A lot of people have asked me how I can find the courage to promote my work without feeling like an asshole. Well, I can’t tell you how to do that, because I can’t help how you feel. I can’t even tell you how to promote your books without other people thinking you’re an asshole, because I can’t help how they feel, either. No matter how often I ask my cat to build one for me, I don’t yet have a functioning Public Opinion Control Ray Gun.
And I should never, ever be trusted with such technology. With great power, comes great potential for hilarity, and I think I would do lots of funny shit with that, but not very much good.
But I digress.
So there are two kinds of writers – the kind who promote their shit, and the kind that don’t make any money. You decide which one you want to be, and behave accordingly.
That is, of course, a vast oversimplification. But let’s take a look at some ways that you can promote your book without being an asshole.
1) Promote to your mailing list – I might have mentioned before on this blog that mailing lists are pretty damned important. These are people who already want to read your shit, and are inclined to give you money for the privilege. Let them. Take their money. They want you to have it. Do not be ashamed of taking their money. Instead, think of what a favor you are doing these poor people who have too much cash, and need some way to spend it. Be a giver. Give them the warm fuzzy feeling of spending money with you.
Some people post to their mailing list every week. I think that’s a little too often. Some people post to their mailing list only when they have a new release. That’s probably not often enough, unless you release a book every single month. I think you should probably communicate with your mailing list at least once a month.
“But what do I say?” “I don’t have anything to say!” “I’m booooooring!”
Well, you’re probably right. But if you are, then what are you saying on Facebook all the damn time? Are you going to a convention next month? Newsletter. Are you releasing the audiobook of the book you released two months ago? Newsletter. Did you just sign a contract for four books? Newsletter.
The point is that you can come up with something relevant to your writing career once a month, unless you just aren’t writing anything, aren’t releasing anything, and aren’t doing anything to promote yourself. If that’s the case, then you’re not a writer, you’re someone who talks about wanting to be a writer, and that’s not who I’m talking to here. I’m writing these posts for people who actually want to sell books. If you want to talk about being a writer, or want to writer for the love of it, that’s fine. But you’re not the audience for these posts. You should read my serialized fiction every Monday and buy all my other shit.
So yeah, you need to send out a newsletter at least once a month. Some folks like to send out serialized fiction once a month in their newsletter. This is a great idea and it gives you potential readers a reason to sign up and stick around. I personally don’t do it, but I’m serializing two novels right now, so I think I give away enough writing. The first one is on this site every Monday, and the other is on my Patreon.
So by sending out newsletters, you are communicating with people who have already said they want to hear from you, thus – you are not an asshole.
2) Post to your Author FB Page – You do have one, right? If you have at least one book out, you need to have a presence on Facebook. If you use Facebook at all. Don’t do it if you hate Facebook, but if you have any use for FB, you need to have an author page.
Then you need to write shit on there. Frequently. Like, all the fucking time.
This is just like a newsletter. The people who like your FB author page want to hear about your work. If they don’t, they won’t follow the page. I feel like you should promote each thing you have out in the world once per day on your author page. Got an ebook? 1 Post. Got a newsletter? Another post. Blog? Another post. Audiobook? Another post. Before you know it, you can have a dozen things that you’re promoting on your Author page.
Don’t get all shy and awkward about posting there, because 1) the people who like this page are still predisposed to give you money, and it’s rude to turn them down, and 2) FB throttles your feed so much that only 10-20% of your friends and followers see the things you post. So it’s entirely possible that if you have eight posts on your FB wall, any given person who likes your work may only see two of them. So while you think you’re blasting the universe with a million bits of spam, they think you’re super-restrained and only post a couple times a day,
It’s okay, I won’t tell them.
3) Post things with cute pictures – When Natania Barron got print copies of her new novella, she posted an adorable picture of herself holding them. People love that shit. They love seeing you get excited about shit. So post pictures. Take your new book on a tour of the country, and post with it at landmarks. Or ask your FB tribe to send in pics of them holding your book in various places, and share those pics. Images are awesome on the internet, and funny pictures are even awesomer. That’s why I use the pic of the grinning chimp for all these posts. That, and it’s not a terrible likeness. 🙂
4) Post in threads where people ask for people to post what they’re working on – A bunch of folks will make posts like “Tell me about your new release.” DO IT. FFS, they’re asking you. They’re begging you to provide content and engagement with their page, and they’re offering promotion in exchange. Take them up on their kind offer.
Same for blog posts. Remember, I offer a guest blog spot every Friday for people to send me stuff about their new books. Just write up a post around 500-1,000 words on where the idea for your book came from, and send it along with buy links and a cover image. You’re reading this, so obviously somebody sees this site, right? Take advantage of the opportunities that people offer you. Because if you provide them content, they will link you, and give you a shout out, and make sure generally your guest post is at least somewhat promoted, because they want you to see value in it for you as well as for them.
There’s a few ways to promote without looking like an asshole. Some of these are easy, some are less so. They all take a certain amount of getting out of your own head to do. But they all pay dividends. So get your ass to writing, and send me a post for Evolution!