We've all heard the term "shameless self-promotion." I've used it myself quite a bit. Today I want to get on my soap box a little bit. You don't mind, right?
Self-promotion is absolutely crucial to every form of business. It doesn't matter if you're a car salesman, or if you work in a clothing store, or if you are a makeup girl, or if you are a construction worker. In each of those jobs, you are selling yourself - your skills, your experience, your know-how. You are presenting yourself in such a way that your employer and your customer can feel confident in you and the job you are going to do. Filling out resumes, going for interviews, meeting with prospective clients - these are nothing more than selling yourself and your abilities.
When you write a book and enter the big, bad world of marketing, you're doing exactly the same thing you've done every time you've entered the work force. You're informing people of a skill or ability you possess.
Let me ask you a question. Say you're in the middle of a job interview, and you are asked, "So, I hear you're good at typing." Would you answer, "Oh, I don't know about that. That other applicant you just had in here is a lot faster." Or would you say, "Yes, I'm pretty fast." It's a pretty simple choice to make, isn't it?
So why do we downplay our writing? Why do we feel that we need to apologize when it comes to talking about our books? We say "shameless self-promotion" as though perhaps, at some point, we might have felt the need to feel ashamed, but we're going to shake that off for a second. There is no need to ever be ashamed of the product you have produced as long as you know you did your very best on it. If you turned out something you know wasn't up to your potential, then you can make a decision to do better next time. But "shame" is not something that should ever be associated with something you created that came from your gut. If you really, really are ashamed to admit that you did it, then ... why did you do it?
Now that we've talked about the "shame," let's talk about the "self-promotion." Go back to the analogy of the shoe salesman. A woman walks into his shop and says, "Hi, I need a pair of shoes." He pauses. Should he say something? What if he shows her a pair and she says she doesn't want them? He would be crushed. Humiliated. Rejected.
Um ... no, he's going start showing her shoes, right? Of course. That's his job. And it's your job as a new author to talk about your books. He has shoes to sell, you have books to sell. If someone doesn't buy your book, it doesn't have to be a devastating thing - it just means that those shoes didn't fit. Someone else with feet of a different size will soon come into your life, or your shoe store, and you'll be able to make that sale.
So, let's encapsulate my little lecture.
1. Stop being ashamed to talk about your books!
2. Stop feeling as though you have to apologize!
3. Get some confidence - talk about your book in an upbeat, positive way. Let other people know it exists.
4. Never downplay your accomplishments. Don't say, "Well, it's just a little story about ..." No! Smile and say, "It's a great story about ..."
Self-promotion is hard. It's hard to get up the courage, it's hard to know what to say, it's hard to find that balance between talking about yourself and coming on too strong, and it's also hard to know when you shouldn't bring up your books (and yes, there are times when you don't want to promote, generally in times of social politics, but that would be a blog for another day). You can learn how to master all of these skills, but you've got to practice them, and regularly. Hiding behind pillars and potted plants will not make you a master of self-promotion - you've got to get out there and do it, and you'll find your own stride and what works for you.