Self-promotion: what not to do.

I’ve been dreading this week.

The truth is, I have no idea how to self-promote. I’m seven months away from my book launch, the idea of “building my personal brand” makes my face do the quizzical thing usually found in bad stock photos, and I definitely don’t have any money for “swag.” So, instead, I’ll talk about some things to not do when you’re self-promoting.

Don’t:

… only talk about yourself. You know that guy at the party who just goes on and on and on about his car? Don’t be that guy. On social media, give airtime to the things you like: cat pictures, television shows, other books you’ve read. People get exhausted very early if all you’re doing is talking about your book. Make sure people see your “real” human side!

… overdose on swag. Bookmarks, pins and the like are fun, but in the end, they don’t move the needle as much as other things might when put in the right places—unless, of course, you get them in the hands of a powerful Instagram influencer (hey, I’m just calling it like it is.)

… rely on social media alone. Twitter, Facebook and the like are awesome tools for self-promotion, but they’re not under your control. Social media lists could all be gone tomorrow, and with them all of your progress. Save your progress by having your own newsletter or announcement list on a service like MailChimp or substack.

… try to be someone you’re not. Unlike big corporations, authors don’t have huge PR departments to gloss over the flaws in their personalities and products. So don’t try! Potential readers are pretty good at seeing when authors are being inauthentic, and they’re less likely to want to connect with you if they feel uncomfortable.

Right now, though, I think that’s it for what I know! The next few months are going to be quite the journey, and I’m really interested to see what I’ll learn!

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Karen Osborne

KAREN OSBORNE is a writer, visual storyteller and violinist. Her short fiction appears in Escape Pod, Robot Dinosaurs, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Uncanny and Fireside. She is a member of the DC/MD-based Homespun Ceilidh Band, emcees the Charm City Spec reading series, and once won a major event filmmaking award for taping a Klingon wedding. Her debut novel, Architects of Memory, is forthcoming in 2020 from Tor Books.

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