What exactly is self promotion in today’s world publishing? (part 2)

What exactly is self promotion in today’s world of publishing? (part 2)

I’ve had more than one writer tell me they couldn’t self publish because they are not good and/or terrified at self promotion. What do you think you’re going to have to do when you publish traditionally?

Let’s look at several facts about traditional publishing:

  • Advances are smaller.
  • Publishers are buying less.
  • If you don’t sell through your advance, book 2 will be hard to sell.
  • Most authors get very little promotional support from their publishers – unless you are a lead title.
  • Fewer books will be in bookstores for any length of time, unless you make it big.

So if you traditionally publish, who is going to keep your book in print? Who is going to make sure it does sell through?  #rhetoricalquestion

Would sales increase if a traditionally published author approached the release of their book as if they self published? (And I mean the self published authors that are doing it in a non-spammy kind of way!)

Self promoting is hard work. But I disagree that it has to suck.

What is self promotion?

  • Self promotion is promoting others.
  • Self promotion is giving back.
  • Self promotion is providing unique content on a consistent basis.
  • Self promotion is capturing the core of your writing and presenting it through the various mediums of social media.
  • Self promotion is being a friend.
  • Self promotion is working hard to build a tribe of people who will help you promote your book and you will help them.
  • Self promotion is reaching out to others and making yourself vulnerable.
  • Self promotion is being yourself – the best side of course – and hoping people forgive any mistakes.
  • Self promotion is being smart and making the best use of your time on social media.
  • Self promotion is making a plan and following through.
  • Self promotion is a business.
  • Self promotion is writing a great book.
  • Self promotion is writing the next book.
  • Self promotion is understanding Amazon and key words and lists.
  • Self promotion is learning internet marketing alongside writing.
  • Self promotion is about relationships.

I hate to break it to all of you, but self promotion is now part of being a writer. Even if you’re traditionally published.

And if you want further reading, I highly recommend these three e-books. It’s for everyone, however you publish.

They all approached self promotion in a grassroots sort of way – taking the time to build relationships. It’s worth reading one or all of them if you are trying to figure out how to promote your books.

How would you finish the statement: Self promotion is… Do you agree or disagree that as writers we need to learn to embrace self promotion in all its forms and stop telling ourselves it sucks?

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46 Responses to What exactly is self promotion in today’s world publishing? (part 2)

  1. Kris Asselin July 22, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    Self promotion is…necessary. If you’re blogging, you’re already self-promoting. Great post Laura, I’m thinking about this more and more myself. Marketing strategies should be discussed as much as query letters are!

    • Laura July 22, 2011 at 10:47 am #

      Kris – As we should be talking about it more and more!

  2. Ansha Kotyk July 22, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    *standing ovation, with lots of clapping* Here here. If we keep saying self-promo is going to suck it’s going to suck. If you look at it as a chance to make friends, talk with people who have a common interest and having fun, well then, you’ll have FUN!
    I think even the most introverted of us can find a comfortable way to use social media to build these relationships. We’re writers after all, social media involves a great deal of WRITING.
    We can do it and have fun while do it!

  3. Jessica R. Patch July 22, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    A great list of what self promotion is. After that run down, I can’t say I think self-promoting sucks.

    “Self promotion is providing unique content on a consistent basis.”

    “•Self promotion is reaching out to others and making yourself vulnerable.:

    These were two of my favorites. And it takes time and effort. All of them do! 🙂 Great post!

  4. Anna Staniszewski July 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    Great list. The one that most jumped out at me was “relationships.” I’ve been overwhelmed with how eager my friends (both online and off) have been to help promote my book. It’s truly humbling and shows that those personal connections are key. And you’re absolutely right that it’s also about giving back and supporting others.

  5. Ansha Kotyk July 22, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    yeah. I hit submit while kids were yelling… I didn’t proof read. sigh.

  6. Wendy July 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    Reading We Are Not Alone now and loving it. I had to teach myself a lot of what’s in there, but she’s dead on with so many aspects of this industry.

    When we take the time to encourage and uplift others, it actually produces positive outcomes for us. Win, win if you ask me.

    ~ Wendy

  7. Heather Sunseri July 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    These are wonderful things to think about, and thank you for the book suggestions. I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject. I’m not necessarily on board with self-publishing quite yet, but the subject definitely crosses my mind.

    I think writers have to become experts in outside-the-box thinking when it comes to publishing and promotion these days. So…

    Self-promostion is all kinds of outside-the-box thinking.

  8. Traci Kenworth July 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    Self-promotion is one of the keys to success. Once you get people to notice your book, hopefully, word-of-mouth takes off.

    • Laura July 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

      And we can’t forget that self promotion will only go so far – the book has to be good enough for word of mouth to go viral!

  9. Ava Jae July 22, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    Self-promotion is worth the hard work.

    I think you nailed all the things that go into self-promotion. It’s not just about talking about your blog or book or whatever it may be all the time. There has to be a balance or people will get sick of it and ignore your efforts with the rest of the spam.

    But if you do it correctly, you can really reap the benefits.

  10. Susan Sipal July 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Laura, I so love your take on self-promotion. It doesn’t have to be about spam, in fact, works better if not. And I appreciate your book suggestions so much.

    Karma, the Golden Rule, they all work in how we promote ourselves as writers as well.

    Thank you!

  11. Lydia K July 22, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    I agree that self-promotion is very important no matter how you end up getting published. Those that resist this aren’t being realistic if they really want to get their book read by the masses.

    On that note, I’m not looking forward to it. Many writers are shy about tooting their own horn, as am I.

  12. Heather Kelly July 22, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    Self promotion is building community. And playing to your strengths.

    Great post, Laura!

  13. Jemi Fraser July 22, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    Great post Laura. Self promotion isn’t always easy but it’s very necessary!!

    • Laura July 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

      Thanks everyone. I read all three of those books. And even though there was some overlap, they were all worth the read. I don’t have to take all the advice but I can take the basic method and make it my own. I don’t really see any other choice.

  14. Susan Kaye Quinn July 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    Thanks for the recommendations! I hadn’t heard of the first, I was teetering on the edge of the second, and the third I’ve already read.

    Self-promotion is … difficult, changing, and necessary. 🙂

  15. Amie Kaufman July 22, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Self promotion is… time away from writing, but absolutely necessary.

    I think we all shy away from tooting our own horns, but done right — with lots of promotion for others and genuine participation in the community you’re interacting with.

  16. Laura Josephsen July 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    Thanks for this! I agree that self-promotion is about building friendships and giving back.

    Lydia said that many writers are shy about tooting their own horn, and I can SO relate to that, LOL. But I think if we can approach it more like you were saying, as best we can, it will be easier.

    I think it can also be easy to worry that something we say or do might unintentionally offend or hurt someone, and we’ve all seen how that can blow up on the networking sphere. More than that, for me, it hurts me so much to know that I’ve upset someone else. I know I have to move past the fear I’ll offend someone on accident, be myself, and realize that we’re all human and we’re all learning. And I’m glad to have so many people to learn with and to grow with. It’s really amazing to have so many people in various stages of writing, querying, publishing, etc., because it eans we all have something to learn and share.

  17. Matthew MacNish July 22, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    I love your first point the most. Help other to help yourself.

  18. Susan Kaye Quinn July 22, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    And … the first one isn’t available on Nook. *tears*

  19. mooderino July 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    At the moment self promotion, in the blogging world at least, seems to geared towards other writers. Finding a platform that reaches further afield, the way say a national newspaper would, is the key to worthwhile exposure, I think. What the equivalent of that is on the world wide web is not clear (that or people are hiding it from me).

    Moody Writing

  20. Kelly Polark July 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Another great post on self promotion. Thanks for the book recs! I think I’m going to have to get a Kindle at some point…

  21. MG Higgins July 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    Self promotion is . . . terrifying! I hate the idea of making myself that public, even though I know it’s necessary. Out of your list, I think “writing a great book” is the most important because your readers end up promoting your book for you through word of mouth. Great post.

  22. Lisa Green July 22, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    Doh! You got me. I was one of those people. But I know it’s something that’s necessary. That doesn’t mean I have to be completely comfortable with it! LOL. I love your checklist. It’s beautiful and it made me smile. Because you’re right. Those are the people I HELP PROMOTE. Therefore it stands to reason others feel the same.

  23. Alex J Cavanaugh July 22, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    You nailed it with the last one. I learned that through promoting my first book. My publisher did help with promotions, but it was the friends I made here online that really made a big difference.

  24. Elle Strauss July 22, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    I’ve read two of the three books you recommend, and I’ve been inspired. I’ll have to check out the third one–thanks!

    • Laura July 22, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

      I can see why it’s easy to think you don’t have to promote as much with a traditional bookstore. I’d probably think the same thing before now. I think in the coming years it’s going to get more important. It won’t be enough to just write an excellent book, except for the few exceptions. Thanks everyone!

  25. Jill Kemerer July 22, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    You said exactly what I feel. Self-promotion–not a bad word. To me it’s less about me (Look at my blog! Check out this review! Buy my book!), and more about you. (Look at this author’s blog! Congrats on the great review! Buy such-and-such’s book!)

    If writers new to self-promotion would emulate a few writers who do it well (Kristen Lamb and Jody Hedlund to name a few), they wouldn’t be as intimidated.

    One thing though, I wish aspiring writers would start early. It’s really hard to build a meaningful platform in three months.

    Great post, Laura. Have a terrific weekend!

  26. Jane George July 22, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    “Self promotion is working hard to build a tribe of people who will help you promote your book and you will help them.”

    IMO this only works well (read long-term) if the promotion is honest and genuinely felt. There are ‘tribes’ of writers out there who trade 5-star reviews and blindly promote each other’s books regardless of quality. Amazon has already come out against ‘tagging’ and if the ratings abuse continues, they will be forced to change their review policy and make leaving a review available to paid purchasers only.

    That might not be a bad thing, as it would also get rid of false negative review campaigns against competing authors. (I can’t believe people do that, but apparently it’s true.)

    If Amazon changes their review policy, it would make it more expensive for authors to get those initial reviews by giving away review copies, same as the traditional publishers do.

    Building a tribe of HONEST reciprocal support may take longer, but it serves everyone better in the long run.

    • Laura July 22, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

      Jane – I agree. We would all want honesty. And finding a “tribe” (I don’t really like that word) takes time and not just blindly asking people to promote you in exchange. I’d want a group of writers that I believe in and they believe in me. Or non writers but people that believe in me. I realize not all five star reviews are honest but I don’t expect authors to give other authors bad reviews on their blog. Thanks for the honest comment!

  27. Emy Shin July 22, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    Great post, Laura! Self-promotion is difficult for a lot of writing — and there’re a lot of ways you can go wrong about it. This is a great list of just what self-promotion is.

  28. dirtywhitecandy July 22, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

    Well said, Laura. Most of us became writers because we were drawn to quarry for the truth. Self-promotion has to be about finding people who you genuinely connect with – and when you do, it’s effortless to have the kind of relationship you describe.

  29. becca puglisi July 23, 2011 at 1:38 am #

    Self-promotion is…foreign to me, lol. I know it has to be done, but it’s literally like being dropped in a foreign country and having to make your way through it. That’s why I really appreciate this post and the series that you’re doing. And thanks for the book suggestions. That’s a great place to start.

    Becca @ The Bookshelf Muse

    • Laura July 23, 2011 at 1:55 am #

      I appreciate this series I’m doing too because I’m trying to figure it out too! 🙂

  30. Jane George July 23, 2011 at 2:02 am #

    Hi Laura,

    Sorry I wasn’t more specific. My comment wasn’t directed so much at your post but at what some folks might mistakenly take away from it. Because self-promotion is so intimidating, these writers’ groups I mentioned sound very appealing to new authors (especially self-pub) with a book to promote. Hey! I thought, they’re like-minded folks in the trenches like me, we can help each other. I was clueless as to what an Amazon tag was, let alone how the whole thing worked.

    I’m sure these groups are very helpful and just the right fit for some people. I met some great people and have kept in contact, but on the whole that kind of support group didn’t feel right to me and I’m wary of books with a few 5-star reviews. (Even though mine is one, lol! Most of mine came from book bloggers.) Now, creating relationships with bloggers who love books is something I can get behind!

    • Laura July 23, 2011 at 3:38 am #

      Jane, No worries. I see a lot of that. Sometimes I go out of my way to give books I review for friends a 4 star review because when there are too many 5 star reviews it usually means you can’t trust them! Behind a group of writers supporting each other I would hope there is a real and honest relationship and a respect for each other’s writing – not just a I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine kind of set up.

  31. Marcia July 23, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    Laura, that’s a wonderful list. It’s about relationships, and it’s about giving out something. It’s tough on writers today because we can’t remain our (often) reclusive selves anymore, but maybe that makes us more well-developed people.

  32. Steena Holmes July 23, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    I love the Dollars and Sense book. Its my #1 go to for self pubbing right now! I think you nailed it about the ‘tribe’ – but let’s call it a village (tribe seems so loinscloth where village means I get a bakery and a coffee shop and can sit on porches and chat). Promoting others is the key – this isn’t a race to see who is best, it’s a long journey we all are struggling to trek so why not help each other out!

    Good post!

  33. Leslie Rose July 23, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    Self-promotion is believing in yourself strongly enough to take the leap.

    Thanks for the book recommendations and the nudge.

  34. Julie Musil July 24, 2011 at 1:33 am #

    Self promotion is…terrifying but necessary. But you’re so right about relationships. If all we want is for others to buy our books, they will notice that and feel used. That’s not cool in real life or in the publishing life.

    • Laura July 24, 2011 at 1:47 am #

      Sigh. I love my followers. You all are so gracious and full of wisdom! Thank you.

  35. Michelle Muto July 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    I agree. The publishing world has changed. Writers, traditional or self-published must spend time promoting their work.

    Great article!

  36. Margo Berendsen July 24, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    I love your list of what self promotion is… I agree! There’s not getting around self-promtion these days! the only thing I can think of to add maybe is “self promotion is balance.” Because for instance I used to LOVE the blog of a recent new release author, and because of that I bought the book when it came out, but it’s been too much promotion lately and I’m hoping a little balance comes back there. I’ve also bought the first releases from three other bloggers that I frequent (and have frequented me) and I’ve admired how they’ve maintained balance – I never feel their blog has been “taken over”!

  37. Lynda R Young July 25, 2011 at 12:11 am #

    Fantastic post. Self publishing is becoming more and more attractive every day.


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