Self-Promotion: It’s Not About You

Vintage-Cover

There’s a definite ick factor that comes with selling. It’s dirty and smarmy. And when the product you’re selling is yourself, the ickiness is a million times worse.

Most of us were taught not to boast and brag. And as a woman, treading the line between “confident” and “vain” (or worse, “delusional”) can seem even dicier. Not to mention that every time we put ourselves out there, we risk experiencing rejection.

So it’s not really surprising that many times, our efforts at self-promotion go a little like this:

“Oh by the way, here’s this little thing I’ve been working on.”
(And by “little thing” I mean the all-consuming project I poured myself into for the past few years. One of my proudest accomplishments. Whatever.)

So how do we do better? Trumpeting on and on about ourselves isn’t the solution. We all know someone like that, and hide all his Facebook posts for a reason.

1)  Stop making it all about you.

I’m Susan Gloss: author, blogger, foodie, fashionista, wine enthusiast, etc. But even when I’m whoring myself out on every available outlet, no one is actually taking me home at the end of the day. Except my husband, but that’s his problem.

It’s called self-promotion, but most of the time we aren’t promoting ourselves. We’re pitching an idea, a perspective, or an experience. Making that distinction helps us come up with a better pitch and also allows some much-needed distance.

I’m the author of Vintage, and in some ways it’s bigger than I am. But it’s not me. Some people will love it, some will hate it, most will never read it. How my novel is received doesn’t validate or condemn me as a person. So I can relax a little and enjoy this adventure for what it is.

2)  Make connections.

C.S. Lewis said “We read to know that we are not alone.” We write, and choose to publish what we’ve written, for the same reason.

Pitching is about connection too. Getting to know our audiences, figuring out what makes them tick. And as we chat with booksellers, reviewers, readers, and potential readers, we need to focus on the interaction instead of rushing to make a sale. We’ll probably be more successful, and we’ll also glean valuable insights for our next projects. And we’ll be building relationships, which have value all on their own.

3)  Support other authors.

Let’s give our fellow authors love, and not because we expect to get it back. If we read a book and genuinely enjoy it, spread the word. I have a newfound appreciation for the value of online reviews, tweets, Facebook posts, and word of mouth. We’re all in this together, and it’s easier to toot your own horn when you’re in a band.

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Susan Gloss is the author of the novel VINTAGE (William Morrow/HarperCollins, March 2014). When she's not writing, toddler wrangling, or working as an attorney, she blogs at Glossing Over It and curates an online vintage store, Cleverly Curated.

6 thoughts on “Self-Promotion: It’s Not About You

  1. I like your take on it, Susan, that it’s about the book/the product and not about the writer–so, promoting a book isn’t the same thing as bragging about ourselves. I’m still far better suited to “So maybe, don’t,” but if I were to lean even slightly away from that stance, it would be for reasons you state so well here.

    And this is hilarious and ohhhhh so true: “Oh by the way, here’s this little thing I’ve been working on.” (And by “little thing” I mean the all-consuming project I poured myself into for the past few years. One of my proudest accomplishments. Whatever.)

  2. I can so relate, especially to the first point of “oh, this huge accomplishment isn’t that big of a deal.” How do we communicate what a big deal it is to us without feeling like we’re bragging? I think that’s why it’s been so important for me to find other writers who can understand the trials and triumphs that come along with publishing a book.

  3. I love this line: We’re all in this together, and it’s easier to toot your own horn when you’re in a band. So true!

    I’m laughing about these little things we’ve been working on, oh you, just our hobbies, no biggie. (Hobby, my ass. :-))

  4. C.S. Lewis said “We read to know that we are not alone.” I am stealing this! Yes, you are an ARTIST first, and people really value feeling connected to other thinkers. When you KNOW it’s not about you, then you can promote in peace. I will be reading your book!

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