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Self-Promotion: Stop Being A Robot & Start Being You

This blog post is in direct response to Please Shut Up: Why Self-Promotion As An Author Doesn't Work. GO read it. It's pretty short.

You'll probably come back here and nod your head a bit because on the surface you agree with a lot of these points. I certainly did. Because the sentiment is there, but the real message was lost in that post.

Here's the real message I have for authors…

Don't Shut Up. Stop being a robot and start being you!

Writing more books doesn't sell more books. You can have thirty to fifty books on Amazon, but if you never tell anybody about them, no one will ever buy them! The old adage that you have to “write more books to sell more books” doesn't work if the books are not promoted. The trick is to stop being a robot! Stop the constant “BUY MY BOOK” tweets or the promotion-only FB posts or the BUY BUY BUY newsletters.

Instead, find your audience and start being more personal to them. Social media can work for you, if your audience is there, but they are going to hate you if you schedule a post every 4 hours with links to buy your book. THAT is being a robot, not being you.

Here are some self-promotion tips that I feel work and will work for every author!

1) Determine where your audience is on social media.

Some authors have a huge following on Twitter. Some do really well with their author page on Facebook. Some have a bunch of readers following them on G+. Some even have popular blogs where people come to read about them several times per week. EVERY AUTHOR IS DIFFERENT because every audience is different. If you don't know where your audience is, try a few social networks until you see which is working.

2) Spend your time on social media being YOU.

If an author has a following on Twitter, they spend their time there, following conversations, talking about their life or their work, posting photos or updates, and being genuine. This is BEING YOU! This is not being a robot. See the difference here? Promoting is being yourself. If you think that your life is boring, then try talking about your favorite hobbies, post photos, share articles and have an opinion on them. DO SOMETHING THAT IS GENUINE. Readers want to know about you, not how to buy your book every other minute.

3) Be balanced.

There are definitely times when you can sell your work to your readers! Don't let anyone tell you you can't. When you have a new release, chances are your fans want to hear about it. So talk about it! Put some links on Twitter, put some posts on your Facebook page, and be excited! Show some emotion (remember, you're not a robot). These times when we authors finish a great big work are the most fun for everyone, both authors and fans. But it's a balancing act. You have to walk that tight rope and keep being you while still selling your work. This is where newsletters come in handy. All your biggest fans should be signed up because they want the news straight to their inbox.

Look at that article I linked to right at the top of this post again. I have news for you. Every one of her points is wrong if you can be you and not be an emotionless automaton.

You CAN solicit reviews of your books if you're personal and research your potential readers.

You CAN send out newsletters if you can give back to your audience and not just take, take, take from them.

You CAN promote on Twitter, Facebook, etc. if you are being you and not a BUY MY BOOK machine.

The only thing I agree with in the entire piece now is “Let's write better books” because all the “being YOU” in the world is not going to get you anywhere if your books are crap. Lol.

So give this the one-two punch. Write awesome books and be an awesome human being online. Robots are better left to selling you coffee at the cafe.

SoftBank pepper
By Tokumeigakarinoaoshima (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

13 thoughts on “Self-Promotion: Stop Being A Robot & Start Being You”

  1. Thank you. Got here through your comment on the other post. I was reading it going, “Gee, this is helpful if you’re already established with book deals and panel guest spots.”

    1. Yes, it’s definitely true that if you already have a platform (and if you can write a popular blog post on the day your book publishes!) then maybe you don’t need social media at all. But even the big time authors have newsletters, websites, and social media accounts. They just do it differently by being themselves. EVERY author can do this. We just need to remember that it’s a long game, a marathon not a sprint. It takes hard work and dedication! :)

  2. Love this post! Some authors have contacted me thorugh Lola’s Blog Tours and asked how to get their book out there and I usually tell them to start being social and talk about themselves and not spam buy links too often. Like you said you should promote yourself, but you should do it the right way. I think you certainly got this figured out! I actually feel like I know you and you even take time to respond to bloggers their posts and talk about their daily lives. Great post!

    1. Thanks Lola! And I love being myself online. Admittedly, I may be a little more complain-y or grumbly in person :) But I’m the exact same person here that I am when I meet someone in real life. It helps to just be yourself.

      I think you’re giving great advice to those new authors too! And I met lots of great bloggers through my blog tour with you. So, really, all the hard work authors do, if they can be genuine, will be worth it in the end.

  3. You are so right! I have to say you are pretty much the perfect example of what you preach, too. After all, the main reason your books ended up on my radar is because you popped over to my blog and commented a few times. You genuinely responded to a post or two, so I jumped over here to find out more about you. I recognized your books from another blogger (I think it may have been Lola!). After a few more interactions with you, I thought something along the lines of, Hey, this Steph person is a nice lady and her books sound great. I really need to go buy one. And, voila! The rest is history! (I plan on reading book #4 VERY soon!) :-)

    Social media and blogging itself isn’t bad – but when random authors send me “Will you post about my sale on Facebook?” messages, they just get ignored. On the other hand, an author I already have a relationship in one way or another is welcome to ask me that same question and chances are I’ll agree. It’s all about relationship building – not bombarding people with random messages. Great post!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. I was on social media for a long time before I became an author (I have another private account on Twitter I don’t use anymore but have had since 2007? I think) and I learned a lot of lessons prior to turning on my author persona. I do like to do things gradually and organically, like our relationship, and the relationship I have with other bloggers, so that works in my favor.

      I think I found YOU through Lola’s blog! I remember one day reading through comments on her posts and thinking, “There have to be bloggers here I like because Lola is so likable!” And I stumbled across your blog first. I also like the way you conduct your blog and yourself online, which is why we get along! Your blog is a great mix of promotion and original content. I recommend it to pretty much everyone! <3

  4. Hi there, S.J,
    I was glad to see your comment and link in the other post along with one or two other dissenting voices. I must admit, I commented there and my initial knee-jerk reaction was that yes, the post was common sense – I mean, we’ve all seen the worst of the spammy post, right? But what I didn’t realise was that the author had the benefit of a Big 5 publisher (= credibilityto readers) and a book coming out on the very same day as the eye-catching ‘Shut Up’ headline. Hmm.

    There are blogs that even teach exactly how to write attention grabbing headlines – I subscribed to one! So all in all, I’m not feeling as pleased to see that post as I was earlier today.

    As writers, we’d all prefer to be writing rather than marketing and promoting, and your post is a thoughtful and well-balanced look at one of the hardest aspects of what we have to do. Thank you for stepping up to the plate on this!

    Of course, finding our audience online and off takes time, patience and effort, and for myself, I’m still figuring out where to put that effort in.

    I think the problem is (partly) because what we do is essentially such a lonely and isolated business, that when writers finally have a product to offer and put it out into the world, there is always that sneaking fear that no one will ever see it, buy it, read it or review it – and thus begins a cycle of desperate shouting into the crowd in the hopes that one person will hear your voice.

    I’ve no idea if, when I do finally launch a book, I will find an audience – but I do believe it’s worth investing the time and effort in finding the audience and not giving in to the fear.

    Thank you again for your post, and good luck to everyone out there with your books and marketing!

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S. J. Pajonas