality, as long as you’re not being obnoxious, it’s just good business.

I try to help reluctant promoters see that they’re not talking about themselves. They’re talking about their book, and their book is going to help people. It’s an important difference.

Think of it as a public service announcement

In fact, you’re doing a public service when you do what it takes to get the word out about your book. That might sound like a stretch, but think about it. You wrote your book to educate, enlighten, entertain, or inform, right?

How can you do that if nobody knows about it?

It’s up to you to tell them about it.

But do it in a way that’s comfortable for both you and the people you’re trying to reach. If you’re a gentle soul, then reach out gently, in your own way. If you tend to be hard-charging and aggressive, then we’d be surprised if you didn’t approach book promotion the same way (whether we like it or not).

Avoid stretching the truth

What you don’t want to do, though, is be dishonest, and I think that is what’s at the core of the discussion in the course site this week. While some might be comfortable saying that their book could be the next National Book Award, others feel more humble, preferring to leave the superlatives to others.

It’s an individual choice; there’s no right or wrong. As you move forward and assess outcomes, you might find that you need to put a little more zip into your promotion or that you might need to tone it down a bit.

But letting people know how they’ll benefit from reading your book? That’s never the wrong thing to do.

Where do you stand on shameless self promotion? What do you think is “shameless?” What are you comfortable doing for your book — and not doing? 

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  1. Sandra, this post resonates with me and is very well-timed. I recently participated in a Pubslush Crowdfunding campaign for my memoir and found myself feeling awkward about the self-promotion for all the reasons you listed. The factors that swayed me was to focus on the message of my memoir and spreading that message to those who need it. You have reinforced that focusing on a message–“a public service announcement”- is the key to effective marketing. I’d love to link this post in an upcoming blog post I will be doing on what goes into a successful Pubslush campaign. Thank you.

    1. I’m so glad it resonated with you, Kathleen. Focusing on what you have to offer and how it will help others will take you far in your marketing as well as your fundraising. I’m so glad you discovered that early on!

      Please feel free to link to this post — maybe it will help someone else.


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