Saturday, March 6, 2010

Self-Promotion or "That Other Whore" Syndrome

For many writers, the thought of being caught self-promoting is almost as mortifying as being caught self-pleasuring, if not worse. Despite all the industry warnings to writers about shrinking promotional dollars in publishing houses, many writers still gasp and blush at the thought of tooting their own horn, peddling their own brand, advancing their own agenda. They consider themselves artists, not hucksters. Their work should speak for itself. Self-promotion is tacky; that's what publicists are for.

I've been promoting other people's events, brands and products for over a decade and, where I work, we have a translation for that mindset: "I'm too good to do that, but I'll pay some other whore to do it."

Sound harsh? Yep. Does this mean you shouldn't have a publicist? Absolutely not. But let me tell you a few things about publicity you may not have thought of:

Publicizing your book (event/product) is part of my job, but only part of it. I have a dozen other books/products/events to cover, as well as my own paper work, meetings and the pressing need to scrape gum off the station vehicle seat. It's not that I don't care or that your work doesn't matter. It does. I'm a professional, but I have to be professional in all of my tasks. This is why--

Nobody can express the enthusiasm for your book (event/product) that you can. There is just no substitute for the voice of the author when talking about a book. I work in radio where voice is everything and I've had authors who wanted other people to talk for them because they didn't like their voice. Dumb. You know your book better than anyone alive. It's your enthusiasm that will sell the audience. Therefore--

Express that enthusiasm. Practice talking about your book in public. Make up questions an interviewer would ask and practice answering them aloud. This is not the time to play it cool. You were passionate enough to write the book; express that passion when discussing it. Save the mumbling and self-deprecation for the paparazzi chases and glitterati parties.

Be a valuable asset. Remember that when you are on a show or in a magazine or at a bookstore, you are impacting the livelihood of the people that work there. They are gambling on you to add value to their product. Be polite. Be gracious. Be entertaining and patient. Everyone is working for a living. Your book is your baby. Their show/magazine/store is their baby. Make sure everyone plays nice together.

Publicists have the advantage of experience, contacts and connections that you may not have, but any publicist will tell you that a quality product and an enthusiastic client make their jobs so much easier. Rather than sitting back and handing over the PR duties to someone else, consider it an apprenticeship. Learn how the business works. Be a partner in the process.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think the idea of practicing out loud how you would promote both yourself and the book is a great idea. It is how I always get ready for my arguments in court. If you hear yourself say it out loud again and again it becomes more comfortable and it always makes me feel more confident in my argument. The argument will never come out exactly the same like a script but my brain knows all the important areas to highlight so it comes out naturally. Hopefully, that will be the case when I get the chance to promote myself.

Wolfgang A. Mozart said...

Intriguing headline and great blog, Sheila. I always believed that someday, someone was going to come along and grab me by the hand and say, "There you are! I've been looking all over for you! Let's make you a star!" After decades of that not coming to pass, I'm finally making peace with the idea of self-promotion.

Aonia Grafton said...

Thanks for the tips SG!

SG Redling said...

Nice to see some new faces here! That whole "discover me at the soda fountain" myth is a sweet cruelty indeed. It's like we have 2 options: we can wait to be discovered or we can be like the Sham-Wow guy. There is a happy medium that is tasteful and enthusiastic. Of course it helps having fellow writers working as a team so thanks again to everyone helping me on my journey. Let me know how I can spread the energy.

Tina Michelle said...

Imagine self promoting yourself as a psychic medium. The ultra "fire under your drawers" causing such flames that I get instantly embarrassed.

Not only am I there to promote my books, classes, Cd's and yes, readings, but occasionally I have to defend the entire psychic industry. Yes, it is an industry. When 4 of the NY Times best sellers are new age self help types, there is money to be made.

Thanks for pointing out step by step ways to help us (regardless of what we are promoting), get through the process.

Kudos!
(You know who).

SG Redling said...

Sage advice to all. I believe you have to promote yourself in all your endeavors. Self-promotion is different than bragging or being an arrogant ass. Promote away.

Julie Duck said...

Hey Sheila -

I'm with you on this. I've also been promoting other people, brands, companies, blah-blah for years. Over that time, I've come across writers who wouldn't even proof their work, let alone sit with the client to explain why they wrote what they did. After all, that was for the copy editor or client manager to do... not them! Shame!

Promotion isn't pride... it's putting your product out there so it will sell and you can eat. Plain and simple. Why someone wouldn't want to do what they can to promote their work is beyond me. But maybe that's cause I like to eat! LOL!

Great post

- Julie

SG Redling said...

Wow, Julie, I've heard so many editors say that. It's stunning and not in a good way. I like the way you put it - professionalism isn't just pride, it's money in the bank ie food on the table and gas in the tank. Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Enjoying the blog, Sheila. Looking forward to reading your books! R Kirtland

Alecia said...

I was promoting you the other day and called you the original publicity whore. Self-Promotion Whore, Publicity Whore, You go girl!

SG Redling said...

LOL Alecia! Thanks for the plug! Of course in our circle, whore has kind of an affectionate rign! Now if you called me a nice lady or a sweet babe, well, we'd have some words...

MOLLYC said...

Great blog post about promotion. By the way, would you visit my blog? I am VERY ENTHUSIASTIC about it. http://mollyc-lifewiththecampbells.blogspot.com
or http://tiny.cc/mollyc

Stacey Graham said...

Excellent post! I'm starting off on that road to self-promotion so I'll take all the tips I can get. ;)

SG Redling said...

Glad to see the new folks! Welcome. I'm going to post some more about particular media tips and I love feedback. Thanks!