It seems I struck a chord when I posted about blatant self-promotion. What I discovered is that a lot of people are confusing BSP with your regular every day, garden-variety self-promotion -- something that we all must and do engage in.

BSP, however, is called Blatant self-promotion because of its in-your-face, take no prisoners nature. Yes, most of us are guilty of it once in awhile, but there are also those who can't seem to post a comment on a blog or a forum anywhere without shamelessly promoting their work. Much of this is outright spam -- ignoring or paying little attention to the subject at hand, or going to truly torturous lengths to tie their "product" to the discussion.

And, as many comments here have indicated, such BSP is not appreciated by those who are interested in having a legitimate discussion.

Please don't misunderstand me. Again, self-promotion is a VITAL part of what we writers do.

But BSP is a different thing entirely.

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One thought is to see if there's a state or regional library event - ALA is humongous and crazy and is always held at an expensive city because of its size, but if you went to a state library association annual meeting and gave a talk you'd have a more intimate group of people who would really get to meet you. I'm sure they'd enjoy it, too. Or maybe PLA, the public library association, which has a national meeting every other year.

Hey, I just checked their website - PLA 2008 will be March 25-29, 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota! Come on up, and you can stop by two terrific indie bookstores while you're at it.
And, if anyone's interested, they have info on their exhibit room costs, etc. It seems as if it's something MWA or Sisters in Crime might want to do.

If you're wondering whether the Public Library Association is an audience worth the price of admission, I looked up their attendance at their last conference - over 11,000 people, many of whom spend your tax dollars on books! Lots of books!
Thanks for this info, Barbara.
Tall order, pal. Seems like midlisters need a Handling staff -- you know, publicity People. Someone to slap your mug on the front of the National Enquirer or at least on the supermarket racks for those impulse buyers since the Oprah-Franzen falling-out and the end of the daytime television push.

So what the heck does your agent do for you - just get a publisher? And how the heck did Michael Koryta get his books in Walmart? Tell me that, my friend, and maybe we can figure out this problem.
the interesting thing about the situation i mentioned yesterday is that rather than ignore her, most people began to worship her and she became a celebrity before her book ever came out.

this is a bit off topic, but i'm reminded of something funny that happened years ago. i was at a signing with maybe a hundred other writers. i think this may have actually been the only RT convention i ever went to. anyway, it was a madhouse. a woman was frantically scurrying around with a pen asking, "Are YOU anybody? Are YOU anybody?"
OMG, Anne. That's so...horrifyingly hilarious.
bla·tant adj
1. so obvious or conspicuous as to be impossible to hide
2. excessively or offensively noisy (literary)

Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

Blatant is in the eye of the beholder. To some people, mention your book, it is obvious you are talking about it, it's self promotion... therefore it's blatant self promotion. This was argued about on DL last year, to the point that it was questioned if even signing your name on a post that had nothing to do with your book was bsp.

It doesn't matter what we think - what matters is perception from potential readers. If they think you've crossed the line then it doesn't matter if popular consensus here is that you haven't. Authors have to know their audience in more ways than one. It was suggested to me once that just commenting on people's blogs (although my comments had nothing to do with my book and pertained to the poster and their post) was bsp, as was commenting too much on forums. Some people will take it that far. You have to be aware of the extremes and then decide what you're comfortable with. I had an email from someone months back who said I posted on a list too much and was trying too hard. Thing was, I was never mentioning my book and didn't use a signature line. And then you see the same people complain about those 'drive-by posters' who only pop on to talk about their stuff.

You'll be damned by someone no matter what you do. I don't set my definition for bsp - readers do that. I decide for myself what I think is reasonable and appropriate and act accordingly.
I just read through this latest exchange with interest, then clicked on the Events page and saw that my posting about the Omega "Being Fearless" conference was still in second place. Reading through what I'd written, I decided that yes, it was BSP, because I mentioned that I planned to wear my T-shirt emblazoned with my book cover throughout the weekeknd. I had the option of editing out the self-referential part, but decided it was OK because Daniel had approved self-promotion on the Events page.

My T-shirt is an interesting example of walking the BSP tightrope. I made it with the Avery Iron-On kit you can buy in any Staples store - an easy PR gimmick I recommend to others. I wear it to all my readings and other literary or art events, but I don't wear it to Sunday morning church. I figure it's only moderately BSP because I don't point to my chest and say "Look, everybody, this is my book!" (I don't like calling attention to that part of my anatomy anyway, because I don't have much to brag about.)
There is, as Robert said, two kinds of promotion. Blatant, the sort he brought up the first time, and self promotion. Self promotion as many have mentioned, is accepted, and in this world, is necessary. (Not to be confused with the term BSP for quick announcements of your book's release on lists such as DL--when you're a regular contributer--not a drive by author as Donna mentioned.) But as Joe very astutely pointed out, it's not going to make that much difference. Blatant is what you tend to see from first year authors who have no clue how their behavior is reflecting on themselves and being perceived by others. Blatant is carrying several of your books at the airport, and hawking them to passengers. It's akin to letting the Fuller Brush man step in your front door. They're captive, waiting for their plane, or buckled in their seats, and what can they do? (The smart ones will hand the book back.)

Self promotion is being on that plane, striking up a conversation, finding something of interest, and if they like to read mysteries and do something nice (be it the flight attendant, the passenger next to you who helps you with your luggage, etc.) you hand them a signed book for free.

Self promotion is carrying little cards with your books cover and website, and if it comes up as a germaine part of the conversation, you say, and I have a card if you're interested in looking it up. Blatant is when you shove the card in their hand after you've turned the conversation about fertilizing grass into your books.

My feeling is that there is an art to self promotion. Do it right and you'll be remembered well by your peers and the booksellers, which will get you a lot farther than if you do it wrong and annoy them.
If self-promotion were dialogue, BSP would be expositional.

"As you know, Bob, I have a new book out on Monday."
"That's right, Tom. A serial killer novel, isn't it? With recipes? If I recall correctly, it's called PAINS AND NOODLES."
"Yes, indeed, Bob. PAINS AND NOODLES. Well remembered."
"How's your wife, Barbara, the teacher?"
"Well, as you know, she only had the leg removed last week but the release of PAINS AND NOODLES is certainly going to cheer her up."
I predict that PAIN AND NOODLES will be a runaway favorite. Well done, Allan!
I think you talk about Barbara too much.


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