Saturday, April 18, 2015

Shameless Self-Promotion

As authors trying, sometimes struggling, to get published, we are often called upon to be our own brand managers, our own chief marketing officers, and our own directors of communications in addition to being writers. We are told we need a “platform,” meaning Facebook, Twitter, LinkdIn, Tmblr, and Instagram accounts. I have to admit I hate it. Hate it, hate it. Hate. It!

When someone my age (51) says that, someone younger and more computer savvy invariably makes a comment about the way things are done these days. I often have to restrain myself from reminding these young whippersnappers it was my generation who freaking invented this stuff. (A line I am reminded I stole from Paula Benson!)

True confession time: I love checking Facebook for juicy gossip. I rather enjoy the blood sport of watching people, with some of whom I am barely acquainted, go at it over The Bachelor or Obama versus Bush versus Reagan, etc. I get giddy when I see some of my more conservative brethren practically implode when they are faced with one man kissing another man and then having the audacity to ask for equal treatment under the law. Facebook was created for my prurient interests, of that there is no doubt. Other than that I have no use whatsoever for social media. You could say, I’ve lost “Pintrest.”

As a matter of fact my psychiatrist says I display antisocial media tendencies. She's afraid one day I may become a “cereal” killer. (Okay, so it’s not that funny of a play on words!)

I read an excellent article online the other day. It's title? “Please Shut Up: Why Self-Promotion as an Author Doesn't Work.” You can read it here. It makes some excellent points. Perhaps I can get to the crux of it with this example:

Have you ever had a friend who you met and only know through church, and the only things that person can talk to you about are church-related?

“Hey Kathy. How was your day?”
“Isn't God wonderful? I have truly had a blessed day.”

"Kathy, I was sorry to see your house blew into a million pieces after that gas line explosion the other day.”
“Well you know, God doesn't give us more than we can handle.”

“Kathy, I heard your dog has an abscessed tooth.”
“Yes, Muffy needs your prayers right now.” 

Having an author friend on Facebook feels much the same way. That author never posts pictures of his kids at Disney World without throwing in a reminder that he has a mystery series set in a theme park that involves a killer clown.

And don't even get me started on Twitter. The only thing I want to say in 140 characters or less is, "If you ever want to see your husband again, bring $5 million to the dock at midnight.” And I can still post that message loud and clear with letters cut out of a magazine and some rubber cement. I don't even need a computer.

As this article suggests, I just want to concentrate on writing the best novel I can. If I wanted to be Mark Zuckerberg, I would've learned to write computer code rather than complete sentences.

Do you think that authors are too pushy on social media?

Sam Morton is a three-time nominee for the coveted Tissue Award for best short story written on a piece of toilet paper. His cookbook, Urinal Cakes and Other Tasty Treats, was a finalist in the Culinary Writer’s Guild of America Book Of The Year contest, and he was a 2014 inductee into the I Never Met A Carb I Didn’t Like  Hall of Fame. He and his wife Djibouti live on the south side of Chicago, the baddest part of town. 



Warren Bull said...

Some authors promote themselves by helping other authors without shoving "buy my book" down anybody's throat. That may actually work.

E. B. Davis said...

I think most authors are trying to use whatever device they can harness to sell books so they aren't dropped from the publisher's lineup. I feel for them. I want to be in their shoes. I hope my book is so darn good I have no need to actually promote it because it will promote itself. But I doubt that will happen so I try to be as sympathetic as I can, interview those authors helping to give them exposure, and pray I'm not in the same position--all the while praying I am in that position. We all hate it, Sam. We've been taught that being immodest and boastful is at best impolite, at worst boorish and obnoxious. Keeping a sense of humor, being a bit self-depreciating, while still promoting your book is the best compromise in an ugly world.

Jim Jackson said...

All things in moderation isn't just about what we eat; I suggest it applies to self-promotion.

Those who take the "high" road and do nothing may be lucky , but that is what it will be, luck.

Those who blitz self-promote annoy the hell out of me, and I refuse to read their books regardless of how good they are.

Those who provide valuable or interesting information along with an occasional plug and the periodic announcing of a great rating or the like are the ones I sympathize with and will work to help.

If others see that as too much, then they can unfriend or unwhatever me. :)

~ Jim

Shari Randall said...

Hey, I'm also a member of the Never Met a Carb I Didn't Like club!
I've started quietly "unfriending" some folks who promote waaaay too much on Facebook. Please tell me if I turn into that person. I don't want to be that person.

Kara Cerise said...

I have a friend who does this very well although she works in the movie industry so it may be different. I've observed that about 1/3 of her Facebook posts are promotional and the rest are personal. She weaves the two types together so smoothly that sometimes it feels like I'm at a party and she's the hostess mingling and introducing guests to each other.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Sam, thank you so much for the attribution! I just wanted you to know you had my vote for the Waddie, best humor award on your Tissue story. Watch your back in Chicago. PS Thank goodness the media isn't always the message!