I see it all the time these days. Writers commenting on blogs and forum threads while including a not so subtle reference to their latest book or their latest blog post or their latest signing.

I'm guilty of it myself -- although I try to go the subtle route. Notice, if you will, that in this post I won't ever mention the name of my own book. Yet some of you will undoubtedly click over to my CrimeSpace page and there it is, in living black and white (or white on brown).

Not exactly blatant self promotion, but some of us don't seem to hesitate to practice the craft.

The question is, is it really necessary? Should we sound the trumpets or is it better to simply contribute semi-coherent, thoughtful blog comments and forum posts and hope that the readers will discover you've actually written a book or two or three?

There's a certain no-shame factor that kicks in when sounding the trumpets. And it requires a gene that I don't really possess.

So, tell me, what's a poor humble idiot to do?

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In all seriousness, it really is a fine line, isn't it? As Julie wrote, many of us were brought up to believe that talking about ourselves at all is the worst of sins. But when, all of a sudden, one's livelihood depends on people knowing who you are and what you do, one has to learn how to do it effectively.Not an easy lesson.

One thing that's nice about Crimespace is that everyone here does appear to be genuinely interested in the success and well-being of everyone else. It's a rare thing, and one for which I'm very grateful! I enjoy checking out folks' pages and discovering who they are and what they do. Kind of like opening new gifts every day!
Me too Laura - I HAVE found a couple of new to me authors by checking out peoples' pages after they have commented in the forum here. They may not even have mentioned their book, or done so only in passing, but what they have said is interesting, or funny, so I go and check out what they have written. And so far I have written down the titles of two books I need to get based on my discoveries. Not because they said "buy my book, buy my book" but because everything else they had to say was interesting. It's not promotion which is the problem, it's when it becomes so over the top it's cringeworthy.
I believe self-promotion is necessary. As Reed wrote, there's only so much agents and publishers will/can do. Self-promotion is tied to the sensibilities of the promoter. People will do as much of it as they deem acceptable. In my case, I don't want my promotion to seem blatant, tacky, or desperate. Once I feel I've met those considerations, I'm happy to promote my work.
As I said above in response to Pari, it's the B or BLATANT self-promotion I tend to shy away from.

There's nothing wrong with self-promotion itself. It's the way in which we go about it that makes the difference.
I don't have a problem with BSP in blog responses within limits which I hope are reasonable - make sure the reference to your own work is relevant to the post. If someone posts about a small town sheriff, I'll say I write one too.

In the end, in conversations where it is relevant, I don't hide the fact that I write.

I suppose blog responses should pretty much be like regular conversations - this site we're on now is supposed to provide a social network. Why would writers need one? Because we only see each other at the conferences we can afford. The blogs we frequent are an alternative way of mixing and mingling.
I think that's what I was driving at, Steven. People in a community talk with each other, they share their joys, successes, depressions and failures. When you're a writer, alot of that conversation is going to be about your profession and your own work.

That said, I really have a difficult time with the constant horn-blasters. The ones who slam you over the head and, rather than add to the conversation, try to highjack it.
I'm with Dusty and close to Ray's position, and I also think Donna's right on with those unbelievably thin threads people grasp to promote their books.

I’m going to talk out of both sides of my mouth here. Excessive bsp drives me nuts. I constantly worry about my presence on lists and such, and I think one reader on 4MA finally put some of that to rest for me by saying I had a lot of good will in the readership because I actually participate – I don’t just come on and talk about my book or my stuff.

I think that’s the key thing. We’re more forgiving with a bit of bsp when people are part of the community. I figure anyone who comes on here and only posts announcements and never once contributes to a discussion on a thread that they don’t tie back to their book isn’t part of the community. They’re just checking something off on a list – another promotional thing to do today. (And for the life of me I can’t figure why authors spend so much time promoting to other authors, but that’s a whole different subject.)

The other side of the equation is that promo stuff is a part of my reality because we get piles for Spinetingler. From authors, publishers, independent publicists, even bloggers who think we should read their blog (fuck off - that's for the bloggers).

Now, I am only too happy to do what I can to promote authors and books I’m enthusiastic about. If I love your work you will not be able to stop me from mentioning it at some point. I can’t talk up everyone all the time but if there’s an author/book I love I will be talking about them. And I LOVE readers who gush about their favourites. Thank goodness, you guys are keeping authors alive.

And Spinetingler has certainly built my name more than my book has. It wasn’t planned that way – when we started it I’d never even read a blog, didn’t read any industry stuff at all, wasn’t even querying manuscripts at the time. I was just barely dipping my toe in the water and I had no idea what I was in for. We just did what we wanted to do with it…and here we are. It’s much easier for me to promote Spinetingler because it is good for so many people. There are so many who’ve had their first publishing credit, others who’ve gotten a blurb they can use in promotion… I even get emails from people who enjoy the interviews. It’s great.

With growth has come headaches as well, most of which aren’t relevant to this, but some are, and this ties back to what I said about community earlier. Some people are only out for themselves. Me me me, and then on to the next place they can shout about themselves. It’s funny, a lot of people have said I must have a lot of goodwill in the industry because of the reviews/interviews. Seems I do with readers, but not always so with authors. Anything I say runs the risk of having people think it applies to them (and goodness, I’d like to think my friends know who they are and know better) but there are definitely people who poke-poke-poke to try to get something from us and are nowhere to be found if we ask for something. Asking for people to just sign books for the contest last year was interesting. I mean, we were prepared to buy all of them. Some authors donated, some gladly agreed, and others, well…

There are, sadly, those who seem to feel as well that the way to elevate themselves is to tear others down. If I’m wrong about this I won’t have much of a career and oh well, but you’ll just never persuade me that’s the way to go. I’m not ashamed to say I’m staying away from people like that. We ARE a community here and if an author has some success and draws more readers then we all benefit. It IS about the writing, not the best promotional gimmick or author photo or winning smile or even who your publisher is – I don’t give a shit. If your book sounds interesting I’ll consider reading and reviewing it – it’s that simple.
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And when people get to the point where they’re pushing so much and out there too much I don’t want to interview them. I do seriously think with all the blogging/lists etc. that a lot of authors run the risk of over-promotion. And that’s the biggest problem with the worst of the bsp offenders – they are so excessive they make it a dirty word for everyone else.
As a reader, I have mixed feelings about BSP. I can deal with authors talking about their books and how the sales are, putting website addresses etc. with their signatures on forums and whatever. Where I draw the line is when I start getting emails and messages saying "Hey, look at this great review my book has gotten!" and it turns out it's a post to their website or something like that. I can deal with natural, normal publicity-it's in my face, unwarranted stuff that offends me. Shove something down my throat and I'll probably puke it back up at you. And your book will most likely go to the bottom of my buy list, no matter where it may have been before.

Nothing that's happened here has bothered me, everyone's been pretty casual, which is great. People have made suggestions, and I've heard of some new authors that I'll probably check out, and when I do I'll let you know-just don't send me any obnoxious messages, I promise I'll read your website and your blogs if I want to know more 'kay?
Great points, Bill. Again, it's not so much the promotion itself, but the WAY we go about it. There can sometimes be a fine line between trying to sell your book and pushing it in people's faces. I prefer to stay on the more subtle side of that line.
Your heart is in the right place, but your math is bad. Due to the
Transitvity Property of Mathematics, both equations are equivalent, and
are in fact totological expressions.
Perhaps what you meant to say was the Bayesian dependent probabilities, or perhaps sequential causaltity?

Let    ==>    mean   leads to

Relationships    ==>    Friends    ==>    Sales
rather than
Sales    ==>    Friends   ==>    Relationships
Everyone who's written about the responsibility every author now carries to promote her own book is absolutely right. From the biggest publishing houses to the smallest presses, the assumption is you will hawk your book like a door-to-door Fuller Brush man. Except now the focus has changed to the Internet and we're essentially faced with "virtual stalking."

This is my first mystery, so I'm politely, but frantically trying to figure out how to attract readers. I don't think anyone believes that the best books will be noticed regardless of the amount of promotional efforts. We all know fabulous writers with compelling manuscripts who have failed to get an agent or failed to sell to a publisher. And assuming one does get published, if the sales aren't strong enough, we all know incredible writers who have gotten dumped by their publishers in a blink of an e-mail sent.

I guess the answer is to use the skills we've developed as writers to do self-promotion sans the blatant?


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