Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Self-promotion seems quite important to authors

There seem to be two schools of thought and electronic media, one is that an author should do everything possible to promote himself, and the authors who know this go out and do it. The other school is the one I think most of us fall into, and that's the one that says we know it's important, but we'll bury our heads and ignore the pitfalls of not self-promoting.

There are two authors I've run across on various forums (various is used to protect their identity) whose prose is weak. They are in dire need of getting some feedback on critique circle or listening to some advice on Absolute Write, yet they seem to be selling a lot of books. They use cliche themes, cliche plots, shallow characters, and the wrong words in the wrong order. Ugly words. Not a graceful one among them. But they pound the pavement like nobody else.

It's not jealousy. I don't begrudge them the sales. In fact it makes me happy in some perverse way that someone can "get ahead" in this business on hustle like that. It's like a no-talent soccer player who hustles his way onto the World Cup winning team by being "scrappy" and "tenacious."

I know there are other authors it irks, because they believe themselves to be better, and they probably are in many cases. But that's not enough.

My problem is that I absolutely detest tooting my own horn about anything. It runs against my nature. It's not that I'm not self-confident; I happen to thing I'm pretty good at some things, like, uh, lovemaking, yeah, the best there is (if the wife ever reads this, this is the point at which she pees her pants laughing and starts telling me I should write comedy). But who the hell wants to tell people how wonderful their writing is day in and day out? I sure as hell don't want to. I want people to tell me how great it is, not the other way around. And authors are by their very nature reclusive, shy, and self-effacing.

I think the goal here is to get rich enough that you can hire someone to do that for you. Of course, you have to do it yourself first in order to get that rich, so in many cases, neither the chicken nor the egg comes at all.

p.s. I just started looking at some cover art in case I have to find my own and I'll post some of the more interesting ones I find which are available from time to time as I come across them:

I actually like one of these more than the other two. (no hints as to which) But none of them convey exactly what I'd want. I contacted the artist of the one I like and his price is reasonable for doing three custom covers for me to choose from.


  1. You are absolutely right, Fred. I'm just like you in that I hate blowing my own trumpet. Hate, hate, hate it. And I'm British as well, so that makes it official. We are the experts in being self-effacing. I've spent my whole life longing to be good at something and knowing I'll always fall short - because that's the way I am - well that and I had a mother I could never please. Pyschoanalysts take note! I'm NOT self-confident. If there is a corner to hide in - I'm in it. I think that's why I take criticism so badly despite telling myself not to because a little bit of me always doubts myself.
    Am I jealous of those who sell millions when I don't? of course. But I know there will always be books I read that I am unable to comprehend HOW they were accepted by a publisher or WHY so many people bought them. Same puzzle as to why I failed my cycling proficiency test. The world is a mad place!

    As for the covers - I love the first. Don't know if that is applicable to your story but what a cover that would make!! I liked the other two as well but the first - woooo

  2. I not only hate self promotion, I suck big time at it. It's not only boring to do, it's boring to whine about it. I'd love for all of our stories to promote themsleves. I floated between clicks in high school, not snubbing any and not fitting in with any. This self and traditionally published marathon of look at me, hang out with my group, try and be a part of that group, you arent good enough for this group, reminds me of that.
    As to covers, I also like the first but will admit its the only one I looked at before the damn laptop froze up and I have to restart. What I cant wait for is what's gonna be between those covers. Few more months, right?

  3. I recently read John Locke's "How I sold a million ebooks in 5 months." It's the pinnacle of self-promotion and self-confidence, and clearly shows the difference between a successful business person like him and someone like...well, me. I also have one of his 99 cent books--it's not sloppy, but, as he might be the first to admit, not thought-provoking either.

  4. I've heard a lot about Locke recently on Kindle Boards, but I've never read anything he wrote, so he's not one of the ones I'm...uh...belitteling.