Saturday 29 June 2013

The tricky dilemma of self promotion.

There are those who self promote endlessly - their e-mails, tweets and blog posts bombard you like hail on a cold wintry day. Others leap at every chance to not just read their work at an open mic but do a spot of advertising too, when the work they are reading should do the job.

But the fact is writers do have to self promote, even those published with a big-name publisher must appear at festivals and book signings in the name of promotion. It’s all about publicity.

Self promotion works - I've bought books purely because of exposure via twitter - some were great, even if others were not and I wish I’d kept my money. And that is the problem with self promotion - it can be difficult to discriminate between the good and the awful, although the latter sometimes has poorly presented self promotion blurb to go with it.

This blog, like that of every other writer, is partly about self promotion. Without taking part in blogging and tweeting, fewer people would have heard of me. Although you will see my following is still modest, you are reading my words! But I’m still not entirely comfortable with posting my successes.

I was brought up in an era when we put other people first. As a child, if I had friends round to my house to play, I was encouraged to defer to my guests’ selection of activities and games. If we had visitors they were always served with the choicest food on the table and being a large family, my mother would whisper ‘FHB’ (Family Hold Back) when an unexpected guest sat at our dining table and she was worried about stretching the meal to an extra portion. I brought my daughter up in the same tradition even though this was the era of the 80s and 90s which was all about self, self and more self.

My parents objected to boasting and our family joke was a neighbouring family who did nothing but sing their own praises. In reality, they had very little to boast about yet they all carried on as if their achievements were spectacular. Carol’s screeching on the violin became virtuoso performances, Mark’s daubs became fine art and as for Peter’s skilled driving, let’s just say the number of dents on his old banger told their own story. If any of them are now writers, their tweets will be the avalanche engulfing all others.

Of course, I’m pleased with my achievements, so here are a few - each of the publications above contains one of my short stories or flash fiction pieces. I hope this time next year there will be a few more.


Joanna said...

Well done, Lindsay, on all your successes. You've achieved so much and should be justifiably proud.

I agree that self-promotion is very tricky indeed. I also grew up in a family where we were encouraged to think of others and just be quietly pleased with anything good we had done. However, I do recall my mother being visibly cross at a ballet competition I had won. All the attention from all the other parents and our dance teacher was focused on my best friend. She was in floods of tears because she had not been placed. Everyone's arms were around her and I was sitting at the back of the hall by myself, waiting to be taken home with my certificate. In the end, I think my mother was proud of me for being modest, but still appalled that the adults couldn't have brought themselves to offer me a word of congratulations.

But I really didn't mind. I would always rather just do what I've set out to do and hope that someone, somewhere, likes it or is moved by it. Getting the certificate was enough for me.
If I get published one day, my dream will come true. But I'll never win any accolades for self-promotion, I'm afraid. All I can do is keep writing and hope my reserve doesn't hold me back too much. Wishing you all the best in your quest, Lindsay, and thanks for such a fantastic post. x
PS. I love FHB - I've not come across that before.

Lindsay said...

Thanks Joanna,

You are right that we write because we want to, and being published is the icing on the cake. (I can't imagine it ever being the cake itself!)But I happen to know you've achieved quite a bit of the icing!

Your dancing friend sounds a little like the family I mentioned. Somehow they always get the attention - whether good or bad, they get make sure they get it.

Keep writing - and dancing!

Wendy's Writing said...

I know exactly what you mean, Lindsay but apparently, it has to be done. Self promotion is an 'extrovert' type of thing but I'm sure a lot of writers have the opposite personality type and 'bragging' goes against the grain. Even writing about short story successes on my blog makes me cringe inside a little but if you don't promote yourself, nobody else will.

Leigh Russell said...

What you say is so true. Being published is fantastic, but it really is only the icing on the cake. The real thrill is writing. I'm fortunate that I enjoy all the book promotion authors have to do, but if I had to say what I enjoy the most, writing would win every time!

Patsy said...

Yes, self promotion is tricky. It can easily be overdone and become annoying - but our books won't sell if people don't know about them.

Lindsay said...

Thank you for the comments. Of course writers must promote their work, and the way forward it to produce writing worthy of the promotion and vice versa! In other words, we must write something worth boasting about!