The Importance of Self-Promotion
Without it we might as well be paddling without a boat — we can still enjoy the water but chances are we won’t get far.
Good for you! I’m happy to know you’ve decided to steer your own ship instead of just standing on the shore and waiting for it to come in.
(I wrote a poem about that titled “No Time to Wait” . . . but I digress.)
I never understood the reasons for holding back; the shy humble artiste who trembles at the mere notion of self promoting or of — heaven’s forbid, stooping so low as to (shutter) ADVERTISE one’s latest book, story, or essay. I never encounter this same kind of resistance from either filmmakers or playwrights. They understand that unless the public is made aware of their work their movies will not be viewed nor their plays attended.
This is 2017, the age of social media, the internet, and instant access. If we, as writers and artists hope to succeed, we must embrace the spirit of the entrepreneur and make use of every bit of marketing and advertising prowess available to us. Publishing houses don’t have either the time or personnel to provide the full publicity menu they once offered. Many of them are looking for writers with established social media followings before they’ll even consider a freshman manuscript. This is because those who bring the buzz with them offer greater odds of higher book sales than complete unknowns.
So why are writers so hesitant to make the world aware of their presence?
Perhaps you’ve already answered this question:
I publicize my latest story on Facebook and Instagram and my newsletter aaand Instagram Stories aaaaaand again on Facebook one week later. It’s my work! IT IS MY WORK. The Tori Dot Gov business is a one-woman show: there’s just one woman over here doing all the pitching, writing, editing, copywriting, press release crafting, social media posting, newsletter sending, Excel spreadsheet-keeping, tax paying, Etsy shop-owning, financial plotting, goal-setting stuff of it.
WHEW! And yet I might add that you left out building and maintaining your own website, one that includes a regular blog or column as well as a page for books and merchandise orders, excerpts from your most recent or upcoming book, etc. Don’t forget, it all needs to fit within your unique branding profile, the one with the mission statement and the logo for stationery and business cards as well as on all your digital presence. Arranging personal appearances, interviews, etc. and publicizing those events (don’t forget the follow-up thank you notes) is also part of the process which includes maintaining the snail mail and email lists (with or without birthday and anniversary notations). Then there’s audio compilations, podcasts, and YouTube videos. Sheesh!
Maybe that’s why writers don’t go in for the whole self-promotion routine. Once you’ve done all that, who has the time or energy to perform all the research, the writing, the revising, the responding to the input from the editor and agent and, in the final stage, the proofreader? But the days when the big publishers, much less the smaller ones, are willing to do all that publicity for us is long gone. Unless you have the money to hire a publicist with a marketing team, you don’t have much choice but to do it all yourself.
This was a good read, I’m glad you got it off your chest. It might interest you to know that after reading this article, and finding out you publish a newsletter, I promptly signed up for it. I’m looking forward to my first issue. So, you see, even venting about self-promotion is good self-promotion.