Shake Your Author's BOOTY...But Remember Pole Dancing is Fine, Lap Dancing is Not.
“A session of boasting won't attract any real friends. It will set you up on a pedestal, however, making you a clearer target.”
Ahhh...the balance of self-promotion and that of keeping your big trap shut is such a tricky thing. It's tricky because you, the author of a novel that you've slaved over for months, years, perhaps even decades, are really the only one responsible to get your books into the hands of potential readers, but at the same time...no one wants to hear about it.
When an author attempts to even say, "Hi there. I have a new book that I think you might be interested in reading," people either roll their eyes, "There she/he goes again" or their eyes simply gloss over with indignation. So basically it's the conundrum of: GO CREATE SOMETHING AWESOME, BUT SHUT THE HELL UP ABOUT IT.
What most readers and people in general don't understand is that a great portion of marketing and self-promoting of a novel is placed in the author's hands. Very few authors have a publicity person at their disposal, even authors signed on with agents and large publishing companies are still required to handle most of their own marketing. This is terrifying for an author who spends most of their waking hours wearing pajamas and muttering to themselves about plot twists and character development. Authors use mounds of sticky notes and drink a lot of caffeine--how can they be expected to promote their work without having panic attacks? Then to top it all off... the author has to promote in a sneaky kind of way as not to tick off potential readers and be flagged as a spammer (ooooo...no one wants to be labeled a spammer).
I feel like this all the time
Is your head spinning yet?
The uncomfortable truth of the matter is that as authors, we HAVE to promote our work because no one else will. No one else has an invested interest in it as much as we do--not our publishers, not our editors, not even our wee-little marketing team (if you're lucky to have a marketing team at all).
Some will lead you to believe that you should just sit back and let nature take its course (ha,ha,ha...nature will chew you up and spit you out), while others say go NUTS and self-promote like a crazy person--to which you may end up being black-balled (it has happened).
So what are authors supposed to do? I truly wish I had the answers. Heck, I truly wish SOMEONE had the answers, but alas, it seems as though NO ONE really does. Believe me, I've done a ton of research and no one has yet to figure out this paradox, because honestly, what may work for one person will bomb for another. The one thing that is certain is that authors have to promote their work. That's a fact that will never change. How we go about it is a difficult and troublesome thing, one that is almost a mystery for all involved.
It's a balancing act of being consistent in whatever we choose to do--frequency garners attention. We've been told that a person needs to see a brand repeated numerous times before they are persuaded to try it. Yet, the line between frequency and annoying is a VERY thin line indeed. One would hope that when a reader joins an author's blog, or Facebook page, or follows them on Twitter, they'd understand that there will be some shameless self-promotion going on and be somewhat forgiving of it. For a lot of authors, this is all they have to work with.
Some advice for readers: If an author could whisper about their new novel, or better yet, say nothing at all, believe me they would. Authors, for the most part, are introverts and HATE bringing attention to themselves, let alone three times or six times or twenty times. That's where readers come in handy: if you like what you've read, tell your friends and leave a review on Goodreads, Amazon, or wherever you like to leave them. This is the best kind of marketing an author can get and works much better than anything an author can do for themselves. Please be a little forgiving when you see an author promoting their work. It's something they have to do, but if they overdo it, then by all means feel free to let them know. Sometimes they just need a little reminder to pull back.
Some advice for authors/writers: Don't be an asshat. If all you do is yell, "Buy me! Buy me! Buy me!" then you're a big ol' jerk. Don't email links of your book to your whole contact list. Don't send messages to people you DO NOT KNOW on Facebook telling them to buy your book (I've had this happen numerous times and it is annoying and of bad form and is a sure way of getting me NOT to buy your book). Conduct yourself in a manner that you would want to see from other authors/writers. Be friendly. Be fun. Be warm. Help promote others works besides your own. Be supportive of your fellow writers. And yes, by all means toot your own horn...but do it with dignity. If you're not sure what you're doing is dignified, then ask someone. People are really good at letting you know... and you'd probably like to know it before pitchforks and flames are headed your way. So shake your booty, because we must pimp ourselves, but do it with class--pole dancing is fine but lap dances are not :)
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