Dear Agony Editor,
When it comes to promoting the work of other writers on social media, I have zero shame. I’m a screaming cheerleader. But when it’s time to promote my own work, I clam up. I’d like to get better at self-promotion, but shaking my own pompoms makes me feel like a cheeseball. How do I get over this?
Little No Peep
Dear Little No Peep,
Thank you for being a cheerleader. It’s a good reminder that writers should promote one another as much as possible, especially in these challenging times.
In terms of your hesitation about promoting your own work, it’s usually easier to sing the praises of others than to sing our own. And I understand your reluctance. As consumers, we tend to place more value on the opinions of those who have no personal gain in their recommendations.
But I also think your perceptions of self-promotion might be a bit skewed. Are you proud of your work? Do you think people will enjoy reading it? Do you believe your book is worth 20 dollars? (If your answer to any of these questions is “no,” you might have bigger issues than self-promotion.)
You’ve worked hard, you’ve created something of value, and you owe it to yourself to celebrate that work and spread the word. So long as you’re not proclaiming yourself to be a literary genius, chances are you won’t turn any prospective readers away.
And self-promotion doesn’t necessarily have to feel like you’re a carnival barker. Could you recommend books by other writers that explore similar topics or themes? Could you share stories about what inspired you to write the book? Could you post an essay or point to articles that expand on the ideas explored in your work?
If you find ways to thoughtfully engage your potential readers, rather than tweeting, “My book is awesome!!!” along with 16 firecracker emojis, you’re likely to get a positive reception. Remember: you’re promoting your book, not yourself. That’s an important distinction.
Lastly, make sure the writers you’ve been championing know about your work. While there are no guarantees, the generosity you’ve shown others could circle back to you.