Don’t Hate Me Because I’m … a Self-Promoter

images-1My agent has sold foreign rights to BEFORE I GO in six different countries so far. Every time a new sale comes in, I want to shout it from the rooftops, which in today’s modern times means: “Post it on Facebook to show the world (read: my ex-boyfriends) that I have come a long way from that drunk girl who used to order a sackful of Krystals at 4 a.m. and wake up sometime the next day with a half-eaten slider stuck to the side of my face.”

But, as much as I want to, I don’t post about my foreign rights sales. Why, you ask? I give you one name: Todd Manly-Krauss.

Manly-Krauss is the fictionalized author that’s the main character of the viral blog post Writers You Want to Punch in the Face(book). It’s a great article, hilariously examining the fine line between the necessarily evil of self-promotion and being an insufferable, arrogant tool.

But when I got to this fake FB post by Manly-Krauss, I cringed:

Bench pressed 120 this morning, graded 15 amazing student essays, and came home to an email from my agent: we’ve sold foreign rights to TZP in Estonia! Yessss!

Ugh. Just, UGH. I do not want to be Todd Manly-Krauss, therefore I will not be mentioning Estonia or any other countries that we’ve sold foreign rights to on FB or Twitter (though I may or may not let it slip to a few people who I know still keep in touch with my ex-boyfriends. Obvs.).

So that’s become one of my hard-and-fast rules in these very uncertain times where there are no rules on how to self-promote without being self-aggrandizing or super freaking annoying to your friends, family and Twitter followers.

Here are a few others:

1. Get a separate FB page for your writing stuff. I have a personal page where I post what goes on in my every day life and a writer page for my writing news. That way, people can still be friends with me and not be subject to all my annoying book promotion if they don’t want to be. They will only be subject to annoying pictures of my ridiculously adorable kids at pumpkin patches.

2. Promote other authors. And no, I don’t mean name drop your bestie Stephen King who told you over lunch that you’re the definitive author of your generation. I mean, make book recommendations and commend other writers for publishing novels, writing something spectacular or getting great reviews. Though self-promoting, by definition, is all about you, its nice to take the spotlight out of your ass off of you and balance it with other people’s great news.

3. Look up … from all your navel-gazing (wait, is that part of a Krystal’s hamburger stuck in my belly-button?) and at the FB pages and Twitter posts of your favorite authors. Many NY Times Best Selling authors have become social media gurus (see: Jodi Picoult and John Green). They really know how to build, maintain and connect with their fan base on social media. The good news? You can learn from them by observing. The bad news? This self-promotion shit doesn’t end, even when you’ve hit the big time. Like selling foreign rights in Estonia.

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Colleen Oakley is the author of BEFORE I GO (Simon & Schuster/Gallery, Jan. 2015), a love story. A former editor for Marie Claire and Women's Health & Fitness, she's now an Atlanta-based freelance writer. Find out more at colleenoakley.com.

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This article has 6 Comments

  1. How timely that our brilliant Twitter feed happened to post the article about Mr. Manly-Krauss! Wonderful kick off to our week, Colleen!

  2. Huge congrats on the foreign rights, Colleen! I for one would love to hear about these kinds of things! I think the key as always is moderation. The people who follow you and have connected with you have done so because they care about you. They’re the ones who will celebrate with you when you’re truly excited about something, but if we overshare, we begin to dilute that sense of enthusiasm. So I try to keep my sharing to the things that have me bursting with excitement, and when I do, instead of humblebragging, I try to share why it’s so meaningful to me. When I signed my book contract, I did so using a pen that my grandfather had given me when I graduated from college; it was the same pen he’d used since he was 20, and a pen that, when my mom saw it in my hands, made her cry because she remembered her father always using it ever since she was a child. 🙂

    I agree with all your other tips, too! Especially helping other authors. We have to promote not just ourselves, but reading and books as whole, because how else will it thrive if not with our support?

  3. Yay for foreign rights! I wake up everyday not having to drive to a cubicle farm and thank god for Germany and Italy. And I loved that blog post as well. It was so spot on! I’ve been teaching some seminars to other writers about social media and I always tell them, “Don’t talk about yourself all the time.”

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