Positive Writer

Write with More Confidence and Greater Satisfaction

9 Ways to Promote Your Writing Without Being a Jerk

I bet you’ve heard (real or imagined) that self-promotion is creepy, despicable and well, just plain wrong. Don’t do it. How dare you even consider it?! Don’t!

And two stamps of the left foot for extra measure.

My answer to such assertions against self-promotion is, quite simply, capital B – friggn’ – S! And I’ll tell you why…

Your work matters

Reality Check

One of the most emotional realities I’ve had to come to terms with is that if I want people to discover and read my work, then it’s up to me to find ways to make sure they hear about it.

I found out the hard way that if you’re not going to self-promote your work, then you might as well not even write it for public consumption.

I mean, if you write a book you intend for others to read it. Right?

I’d say that’s usually the way it works, unless of course we are trying to save our own feelings from being hurt, and in that case we’re likely to say something like we’re just writing for ourselves doggonit.

How’s anyone going to manage to read your book if you keep it under wraps because you’re too embarrassed or ashamed to self-promote it?

Self-promotion is necessary.

Your work matters. And the world deserves to hear about it. (Click to Tweet)

Ignore the naysayers, the haters and the holier-than-thou’ers who would never self-promote their own work (or anyone else’s for that matter). I say it’s more likely because they would never actually create anything worth promoting in the first place.

Self-promotion is not evil.

However, with that said, I do agree, there are right ways and wrong ways to self-promote your writing, but I’m not here to debate who is doing it the right or wrong way.

I’m here to tell you it’s got to be done and to give you a few tips on how to do it without being a jerk about it. Otherwise you’re only writing for yourself and in that case, a private little (secret) pocket notebook will do you just fine.

And let’s be honest, you’re work is worth it. So, please, whatever you do, don’t hide it. But at the same time, don’t bother publishing your work if you’re not going to promote it.

Don’t bother publishing your work if you’re not going to promote it. (Click to Tweet)


Self-promotion is only a bad idea if your work sucks. (Click to Tweet)

In that case, if your work really isn’t all that good, you’ll find out soon enough because no one will help you spread the word about it no matter how much you promote it.

That’s okay. At least you’ll know what doesn’t connect and you can go back to the drawing board and create something better.

But I’ll tell you what – if you’re work is great (which I’m sure it is), because it teaches something, helps others, touches them in some way, or simply tells a fantastic story, then readers will appreciate that you took the time to promote your work so they could find out about it.

You’re never wrong for self-promoting your work, if it rocks! (Click to Tweet)

How cars took over the world

Did you know that Henry Ford created a full-scale motion picture department for the Ford Motor Company and that the department itself rivaled all of Hollywood’s studios at the time (1914)?

The first movie produced by Mr. Ford’s movie department (Highland Park) was, “How Henry Ford Makes One Thousand Cars a Day.” Does that sound self-promotional to you?

Perhaps it was, or perhaps it was simply, “educational,” but no one can argue with the fact that cars took over the world and Henry Ford changed forever how products were produced in mass.

He also changed how products were marketed. Ford’s success with automobiles was in no small part thanks to the promotional movies he made.

In the years between 1914 and 1920 Henry Ford’s films were shown in over 4,000 theaters to five million people—roughly one-seventh of the nation’s weekly movie-going audience. (Source)

Such short promotional films would come to be known as commercials.

Let’s go viral!

We’re so fascinated when we hear about a blog post or a video or a picture that went viral without any apparent attempts at self-promotion by the creator.

Yes, it happens. And it’s wonderful when it does, but I dare anyone to spend years writing, finally publish your work, and then merely sitting around waiting to get lucky enough for your work to take off on it’s own.

It may happen, but the odds are not in your favor.

When most of us think of going viral, we tend to think of cute pets doing crazy things on YouTube videos and the views skyrocketing, but wait, not so fast…

According to research testing by Chris Wilson over at Slate.com, a YouTube video’s chance of going viral is, well, I’ll quote him: “You might have better odds playing the lottery than of becoming a viral video sensation.”

But guess what, hang on to your hats, the chances of going viral significantly improve when content is promoted. (Source)

Yep. You’re going to have to self-promote.

There’s no way around it, if you want people to hear about your work, you’re going to have to delve into some good old fashioned self-promotion.

So put aside all of the BS you’ve heard about not promoting your own work and get ready to roll up your sleeves. Here are the…

9 Ways to Self-Promote Your Work Without Being A Jerk!

1 – Make sure it’s your best work.

In other words, never publish a book (or anything) before it’s ready. If your work is out – friggn’ – standing then ship it. Great work is believed to promote itself, and the reality is that people will help spread the word about your work because it’s awesome and they loved it!

2 – Create an online platform.

Preferably a blog. A blog is a living, breathing presence online that is constantly updated. While you update your blog you also increase your readership. As you increase your readership you build an audience to share your work with. If your audience deems your work worthy (awesome), they will help you spread the word. (See #1.)

3 – Give them a good reason.

Why is your product, service, book, or whatever you’re promoting, important to them? You need to have ’em at hello by making it clear what’s in it for them.

Take my book, “Writer’s Doubt,” for example, it provides practical, workable strategies for any writer who is dealing with doubt. And what writer isn’t dealing with doubt at some point in his or her writing career? The one’s who want to do something about self-doubt will read it, but only if they are ready to do something about it. And why do we need such a book? Because self-doubt is your #1 enemy as a writer!

4 – Be Generous.

Help promote others regardless if they will return the favor or not. Promote others when they don’t even know you’re doing so. It’s karma. And it’s the right thing to do. Who’s work have you promoted today? A simple tweet will do, or share something on Facebook, or hey, just tell a good friend about a great book you recently read.

5 – Give your work away for free.

Seth Godin did it with the Idea Virus and it became the most downloaded eBook in history. (Source) How many people do you think Seth reached by giving the Idea Virus away for free? Millions.

Free is a great way to spread your name for, well, free. Be sure to include your website address inside the content so readers can find you. You might enjoy another post I wrote on this topic: How To Create An Ebook (or Manifesto) That Will Go Viral

6 – Connect and network with your competition.

Competition isn’t the same as it was years ago before the internet. Today the quickest and surest way to promote your work is to forge alliances with those you may have once considered competitors. You could be surprised to find out that when you help promote your “competition” they will promote you, too.

But here’s the thing, you should promote other peoples work even if they don’t promote yours. It makes you look good, and by gosh, it feels good, too!

7 – Get in on the buzz.

Weird Al Yankovic recently released a new album parodying several bestselling songs. He could have just as easily parodied unknown songs, but that wouldn’t have been as much fun and he would not have connected as quickly and easily with the buying public.

When Yankovic parodied Robin Thicke’s hit song “Blurred Lines” TIME ran a piece on it and posted the video on their website. I don’t think TIME would have done that for an unknown song by an unknown artist, do you? How’s that for publicity?

Of course, we’re talking about THE Weird Al Yankovic, not everyone has his pull, but then neither did Weird Al when he was just starting out, and that’s why he’s become a master at self-promotion by latching on to what’s already hot, but still putting his own spin on it.

8 – Be yourself. Be genuine.

Too often people try to portray themselves as something they are not and that only leads to frustration and anger. It’s hard work to keep up appearances. So be honest about who you are to begin with and you’ll attract an audience based on the truth of who you are and what you are about. You don’t need to be like John Smith or Jane Doe, so stop comparing yourself to them. You just need to be you.

9 – Simply ask.

If you’ve created something awesome and you’ve used all of the previous tips then the odds are you’ve put yourself in a good position to ask others to help you spread the word. So ask them.

The Next Step

We need your words. We need your voice. So please, by all means, tell us about your work. Share it with us. Don’t hide it–no, don’t do that!

Now go, publish something awesome. You can start your promotional tour by sharing your latest creation in the comments.

How are you promoting your work and do you have any tips to offer?

How about sharing your experience with us in the comments.

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

Subscribe and I’ll send you “The Writer’s Manifesto.” Enter your email:

Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins



  • Andy Walker

    Hi Bryan, and thanks for the article. I have tried blogging a couple of times but have given up through lack of subscribers, and also because the competition is so good. I’m not sure how I could ever get into the ‘market’ here. Anyway, everyone says you should do it…

    Can I take you up on your offer of book promotion. I wrote ‘So Shines the Phoenix’ and published it on Amazon earlier this year, (getting good reviews). It’s a medieval thriller based on true facts. The year is 1401. England is at a major turning point in its turbulent history. A young man, Adam Wolvercot, is drawn into a political conspiracy that could cost him not only his life, but also the lives of those he loves. As he is hunted across medieval England, and the trap closes in on him, who, if anyone, dare he trust?

    You can get it on Amazon on kindle or as a paperback.

    • Hi Andy, Positive Writer is my fifth or sixth blog, most of my previous blogs were misses and this one’s a hit. If you’re interested in blogging, keep trying.
      You’re book sounds very intriguing. Don’t forget to add your link.

      • Me

        I love your blog because it reminds me to stay positive, and that that’s not just a cliche, but practical.

    • Andy Walker

      So what do you think makes the difference between a hit and a miss?

      And my link – amazon.com http://tinyurl.com/qznvhv8

      Amazon.co.uk http://tinyurl.com/m529n4p

      and my website at http://www.andrewmartinwalker.com

      • Well, that depends on what your measurement is for each blog. In the case of Positive Writer the measurement is how many people I can reach.

        Thanks for sharing your work with us!

  • Nice post, Bryan. Authors seem to have a cultural difficulty with many “business” activities that would help them reach their goals, and Self Promotion probably tops the list!

    • We’re crazy work horses when it comes to the writing part, but can get rather lazy when it comes to the promotional part. 🙂 Of course, we don’t call it laziness, we simply say: We are writers!

      • Me

        haha. And ‘writer’s block’ is really ‘surfing the internet’ 😀

        • Yeah, and I surf the ‘net way too much! 🙂

          • Me

            I know. I’ve considered turning my wifi off when I’m writing. It’s too easy to open a webpage.

          • Me

            It’s definitely the easiest way to procrastinate.

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Hey Bryan

    Simply brilliant. I always have a tough time promoting my work because of the most cliched excuse: I am not good (The pursuit perfection is the perfect excuse to not get anything done, eh?! 😉 )

    LOL – but, you are right, feedback will not only enhance our writing, but might also remind us of our hidden talent!

    Hey – all of us might be better than we thought. We just need someone to say it – so promote!


    Thank you


    • Yep! You’re much better than you think you are! 🙂

    • Me

      Someone once told me, If you don’t believe in your book, then no one else will. I realized that it was hurting myself by doubting my work because it was coming across in things that I did.

      And so, I think my new book is amazing! And I’m sure yours is too!

  • Yes, yes, and yes. I completely agree. Self-promotion is sooo important in the writing world, especially for self-published authors, when you’re on your own. It’s up to you to get a conversation going. I personally love Twitter for promotion. It’s a great way to get the word out quickly, and it’s very easy for someone else to simply click the retweet button. There’s minimal work involved for a great payoff. 🙂

    • Andy Walker

      Hi. It’s interesting that you have got a great payoff from using twitter. I wonder how you have done this, as I am about to come out of twitter because I have got overwhelmed by it (too many posts appearing in too short a time!). I’d be really interested to find out how you have got it to work for you.

      • It’s actually not as hard as it seems. 🙂 I started off by following maybe fifty of my blogger friends, favorite authors, mentors, and a couple of writing resources that shared inspirational quotes, blog posts, and contests. It grew from there, but I always try to follow no more than 100 people. I’ve found that the more you interact with people, retweet their tweets, share their work, the more they do the same for you, just like Bryan said. And a handy little trick Joe Bunting taught me via Story Cartel is to thank each person that follows you. They’re often very grateful and stick around to see what you’re up to.

        • Andy Walker

          Thanks so much for this. I think I have made the mistake of trying to get as many followers (and to follow as many people) as possible. This just leads to being overwhelmed. I think I’ll start over and just follow quality instead of quantity as you suggest. Thanks again. Andy

          • Me

            One thing I find handy are lists. I create lists on Twitter for different ways I want to interact with people. For instance, I have a list with the people I want to keep up the most with, that way, when I want to interact with them, all I have to do is go to that specific list and I can find them (and keep track of them) easily. It’s much more manageable that way.
            And since this is a topic of promotion (otherwise I wouldn’t do this), I’ll plug my pre-order for my book. I only need 10 more to reach my goal, and it’s only .99 cents! http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Seeker-paranormal-adventure-ebook/dp/B00NQFYDCC/ref=zg_bsnr_17437_10

          • Twitter has me running scared, frankly. But – I did go buy your book. It looks good so far!

          • Me

            Hey Thanks!!!! I’d love to hear what you think!

            I agree, Twitter can be overwhelming, but it’s also the easiest way to make friends. Just try talking to someone who looks interesting, and you’ll see how easy it is to get them talking back.

          • I’m putting in a weekend of tweaking a book so I can send it to my editor as scheduled. Then I’m free for a couple of days. High five to free!! My reward is to read your book!

          • Me

            Yay!! Good luck on tweaking your book. Personally I love / hate editing, so detail oriented, but so necessary for the story, right?

          • Me

            Did you get around to finishing your edits? I hope so. ;D

    • Yes, yes, and yes!

  • Kimi

    Great post Brian! I think for many of us, it’s not that we think self promotion is bad, it’s just hard, especially when you’re just starting out and don’t have much to promote. That, and feeling like our work isn’t good enough. I love that your blog focuses not only on writing itself but on the feelings and emotions that go along with it…that’s why it ROCKS!

    • Indeed, Kimi, promoting your work is hard. I wish it weren’t so, but it is. It’s even harder when one day it seems everything is going our way and the world is interested in our work and then the next day no one seems to care. It’s a real life rollercoaster and there’s very little that’s easy about it. I think that’s why there are so many writing circles, we need our support groups. 🙂

  • Terrific, Bryan. The only addition I’d like to make to #6 (Connect & Network With Your Competition) is to only do so with THOSE BLOGS YOU LIKE AND RESPECT. Not just because the blog is HUGE, or has someone famous leading it. There are a million voices out there, but I only engage and ultimating ask to guest-post on blogs that resonate with me, and I feel like I can add to the conversation.

    • Me

      Good point!

    • I have to agree with you, Marcy. There are blogs out there that I will not write for no matter what they might offer. Excellent point!

      • Yep, let’s surround ourselves only with those we admire and want to aspire to be more like, on and off the page. 🙂

  • Maria Morgan

    Nice post, Bryan! I’m in total agreement that self-promotion is necessary as a writer. In fact, I’m living this stuff right now. With the recent release of my children’s book, “Louie’s BIG day!”, I’ve benefited greatly from friends who loved the book. They, in turn, have shared it with their friends, and the word has spread. Thanks for giving me other avenues to think about. Best~

  • Loved the post Bryan. You really gave some valid points to consider. Thank you.

    And I’d like to share that my first children’s book is out on Amazon! After writing my memoir Broken, I had no idea that these children’s stories were waiting inside me.

    Here is the trailer if anyone would like to see. It’s called Emma’s Wish. Written when my daughter said, “I wish we could make something with the art I’ve already created. So I sat and looked at her artwork, and out came Emma’s Wish.



    • What amazing work you and your daughter are doing together. I love it!

  • Bryan – great advice! I really liked tip #4 to be generous and help promote others whether they promote you back or not. I love being able to help others by sharing their content. It’s rewarding to both me and them.

  • Excellent advice! I love that you’re asking writers to promote each other EVEN IF they don’t reciprocate. It’s not about ensuring that we’re even; it’s about sharing work we love and believe in. Sometimes, that will be my work. Sometimes, it’s not.

  • Kat Sheridan

    I especially loved the advice to link with your “competition”. An author friend who writes in the same genre as I do recently mentioned my book in a Goodreads forum. I could have kissed her for it. There aren’t many of us gothic romance writers out there and we need to support each other. I’ve made a point of looking at the “also bought” books on Amazon and connecting with the authors on social media. It’s that old thing about a tide lifting all boats. And since you’re encouraging self promotion, my old-school Victorian gothic romance, Echoes in Stone, is on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Echoes-Stone-Kat-Sheridan-ebook/dp/B00FJKEXF4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411655783&sr=8-1&keywords=echoes+in+stone. And heck, check out some of my “competition” in the also bought list while you’re there!

    • It sure does feel good when that happens, doesn’t it, Kat?! And why now? Readers don’t stop at one book, they read dozens and dozens of books within the same genre, so why not yours, too? Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Brooke Lynn

    Bryan, Thank you for such an inspiring article. This has encouraged me and also confirmed my plans. I am beginning a book launch for my first published book called, Raised by Strangers. I am self promoting my book because I want to use my life challenges, struggles and pain to help others. My book will help others find healing, strength, hope and courage to keep going every day. I motivate others to a deeper level of faith and remind them that “With God all Things are Possible.” Again, thank you for your time, energy and help to others. You can all check out my book coming November 1st, 2014…………..http://www.brookelynnbooks.com/new-page/coming-soon-raised-by-strangers

  • Victor

    Finally, something inspiring! I was beginning to worry I was going to be a bother! But your article has rejuvenated me! After all, the worst they can say is no, right? I just published my first ebook and I’m so excited! “Why You Suck” series, here we go! Also, of course, the link is below. Because why not?

    Why You Suck at Escaping the Friend-Zone by Victor Sassano

  • Jake Parent

    Self-promotion isn’t just important, in some ways it’s the definition of being an independent writer.

    One I’d add (and it’s part of 1): Make sure you have the right audience!! What is amazing to one group, might be hated by the next.

  • L.F. Falconer

    Thank you for this, Bryan. Self promotion is difficult for those of us who’ve spent a lifetime being admonished for “tooting our own horns.” It’s good to keep hearing that it’s not always a bad thing. I’ve just launched the first book in a fantasy series, “The Vagabond’s Son, Prelude to a Legacy.” http://www.lffalconer.com

    • Yeah, keep your head down and keep pressing forward used to be common advice, but those who followed it usually ended up following someone else’s plans.

  • Miriam N

    Alright Thanks for this Post Bryan! I’m not near ready for this stage of writing, (not having anything reading worthy) But I did recently get published for the first time. It was a guest blog post on The Write Practice. Here’s the link if your interested in looking at it. http://thewritepractice.com/destroyed-self-doubt/

    • What an awesome post about battling self-doubt, Miriam! Loved it! If you ever want to write something along those lines for Positive Writer just let me know. I’m all about overcoming doubt! 🙂

      • Miriam N

        Thanks Bryan! I’ll definitely take that into consideration! Thanks for the offer!

  • Thank you for sharing this very helpful post, Bryan. This is not only helpful for my writing but for my blogging as well, I recently moved my wordpress blog over to a self-hosted site and was thinking that I really need to come up with ways to be engaging and encourage interaction and sharing. You tips really gave me some ideas for taking my blog in a new direction.

  • Really needed to read this today!!! My website is only 5 months old and I’ve been doing some self-promotion trying to get guest post slots on other sites but this has given me the encouragement to really go for it! Thanks 🙂


    • Awesome, Toni! Guest posting is an excellent way to spread the word.

  • I am one of those people who are not comfortable with technology. I have a writing blog, http://www.adelaidewritewritewrite.blogspot.com which gets little attention because I do not have a twitter or facebook account. I have no “smart” phone, just an old cell phone which allows me to make a call, no ability to send messages or tweet or check the internet. Thus, my
    self-published collection of short stories on Amazon Kindle is languishing for lack of promotion. So, here is my promotional blurb.
    Potpourri, Volume 1, a collection of previousely published stories covering subjects about
    ghosts, dealing with burying a loved one, memories, being left out of a group, a devout old woman, a surprise with a real surprise consequence.
    Thank you.

    • I, for one, love ghosts! 🙂

      • Well, if you love ghost stories, I think you would enjoy “The Crash on the Grapvine,” one of the stories in my collection.

  • Sarah Hindmarsh

    Well Bryan I have been doing all the things you suggested (I hope) and I am now looking for other indie authors to blog about each others books and engage in a little mutual promotion. People who are interested can contact me at creatingwithkoha@mail.com and visit my website creatingwithkohla.com. how would we go about getting an influential blogger such as yourself to help us promote our books?
    My short children’s chapter book ‘the mouse who howled at the moon’ is available in print from lulu and on kindle. It’s sucessor is on the way very soon and I would love to hear what people think about the book.

    • The “secret” to getting influential bloggers to help you promote, or, to at least mention your book, is 1) Reach out to the correct bloggers who have an obvious interest in your product (find those who are blogging for parents and are interested in children’s books). 2) Once you find those bloggers, get to know them and become an active participant on their blogs. 3) After 1 and 2, politely ask if you could guest post on their blogs or if they would be open to tweeting one of your posts. – The key to this approach is 1 and 2. Take your time.

      I hope I’ve helped a little. 🙂

      • Sarah Hindmarsh

        Thank you that’s very helpful. 🙂

  • Workshopshed

    I just did a big promotion for my latest project. One thing I did before the release was to make a note of all the people I wanted to contact and how to reach them. I could then tick them off once I’d emailed, tweeted, phoned them etc.
    My biggest asset was a relavent blog who sent over 1000 readers my way.

  • Pingback: Writer’s Corner: Platform and Marketing | Brea Library Writer's Group()

  • Promotion. Wow – big subject. I like the part where writing good books is the best promotion…. I have just finished my website, after months of stumbling around in the dark, and am pretty proud of it. Who knew I’d have a website one day? Not me! http://www.RonnieRobertsBooks.com
    And, I just released my first three books into the wild on Amazon. Another huge step for me. I priced the first at 99 cents – as I am an unknown for now, and the others at 2.99. My next move is to tell my Facebook friends that I finally did it-I published the first three books in the series, and the fourth of that series and the first in the next series are coming out at Christmas.
    I will continue to blog on my site, and continue to write. I’m thinking I need to wait for some reviews to trickle in before I go any further, so that means all I can really control at this point is my writing. It takes time to be seen. I’ll fill that time with writing the best stories I can.
    Thanks for your uplifting messages, Bryan!
    Good luck, everyone!

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    THIS is evergreen content – I had read (and possibly commented) on it a day or two after your posted it, but it’s impossible not to bookmark this for eternity – thanks Bryan! 😀

  • Helena

    Hello all!

    Well, while we’re on the topic of promotion and since it’s encouraged, I wanted to drop a line about my JUST LAUNCHED blog on the happy topic of sadness…I know, bummer!

    I quit my job six months ago so I could focus full-time on this local (to DC) project. I meet with people every day and I listen to their experiences with sadness or hardship. The accounts run the gamut from the more mundane, like divorce, to the more serious, like incest, addiction, and attempted suicide. My goal in covering these topics is to bring some much needed attention to our own personal struggles, whatever they may be. I hope that by discussing them honestly, we may someday be able to feel that the burdens we carry, we do not carry alone!

    Please head over and check it out–and if you have the time or are so compelled, please let me know how I can improve it. You can reach me directly at thebookofsadness@gmail.com….

    And finally, my website is: storieslikeyours.com

    Thank you!


  • K T Bowes

    That’s cool. I’ve done most of the about and am doing ok. Good to hear affirmation though and put so nicely. Thanks.

    • KT Bowes

      *above. Sorry – darn phone!

  • TBL

    Great information here. So glad I found you.

    • PHX2013

      You are creepy. Stalking people all over the internet. Go write about that, okay,-your stalker tendencies. CREEPY…

  • Margaret Kinsley

    thank you! I needed this

  • GP Dezert

    This is great info! And for the hell of it, anyone who may be interested, come check out my blog! http://dezertprose.tumblr.com

  • Lux Tondro

    Thank you for sharing your insights Brian! This is incredibly useful! It took me 30 years to realize that I have a voice (and a loud one at that). I’ve done a complete switch from being a number cruncher to putting myself out there with my writing. Who knew? We’ll see what comes out of it! In the meantime I’m happy to promote others and getting in touch with other writers. For whoever is interested, you can get to me via my blolg https://theohfactor.wordpress.com/