Success Without Self-Promotion

From Writer Unboxed:

Self-promotion isn’t the most famous naughty s-word, but it can still feel like a bad word to today’s authors. I hate self-promotion, you might say. I’m so sick of talking about myself on social media.With more and more options to reach readers directly comes an expectation that authors will do more and more to reach those readers themselves, often without publisher assistance.

So! How do you sell books without a single self-promotional tweet, post, or video?

Simple. In most cases, you actually shouldn’t be promoting yourself. If the goal is to sell books — or at least make people you don’t know personally curious enough about your book(s) to take action — you are not the product. “Buy my book!” doesn’t work if the reader doesn’t know you or know anything about the book in question.

Instead of self-promotion, think of the path to getting your book in front of readers on social media as a railroad track, with two parallel rails: be yourself, and take yourself out of the equation.

Be yourself. There are lots of names for this, and most of them sound like awful corporate-speak: curation! Branding! But let go of the labels. Being yourself on social media doesn’t mean sharing every last little thing. You’re not going to see Instagram posts from me about taking my car to the mechanic last Tuesday or the ancient celery I just found in the back of my produce drawer. But it means posting or talking about the things that interest you, especially where those things overlap with the books you write. If you’re spending some of your time on social media connecting with people who enjoy reading the books you like to read, chances are that when you have a book of your own to talk about, they’ll enjoy hearing about that too.

Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed

4 thoughts on “Success Without Self-Promotion”

  1. The OP apparently has no idea what self-promotion actually is if she believes that “Buy my book!” is the be-all, end-all of promotion. That she holds an MFA explains a lot. I’d much, much rather follow the advice of a six- or seven-figure author than one whose day job supports their writing hobby.

    Harsh, but true.

    Most authors need their stories to earn their keep, which means promoting them. Yes, even on social media. It’s possible to self-promo without being sleazy, but the longer anti-promo types like Ms. Macallister flap their lips, the harder it is to teach newer authors the right ways to promote their work.

  2. I’m so sick of talking about myself on social media.

    I’s say that constitutes talking about oneself. I am a true artist, so noble that my dedication to my art trumps any other consideration. Money means nothing to someone like me. And contact with the reeking foulness of the marketplace makes me gag. Though we may be few, let us rise above the grubs of commerce and recognize each other for what we are.

  3. She’s not wrong. It’s pretty good advice: talk about the book and about things that interest you, not the minutiae of your life.

    This can mean the books you read, especially in the genre you write in. If someone else praises your work, spread the news. Being yourself can also mean talking about the things you like and see, especially if it’s someone else you admire.

    And, yes, I’ve seen plenty of authors whose sole message on social media is “buy my book.” I’ve seen them on Twitter, where they link to people in hopes they’ll link back, only to discover that their account is nothing but ads. They’ll also join Facebook groups — even those with “no self-promotion” rules — and their first (and last) post is an ad.

  4. The problem I had with the OP is that the author posed a very intriguing question, then flatly failed (or refused) to answer it. The question she posed was “How do you sell books without a single self-promotional tweet, post, or video?” (emphasis mine).

    The answer really is simple: Write the next book.

    1. The opening sells the current book and the ending sells the next one, and

    2. The more you write, the more your name gets out there, and the more readers discover you and your books.

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