How to self-promote without self-loathing – Lori Rader-Day

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By Lori Rader-Day

As I pondered a topic for this post, I kept coming back to the question I get the most. No, not where my ideas come from. (I get that one a lot, too.) The question I get most often has to do with self-promotion, from other writers: how?

How does self-promotion work?

How do you find all the time?

How do you know when you’ve done enough promotion?

But what they really want to know is… how can I avoid self-promotion?

That’s an easy question to answer, actually. The answer is, if you don’t want to self-promote, don’t publish. Unless you’re already well-published, already famous, or somehow already a media darling, you will have to promote your own work. Even if you had all the money in the world to pay someone to promote your book for you — sounds great, let’s do that! — you would still have to promote your own work.

I get it. Writers are usually the exact kind of people who would prefer not to, thanks. We became writers by standing on the outskirts of whatever social group we belonged to. We’re not center-of-the-ring people.

So, the good news? You’re not the only writer to dread the un-writer parts of the job description. But the bad news is that you’re doing it.

How, then, can you set yourself up for self-promotion success when all of it falls under the to-do category of “don’t wanna”?

Work on craft first. The best piece of self-promotion is a great book. A good book can rely on word of mouth as a promotional tactic.

Get organized. Make a plan of who you want to reach and how you will best reach them. Decide what you can do and where you will need help.

Find role models. Look for authors who are interesting on social media or who are doing the kind of events you want to. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Do your research. Where are your particular readers? Who else do they read? (Bingo: role models!) What bookstores/libraries are in places where you have a few friends?

Schedule ahead. Work your plan, scheduling blog posts and book events far ahead and with your energy level in mind. Do not over-commit.

Hire some help. You can do a lot yourself, or you can pay someone to do some of it for you. Decide what you cannot take on, and hire out that particular duty.

Get over it. Try doing the self-promotion task ANYWAY. Hardly anyone looks forward to the self-marketing of their work; they’d rather be writing! Try it. You might just…

Get better at it. The more you “just do it,” the easier the process gets. Practice every chance you get as you’re starting out—and for your second book, you’ll be a pro.

Ignore some of it. There’s no law that says you have to do everything there is to do. You do not have to respond or say yes to every inquiry you get for your time. Prioritize.

Be yourself. Well, be the interesting, charming, delightful version of yourself, sure, but you don’t have to pretend or be someone you’re not. Just say hello and smile. Ask questions instead of “selling” all the time.

Group up. Self-promotion is easier when you’re part of a group. Start a group of authors who support one another; do events together. Promote each other. Join associations for the kind of writing you do; find a writers group.

Rest up. Leave time for recovery and for the other parts of your life.

Write another book. The best piece of self-promotion is another great book. It’s listed last, but it should be your first priority after turning in the first one. Writing is its own reward, too. Don’t forget how you became a writer in the first place.

Enjoy! If you’re busy, that’s because you’re making your dreams come true. That’s worth celebrating.

Lori Rader-Day, author of The Day I Died, The Black Hour, and Little Pretty Things, is the recipient of the 2016 Mary Higgins Clark Award and the 2015 Anthony Award for Best First Novel. Lori’s short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, Good Housekeeping, and others. She lives in Chicago, where she teaches mystery writing at StoryStudio Chicago and is the president of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter.

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