Friday, June 5, 2015

Authors and Self Promotion

When I was seven, my older brother and I found an advertisement in a Grit magazine to sell Christmas cards and earn prizes. We had our eyes on two bikes, but not just any bikes. Mine was pink, with a pink banana seat, large spoked wheels with lights and clickers, long handlebars with plastic fringe, a basket with pink flowers and a sissy bar twice the height of the bike itself. Basically, the Cadillac of little girls bikes, dripping in pink. Oh, I wanted it, and I wanted it bad.

Imagine-ALL PINK
We hawked Christmas cards. Our teachers, our neighbors, our relatives, our parents even took us to work with them to sell to their co-workers (back in the day when parents didn't sell FOR the kids). We went door to door. We set up at grocery stores, on the street in front of our house, at a church picnic. We not only sold our cards, we figured out how to sell ourselves. He could sing, and I thought I could dance, so if someone wasn't interested in our cards, we'd offer them a 'performance' if they would consider our offer. And we sold cards.

We may not have outsold Hallmark that year, but we sold enough to buy two deluxe kids bicycles and a few smaller things for our baby brother, who I'm sure we used at one time or another to sell cards. It didn't end there--anytime we could find something to sell, we were on it. Lemonade stands, flower seeds, cookies, I'm sure at one time or another I tried to sell my brother. And we had no shame. None. Zero. What we did have was savings accounts---and bicycles to get us to places to spend our money.

I hear authors use the phrase "shameless self promotion" a lot, and personally, I hate the term, and believe it or not, I don't particular like asking people to buy my book. Of course, I want them to, but I often feel like friends, co-workers, even the unknown faces of the internet must be rolling their eyes every time I say, "Buy my book!" And rarely do I put it out there so bluntly; I give my little performances, I make jokes, I share reviews, I write blog posts, I offer sales. But it always feels "funny" to me. My publisher does a lot of the work, but as many authors will tell you, if you aren't contributing to the effort, you're killing yourself. So we do, and we try to find different ways to say "Buy my book!" without just saying it. It's self promotion. And it's shameless. And as writers, crafters of words, it bothers us to do it, so we feel like we need to admit to our friends, readers, faceless potential customers that we know how shameless it is.

It's time we stop thinking like this.

If I opened a restaurant, I'd have no problem advertising it. If I were looking for a job, I'd make my resume shine, send it to however many places I needed to, and show up to interviews in my spiffy business suit ready to tell you how wonderful I am. If I wanted to de-junk my house, I'd put stuff in the driveway and tell you what a great deal you are getting on a broken Atari for $50. And yes, I would ask my friends to help me spread the word. Self promotion is shameless, and it should be. We do it in every aspect of our lives.

So why not get over it, and sell some books?

I've written a book. It's a good product, something you can hold in your hand and enjoy, or give as a gift. It's less expensive than a box of Christmas cards. I'd like for people to buy it and try it. If you like it, tell your friends. If not, tell me. Do you want me to tell you a joke? Fine. Do my little dance? Maybe. Throw in my brother? That could possibly be arranged.

And if I sell enough books? Maybe I'll buy another pink bike.

1 comment:

Susan E. Kennedy said...

Great post, Kelly! I wonder why promoting ourselves and our books feels "funny" to us writers, especially those of us who have no trouble selling other things.