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…
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.