Friday, August 21, 2009

Self-promotion, Fact or Fiction?

Chip MacGregor, a literary agent, stopped by my blog a few posts back after I commented on his post about relationships and promoting yourself. He impressed me not only in his follow through in commenting on my post but in what he had to say about the why and ways we social network.

One day, many of us (hopefully) will get more than articles published. We'll land a deal and get our long-awaited book published. Of course we hope the people who know us will buy it.

But that's not the main reason I blog--to get you to buy something I wrote or promote myself. I hope to develop good healthy active relationships with as many writers and readers I can to grow not only as a writer but as a person. Yes, maybe you might get to like something I've said and pick up something I write some day.

I hope I'll do the same for you.But if I do it will be because I've built a relationship with you, like who you are and know what you stand for. That takes work--not just a one or two promo line on Twitter or Facebook. It takes some back and forth interaction.

That's why I don't have this huge friend list on Facebook. I stay pretty selective and add on only people I know who are looking for genuine communication about what we do and who I am. I don't add every person from every organization I'm involved with. I don't watch the numbers climb--I look at the faces of the people and try my best to get to their blog and discover who they are. That's what I do and should I ever stop trying to do that--I think I will have lost in this writing process.

I'm interested in knowing how you feel about all this self-promotion stuff. It's a reality in our business but how far will you take it and how do you keep it real?

40 comments:

Jennifer Shirk said...

I like to keep it real by following blogs and reciprocating with people who are interesting to talk to and read about, not just anyone.

Kristen Painter said...

The busier I get, the less time I have to keep things personal, which I don't like. Unfortunately, it's a fact of life that there are only so many hours in a day and some of them actually have to be spent writing.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Oh, this is a tough question. I tend to accept every friend request asked on Facebook because I've heard so much about BUILDING your contact list. I'm not on Facebook much though, so I more just receive the promotional notes from all who are on my list at this phase. I did have twitter feed into my facebook, so it does get updates everytime I take a break on twitter. On Twitter, when time permits I interact as much as possible. I like hearing about everyone and since they're short, I can get updated fast.

Now, Blogging? That's were I'm most active and love to get to know other bloggers. It's where I most love to be with building online relationship and sharing and learning with others.

I don't know, building relationships takes energy and time, so for me, I need to really devote that to the blogging and a bit of twittering for now, but I use Facebook as more a venue than an interactive site.

Lin said...

well i try not to be too pushy in promoting my writing. blogging is sharing your writing with others to connect not to make money. although it is nice when your blogging friends buy your book. i've had some from india, new york and texas buy my latest book and i appreciate their comments and feedback. i mostly try to get my relatives and friends to buy my books as i'm writing non-fiction about common relatives but generic enough that it relates to all-feelings within families and early history of america. when i'm serious about selling, i'll get an agent but i'm not there yet...

Julie Gillies said...

I agree, Terri. I think nothing turns me off more than someone on Twitter or Facebook "trying to brek 1,000 (or whatever number). Good grief, we're all people, and we all want to know that we matter.

I love what you wrote: "I don't watch the numbers climb--I look at the faces of the people...". Amen, Terri. God is ALL about relationships. And we should be, too.

Trudy said...

I'm not quite to that level yet as I haven't had ANYTHING published. I think you've got the right idea though and I'm sure it is a very fine line. I imagine that my eyes would look to Him and my ears will be tuned in to what He is telling me to do!

Great post Terri!

Janna Qualman said...

I feel much the way you do, Terri. It's an absolute reality... but one I want to be personally involved in. If it stops being genuine, or I lose sight of loving each of the people in my life (for the many reasons they're there - including those who help me grow as a writer and, as you said, a person), then something has gone terribly wrong.

Janna Qualman said...

PS. I just saw Kristen's comment. I agree, time is a factor. And the further I get (and the more people I connect with, or who follow my blog, etc.), the less time I'll have to interact. I just hope that the interactions I CAN have will remain sincere.

Yolanda said...

I couldn't even imagine what all of you precious "writers" go through. Shewee....

Lovingly,
Yolanda

Jessica said...

I don't know if my blogging is really self-promotion because I'm mostly building relationships with other writers. NOw, if I got a contract, I think I would join some book clubs so I could get to know readers (and read, lol). As for facebook, I accept anyone who seems legit. BUT, some of these people who I DON'T know send out promos for their books and I delete them. No one likes people trying to sell stuff like that. Well, I don't. :-)
I think when I do a self-promotion thing, it will be more along the lines of speaking at schools, holding signings, etc. Writers are such generous, loyal people (the ones I've met) but the real trick is getting yourself out there to the readers of your genre. I do hope that my relationships with other bloggers will help me get some interviews out there someday, but otherwise I just love meeting so many other writers and talking "shop". LOL

Now I've got to go find his comment!

Jill Kemerer said...

well, I know YOU always keep it real--that's why I come back.

I do believe readers are influenced by numbers. When I'm published, someone might take a chance on me if they see that my "numbers" (facebook friends, blog followers, etc...) are high. High numbers=relevance.

Plus, I recently listened to a panel of writing promotion gurus. They said the Internet subliminally sells your books and builds name recognition just by people continually seeing your name. Who doesn't want that?

I agree though, we need to be real and accessible.

Stephanie Faris said...

It is tough...because the more your fan base grows, the more attention you'll get on your website and blogs. And readers will expect a sort of back-and-forth interaction but our primary concern has to be getting that next novel out. The problem is, some fans can take it personally when their favorite author doesn't reply personally to every single e-mail. You can actually LOSE readers for not responding. But how can you possibly get your work done and spend all day online answering e-mails?

I guess it's a problem I hope to have someday!

Galen Kindley--Author said...

I use the term, blogging buddies, or buddy, frequently. And, I think I mean that. I tend to visit folks with whom I feel a connection, and whose posts it’s not a trial to read. They generally have something to say of interest, and/or I learn something from visiting. Sometimes, I just get a good laugh—and that’s fine.

I started blogging on 1 May, so, not been at it all that long. It took a little while for me to find my skin and decide about what I’d write…anything (Writing tie-in preferred), and how I’d write…generally with a touch of humor. I let the numbers take care of themselves. I’ll let the sales take care of itself. I’ll put up a buy button to try to facilitated it, but, no pressure. That’s wrong. Don’t like it when it happens to me, won’t do it to others. So, that’s my story.

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Analisa said...

For me self promotion is doing what you feel comfortable with.

Terri, I am not a huge fan of social networks. I post on facebook when I have updated my blogs for friends to read if they like. I love blogs for just the reasons you stated. I want to read what bloggers I like have published. Some of my favorite bloggers list their published works on their site or in their profile. I think that is great. How else would I know about their book or other contributions?

I do feel that if you want to dedicate a website to your book. Great. Social Networks. Great. Traditional book signing. Great. Take copies to the local libary and ask for a table to promote it there. Fine. Sending a copy to Oprah. Fine.

How many of us will have a nation wide TV commercial promoting our books like James Patterson?

I can recall when book stores did TV commericals and promoted books on TV. Now it is up to the writer.

If you are happy to just have your book published and just your friends and family buy it, that is fine too.

Speaking from what I hope is a positive point of view, when I am published, I want as many folks as possible to buy & read my book. Without any shame I can say I want it to be popular. Nothing wrong with wanting a best seller.

I think if we really are keeping it real that is what most writers want. To have a lot of folks enjoy what you wrote and pay money to get it.

Self promotion increases our chances of that. If you really can stand behind what you wrote, you won't lose your intergrity by promoting it.

T. Anne said...

Blogging is all I'm interested in, my facebook is persona non grata at the moment. I love that a literary agent reads your blog. You are so cool Terri!

Jeanette Levellie said...

Terri: I noticed Chip commented on your blog; I was so impressed with that!

Terri, I have struggled with this issue more than any other, since "building a platform" seems so self-serving, not enriching others' lives. I strive to build relationships, like you said, not just get my name out there. I continually pray that God will use me to bless people.

I see in you a pure heart, wanting God to use your writing to further His kingdom. He will honor that, Terri. You are the apple of His eye. He has not forgotten your tears and your labor of love for Him.

Heather Sunseri said...

Terri, I've been thinking a lot lately about platform and social networking. I believe both are necessary in this business, but it doesn't have to be a selfish task. Although we hope to be promoting our work from time to time, as long as we are sincere with our words, I'm okay with it. I do my best to comment on peoples blogs when I have time or something meaningful to say. There are days, when I simply can't comment on all of the blogs, so I choose the actual posts that moved me that day.

I think you are doing an amazing job with blogging and social networking.

Greg C said...

Well let me start by saying that I am honored that you chose me as one of your facebook friends. Seriously. I only have locals, relatives, blog friends and highschool friends as mine. I guess that is pretty selective too.

I did a personal post today which doesn't promote me but gives a little insite into where I am comming from. I think that is important.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

Kindness blended with openness. Hold to boundaries, of course when needed, but otherwise you never know when you'll meet someone online who will become a writing partner (:D), friend, agent...true fellowship in Christ...
~ Wendy

Lazy Writer said...

I blog for the same reasons you do. For me it's not about self-promotion at all. It's about interacting with other writers. Someday, if publication is in the cards for me, I may have to handle blogging in a different way. But for now, I am just loving all the wonderful friends I've made!

sarah said...

great post. I love your blog because you put your heart out and you're so willing to offer a leg up when you can. As for self-promotion - easy to get bogged down with it. Usually after exhausting and frustrating myself, I let go and then the doors open. In my heart I believe whatever God has called us to do, ultimately He will pave the way. That takes the pressure off. Hang in there. Sarah

Jody Hedlund said...

I loved Chip's article the other day about social marketing. I think it boils down to being genuine. Even if we have limited time, we can still work on being genuine in all of our interactions.

Cindy said...

These are really interesting responses. In all honesty, I started my blog largely because I knew I needed to build a platform and I wanted to reach people. I love reaching people but now mainly because of the relationships I form.

I hardly have any "friends" on Facebook that aren't actual friends or relatives and it suits me just fine. It makes more sense and feels much more fulfilling to make contacts that are based on mutual respect and can be formed out of a friendship, not simply to increase numbers.

Nancy said...

Loved your blog today. I started blogging to get my stories "out there," but my goal now is to find people I can relate to and find some like-minded friends. The only self-promotion I do is to try to find new people and other ideas. It's has been a glorious hunt for me and very rewarding.

Karen Lange said...

Really like today's post; (not that I dislike the others:) you summed up many of my thoughts. I dislike the self promotion thing, and I try to approach it in a decent and ethical way. I also prefer to make friends as opposed to having a giant friend list. Joined Facebook recently and it's been good to connect with old and new friends. But I suppose my pet peeve for FB would be the people who ask you to be a friend, but do nothing otherwise. I guess that's my opportunity to pray for them:)

Blessings to you and your readers.

Pat said...

Terri, I've been meaning to talk about this for so very long. It's been on my mind. So maybe I will now, but maybe a slightly different take. We'll see. ; )

Valerie said...

This isn't about me, it's about Barbara Delinsky who uses Twitter. I thought it might be good to get a dialogue going until I saw on her website a very long moaning complaint about all the unknowns who follow her just because she's famous. After all, she said, they have nothing in common. Her reasoning made me stop and think and I promptly stopped following.

jinksy said...

Personally, 'self promotion' are dirty words to me! I love the real people aspect of bogging, not the numbers game...

Jack W. Regan said...

I think you're right, Terri. It's not about numbers. After awhile, you get so many profiles, updates, tweets, etc. that you end up not seeing anything. I made the mistake of doing this when I started the whole social networking thing. Now I'm in the process of weeding out the spammers and such, and searching out people with whom I might actually be able to communicate. Tedious, to say the least. It would have been much better to start off right. :0)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

If it was up to me, I'd be friends with almost everyone on Facebook. I make it a point to thank each one, who adds me or accepts a friend invitation. If they have a blog, I visit. If the blog speaks to me, I'll become a follower or add them to my Favorites list.

Does this take a lot of time? You bet it does, but it gives me an opportunity to meet people from all walks of life.

Maybe I won't always be able to interact like this, but for now it's a joy. I have more of a problem with blogs or Facebook notes that are one long commercial. Those are the ones I avoid and sometimes delete.

Each person needs to chart their course with the Lord's guidance.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Kathryn Magendie said...

I started a blog a few years back on MSN and met so many wonderful people -talked about my writing journey - talked about other things too - when Tender Graces was published, I opened the blogspot blog because it seemed more writers and readers and friends were on blogspot or moving there -- and as well, I wanted people to know about the book's release -

However, I hate blatant self-promo even though I know we are supposed to promote and market - I see that as separate from my blogging - well, separate and tied in I guess?

But I visit people and make friends and blog about more than my book - and I never ever ask people to buy my book - I just can't - and I won't.

K.M. Weiland said...

The more I learn about self-promotion, the more I'm learning how intricately it's tied in with simply being a genuine person. It's about selling *yourself*, in a sense, since you as a genuine, likable, real person are far more interesting and valuable than any product you might be trying to push. It really does all come back to people and relationships.

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

Terri,
I blog because I want to make friends with fellow writers, share ideas, and encourage one another.
Thank you for visiting my blog. Yes, I took the photo of the zinnias. Happy Writing!

Pat's Place said...

Well, I do have a problem with promoting myself. I am just not very pushy that way. However, I do feel that we writers need to let people know what we are doing and if they are interested, then they can support us and buy our products--or not, as they choose. Meanwhile, I LOVE my friends on FB and my blog and our relationships are more important to me than sales.

Angie Ledbetter said...

The whole blogging thing has been great so far, and for the reasons you say -- connecting with others and expanding your writing community. I prefer making the writing journey with others vs. by myself. :) I blog about the things I love...food, family, writing, friends and humor. Nothing to sell, but maybe one day?

I like Twitter so far (and for the little I know of its workings), but can't add FB or I'd have no time to work on Rose & Thorn zine issues or my own writing.

Terri, you've grown and branched out so much from when we first "met" in Blogland. A flower blossoming!

Rose Mary said...

Terri~this is something that I've been thinking about lately! I'm not a very pushy, self-promoting kind of person and I don't know how good at it I can ever be.

I realize that we do have to promote ourselves, but, as you mentioned, I don't want anyone to feel obligated to buy something that I write just so they can be my friend. It is a delimma for me! I guess that since I'm not published, just being friends is the important thing for now.

Amy De Trempe said...

Loved your post. My blog did start as promo, as we are told to do, but it has gone far beyond that. Even though I can't get on the blogs every day, I do try to click on the ones I follow on a regular basis. It has turned into a learning experience for me. I've learned more about writing, the families of bloggers and am amazed when I have something in common with another that has nothing to do with writing.

BeckyJoie at Leaders in Learning said...

I like it when people use social media to update me on their blogs, new books, shows, etc. I do it too but I write my blog to share information for various types of readers. I write about a wide range of topics--not to build readership only but because I do want to connect with others. I'm a bit of a sanguine, I suppose. :>)

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I couldn't have said it better, Terri, although I probably have tried to say it a lot at my blog. It's all about relationship for me. In the beginning there was a mixture of getting readers, wanting to interact, see where all of this was headed. Now, if it wasn't for the relationships I have formed, I would have given it up long ago. I mean that.

You all are the best!

Love you.

peace~elaine

Warren Baldwin said...

Terri -
I didn't get to read all these responses, but I really appreciated Jessica's comments about building relationships. But, as someone else said - that takes a lot of time, time we could be writing.

To Stephanie on how authors respond to emailers - my daughter tells me that some of the very popular and successful authors/personalities hire people to do a lot of their FaceBook and email responding for them. Guess she read that somewhere.

wb