(Without Being an Ass)
We want people to read our writing—our books, our stories, our blog posts. Making that happen involves putting our stuff out there and telling people, “Hey! Look, this is good. You should read this.”
It’s simple and necessary, but we’ve all seen that person—online or in real life—who promotes him/herself and comes off like a complete and total ass.
When the majority of a person’s communication involves self-promotion, we begin asking questions like “What’s so special about that persons’s stuff?” and “Do they ever talk about anyone but themselves?”
That is not the kind of attention you want.
But we have to talk about ourselves and our stuff. We have to brag about it. Why would a stranger want to read your writing if you don’t speak positively about it?
Where is the line between promoting yourself and being an ass?
Real Life Ass-Prevention
This stuff happens in real life, too, especially at conferences or meetings. See these first of all as networking opportunities, rather than sales opportunities. What I mean is that you shouldn’t bombard new acquaintances with My book! My stories! This website! My Amazon page! Just make friends, (Yes, we’re in kindergarten.) and follow these tips.
1. Don’t start the conversation with self-promo.
When you meet someone, introduce yourself, of course, but don’t follow that up with a sales pitch. My recommendation: Ask something about the other person. What? What is this incredibly unique notion? I know, I know. It’s drastic. Ask about their career, their book. Ask where they’re from or what genre they write. It’s not difficult, but we are naturally more comfortable talking about ourselves (we are experts, after all) so sometimes it takes a conscious effort to direct the conversation to the other person.
2. Listen. Don’t just wait for your turn to speak.
We’ve all had those conversations that sound like a poorly written script, like there are two entirely separate conversations happening because one person (or both people) are just waiting for their turn to speak and not really listening to the other person. It sounds terrible, but we’ve all been that person, too. It’s easy to do, especially if you’re nervous. You’re afraid of saying the wrong thing or of an uncomfortable lull in the conversation so you use the time while the other person is speaking to plan what you’re going to say next. Fight that urge! Besides being rude, it creates a disjointed conversation—not exactly memorable.
3. One mention is enough.
You mention your book/service/whatever in the flow of conversation. Great. If the other person continues the topic with questions, that’s fine. But don’t beat a dead horse. There’s no need to force it on them. You know what that’s called? Real life spam. And not the kind in a can that you slice and fry for a sandwich (childhood memories creeping up). The bad kind. The kind that results in eye rolls and real unfriending. Nobody wants that.
The moral of the story: Don’t be afraid to talk about your own work, but make sure that’s not all you talk about! Promote others, and make friends. Focus on those two things (online and in real life), and you’ll be just fine.
Otherwise, sad donkey will judge you.
What are your pet peeves when it comes to self-promotion?
What makes you say, “That person is an ass!”