Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Challenges of Self Promotion

I've had this post percolating for a long time, trying to figure out how to say what I want to say. And I'm still not sure I've figured it out, but I'm giving it a try.*

This publishing thing is ... a crazy business. Awesome and amazing and many other incredible things. But it's crazy too. For so many reasons. Deadlines. Pressure. The fact that you are putting something deeply personal to you out in the world for all to see and judge, knowing some of them won't like it. (and that many of them will express that dislike in very public places, flogging you for all the world to see. YAY REVIEWS!)

But I guess the weirdest part--for me at least--is that you're also putting YOU out there. Especially if you're active online. Then you are putting yourself on blogs, facebook, twitter, tumblr, pinterest, insert-other-social-networking-trend here and saying, "Here I am world, judge me!" And THAT is a crazy, crazy thing. Especially because so many of the people I'm interacting with online are my peers.

See... here's the thing about peers. Whether we've yet to sell a book or we've sold twenty, we're all writers. And we're all watching each other, seeing what we're doing, and we can't help seeing things from the standpoint of ... would I do that? Would I say that? Would I blog about that? Would I want my book deal announced that way? Would I RT that? Would I tell that story? 

And naturally, a lot of times, the answer is, "No."

We're all different people. We all have different things we are and aren't comfortable with. So... we're all going to have different ways of handling things. ESPECIALLY when it comes to self promotion.

Oh, self promotion.

The words alone make me want to move to a wi-fi free cabin and curl up in a little ball for the next year while my books launch into the world. It is a big, mucky, icky gray area where EVERYONE has their own opinion on what is and isn't acceptable. There. are. no. rules. Except that it's pretty much a guarantee that SOMEONE will be bothered by SOMETHING you do. In fact, I'm sure it's already happened to me. I'm sure I've done or said something or not said or not done something or just... I don't know, the way I'm smiling in my author photo has rubbed someone the wrong way. Probably more than a few someones.

And that's okay. Personalities clash. Misunderstandings occur. Whatever. It happens. And it will keep happening.

But I guess what I'm trying to say--after all of this rambling--is mostly... I KNOW I'm going to make mistakes as I muddle through this crazy year. I'm SURE I've already made some. But... I still need to do it. I still have to talk about my books sometimes. And me. And share good news. I'm going to try and balance it the best way I can. But I'm sure some of you will probably think...  I wouldn't have done that--and you may even be right.

But... maybe some of you will enjoy sitting back and watching the last threads of my sanity unravel. Hey--maybe even a few of you will find it fun.

Whichever category you fall into, I hope you'll try to remember that I really am doing my best. I don't know what I'm doing and I'm not perfect so yeah... there will probably be faux pas. But I really hope that you'll bear with me anyway. Hey--if nothing else, there will most likely be a whole lotta Shannon Shame going on too. And prizes.  I AM NOT ABOVE BRIBING YOU TO LIKE ME!**

And hey, if you have any tips or pointers or DO NOT DO THIS pieces of advice, feel free to share in the comments. I can definitely use all the help I can get.




*please note: this post was not inspired by any particular or specific INCIDENT. Just something that's been on my mind pretty much from the moment I accepted S&S's offer and I realized I would have to self promote.


**See? Faux pas!  :)

33 comments:

  1. It is a challenge. I can say that blogs I once loved I stopped reading because the writers talked about their books nonstop. The blog totally changed. (Which yours hasn't.) At the same time, I don't mind authors talking about their books at times and announcing good news that's what they're supposed to do. I guess it's finding that balance. Talking about your books without doing it so directly that after a while people are turned off. It sure is tricky. YOu're doing great.

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  2. I can't even begin to imagine the pressure and associated atress which goes with this process Shannon - and have no intention of finding out. The only thought which comes to mind is 'be true to yourself'. The other thing is that so often different is equated with being wrong...if different is our right....then it's right.

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  3. Oof, I know how you feel! It's strange that when I'm in my day job I'm happy to jump up on behalf of my organisation and speak in front of hundreds of people... but when it comes to standing up and saying, essentially 'here is a book I wrote, you can judge it if you like, and judge ME by extension', I want to hide. I think--I hope--having good intentions will get us a long way.

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  4. You don't need to bribe us to like you. I look forward to learning from how you market your book and hopefully you sharing what worked and didn't work.

    I agree with Laura that those authors who only blog about their books are the ones I stop reading because it gets to be too much. It's hard to find the balance but it's important to stick to some of the things that got readers to come to our blogs once we get to the point that we're going to be published.

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  5. The one thing I love is your honesty, and that's what makes everything you do so genuine. And appreciated.

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  6. Shannon you are doing a marvelous job! A true inspiration. The simple fact is that none of us will please everyone all the time. But you're right. The whole throw-yourself-out-there thing is scary. Which is why I go to author events. So I can see the enthusiastic faces of our audience, the real readers. Think about *them* and not what other writers think. They'll LOVE your books. And your audience is what matters most. ;-)

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  7. It is a very challenging thing! In most lines of work, people don't have to self-promote. It would be weird if they did. I've also tried to find that fine line between promoting and self-aggrandizing. I don't want to offend people but I also need to be myself. *sigh* It's a pickle. :)

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  8. Great post! <---see? You're doing a good job already. ;)

    I agree that non-stop posting about an author's books/deals/awards/books/books/books/omgdidyouknowihaveabook?! drives me nuts. But you would never do that, because you're awesome, so no worries!

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  9. It is so hard to bare your work before the world. It makes you uniquely vulnerable. I just got a review back from someone I really respect who picked apart my latest book. That's hard. (Maybe I'll hire her next time, lol!) At the same time, others have told me that's my best story yet. Guess it boils down to, how do I feel about my work? The answer: pretty okay! At any rate, this writing thing is in my genes and I can't stop now. :)

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  10. Awh Shannon that's such a cute post. I cringe sometimes at the comments I've written in a hurry that I can't edit or delete. You're doing a great job. Hang in there and when you are frazzled post something funny from youTube or something :)

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  11. Of course there are things that authors have done (especially in the weeks surrounding their book launches) that have annoyed me, BUT I'm not going to say what they are. Because a) in most cases it wasn't enough to stop me following them, and b) half the pet peeves you'll hear about will be contradictory and a person would go mad trying to please even a few people.

    I think people will eventually learn just how human we all are, thanks to the Internet and how accessible it's made our favorite authors and personalities in general. But the web is new enough that we haven't quite figured it out yet :)

    Meanwhile, you are awesome exactly and precisely the way you are, Shannon.

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  12. I'm afraid of the day I have to self-promote. I can sell anything I believe in, except myself.

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  13. I learned early on not to dump my advertising on other people's pages. That usually just annoys them.

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  14. I think Laura's point is well taken. Anyone who has ever tried to get their work (creative or otherwise) noticed at some point has to resign themselves to self promotion. I used to have an Etsy store and I tried to let friends and family know about it (and bloggy friends) without constantly being in their face about it. I have a high school friend who is still an Etsy seller, and quite frankly, her self promotion has reached annoying heights.

    At the end of the day, your real friends will let you know if it's too much!

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  15. I already like you, but I am not above being bribed. ;0) Authors who continue to see their blogs as a "conversation" with the community are the most successful at keeping their blog readers. And I know from stalking you on twitter that you feel that way about social media, so I think you're going to do just fine.

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  16. I feel what you're saying. I'm beginning to be more self-conscious in my posts. Should I say this, or that? Will they judge me? Then, I decide to be just me (it helps for a little while).

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  17. I just love you Shannon. Yep. I pretty much agree with everything you said. We can't all be experts on everything. We do our best. We make mistakes. There it is. :)

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  18. You're going to be great, Shannon!! (I'm not going to be judging you. Just peeking over your shoulder.)

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  19. Well, we're a writing community, and hopefully that means we support you at whatever stage of the game you are delving into! It's a mutual back-scratching endeavor, and if you help others, others are glad to help you. I agree though that I'd rather be on the giving side. More comfy and less vulnerable there. LOL

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  20. This post was super helpful, thank you for posting it Shannon. I hope you know that we all are supporting you - no matter if you do a ton of promotion or none at all. I am excited to read your middle grade KEEPERS, and I barely read middle grade anymore. (Darn, the college/university classes, darn them all!) Again - your love for literature and writing is what keeps me coming back to your blog, not your "me me me" posts like a lot of other writers. :-) best of luck & you'll do great!

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  21. You're doing great! You got this girl! Yes, it'll be tons of work but well worth it. Wish I had some tips for you. I know who does though! Ask Elana--she's the marketing queen :) Did you read her post today? She always has something good to share, as you know.

    Here's wishing you much success, girlie!

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  22. Great post, Shannon. I have often thought as I look at people who have achieved the highest level of notoriety... look what happens when you put yourself out there! People like JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer - while they are beloved by millions - are also the subject of such harsh judgement!! But all you can do is be yourself and know that there will be plenty of people out there who will love you (and your books) for it. You're doing great, Shannon!

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  23. Hey - you're a trail blazer!! And yeah, I know lots of other authors have been in your exact spot but every day there's some new social media to deal with. Dickens never had to be on GoodReads or have a FB page. (neither did Judy Blume, until recently.) You are amassing this huge reservoir of knowledge I hope to someday pester...er, draw on. So rather than US telling YOU what not to do, please reverse that. Bc you will be the expert before too long. :)

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  24. No bribes needed! :) You're a sweetie, Shannon - and your personality shines through all facets of your online presence. You're not going to be just fine - you're going to be great! :)

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  25. Shannon, I think you are just wonderful! I love your profile picture...your smile is perfect! You have a great on-line (and I expect real life) personality. You and your books will be welcomed by the world. HUG HUG HUG

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  26. I love hearing your good news, and I appreciate that you share hard stuff, too.

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  27. I love hearing good news or just news in general about an author's book. I guess what's good about self-promotion is that there are different sectors for different things. For just talking about your book, there's goodreads- blog tours- interviews, guest posts etc... On general author blogs, I love reading about what is going on in their lives writerly-wise. We all know rejection, crafting, writers block, editing, revision notes, characters, inspiration, etc... It's universal in our world and I think a writer's platform should keep it real. I think you're doing a great job shannon!

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  28. I'm bribeable.

    One thing I've learned is to do it with others. A group of writers and I have got together and we share the organisation of book launches, the editing etc. It won't work for everyone but it takes some of the fear out it.

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  29. Here is the thing for me about you. There is an honesty and realness to your blogging, twittering etcer etcering...you've not changed, you're being you even when doing the promoting thing (which honestly blends in beautifully with everything you've done with your blog up to this point). So when you are promoting it's doesn't feel that way...HAH...I know I am probably not making any sense :P SO, my advice to you is to keep doing what you are doing, which is being _you_!!

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  30. Shannon, just be your sweet bubbly self and everything will be fine. You have such a great following of people who already like you. No need to bribe anyone. Best of luck with self promoting!

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  31. I know how you feel, Shannon. Promoting my book has become a part time job for me. But I love it. I've learned so much along the way. The only problem is I haven't had any time or energy to write anything new in 6 months! I'm going through withdrawal. Luckily I had plenty of years to write plenty of manuscripts up until now so I think I'll survive.

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  32. Be genuine. That's why all these commenters are saying that you do a good job of not crossing the overly promote yourself line. You've remained genuine and that's thrilling to watch/read/experience.

    Bribes are good too. :)

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Yay-I love comments! Thank you so much! (But please remember to keep your comments spoiler-free. Also, I try to keep this a happy, positive place. Friendly debate is fine, but always be kind to each other). <3