Shameless Self Promotion

An alternative to Shameless Self Promotion is called SHOW, DON’T TELL. Show that you are a great writer, don’t tell it. I know, I know, the usual advice is to hype yourself and your work, as the advertising world does, as the politicians do. And yes, it is necessary at times to mention your successes for a specific purpose, for example to promote a book or to get a job.

A number of years ago I attended a writers’ meeting in the Fraser Valley. A published romance writer looked around the room at the beginning and said, “I’m the only real writer in this room.”

This is what I fear with Shameless Self Promotion, that it sets up divisions among us writers. Published and not-published, etc. Aren’t we a community, trying to help each other? We were all raised in a very competitive way and we have to work very hard to overcome it. What is the need to promote ourselves among our fellow writers? Why?

I believe – or I want to believe – that quality will always win out. I think of writers who are really good, but who are very modest, Diana Gabaldon, Don McQuinn, etc.

Success in the literary world is outside us. Victory is within. What if we promoted the real victories we have? “Today I wrote for three hours.” “I finally understand dramatic purpose.” “I’m not afraid to send my work out.”

The rule for writers is: SHOW, DON’T TELL. It’s not: practice shameless self-promotion.

13 responses to “Shameless Self Promotion

  1. A person’s writing will always speak for itself – you can’t hide bad writing. But in this day and age when publishers don’t promote their writers, marketing yourself is the only way to get your name out there. It is shameless – we are our own marketers. Diana Gabaldon and Don McQuinn have the luxury of many years of being published and they don’t need to self promote. For many others, especially those who self-publish, they have no choice but to self-promote, otherwise how will readers come by their work?
    We are a community of writers who help each other and self-promotion doesn’t change that. It is simply a tool to share your work. Isn’t that why we write – so others can enjoy the fruits of our daily toil?

    • I almost agree, Claire. What you describe is what I do. What bothers me is the ‘shameless’ part. The person who pushes you out of the way to gain attention. Years ago I went to the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference in Seattle. We were assigned groups to meet with editors and agents and of course the loudest, most shameless, person in the group got all the attention. That spirit ran through the whole conference. Me first. #1.
      I cam back home and worked with others to start the Surrey Conference. We wanted to build community in the few short days of the conference. We wanted to take the shameless people out of the equation. We wanted everyone to have an equal chance. Of course, we didn’t succeed 100%, but I believe those goals still go on.

  2. I am always amazed with how the universe operates. After many of your good teaching blogs, you got back to the philosophy of writing with a message that I needed to hear right at this particular time in my writing life. Thank-you.
    I am struggling with the idea of writer identity right now and your entry has reminded me that I can only be the writer I am suppose to be and nothing more. I should not be looking for my validation from my peers and instructors but within the writing itself; writing my stories the best I can–nothing more, nothing less. Do it quietly and let the words speak for themselves.

  3. Excellent point, Ed. I’ve quietly ‘unfriended’ a couple people on Twitter and Facebook because their posts are always self-promoting and it becomes tiresome to hear authors constantly begging for readers. The conundrum is, how can good writing speak for itself if no one knows it exists?

    Ideally, others will speak on our behalf when we’ve put our efforts into building relationships within the online writing community instead of using social media only for our own marketing. The writing community is usually a very supportive, encouraging place. Those who make a hierarchy of it most often find themselves alone on their chosen tier.

    • Thanks, Carol. I admit that there is a conundrum or two in all this. As you say, how can anyone know about you, if you don’t promote your books. I guess I’m against the excesses — the woman who wrote wonderful book #1 then spent all her time promoting it to the exclusion of writing wonderful book #2

  4. I can’t believe she (romance writer) said THAT… great lesson in how NOT to be, period. So many great writers rejected so many times until one acceptance leads to higher ground than she will – apparently – ever know, writers who may well been there beside her. While we are expected to do a fair amount of self-promotion via technology these days, humble wins in my world… writing or otherwise. Thanks for another dose of writing motivation, Ed 🙂 Be back for a refill soon.

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