Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, July 18, 2011

The Thing About Self-Promotion is That Self-Promotion Sucks (But You Have to Do It Anyway)

"Nen Dreier, det Schäfchen" by Theodor Hosemann
So, in case you missed the to-do on Friday, I posted a "pledge drive" that was intended to be jocular but also nudge-nudge in its approach, and I received some negative feedback about its thrust and style (along with lots of positive feedback from people who didn't think anything of it).

And if it seemed like I was a bit twitchy about it on Friday, I have to be honest that I'm particularly sensitive to criticism when it comes to self-promotional activities.

Because here's the thing about self-promotion: It sucks. It really sucks.

If self-promotion were an insect, I would squash it with the world's biggest fly swatter. If self-promotion were a field I would burn it and salt the earth so it could never live again.

It doesn't feel right to stand in front of a crowd and shout, "Me!" and no matter how much you try and cloak the self-promotion in elaborate disguises, it can still feel kind of icky. And if you don't enjoy the spotlight, self-promotion in all its forms can be downright terrifying.

This is one of the hugest drawbacks about an era of publishing where publishers expect authors to shoulder the lion's share of the promotional activities. No one I know enjoys self-promotion, and no one out there particularly likes being promoted to either. People usually want to hear about new things from enthusiastic and neutral third parties, not the hugely biased person who created the thing.

And when it comes to social media, the Internet dislikes it when something they are accustomed to getting for free suddenly comes with strings attached, even if those strings are only of the heartstring nature. It's such a fine line between reminding people about your book and hoping they buy it while not alienating your audience and turning into a shill.

So basically: Self-promotion = not fun!

And yet I know what I would tell someone else who has a new book out: You have to do it. No matter how much you might dislike it, no matter how much negative feedback you get about it, no matter how much it makes you cringe, you gotta do it. You have to give your book a boost, you have to make your network aware of it, you have to do everything you can to help it sell. The era of being just an author, if it ever existed, is over.

Do it as non-annoyingly as possible, but do it.

Sure, it would be fantastic if you had an army of rabid fans or a fabulously wealthy and dedicated publisher to do all the promotion for you. But unless you win the publishing lottery, that first boost has to come from you. You have to build your own army and hope they start evangelizing and creating new converts. You have to get that first bit of momentum going. Otherwise your book will quietly disappear into the great unknown.

So... yeah. It ain't fun. But there's a lot of noise out there, and sometimes you have to shout to make yourself heard. Even if you cringe the entire time you're doing it.

And to show I practice what I preach, here are some links to buy JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW.  Kirkus said of the series, "There’s plenty of set-up for future volumes; fans will hope they won’t have to wait long. " (And you won't: JACOB WONDERBAR FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSE is coming in April).

Amazon (hardcover)!
Amazon (Kindle)!
Barnes & Noble (hardcover)!
Barnes & Noble (Nook)!
Books-a-Million!
Borders!
Indiebound!
Powell's!






148 comments:

Joanne Huspek said...

Here's the deal, with writing and with anything else you might do that is creative: There is someone out there somewhere who is not going to like your work, not going to like the way you work, not going to like your opinions, and not going to like YOU. So this is what I figure...I will do the best I can to my ability. If you like what you're doing, if you're comfortable, that's cool.

As for self-promotion, it is rather sucky. But you have to believe in yourself in order to create. Don't let the naysayers get you down.

Darian said...

Nathan, as always sir, you hit the nail on the proverbial head.

My entire life I've hated the "used car salesman" vibe I would get off of some people.

Yet now, even without a published piece of work, I find myself putting myself in a position where I am trying to attract attention "under the radar" to lessen the slimy feel once my novels are for sale.

I figure if I can build relationships now, without promoting anything other than me, as a person, it may lessen the impact when I ask people to take a chance on one of my books.

Great blog!

Ted Fox said...

I got my first taste of this when I ran a contest on my blog several weeks ago to build my Twitter following and one commenter mocked me for doing so. Who knew giving away a $50 Amazon gift card could be so controversial?

A.S. Washington said...

Awesome post, think you hit that right on the head. Regardless of anyone's sentiments or what side of the fence they stand on. The world of publishing is changing dramatically.

A.S. Washington

Writer Jodi Moore said...

It's a necessary evil, emphasis on necessary. I think your blog is spot-on. Those of us who were raised to be humble find it to be very uncomfortable. That being said, I think of my book as my "kid" (and I NEVER have a problem bragging about my kids!) I openly admit to potential buyers that I'm biased and hope that they will love my "baby" as much as I do. That usually brings a smile or two...and takes away the awkward "sting" that you talk about.

By the way, your "new baby" looks wonderful...can't wait to read it!

As always, thanks for the gems of wisdom! Hugs, Jodi :)

fortheloveofbookshops said...

It's funny to me how we try to mask our self-promotion, especially on blogging and Twitter. The mere act of Twittering, even if it's not obviously self-promoting, is meant to draw attention to one self. I say we all just embrace the ugly business and try to enjoy it as best we can.

Creative said...

yes, I agree. Self-promotion is hard. And has to be done. I find it far easier to promote others. Is there an answer there? Perhaps we should get into promotion huddles.

BP said...

Mhhmmhh...uhuh....something about self promotion WOAH hey look, guys! Book #2 is coming out in APRIL! Ok, seriously, I think that is all I just read, and I am very, very happy inside. Nothing wrong with promoting when you've got a heck of product to promote!

RobynBradley said...

Here's another way to look at it: instead of thinking of it as self-promotion, consider it "engaging with current and future readers."

You're right -- no one likes self-promotion: certainly not the people on the receiving end of it and certainly not the people who have to do it, like you mentioned. So don't do it. Instead, just keep doing what you've been doing for years: providing value to your readers through insightful blog posts, status updates, and tweets.

The one thing I would say (I'm putting my day job marketing hat on) is to make sure you expand the conversation to other places. I imagine most of the people who read and lurk here are writers. And yes, writers read, of course. But it's important to expand the conversation to places where readers hang out as well.

I find thinking of it like that -- having conversations with readers -- is a lot easier to do than thinking of it as "self-promotion."

Anonymous said...

I'm just not sure why everyone keeps insisting that self-promotion is "necessary". Self-promotion is crap. Everyone knows it. Everyone hates it. So why is everyone doing it?

It's so uncomfortable because the intention is wrong. The publishing industry lost its integrity somewhere in the last 5 years when it got focused only on "selling" instead of "finding great literature".

And they've now got authors doing the same thing.

A good product sells on word of mouth. Period. Yes, the initial "here's my book, blog, film, etc" is necessary, but after that the work has to speak for itself.

Every work of art has its own destiny. A bad book, heck even a good book may not sell no matter how much you promote.

The bottom line is, if it doesn't feel good, it's because you know it's wrong. It goes against the integrity of your own spirit.

Do good work. Be true to yourself. Do not compromise your integrity. Let the universe handle the rest.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I wrote a post today, partly inspired by last week, as well! Although much different.

Does self-promotion suck? Yes, absolutely, it can. Which is why I think you have to find the way to do it that doesn't suck for you. This actually dovetails into a fantastic post by Angela Ackerman today about Being Yourself - I would say not only in blogging, but in book promotion too. Because if you are hating it, no one else is going to enjoy it either.

Same with writing, yes?

The Sasquatch said...

The right kind of people will know and understand what you're doing when you self-promote. The rest can sit in their parent's basement, wearing only their underwear, playing video games all day, wondering why their lives suck

Don said...

I criticized the post because I thought the particular method of self-promo was inappropriate given that it was for the blog rather than for the book. As I said in my apology later that day, the language I used was inappropriate and too strong for the message I intended to convey. I reiterate my apology for readers here and think this post is spot on.

Bane of Anubis said...

Heaven forbid that you use your blog to promote yourself.

As the Ice-T said, don't hate the playa, hate the game.

JWatCPK was a fun read w/ fun characters.

Anonymous said...

Okay. This may or may not help. And yes, there are aspects of self-promotion that are awful.

But I will tell you that you have to learn how to have fun with self-promoting, too. And when you start having fun with it, you don't hate it so much.

How to you have fun with it? It depends on the author. In your case, you seem comfortable with people and you seem to enjoy online interaction. If you love interacting on social media, do it that way. If you love events and conferences, do it that way. You have to get a groove going.

Personally, I despise author readings in public. I also think they are a waste of time for most authors in the digital age. I'd rather eat Hilly's Pie from the novel "The Help" than do a reading. But I've found that there are ways to promote that I do enjoy.

And you have to learn to have fun.

Matt Heppe said...

I'm in the self-promotion phase right now. My book has been out for two months and I'm doing everything I can to draw attention to it. Sometimes it is a lot of fun: newspaper interviews and book signings. Other times I feel kind of slimy: purposefully working a mention into every conversation I have. You have to take the good with the bad and do both.

Bret Wellman said...

ugh, tell me about it. Who wants to stand up in a crown and yell me me me?
I wish a book had the power to promote itself!

MichelleKCanada said...

"No one I know enjoys self-promotion, and no one out there particularly likes being promoted to either."
That statement is perfect and wraps it up well.

There is a good way and a bad way. I personally hate when an author only Tweets book promo stuff and also every hour on the hour announcing your book. (a usual unfollow for me)

I feel bad about authors that are just starting out because it is tough to build a fan base. I am not a writer and don't aspire to be.

I am a book review blogger however so I follow a ton of authors and receive numerous book review requests per day. Yep self promo is a hard thing to do.

MichelleKCanada
http://anotherlookbookreviews.blogspot.com/

Donna K. Weaver said...

Too true. Uncomfortably too true.

Michael Offutt said...

I used to work in sales. If you didn't ask for it, 9 times out of 10, you wouldn't get it. At least with self-promotion you are not disguising the sale. It's a "hey...buy my book..." type of thing. And this, I can respect instead of some insidious advert that tries to direct my attention to a website where the book is for sale.

Anne Lyle said...

I agree - I only do the stuff I enjoy.

* Talking to other writers online about writing? No problem (writers are readers too, after all) - it's already earned me some pre-orders.

* Meeting people at conventions and talking about my forthcoming book? Love it - especially if it involves hanging out in the bar :)

* Coming up with fun ways to engage prospective readers (like tweeting, in character, in real time, my protagonist's life in the run-up to the book's release)? You bet!

On the other hand I've practically given up on Facebook because it bores me rigid for some reason. Probably because I don't give a rat's arse about other people's photos or Farmville progress...

Himbokal said...

I'm a little surprised you spent more time justifying what was a pretty benign bit of self-promotion. I think anybody that would begrudge you doing a little advertising for yourself should sit back and count up the number of free articles on your blog they've read over the years.

Self-promotion does suck (I think especially for writerly types: it requires us to come out of our caves) but it is the way now. I started a blog based on some very good advice I received a few months ago from a tech saavy friend who works in social media: he said he'd be surprised if there was any new authors two years from now that didn't have at least a blog presence. They want to know you can develop some following on your own.

I look at it as a very fair trade. I post free blogs for your entertainment (or derision as the case may be) and down the road you'll have to listen to me shill a couple of times. How is that unfair?

Roni Loren said...

Self promotion does blow, but I read your pledge post and didn't find it annoying or offensive at all.

No one wants to be hit over the head with non-stop promotion (like those annoying people on Twitter who DM you minute you follow with a "buy my book" message.)

However, I also think people need to get less combative when a writer who has given them a lot by way of blogging helpful info or whatever the case may be politely mentions their book.

If some actor was blogging/tweeting and said--hey, btw, my movie comes out this week, would love if you saw it, no one would get offended.

It seems writers have this label on them that we're not supposed to really want money. I just read author Bob Mayer's post on a related topic about writers not asking to get paid when they give a workshop or presentation (Pay the Writer - http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/pay-the-writer/). It's like we're supposed to immune to wanting to be paid for our skills.

Blogging is hard work. I've done it for two years and it takes a lot of time. Like you, it's something I enjoy doing, but I also feel like it's not out of left field to ask those same people who have been enjoying the posts to consider buying my book when it comes out. I know I buy books all the time simply because I've gotten to know the person online and want to support them. It's just a nice thing to do. Plus, if you love someone's posts, chances are, you're going to enjoy their book as well.

Kelley @ Between the Bookends said...

First, it is an attribute to your integrity and your character that self-promotion bothers you. If your whole intention for this blog was to self-promote, you wouldn't have any followers.

There is nothing wrong with reminding everyone about who you are: a great author with a wonderful story to tell, who is using his knowledge to help his fellow authors.

I disagree with "anonymous" on most of his comment, but I do agree with one part, "a product sells by word of mouth." Yes, especially in this day and age, you have to rely on word of mouth. But who's words are better to rely on than the author's? If the author isn't passionate enough about their work to go through the nasty feeling of self-promotion, that says something about the work.

'Anonymous' also said, "if it doesn't feel good, you know its wrong'. I just ran a half marathon, and let me tell you , that didn't feel good, but it was good for me. We have to push past our comfort zones in this business in order to make it work.

Thanks for the wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 7:33 said, "Do good work. Be true to yourself. Do not compromise your integrity. Let the universe handle the rest."

If it were only that simple authors would never have to work at promotion again.

But it's not. And the best self-promotion is the kind that doesn't even look like self-promotion.

Here's one example. There's a self-published author right now who is scouring the web with information about how her/his book is top quality, as far as self-published books go...the quality theme is the perfect promotional angle, especially when so many self-published books are lacking quality. The author isn't actually promoting the book, but rather discussing the quality of all self-published e-books. And it's working. People are buying it and the book is bestseller. On this one issue of quality alone, the author has become a hero of sorts in some circles.

And it looks completely accidental. But trust me, it's promotion and the author knows exactly what he/she is doing. The hidden angles of self-promotion are numerous, and promoting well has nothing to do with shouting "Me."

Istvan Szabo, Ifj. said...

I don't know. I don't have any problem with self promotion at all. I love to speak with my future readers (As my novel is not yet released, yet the fans are slowly gathering.). I also love to give them some gifts, arts what they really appreciate (i.e.: The "Facebook Fan Achivement" pictures what I give them after we reach every X number.). I also love to make the NASA week what we have now as we sent an art about the main character up to space aboard Atlantis (Tbis is the winged lady's second trip to space. :) ). I also love to share some trivias with the readers, elements what about they can't read. And they also loved to comment how they feel about the work, even prior the release. It's giving a great boost in the final leg of development and final polishing.

In my opinion self promotion sucks only if you don't have anything to promote and if you force it. Otherwise it's fun. The key is; don't try to sell your work, don't tweet the usual, BUY, BUY, BUY NOW! stuff or tweet every second IT'S RELEASED, IT'S NUMBER #1! BUY NOW! or the ANOTHER FIVE STAR REVIEW!. Just speak about your work naturally. I'm also just speaking about it and with this, I already have a quite greater fan support than some writers who released few books and making forced advertisements (And my work is not even released.).

David Klein said...

Yes, we have to self-promote. I made the mistake of not doing enough for my first novel, STASH, not even realizing I wasn't doing enough, so I've got until next June when CLEAN BREAK comes out to come to terms with the fact I must do more. It hurts, it really does, but that's no excuse not to self-promote.

Anonymous said...

This is nothing new. Authors have been self-promoting since the beginning of time. Some are just more aggressive than others.

Truman Capote consciously became the ultimate fag hag and court jester by courting wealthy socialites like Babe Paley in order to get his books sold.

Richard Gibson said...

Like a few others, I actually enjoy the promotion aspects of the process -- as long as it is in a situation where that's the purpose: a presentation, a signing, etc. where people come for information, where they expect promotion in some form. I have plenty of confidence in the book's content (non-fiction) and my own knowledge and delivery to know it can work.

But like many others, I hate the promotion in other situations, including social media, where it is uncomfortable. One post to my Facebook friends and I'm done. (But I do have a Facebook page FOR the book, too; the same rules don't apply as those I use on my personal page.)

My blog is about the book (or rather, about the kinds of things in the book) so I don't even remotely see that as difficult or obtrusive to the viewers - they should understand that that is what it is for: promotion. My web site is about a lot of other things, so there are some links that amount to promotion, but (I hope) not too obnoxious.

Hillsy said...

Ahhh - a positive tide of irony flooding down the comment board.....=0)

As much as I wish it weren't so, I agree whole-heartedly. I'm just glad I have a lack of talent to go with my lack of self-confidence.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @8:03, that's not actually what "fag hag" means...

But back to the subject! The way I see it is: if a writer is a) HONEST and b) creative with their self-promotion, I don't have a problem with it. I don't like feeling as if someone's trying to trick me into buying their product-- if it's worth hearing about, you would just come right out and tell me you had this boss book and I should check it out, you know?

-Salom

Renee Collins said...

*plugs ears*

lalalaCAN'THEARYOUlalala


sigh. I try to escape this fact, but it seems unavoidable. I guess should just enjoy not having to promote myself while it lasts.

The English Teacher said...

Nathan,
This suggestion may seem sarcastic, but it's serious. Have you ever thought of taking an acting class? No joke. If you hang around theatre people for awhile, you soon lose all hang ups about self-promotion. No, I don't mean Hollywood divas who nauseate the rest of us with their narcissism (although they obviously are okay with self-promotion). I mean stage actors. They MUST self-promote in order to get job after job and live.
Also, you might talk to a successful small business owner. Surely you can find someone like that? Being an author now is a lot like running a small business. Talk to someone who does it.
I read yesterday's post and thought it was spot-on for funny self-promotion. You obviously know how to do it, so you just need to get over your shyness and do it.
Good luck. But please consider my suggestions; they are genuine.

Livia said...

Funny timing, cuz I just wrote an entry today about how blogging is at best an inefficient way to sell novels, and at worst, a waste of time

Robena Grant said...

You know what? This makes me really angry.

THIS IS YOUR BLOG! YOURS!
It's for your use to address anything you wish. That you give back to this community from your expertise and knowledge of the publishing world is a by-product. And one so many of us are thankful for.

THE BLOG IS YOURS! It is meant for you to use, to reach out to a community of fans and followers and talk about what it is that makes up the world of Nathan. You are a writer. You write books. Books get published. You must promote the books.

It isn't overkill to put at the end of every post a short bio and whatever books you have published. It's information new readers would like, it reminds older readers of who you are and what you've achieved. DON'T BE SHY! I swear, every time I go to Chuck Wendig's site: http://terribleminds I read his bio and love it.

I say promote the hell out of that good book! If the naysayers don't like it they don't have to visit.

Caryn Rose said...

"Don't promote your book! Let the universe take care of it!"

The universe doesn't pay my rent.

Let me translate that post: "I don't want to promote my book and I'm terrified that if other writers learn how to self-promote, people will buy THEIR book and not MY book. I need to believe that I'm right and they're wrong, so let me anonymously try to scare new writers into thinking that self-promotion is bad and evil!!!"

I stopped accusing any artist of selling out once I started taking myself seriously as an artist.

Cheryl St.John said...

I can't imagine anyone getting snippy about that post. The blog is free to read -- or not. And the point of having one is promotion. Glad you put it back up.

Jenna said...

Your blog has kept followers current with the state of publishing (thank you) so it should be no surprise to anyone that self-promotion is a needful aspect of the business. However, too many authors confuse what really snags a reader into buying their book and what repels them no matter how much they ‘know’ self-promotion is necessary

What makes me want to buy a book is not how many times the title can be squeezed into each post, how available the links are to purchase it or flagrant "buy me" posts. There are subtler ways to enhancing readers that also build author loyalty which is really the goal of self-promotion (or should be). Many of these ways don’t even involve pushing the book itself. The books I’ve bought from reading author blogs are all because I felt I was friends with the author and wanted to support him/her, photos of their publicity tour showed off the worth of buying and reading reviews on OTHER blogs saying how good the book was. Many of these sources were in posts but not the main topic and links to buy the book or find reviews are on the side bars not the center.

People read author blogs to find out more about an author, to gain advice and to see what the book is about before buying it. If we like it, we’ll find reviews, other work you’ve published, and the cheapest site to buy your book on our own. The trick is to make us want to find it by engaging our loyalty, our interest in your writing style or there is so much hype from other sources about your book we have to buy it.

Many aspiring authors want to help fellow writers out but no one likes feeling pressure to do so. If you write well, have a good following of people who are rooting for YOU, and make them feel a part of what you’re doing then you don’t ever have to feel bad for self-promotion, it will happen on it’s own.

Charlie said...

Hi Nathan,
Your post is right on. As a budding author with my first book coming out in September, I'm definitely feeling this pressure. But I've adopted a forsight another speaker gave me....that social media is all about promoting others 80 percent of the time and 20 percenter yourself. I'm hoping that will appease the masses, plus I'm really having fun promoting others and gaining new friends. But for those naysayers (and I know they will come) I hope to solace my muse by offering her a new quote by George Carlin I learned at a workshop this weekend..."Those who dance are considered insane by those who can't hear the music." :-)
Thanks!
C.K. Volnek

D.G. Hudson said...

Self-promotion does suck. It's hard to blow our own horn. When I have something to do that's out of my comfort zone, I try to focus on what I want as a result.

Some writers are good at self-promotion, some struggle.

Marketing is business, which seems to clash with a creative endeavor, but in this new publishing era, where we are expected to 'hit the floor running' in expertise and savvy, you better be prepared to dive in or at least get your toes wet.

If a writer has a blog and wants to promote his book on that blog, IMO it's that blogger's prerogative. Just tell me how and where. A blog dispenses content and encourages discussion, but is not that much different from a web page in highlighting that author's writing ability. If tact or humor is present, so much the better. I can ignore it or not.

Have you redefined the purpose of this blog, Nathan, since it's no longer an agent's blog, it's now an author's blog?

An author is allowed more freedom on his blog, where a lit agent could be seen as having a conflict of interest situation if he promoted his book on his own blog.

BTW - halfway through Jacob Wonderbar ... and enjoying Sarah Daisy very much.

MAFW said...

I bought your book because I wanted to read it. It sounded interesting and as a first time author I can only imagine the excitement you felt when you held it in your hands for the first time.

Do what you have to do to get it out to the masses. Promote! Promote! Promote! And if Jacob Wonderbar was around to give his thoughts I'm sure he would agree.

Tina Burke said...

I agree wholeheartedly.

Just after reading this, I read this interesting and relevant blog post about John Mayer's thoughts on tweeting/blogging/self-promotion, and the negative effect it had on his (song)writing: http://bit.ly/nddtJy

Worth reading and considering...

Josin L. McQuein said...

It's always weird having to stand up and say "Look at me! Isn't this thing I've done awesome?" Most of us have been told/taught to do just the opposite -- take praise with a grain of salt, smile, say thank you, then sit down. It's hard to break out of that without feeling like a complete creep. And there's always going to be someone who takes what you say the wrong way, and assume that self-promotion is your personality.

I can't imagine someone flipping out over your "pledge" post.

First, this is your blog. Yes, the usual subject of this blog is broader in scope, but IT'S YOUR BLOG. And it's not as if you haven't paid forward enough posts by filling them with information that helped the rest of us. A few made in your own interest isn't a lot to ask.

Some people just like to complain. Ignore them -- or better, sic a space monkey on them ;)

Barbara Kloss said...

You are absolutely right! It's tough and "icky" and no one likes doing it (well, some might), but it's gotta start somewhere. It's like having a child and then never telling anyone about her, and if you do, people get conniptions. Sure, if you talked about her all the time, it'd get annoying but I'd probably just stop listening (ie reading your blog).

...oh, and please don't salt the earth :D

Anonymous said...

Nathan, your melancholy view of self-promotion is a complete disservice to yourself and the people who follow your blog.

Self-promotion is NOT an insect to be squashed. It is a VERY necessary *skill* and *art form*. It is also a natural outgrowth of CONFIDENCE.

The only reason it's so distasteful to you (and a great many people) is because it's misunderstood in it's nature and purpose.

It takes courage and humility (yes, I said humility) to self-promote. It takes understanding that neither you nor your work are so sublime that you don't need to politely ask folks if they wouldn't mind giving you a chance.

I don't go up to a woman I find attractive and try to strike up conversation because I'm a sleazy douche. I do it becuause I have the confidence to believe that even though I might not be the cutest, richest, or toughest guy, I have other qualities to offer. And I'm humble enough to understand that I'm not above asking her to take a look at those qualities.

You should seriously rethink your views on the subject, Nathan.

Bill

Anonymous said...

Self-promote or don't.

Doesn't matter.

Because you get one of three outcomes. One, you'll do it just right and sell a lot of books. Two, you'll do it with mediocre success, retaining some fans, loosing some, and not selling much for your efforts. Three, you'll crash and burn.

But while we're on the topic of personal gain, you're still under the impression that readers owe you a debt because you write a blog. (Laughs. Set up a subscription and you'll find out real quick how much people value what you have say.) (Also, since we're on the topic of things that were once free but are no longer free, how are you gonna react when blogger isn't free anymore?)

But I do this blog thing for free, you. (Laughs again. So do millions of other people, most of which feel lucky just to get comments. By the way I'd of been happy with a few comments on my blog, but I read you and commented anyway. As far as I'm concerned, this has been a one way street and it's all flowing toward you. )

Again, I have nothing wrong with self promotion. Lots of writers do it but I hate it when some one comes along as says, well, here's the bill for my friendship. And you're not even a freaking friend. You're just a blogger.

Here's an idea. Hold your updates hostage. Don't blog until you've sold twenty or fifty- you set the number- copies of your book. I mean if your gonna attach strings, then attach them, otherwise just say, you'd really like us to buy your book and leave the discussion of strings and things that were once free not being free to someone better equipped.

I'm not opposed to self-promotion, but it like overnight you jumped form an all around likable guy to a diva.

Pay me.
Pay me.
Pay me.

For blogging.

If you feel like it's a waste of your time unless you get paid, then charge for it or quit.

If your terribly insulted by what I've had say, put your money where your mouth is and buy his stupid book before he has a coronary. Otherwise, your support is just lip service and you can stuff a sock in it.

Kate said...

You have provided priceless advice and support to aspiring writers at no charge, in an ad-free environment. Personally, I don't think you should flinch at requesting some reciprocity. But self-promotion definitely sucks, and I suck at it, so I know how you feel.

I think this fellow blogger did a great job of promoting her book here:

http://mwfseekingbff.com/2011/07/06/i-have-a-book-cover/

Nathan Bransford said...

bill-

Definitely take the point that it can and should be done with more confidence. Though I don't know that our views diverge so much. I still self-promote too because I think my book has something to offer, just as you hit on the ladies for the same reason.

anon@9:29-

Huh?

Nancy Kelley said...

Self-promotion does suck, even if you learn to do it in new and creative ways. My friend and I started a new website for our genre last week. It's aimed at fostering community between the writers and readers... which means hey! It's a thinly veiled attempt at self-promotion! We're opening it up for other authors to get involved, but obviously our ultimate goal is for people to buy our books.

I wonder if those who are most vocal against self-promotion from others are the ones who are terrified to do it themselves. Those of us who accept it must be done will accept it from others as well. To those who deny the necessity of self-promotion in an author's life, each bit from others is one more reminder that they're wrong.

Fanfreakingtastic Flower said...

Glad you put it back up.

"People. They're the worst." (Ah Seinfeld, how I miss you.)

Anonymous said...

To Anon @ 9:29AM -

I can't speak for Nathan, since I'm not him.

But it's the sanctimony of your post that I find offensive.

That, and the fact that's it's totally untrue. I've followed this blog for a year and change your post has more diva leanings than anything Nathan's posted.

Bill

Anonymous said...

Here's the sticking point for me: This blog used to be that of a literary agent, not an author. The people who go to read a lit agent's blog are not necessarily those who want to buy a children's book.

It feels a little bit like a guilt trip - I worked so hard on this blog, and you've been getting it for free all this time, so don't you think you should start paying? And you can pay by buying my children's book.

I'm all for self-promotion. But I feel, in my humble and anonymous don't-dump-on-me-okay? opinion, that NB needs to decide what he is - are you a lit agent OR an author?

If the latter, LET GO of your lit agent identity/blog/platform, GET creative, and start a brand new blog WITHOUT all the lit agent stuff you are comfortable with - queries, writing, publishing. It muddies the water.

CREATE YOUR AUTHORIAL IDENTITY - yes it's painful to let go of your lit agent thing (and the platform you have built up over the years, AS A LIT AGENT), but it's leading to ho-hum ineffective self-promotion as an author.

You haven't been hitting your target market with an ex-lit agent/author hybrid blog. Make a clean break, get creative, and painstakingly build your new blog readership. Which I think should be A LOT YOUNGER and LESS ARTICULATE than the people currently leaving comments!

Just my opinion, but think about it NB. You are talented, are you really doing your talent justice with the hybrid blog?

Anonymous said...

"I still self-promote too because I think my book has something to offer, just as you hit on the ladies for the same reason."

Nathan, you make me sound like such a skeeze. LOL!!

Where I think our views are different is that like the Amanda Palmer article somebody here mentioned, I NEVER feel weird about promoting myself.

I had to promote myself while interviewing to get my current job. I have to promote myself to interest folks in my writing. I have to promote my way of thinking to get my supervisor to see things my way.

Why should it be a different thing just cause it's a blog??

Bill

Nathan Bransford said...

anon@9:43-

Um. I mean, I changed the blog title to "Nathan Bransford, Author" and I have blogged about queries about.... two or three times in the last six months as I've been focused on the writing process and social networking and the life of a writer?

I feel like I've already done what you're telling me to do. I'm an ex-lit agent turned writer/social media manager. That's who I am. If I tried to be something different it would feel fake.

Nathan Bransford said...

bill-

Ha, and point taken.

The Pen and Ink Blog said...

I love your blog and I had every intention of buying your book, but Nathan, it is overpriced for the market. They seem to have priced it kike a writing book instead of a kids book. I'm waiting for the paper back (which is 2.00 more than a Bruce Coville book or The fourth Grade Fairy and 1.00 over How to Train Your Dragon. These are some of your market Competitors. I thought it would be cheaper on Kindle, but it isn't. So I will be reading it next April

Matthew MacNish said...

Hah! You're so clever, Nathan. I see what you did here. Bravo, sir.

Anonymous said...

"But I feel, in my humble and anonymous don't-dump-on-me-okay? opinion, that NB needs to decide what he is - are you a lit agent OR an author?"

I would never use the comment section to dump on anyone. But your first post was rife with condescension and snide. The second is considerably less so.

You and I are looking at the same blog, but I feel that, perhaps, you are trying to read into Nathan's motives and intent, something none of us can do unless your name is Charles Xavier.

He explained his switch from Agent to Author. I simply see a guy using his platform to promote his new venture. I don't look at it as him trying to guilt me into buying a children's book.

Children's books aren't my thing, so I don't really get into that when he promotes it (no offense to you Nathan). But I find his information on the business and writing totally up my alley, so I read it.

Bill

Catherine said...

I hate to say it, but, respectfully, I must disagree with the general trend here. People seem to be buying into the same mistaken idea that folks have about selling things in general - that it's forcing people to buy things they don't want or need so the seller can get rich at their expense.

This can happen, of course. But it's not the way it has to be.

The best kind of selling or self promotion is when you have something that you belief will be of value to people, and you get paid for doing the work of putting people together with something that will make their lives better.

For example, some people think of selling life insurance as hustling, while others sell it as a way of keeping the death of a family member from creating a financial crisis for everyone left behind (when you're grieving for your spouse, you don't want to also be worrying about losing your house).

Self promotion is hard work, yes. But we don't have to lock ourselves into the false modesty that says its not nice to try and sell something you've created.

It's a good book, right? You wouldn't be trying to sell it if you didn't think it had value for readers, right? Then relax and say "Lookee here at this cool book". A lot :).

Speaking of which, I have a book I've written "Adventures in Palmistry" that's currently for sale. If you're not interested in psychic readings, this won't be your cup of tea; but if you'd like to learn about palmistry, I make it easy and fun for you.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of self-promotion.... I would love to find out how the heck to approach agents / editors at writing gatherings, and make the proverbial "elevator pitch" without coming off like a creep, stalker, climber, loser...etc. I'm not talking about formal pitch sessions, but, say, eating lunch together where you're expected to schmooz or for that matter in an elevator. And when is it cool to approach and when is it creepy or rude? How do you break the ice?

Anonymous said...

I DARE YOU - A WHOLE WEEK OF BLOG POSTS AS CHILDREN'S AUTHOR, NOT SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER

"I've been focused on the writing process and social networking and the life of a writer?"

I guess I'm saying don't blog about the writing process and social networking and the life of a writer either - are these the concerns of the target demographic for your book? No.

I feel, in my anonymous opinion, yeah cause I can't take the heat, I admit it freely :) - the writer/social media manager hybrid construct is a cop-out. You already have demonstrated strength in the social media manager arena - but you DON'T have it, when it comes to creatively and exclusively promoting a children's book. Maybe you really don't have any ideas HOW to write a blog with frequent updates, coming from the perspective of a children's author. Geared toward children/parents. Learning curve!

I feel, in my humble opinion, it's just safer (though less effective) to hang on to whatcha know how to do supremely well - than take that big leap into something you don't.

Seriously, come up with 5 blog post titles on children's lit or rockets or substitute teachers or WHATEVER - geared for your target demographic. I dare you. Go for broke, and let's see what you come up with. NOT geared toward us WRITERS with our own books/manuscripts.

PS This anonymous posting is really liberating! :)

Rick Daley said...

Writing with the intent to sell your work, either directly through self-publishing or indirectly with a publisher (large or small) is a business venture. To engage in it successfully you need to be willing to approach your work in a professional manner, and to do that you must understand the various components of sales and marketing.

Self-promotion is a form of marketing, and marketing is the precursor to sales.

If your book were a seed, and sales were the harvest, then marketing is your soil, fertilizer, water, and sunlight.

It is very hard to make the transition to self-promotor, because it requires (on some levels) that you check your modesty at the door.

This is can be very unnerving and completely counter-intuitive for many of us. We are used to being criticized. We have been ripped apart and rejected so many times it is tough to feel our work is great, let alone shout it from the rooftops.

The reality, though, is that people need to believe your book is great if they are going to spend their time and money on it.
That being said, it is very hard to appear confident without being arrogant, and to encourage people to buy without being pushy.

And the internet is tricky. Something on the web can haunt you forever, even after you take a post or comment down chances are it's cached somewhere. But the Internet also has a short attention span, and both a brilliant move and a move that tastes distincly of shoe leather have the chance of going completely unnoticed. And you never know which it will be...You just need to be brave enough to give it your best effort and hope people will appreciate it as that.

WORD VERIFICATION: censes. An occpuation on which Hannibal Lector once dined with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

Jane George said...

@Creative - there are already numerous 'huddles' or author collectives and FB writers groups who cross-promote each other's work. At first I thought this was a good idea. Hey, I can get Likes on my FB page and Amazon tags and I'll reciprocate. It soon felt even worse than self-promotion because I hadn't read those books and frankly, based on the blurb and sample, I will never read most of those books.

Consumers are already wary of false starred ratings and blind promotion. I would much rather that anyone who leaves a 5-star review on my book's Amazon page actually read it and genuinely enjoyed the read.

I am no longer in any of those groups. Wasn't right for me.

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

I'll think about how I can incorporate some of your suggestions, but I do think it's kind of funny that you're prescribing drastic changes for my blog and my self-promotional tactics when you yourself are too bashful to post non-anonymously.

Himbokal said...

@Anon 9:29

Your comment that people don't value Nathan's blog posts because they wouldn't be willing to pay for them is awfully simplistic.

There are all kinds of stuff that we would never pay for that has great value. Parenting comes to mind. Sex. I suspect a majority of men would be choosing celibacy if they started charging $20 for each time they had sex. Does that mean women don't value sex?

There are all sorts of things we pay for (and expect to pay for) that have no value. Speaking from experience I have never in my life seen a billboard and then purchased said product. If the billboard has any effect it is usually to prompt me to say, "Wow, what a colossal waste of money. I would fire that advertising agency." Now if I walked up to a billboard owner and told him this and then told him he shouldn't charge for his billboard, what do you think he would say?

And your one way street comment is totally suspect. Most of life if a one way street flowing out. McDonald's has never once bought a french fry or hamburger from me nor have they even mentioned me on their website despite the fact that I've eaten hundreds, nay, thousands of their fries and burgers. Same goes for the New York Times which I'm still waiting for just one comment on my blog as I've bought countless issues of their newspaper. Don't even get me started on the temerity of Yahoo! which asks me to share THEIR articles on MY social networks and they've never given me a red cent.

That being said: go to my blog and one way street to your heart's content. www.somethingauthorly.blogspot.com

Kyla said...

I hate it. What if people hate me for promoting my blog or the book I'm writing? What if they hold it against me? What if they hold it against what I write? What if they don't give me a chance just because I seem so self-centered as to promote my work?

But what else is there to do? You have to get your work mentioned out there, somewhere, if you ever want anyone to read it or to make any sort of money.

Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone in that icky feeling, like you're selling your soul for a quick buck. Have a great day, and happy writing!

Sean Thomas Fisher said...

I doubt that Chevy or Apple or Harry Potter or the tire shop around the corner are too squeamish about pimping their products out. I think you just have to be careful not to beat people over the head with mundane stuff about your books. It's like those same boring commercials you see or hear every five minutes that cause people to change channels. But many are creatively well done and leave a lasting impression. Yet, some fiction writers stop the creative juices from flowing as soon as they write "the end". I would hate self-promoting too if I took that angle.

Robin said...

It's been a bit since I've been on the blog so I missed the drama on Friday. I read today's post first, then went back to see what all the hoopla was about.

All you did was ask people to consider buying your book. You were very polite.

People should consider buying your book. Writers can't buy food and pay rent with happy thoughts and warm fuzzies. "Oh, isn't Nathan wonderful!" doesn't work as legal tender.

Self promotion is necessary. Like flossing. Just do it.

Steve Masover said...

Go Nathan ... like Chumbawamba sang... -- just get up again. The world is messy, life is messy, why wouldn't finding your audience be messy too?

Kristi said...

I was surprised that you got negative feedback from visitors to your blog. It is, after all, your own space to do with as you like. If a blog reader doesn't like it, they it is up to them to stop reading your blog. I'm guessing they won't be buying your book either, so no big loss.

Good luck with Jacob Wonderbar. I keep trying to talk it up to my 7-year old, but she hasn't bitten yet. Maybe the next Jacob Wonderbar should include something pink and glittery (just kidding) :)

Anonymous said...

"I DARE YOU - A WHOLE WEEK OF BLOG POSTS AS CHILDREN'S AUTHOR, NOT SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER"

I think that it's a foolish dare to take.

Nathan has built up a following as an agent, and from discussing the business and trends in writing/publishing. That following is an ADVANTAGE. Why should he not take advantage of that advantage??

Because it's "unseemly" and "poor decorum" to some? Because it offends somebody's sensibilities?? Because he needs to demonstrate some outmoded sense of machismo?

Please.

Bill

Anonymous said...

See Nathan, again the "approaching the attractive woman" thing comes into play.

Just because some guys think that flowers, opening doors and pulling out chairs, and saying something nice about a woman other than her cup size..is a sign of being a sissy, doesn't mean *I* have to buy into it.

I mean, Nathan, you're married. Think about it. Your wife is with you BECAUSE you PROMOTED YOURSELF as an ideal mate and eventually husband.

Even though, you might say, "Hang on, Bill. I wasn't trying to hustle my wife, I was simply being me." But THAT'S MY POINT. Self-promotion isn't lying or misleading, it's about honesty at it's core.

If your model of self-promotion is about following others and pandering to the crowd, then you're right to be disdainful of it.

If you're following your own sensibilities then you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Bill

Anonymous said...

I actually read your blog, Nathan, because I like the way you write. I like your style...if that makes sense.

And frankly, I'd continue to read if you posted more about middle grade books and the happenings in this genre. It's something I don't know much about and something that would take me away from what I'm always doing in my own genre. And this is why I love your blog so much...escapism.

I'm not the anon you addressed earlier. I do post anon for reasons, some of which have to do with the fact that I don't want to be accused of promoting myself on comment threads. (It's a little snarky in the cyber world ;)

Tonya said...

I just posted on my own little blog about what I've done to "put myself out there" as an aspiring author. Yes, it's scary and it can feel a bit narcisistic, but it's a reality in the publishing world. What has helped me work through the negativity of self-promotion is viewing it in a different light. As I post blogs and tweet, trying to gain more followers who will in turn tell others about my writing, I see it as finding my place in the YA writing community, finding a place where I belong. Yes, I'm self-promoting, but I'm also A PART OF SOMETHING - something very important to me and so many others - young adult literature. So, maybe if we approach self-promotion with a positive attitude, it won't be as painful! : )

folksinmt said...

Couldn't agree with you more. It SUCKS big time! The thing I keep reminding myself is that it takes time to build an audience.

It also takes some of the joy out of writing when you are worried if this new piece you are working on will sell. I liked it better when I just wrote for me.

Istvan Szabo, Ifj. said...

Anon. With all due respect, if you're that brilliant as you're presenting yourself, why don't you reveal your identity? Only that one hides, who has something to hide. If you dare Nathan, why don't you reveal yourself?

"PS This anonymous posting is really liberating! :)"
Yes. And it's the first sign of a true amateur. :)

Anonymous said...

Ah...you just have to jump into it with both feet and humbly acknowledge your strengths. For instance, I can say without hesitation that I am one of the nation's great writers of lousy query letters. See what I mean? It's easy.

Darley said...

I take "have to" to mean you really should. But of course. How else are you going to get that word of mouth started?

How often do you see a celebrity on a talk show who isn't plugging something? Shameless? Sometimes, yes. But we know what they're doing. That's how they make a living.

I think the few that take issue with your self-promotion probably just aren't used to seeing you play that role. I admit, I wasn't at first either, being a longtime reader of this blog. But you're a writer now, and you're wearing a different hat. Love it or hate it, you have to make it fit.

Hollister Ann Grant said...

Okay, folks, listen up.

If you bought Nathan's book, WRITE A REVIEW on Amazon, B&N, wherever you bought it.

You don't have to write a huge review -- a short, informal one is fine. Reviews help a book rise in the standings and let other readers know you enjoyed it.

I bought the book this past weekend and plan to write a review after I finish it.

Rebecca Stroud said...

I think marketing is a p.i.t.a. Personally, I have no problem "strutting my stuff" as I write niche books (I'm an avid animal lover and all my work involves dogs, be it a short tale or a suspense novel). So, those who care about this subject aren't really hard to convince.

However, I freely admit that I am a techno-dummie. I hate Facebook, haven't even tried Twitter, my blog is dormant, and the list goes on.

So I've basically stopped the self-promo. Be it good, bad, or ugly, I'm slogging my way through via word of mouth. Yes, I understand that people need to know my books are out there and where to find them (I am an Amazon author) but the constant pressure of marketing puts a huge damper on my time & creativity...I abhor it.

Anyway, great post, Nathan.

Patrice said...

I enjoy promoting my Brand! New! Kindle! political thriller when I remember how much fun it was to write and that even I enjoy reading it... though I rewrote it a million times. And somebody must love it because I've got five 5-star reviews and one 4 (and only one came from a relative). So... ta da... if you think you might like to hear what happens when a female V.P. gets the Dem nomination, and her GOP opponent is Jerusha Hutchins, of the large blonde hair and eight children, who is running for POTUS because G*d told her to... check out my book for the bargain price of $4.99. http://www.amazon.com/RUNNING-ebook/dp/B005AJA43O

Sommer Leigh said...

I feel like us readers need to band together and start a program of promotion for our favorite authors and do some of the leg work for the people and books we love. Like, every author should be given their own little fan club to help them with this part of the deal.

I think it is also good to remind each other periodically that the best thing we can do for writers we love is to read, write reviews and spread the word.

j a zobair said...

I get that people who want lit agent advice are not necessarily the same people who want a children's book. But if you made a Venn diagram, there would be a lot of overlap. I mean who doesn't know a kid who reads?

I buy books all the time that I might not love, to support friends and also bloggers who I like. I bought four copies of a blogging friend's self-pubbed book (which is fantastic, by the way) and have given the copies to friends. To support him.

I've gotten a lot more than I've given as a lurker on this blog. No, Nathan isn't my friend. But he's been helpful to my process and I do not mind at all suporting him. I have an eight year old son. No brainer.

The first rule of self promoting with a blog is to GIVE your readers some information they need or want. Not to talk about your cat or your divorce or your rejections. At least not exclusively. (I say this as someone who just posted about a 73 year old "parakeet"). My point is if your story is set in Nepal, blog about Nepal. If your character is a famous chef, give recipes. Etc. At least some of the time. Nathan has done that in spades. And he has a following. And he'd be an idiot not to leverage that in his author process.

Roger Floyd said...

I think that people aren't so much repelled by tasteful self-promotion as they are by shameless, obnoxious or overbearing self-promotion. A simple note on Facebook or Twitter to alert your friends is okay. A reading at a bookstore can be worthwhile. Distributing a few bookmarks with your book info won't alienate many potential readers. The point is to do it tastefully and discretely and leave the offensive self-promotion to the other guy.

Marsha Sigman said...

I had some extra time so I thought I would check in and Holy Hell what is with all this drama???

If you don't like Nathan's blog or you find it offensive or self serving, then just GO AWAY.

As for you, Nathan. You ARE freakin' awesome and you wrote a great book. Embrace it. Promote it. Sell it.

That's all. I thought everyone needed a reality check. I know I feel better.

Kevin Lynn Helmick said...

You're still beating yourself up over this? Buddy, let it go. It was a good idea, this pledge thing, but the execution sounded a bit like, I do all this for you, so you kinda owe me. And maybe your right. But people don't like to hear that, or respond to guilt. Maybe you should have had somebody else handle it up front and you behind the scenes. I thought it was pretty cool idea. I can see it being tricky to get the me me out of it. maybe a portion of profit goes to a favorite charity, something to remove yourself a bit.
I've had my biggest spikes in sales right after interviews, radio, and blog, now this sucks too, because after a while you're sick of answering the same questions and talking about the same book when you've moved on mentaly, deep into a new project. but it seems to work, and getting reviews is supposed to help, but the good ones are so swamped it take a year to get one. I know you have to self promote and know it sucks and it's frustrating slow picking up sales. Your book hasn't been out very long though, being a former agent I'm sure you've said to a client or two, "be patient, it takes time." lol. And forget the negative stuff, whenever you stick your butt out there, somebody somewhere's gonna bite it.
just the way it is, and probably always will be.
I would have guessed Dial would have a had some sorta marketing plan in place for two book deal. They have money on the line, whats up with that?

Anonymous said...

I bought your book this weekend. Why? Because you asked. I thought I might get around to it eventually, but I don't buy a lot of hardback books, so I might never have gotten to it. I did it because I appreciate this blog and because you asked. You can chalk that sale up to self-promotion.

Bert Carson said...

700,000 indie writers. Those who are successful understand that writing is only half the job. If we don't promote ourselves and our work, who will!
Thanks,
Bert

Karen Duvall said...

Oh, yes, i know just what you mean. I'm about to climb aboard the self-promo train myself. Sigh. It reminds me of this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNiR5ZTb_MA&feature=related

J. Anne Huss said...

Nathan,

As an experienced self-promoter who found it difficult at first (especially after spending an entire year giving many things out for free to create my customer base) I can tell you that it gets easier.

And here is my best piece of advice to anyone who finds that their "followers" are only interested in "freebies"...get them off your list.

Why you ask? I mean, aren't they potential customers? No. Not if they claim the right to be "offended" when you ask them to buy your product (which is a darn good book by the way - I was one who pre-ordered it).

You have given writers a phenomenal amount of information, advice, and hand-holding...the VERY LEAST we can do for YOU is to support your endeavors.

YOU HAVE NOTHING TO APOLOGIZE FOR!

Self promotion should not SUCK...it should make you feel good because you've created a book that is fun, exciting, and inspirational.

Nathan, when you got it...flaunt it!

And you got it baby! :)

Just put your nose down and keep going. Listen to those who support you and ignore those you prefer you to be the "guy who gives all the secrets away for free"...they don't deserve you.

J. Anne

J.C. Martin said...

Agreed. Every time I try to self-promote anything, I start feeling like a spam bot!

Bonnie West said...

Just thought you should know I bought your hardcover book for a friend who also follows your feed....and then today... BECAUSE of that bit about self promotion ...bought it for my SELF on kindle! bravo. ! Bonnie West

Tim Warnes said...

I just started up an online comic strip to promote my book's characters, Chalk & Cheese. I hope that's a creative and fun solution to self promotion. Yesterday I was at a music festival in the mud here in the UK, and took the opportunity of being in a large crowd of people having fun to hand out some flyers to promote said strip. I did it with a smile and good manners - nobody seemed offended, and with a bit of luck I'll pick up some new readers! You can find the strip here - http://chalkandcheesecomics.blogspot.com

dalyamoon.com said...

Nathan, you seem like a really nice person, and you've given so much to the writing community with your blog and advice. I am grateful for all you've done!

I'm promoting a book right now and I emailed some bloggers to see if they wanted review copies. I was terrified of getting mean responses. I got a bit panicky every time I opened my email ... but you know what? Most people have been incredibly nice! I am sure there will be the occasional fly in the ointment, but I'm going to print out the nice emails so I can look at them whenever I feel blue.

Anonymous said...

I'm really surprised at some of the comments. You have given so much of your time to giving us aspiring authors help in every aspect of this writing journey. The least they[the nay sayers] can do is support you in return. I will definetly buy your book!

Russell Brooks said...

One thing I learned from having worked in sales for over 15 years is that consumers will buy the person first and their product second. Although self-promotion is important, it's always best to take part in activies (on or offline) that will get you admiration. Sharing tips or giving advice always puts you in a win-win situation, kind of what you're doing here, Nathan. Do it often enough, people will start to notice you because they'll start to like you. At which point, you won't be selling anything, it'll be the buyers who'll be buying.

Russell Brooks
Author of Pandora's Succession

Mira said...

This post will come in four parts because I have alot to say.
-----------
Part 1: April?? April?? I have to wait until April??? Arrggghhh!!!
-------------------------
Part 2: Really? You don't like the spotlight? That's interesting. I LOVE the spotlight. But I do suck at networking, and I imagine you are good at it, Nathan. It's probably because you feel confident that you have something to offer.

That's true with your book, too.

But there are ways to let people know about your book without having to be in the spotlight, if you really don't like it. And thinking about it as networking might be helpful, I don't know.
--------------------
Part 3: So many of the commenters said great stuff about this. I really liked Livia's post. I also really liked Catherine's post here, and I loved her last paragraph, which I thought was a great example of low-key, friendly promotion.

I also agree that making it fun, keeping it light, and targeting your reading group are good ideas.

You may want to read some blogs and communities for MG writers and see what ideas they have for reaching the target audience. It's true that people here love you and will buy your book, but that may not spread it as quickly as a targeted audience. I, for example, read your book, loved it, wrote two reviews for it, and talk about it here. But I don't have kids, and I don't really know anyone who has kids, so it sort of stops there.

Although I do think that things can spread slowly. Harry Potter really didn't take off until the third book. Amanda Hocking said it wasn't until her second book that things took off. People, especially kids, may actually respond better to series.

------------
Part 4: So, some other thoughts on this topic. I really don't believe in most self-promotion. I think most of the time it backfires. I even get annoyed when people put their blog URLs in their post (sorry) because it makes me feel like I'm being tricked and used, and I am LESS likely to buy their book (sorry again).

The only way that self-promotion really works is if it's personal and natural. Just like with networking. You're having a conversation with someone, but you may not mention much about your job unless it is organic. Trying to force anything is usually a turn-off.

For example, I could be wrong, but I believe, Nathan, that if you got increased sales over the weekend, it's not because you mentioned your book on your blog. It's because you were vulnerable and personal about the whole thing, and that drew people to you and made them want to support you.

I think everyone needs to find their own way to let themselves be seen. I'm fairly good at standing out in a blog (although not always in a way that people will like) - it's a weird talent - but what I do probably wouldn't work anyone else. In large part, that's because I'm fairly genuine in my attention seeking ways :). Everyone has to find their own way of just being themselves and asking for support, or playing around and having fun with it. We are creative types after all.

One last thought, sorry to be so verbose today, but in some ways, I think it's good to relax about this sort of thing. There's really no rush. There's always the next book to be written, and a writer's life is rarely defined by one book.

Okay, I'm done. Thanks. :)

p.s. April??!!!

Angela Brown said...

There may have been a time when publishers footed the bill for major promotion of a book and author they felt was a golden goose prime to lay its eggs. That time has dwindled significantly, especially with the introduction of the digital age and all the pros and cons that come with it.

I, too, do not like self-promotion. However, I don't mind it for something that I can stand behind. In today's age, self-promotion is necessary.

Thanks for this blog as reminder of that truth.

http://publishness.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

I wish I had the link but I can't find it online now -- several years back four agents did an interview (one was Daniel Lazar of Writer's House) where they talked about "Lead Title" books, and how it was like hitting the lottery.

The gist of the that section of the interview was that their were very few things an author could do to help sell their book on any sort of large scale.

But if it was a lead title then it gets all the pub has to offer -- which is substantial in terms of free galleys, being featured at the Book Expo and ALA, talked up in the industty, and pushed for great sell-ins at bookstores, including displays.

That's why being on the midlist sucks.

Is it better to write another book, than to kill yourself trying to promote what a pub isn't? Not asking you specifically, Nathan, but just as a general question.

I had a midlist book that wasn't offered at ALA or the Book Expo, though it came out in hardcover from a big pub. Truthfully, I'd rather it hadn't gotten pubbed -- because of low sales (B&N didn't stock it, citing that it didn't have any promotion) -- and now I'm stuck trying to get a new agent while I'm saddled with a low-selling debut. It's been damn near impossible.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had the link but I can't find it online now -- several years back four agents did an interview (one was Daniel Lazar of Writer's House) where they talked about "Lead Title" books, and how it was like hitting the lottery.

The gist of the that section of the interview was that their were very few things an author could do to help sell their book on any sort of large scale.

But if it was a lead title then it gets all the pub has to offer -- which is substantial in terms of free galleys, being featured at the Book Expo and ALA, talked up in the industty, and pushed for great sell-ins at bookstores, including displays.

That's why being on the midlist sucks.

Is it better to write another book, than to kill yourself trying to promote what a pub isn't? Not asking you specifically, Nathan, but just as a general question.

I had a midlist book that wasn't offered at ALA or the Book Expo, though it came out in hardcover from a big pub. Truthfully, I'd rather it hadn't gotten pubbed -- because of low sales (B&N didn't stock it, citing that it didn't have any promotion) -- and now I'm stuck trying to get a new agent while I'm saddled with a low-selling debut. It's been damn near impossible.

Melissa Blade said...

Great advice. Don't listen to the naysayers.

Personally I bought a copy of Jacob for my 7-year-old son and look forward to reading it with him.

I thank you for this blog!!!! Buying a copy of your book is the least any faithful reader could do.

Mira said...

Omg, I can't believe I actually have MORE to say about this. I promise this will be short, and the last post from me.

First, I hope someday you become more comfortable with the spotlight Nathan, if you want to, because you have so much to offer and share.

Second, I really think there is one reason and one reason only to blog, and that reason is: You like to blog. You like sharing your thoughts, or fostering communities, or disseminating information, or other stuff like that. Blogging is a very powerful form of writing, and should be valued for that - a distinct and important form of creativity.

Lowering blogging as a means to an end is really selling it short, imho.

This is not directed toward you, Nathan, it's actually some thoughts that came up after reading Livia's blog post.

Okay, done.

p.p.s. April??!! Arrgghhhh!!!

lhowell@montereybay.com said...

You're doing a great job. Please correct me if I am wrong, I thought having a blog was a form of self-promoting. There isn't anything wrong with self-promoting, if you believe in your work and talent so will others. I am an author for children's books and its's a hard market to sell. Self-promoting with confidence is different than with arrogance and you are not arrogant. I bought your book and love it...congratulations on your next one. Your blog inspired me to create a blog for my writing. I have learned a great deal from you. You are a very wise person for being so young. Be confident and proud.

Anonymous said...

"[....]I think it gets at the extent to which platform isn’t about superficial relationships or basic name recognition but rather a real connection built between an author and their audience. Basically platform is the number of eyeballs you can summon at any given time, and with so many distractions competing for our attention, only a strong connection/affinity will motivate someone to go out of their way to buy a book." -Nathan Bransford, on The Writer's Inner Journey blog

I can't wait to receive and read his Wonderbar book, but frankly, I (probably along with the majority of this blog's readers) am NOT a member of the book's target audience. Let us summon all the grade school kiddos in our lives to go read it!

Phoenix Sullivan said...

I don't like it. It's hard. It feels icky. But it has to be done.

Where have I heard that before?

Oh yeah. Writing QUERIES!

And how do we learn to do that? By studying what works and what doesn't. By joining crit groups and getting feedback.

By writing one.

By revising it. And revising it again. And again.

Some people get it right eventually. Some never do.

Sometimes what snags your target is something no one else thought to do. Or something even your critters didn't think would work.

Sending out your first queries is hard -- you don't know what the response will be. Just like taking your first steps in promotion.

Sometimes promoting will backfire. That's called rejection.

Sometimes promoting will cause goodwill and raise awareness. That's the request for a partial.

Sometimes promoting leads to someone checking out your book. That's the request for the full.

And sometimes promoting leads to controversy that leads to discussion that leads to awareness that, after another 5 or 6 impressions, leads to sales. That's landing the deal.

And if you keep getting rejections without requests? Then it's time to rewrite your query and try again. And again. Until you close the deal.

The more you do it, the easier it gets. Right? (Please say that's right.)

sally apokedak said...

Well, I bought it, so the self-promotion worked on me. I'll tell you why. Nathan took time to answer a private email I sent him, even though he was, at the time, a busy agent. I appreciated all the time he put into the blog and his willingness to answer queries. I'm spending ten bucks on his book, as payback, because his premise and first chapter don't grab me. It's not my genre, for one thing. (We have different tastes, obviously. He didn't offer to represent me when I sent him my work.) :)

What I'm going to do with the book is read it, then give it away to a kid who will like it.

I'm sorry I didn't buy the book right away and he had to self promote. Nathan's a decent guy and I wanted to buy the book right away, but I really am very broke. Still, I should have bought it sooner than I did. I'm sorry I made him ask.

Anonymous said...

I've read your blog since you were still an agent and was pretty bummed out when you made the switch. But to my surprise you continued to provide the same valuable guidance and professional perspective as before. I wasn't the least bit surprised that you promoted your book on your website, in fact it's what I expected.

With bookstores going down in flames, it sure isn't getting any easier to get your name out there as an author. I'll be honest that I wouldn't buy your book if it wasn't a genre I enjoy because I have enough things around my house that I don't need. But I do happen to like YA and middle grade---Disney and Pixar movies too. And I plan on buying it when I'm ready to add to my reading list.

If you didn't promote JW on your website, I doubt I would've come across it. And that darn psychic power company shut me down when I forgot to pay the bill.

Some of these negative posts have a slight entitlement mentality. Give me what I want for free, and you'd better serve it to me exactly the way I like it.

Keep up the good work. You're the blogger I visit most!

Leslie

Mira said...

I keep lying and saying I'm not going to post again.

Quickly - I guess it's okay to blog to establish a web presence and let people know who you are and what you write.

But blogging in and of itself is also an art form, and that shouldn't be overlooked.

Anonymous said...

I checked out the article that Mira had mentioned in a comment:
http://blog.liviablackburne.com/2011/07/author-blogging-youre-doing-it-wrong.html

Really puts a fresh angle on the topic--I tend to forget distinguishing between my writerly community and my platform.

Thank you Mira.

Caleb said...

I hate self promoting until it just happens. Then I'm forced to and then people buy and then I like it when people buy and I say "why don't I do that more often.

With that being said.

you can find links on how to buy my book from my blog,

5pocketphilosopher.wordpress.com

Ben Campbell said...

I like your line, Bransford: "People usually want to hear about new things from enthusiastic and neutral third parties, not the hugely biased person who created the thing."
You're promoting the correct way. We readers like your fun, racy and cute Jacob Wonderbar. After all, you wrote the book, you should promote the book. Keep promoting.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, whatever you do - please don't listen to Mira. That's just pure crap. Blogging was invented for people to get a message out - blogging in and of itself is actually a business. And for someone to say that a PROFESSIONAL blogger should not blog except for the pure enjoyment of it is just plain ignorant.

This is a business and business requires marketing. Personally, I don't think you need any help in this department because you are such a fantastic blogger, you just need to take that step from FREEBIE production to SALES.

You are one of the very few successful bloggers in the writing world - don't let anyone tell you that you OWE them free content.

That's pure crap.

Tambra said...

For me finding the way of promoting that is the least slimy is the route I take.
Yes, I want to get paid for my books, teaching and public speaking engagements.

Society doesn't give a rat's patooty until we're big like JK Rowling or Stephen King but to reach that point we have to promote the way that we can live with ourselves.

I've held contests, had a book signing in a bar (I did sell books) a Panera Bread and a local book store. It's all a toss up.

I love meeting and talking to people which is why I love conferences and book signings. I can talk to people about the titles I have out. I promote at Barnes and Noble, Panera Bread, the grocery store. Much of the time the person and I get to talking and I ask if they are a reader. I always have business cards handy.
For me the friendly approach like the above has never gotten a bad reaction.
You're right, promo can suck like a galactic hoover.

Hugs,
Tambra
www.daughtersofavalonpublishing.com

Anonymous said...

It is a truth universally acknowledged that no matter what you do, some asshat ain't gonna like it.

Anonymous said...

This blog is terrific! I really appreciate, Nathan, that you DID keep the blog going when you changed your focus/perspective/POV from literary agent to author. You're always so accessible and encouraging--I for one find it incredibly helpful to know that even a publishing 'insider' struggles with writing, promotion etc. It's disappointing though, that a small group of commentators seem intent, not just to disagree with you (which is fine, when constructive), but to wound you, simply because you shared a vulnerability on your blog. They're either holding you on a pedestal (what Sir Nathan may or may not blog about), which isn't fair, or they're jealous of your success. Either way, as others have said here, ignore the jerks and please carry on! Susie

Shallee said...

I once read the book "The Greatest Salesman in the World," and it totally changed my mind about being a "salesman." I used to think it was horrible and icky, too. But the whole point of that book is that, as a salesman, you're providing a valuable service to help people find what they need. So you get to know people, find out what they need, and find out how you (or your book) can deliver it.

I mean, when I go to the car lot, I want to buy a car. I hate the salesman that forces all sorts of things on me, but I love the guy who finds out what I'm looking for and can point out the cars that would work for me. I LOVE that approach to self-promotion. It can be a service, rather than a necessary evil.

Cynthia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Other Lisa said...

It is a truth universally acknowledged that no matter what you do, some asshat ain't gonna like it.

Bwahahah! Thank you, @anon 9:29!

Cynthia said...

Nathan, while I can see how "self-promoting" a book can sometimes be uncomfortable for the promoter and the promotee, I think the promoter is merely doing what celebrities pay their publicists to do. But while actors, models, musicians, and reality TV stars land on magazine covers or get interviewed on late night talk shows to announce their new projects, many writers don't get this kind of exposure. Therefore, I think self-promoting is a necessity.

And self-promoting doesn't have to come across as self-promoting. I like reading the blogs of published writers or soon-to-be published writers especially when they talk about the process and challenges that went into writing and publishing their book. For example, I liked that you shared your query letter for Jacob Wonderbar because it was educational and useful to me as a new writer.

Just sharing my two cents. Good luck with everything.

Ishta Mercurio said...

You absolutely nailed this one. Self-promotion DOES feel icky! It makes me feel like everyone's staring at me now, wondering when I will leave and hoping it will be soon. I hate doing it.

I think a lot of this comes from having grown up, as I think a lot of creative people probably did, "on the outside looking in." We're used to people looking at us as if we have unbearable B.O. when we try to talk to them, and that's before we start telling them that we made something really neat and they should go buy it now.

Online, however, I don't hate it so much. I still dislike it, but not as much as when it's in person. This new digital era has that going for it, at least.

It still leaves me feeling covered in icky, though.

Dave Monroe said...

I find self-promotion boring. It only sucks if you don't have anything to promote or if you don't believe in your work.

We self-promote on a daily basis. At work we self-promote to get the job, then we self-promote all day both in our work ethics, our duties, the way we dress and present ourselves in the workplace.

Everything we do is a variation of self-promotion right down to the car you drive.

There are many ways to self-promote and not all are standing in front of a crowd and screaming "ME!"

If you are not comfortable promoting yourself or your work, you get an agent or a publicist.

Istvan Szabo, Ifj. said...

"It only sucks if you don't have anything to promote or if you don't believe in your work."

True. Don't expect others to enjoy your work and it's advertisements if you can't enjoy it too at least on a minimal level.

Marie Ohanesian Nardin said...

I'm looking forward to the day when I, too, will hate self-promotion; still in the query stage!

Darlene Underdahl said...

You've got to do it and it feels awful.

Family and friends won't do it for you. There is a little envy toward the person who got their act together and wrote a book.

What you get from family and friends is word of mouth, but that's good.

www.VermillionRoadPress.com

Mister Fweem said...

When I have a book to promote, I'm going to promote it relentlessly. I don't understand why anyone whould take offense at an author saying at every opportunity, Hey, I wrote a book. It's good. You should buy it. Haters need to look at "Secrets of Successful Fiction" by Robert Newton Peck, who plugs his books relentlessly at every opportunity and thus, at the time he wrote the book I mention, had all of his books still in print.

Geoff Gardner said...

You should know it worked. I'd been planning to buy your book for my son to spark some summer reading, I just haven't gotten to it...until you made it easy. And to prove that I learned from the post, here's my blog on writing: http://geoffgardner.blogspot.com/

Thanks Nathan

mmshaunakelley said...

This is a perfect and wonderful post! As an author, it KILLS me to try and push people to buy my book, but as an author it KILLS me to have spent years on something that isn't getting read. It's a catch 22, and the lesser of two evils is sucking it up and asking people to buy your book.

Anonymous said...

your self-promo convinced me to buy your book, and it's not even my demographic. i did it cause i love your blog, and i want you to keep writing it.

the book hasn't arrived from powell's yet. when it does, i'll review it on powell's and goodreads and amazon.

it seems like a really small thing, for all the insight and good advice and cheering on you've given us.

Promotional Items said...

I agree with you Joanne, there are others who are born to dislike and not agree with you even if you have the nicest and brightest idea. And as of for self promotion, successful people does this. It may sound lame but we have to do it anyway. Believe in yourself so others will.

Lucy said...

Nathan,

I've been holding off on making a comment, because I wanted to think through my response first. Because on some levels, I disagree with you.

The proof, of course, will be in the numbers--or it would be, if you could track them, and how many copies you sold through each promoting activity.

I've never understood why advertisers don't seem to recognize that the age of hard-sell has had its day. Instead, in the face of consumer indifference, they scream louder, try for a new gimick, paint their product with a jazzier look.

I don't see that working. I'm not impressed by the shenanigans. It makes me shake my head and think somebody in marketing must be trying to justify their salary. I buy what I need. I buy the brands I already know will work. I buy for best price, best value. The rest of it is all noise. And by this point in my life, I'm very, very good at tuning it out. As a matter of fact, I make every effort to do so. Nor am I the only consumer who does.

Now, I have to make a confession that comes with a bit of an "ouch" to it, but this is what can happen when a potential buyer hits the saturation point. When you first announced Jacob Wonderbar, I was thrilled. I would have bought a copy right then and there. Problem was, the book wasn't coming out for more than a year. And by the time we went through such intense pre-release promotion via the blog, I had--well.... Lost interest. I got tired of the seemingly endless selling.

You see, I don't read the blog to buy a book. I read it for the industry information, and because I like the blogger. And I probably would have bought the book, or at least given it a read on those two points. But not when it's pushed at me.

Now, I do believe that authors need to promote their books. But promotion, when it's effective, should not involve shouting to an audience that's holding its fingers in its ears in self-defense.

There are many people who follow your blog who love you dearly, and have been glad to buy the book, but I wonder: Wouldn't most of them have bought it anyway? Because you'd already made these connections, and friends and supporters? Has any of this--except for maybe a brief announcement and a book trailer--actually sold any books? Or was it, in fact, the publishing blog (and the connections with its readers that built you such a following) that was really the most important "promotional" activity, even if it seemed to have nothing at all to do with Jacob Wonderbar? I tend to think it may have been.

And I do honestly wish you all the best, from my heart. Even if I am a jaded and cranky consumer.

Lucy

Nathan Bransford said...

Lucy-

Yeah, the promotion did sell books.

Matthew MacNish said...

I just want to point out one more thing: I've been reading this blog for over a year and a half, and the information and knowledge that I've gained from it cannot be measured by something as limited as dollars and cents.

Does that mean I owe Nathan? Yeah. I think so. If he ever asked me for help with something (can't imagine what he would need, but, you know) I would jump on it. I would feel obligated.

I mean yes on some levels Nathan is a friend of mine, as far as online relationships go, but really it's just the fact that he's given so much of his time and shared so much of his experience for free, and that I have literally gained so much from those efforts, in very concrete ways.

Now I actually get the best of both worlds, because a friend bought Wonderbar for me, as a gift, but I intend to buy more copies at some point, to get them signed so that I can give them as gifts as well.

Do I owe Nathan $14.99 x3 or however many copies I end up getting because of everything he's done for me? Nope. I owe him a lot more.

Now I'm not saying that this is how everyone should feel, I can only speak for myself, after all, but I think we have to realize there is a reason why this blog is so wildly popular: it provides an incredibly valuable service, which takes a lot of time and effort to provide, and it's scott free.

Peggy said...

I enjoy reading Nathan's blogs. I've only been reading it a short while (maybe two months?) but have picked up on a lot of things I could use.

Personally, I love self promotion. I enjoy talking about ME! LOL But then, I also love hearing and learning about others.

The book I wrote was aimed at a specific audience. "In the Arms of the Father" is aimed at deaf and hard of hearing folks. Why? Because how many stories that are fiction, involve deaf or hard of hearing people?

So I self promote shamelessly every day. Yes, even though it first came out seven years ago, I still shamelessly promote the book, and will continue to do so.

Thank you, Nathan, for the wonderful tips I've been able to use these past few moths. Please continue!

Peggy

Marisa Hopkins said...

Nathan, I don't know if you are still reading comments this far down, but I just wanted to say that seeing you self-promote is what made me really WANT to buy your book. (Granted, I already did - I'll love it and I'm sure my daughters will, too - but now it's at the top of my list)

I'm not an author yet, but I’ve worked as an independent illustrator since ’04, and promoting myself (which is my LEAST favorite thing to do) is the only way I was able to build my customer base. And it sucks. So, so much. But because of self-promotion, my art is hanging in children’s rooms all over the world – that is amazing to me.

I assumed that when I get published someday, my self-promo will be over, and now I'm seeing that this is not the case. And seeing you jokingly rally for sales, in the same boat as me, opens my eyes to the fact that art is art and selling is selling, and when I sell my books someday, that self-promotion will be necessary, despite the suckage.

This blog is your space - You built it and heck, you can do what you want with it. It’s sad that people would be so rude. :(

Your blog is the first place I went when I learned of writer/agent blogs. It has been a wonderful way for me to learn, as well as connect with other writers. I wish you the best of luck.

J. T. Shea said...

I've just promoted myself to Supreme Lord High Potentate and Commander-In-Chief of the Known Universe, not to mention the unknown universe, which I won't mention.

Third parties may be enthusiastic, but are they ever really neutral? Everyone has some biases if they have personal preferences at all.

Heartstrings attached? I like it!

Don, you look YOUNGER than the Jacob Wonderbar target age! But i'd go easy on the Ritalin...

Anonymous 8:03 am, good point! I've often wondered just when were the good old days of publishing, and what exactly was it publishers did for their authors that they don't do now.

Livia, I loved your blog post about blogging being a waste of time. Which sounds kind of postmodern, doesn't it? But I've been thinking along those lines myself for sometime. Let's face it, most of us readers of Nathan's blog are probably pre-teens in mental age only!

But, if blogging is a waste of a writer's time, what about my commenting on another writer's blog? Or commenting on yet another writer's blog on the first writer's blog? Yikes!

J. T. Shea said...

Anonymous 9:29 am, how can Nathan or anyone else comment on your blog when you're anonymous?

Patrice, what makes me think you're not a Republican?

Glad to hear your promotion did sell books, Nathan. But Kevin Lynn Helmick's last question does intrigues me. Just what are Dial doing to market Jacob Wonderbar?

Excellent posts, Mira! But the hardcover is $11 on Amazon, for example, just $3 more than the paperback.

Anonymous 8:19 pm, you misread Mira. Blogging can be a business AND an art AND a pleasure, all at the same time!

Anonymous 9:29 pm, AMEN! My problem is the asshat who doesn't like what I'm doing is sometimes myself.

BTW Nathan, just what is that kid in your top pic selling? Eggs?

Lucy said...

Hey, Nathan,

I'm glad to hear it's worked. I guess at that point it comes down to individual ideas of what's effective in promotion and marketing. I wish I could say, well, can we track numbers of sales made as opposed to those lost due to certain strategies? but there's no way on earth to track negative and possibly illusory numbers.

I think that's what really makes this game so wicked, because the hard math tends to be absent from so much of the picture. It's a bit like authors giving away business cards, pens, tote bags, etc. with their book logo on it. Marketing, yes. Promotion, yes. Effective? Dubious, according to some, including Jessica Faust.

http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2011/06/swag.html

I guess the only rule is that as long you're comfortable that something is working in this regard (and preferably not illegal or immoral), you go for it!

Good luck!

Lucy

TeresaR said...

I'm waiting to get my Macbook and the Kindle app for it (soon, very soon!) so I can get the Jacob Wonderbar e-book! I hear authors earn more if one buys their e-books.

- -Alex McGrath said...

Haha man I just got my first negative feedback today.. but it's cool, whatever. I think I do a good job of self-promoting while still making sure that isn't the ONLY thing I say to people.

Fiona Leonard said...

I'm in the 'it doesn't have to suck' camp. When I first started promoting my book I found it terrifying. What's very cool though is when you start talking to people who connect with what you're writing - I received an SMS in the middle of the supermarket one day from someone telling me how much he was loving my book. That sort of experience is priceless.

I think about self promotion in the context that someone out there is trawling a book shelf looking for a book to go home and curl up with. There's nothing better than the feeling of finding the book you can't put down and want to tell all your friends about. If I can give someone else that experience then that's a pretty cool thing.

Then it's just finding a way to do that that feels comfortable to you.

Wendy. Blog Author said...

I know you posted this forever ago but i'm so glad I bookmarrked so I could come back and read it now. Nathan I am a skills development consulting and I suffer because I dread doing what you have so correctly said. No matter what the sector you're in, you have to get out there becayse there are my contemporaries who are so balsy and it looks to " OMGshedidn'tjustdothat" low. But you've given me great food for thought. Btw, you're more than welcome to self promote to your heart's content on my blog. I started it to try to support writers in a small way because I love books. check it out and feel free to let me know if you're interested in doing a feature: http://fabulosityreads.blogspot.com/

Pumpernickel Park said...

"Who dares wins." A good motto for writers to keep in mind. There is no rule that says you can't, or shouldn't, self-promote yourself. In fact, if you don't, get used to obscurity. :-) Great post Nathan!

Livia said...

Hi Nathan,

I've been thinking a lot about this post, and finally wrote up my own thoughts. I have a slightly more optimistic vibe about self promotion -- hopefully that will hold after my book comes out :-) The post is here if you're curious.

prathiba reddy said...

yeah i agree. have to do self promotion anyway even you do not like it.

corporate promotional gifts

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bransford, not sure if you're still reading the article comments, but...

It's not that I don't have confidence in my writing. It's that I don't have confidence in myself. I wish it were possible for the book to stand on its own without anyone knowing anything about "me."

I'm not as personable as you are, and am in fact terrified of meeting/interacting with people. If only I could be the "hypothetical entity" behind the curtain with a delegated avatar to promote for me, Cyrano-style. Sadly, in this TMI age it seems identity is your "brand" and your words are your product. It's a sad state of affairs when Random House sells its soul to Madison Avenue.

Btw, John Updike had something to say (in the negative) about publishers' demands on authors to shamelessly self-promote:

https://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/25/books/review/25updike.html?pagewanted=all

Word verification: "inacties." The crawling cooties you feel up your spine when you realize you'd rather be an inactive writer-slash-recluse than an active promoter-slash-"fame whore." (Pleasant company excluded, of course.) :)

Bridget said...

Thanks for writing this! I opened a small business and to inform people about it you have to self promote! I HATE IT! You post here comforts me! Thanks again and I will check out the book because I know you hate the self promotion thing too!

Melanie Schulz said...

I struggle with this. Mainly because I have followed some blogs and loved them and then stopped following because all the reasons I started were gone. All they talked about was their book. NOw I understand that the nature of a blog is that what was already posted gets pushed down so the blogger has to repost some important things or they may be missed, but I am afraid of becoming what I hate; someone who only talks about themselves.

Mariam said...

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Health, relationship and finance. Welcome to
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love? Why would the doctor tell you there is no
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your lawyer say you stand no chance, that your
case is hopeless? Have you been cheated by
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back? Do you need a rapid job promotion in
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in peace. And if your intentions are to take
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for the purpose of evil, I will not have any
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angels guide you. All inquiries should be
directed to the Priest Abija email below Email:
spirituallighthealing101@live.com or
you can sent a text message to this number:(518) 303-6207!

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