Saturday, May 3, 2014

Is Self- Promotion a Necessary Evil?

Most authors will need to address this question at some point early in their career. And I would conclude that yes, self promotion is a necessary evil despite the sleezy and repulsive feelings that it might conjure up. But who else is going to do it?

So what exactly is self promotion? I say it's anything you include in your author platform: from blog posts to articles or Facebook posts to tweets. It's all promotion if your goal is to find new readers or keep your current readership interested.

Since self promotion can leave a nasty taste in your and your recipients' mouths, I have developed a list of rules to make the experience much more pleasurable for everyone involved.

1. Don't spam.
Nobody is going to take you seriously if you are filling their inboxes or notifications with random items. Look at your promotions from the audiences' perspective: if you wouldn't open it or save it then don't send it!

2. Do provide something of value.
You want your promotions to make an impression. So, there needs to be an informational, educational or entertainment aspect to your promtions. This also means directing your promotions toward the audience that will appreciate it. For example, if you're trying to sell you're self published children's book, it's probably not going to do you much good to send information to your insurance sales guy (unless you know he has kids). The point is that it is much more effective to direct your promotions toward a small group of the right eyes than a hundred shots in the dark.

3. Don't repeat posts.
When I say this I mostly mean on twitter and Facebook. There is no faster way to lose fans and followers than posting the same thing asking them to buy or read something they already have. Only provide links to your work now and again. I know you have unfollowed people for posting those annoying "look at this" post every single day. So, don't be that guy. Or gal. Be more creative than that. 

4. Do engage with others.
If somebody comments on your posts for-the-love-of-everything please respond! You should also be engaging with your peers. Comment on others' posts. Be insightful, but most importantly be available! People are much more likely to return and share your work if they know you appreciate them and their time.

5. Don't be rude or pushy with your friends and family.
By all means share and promote yourself with your friends and family, but don't get upset if they don't or can't share your work. Maybe it's too riske or maybe they just don't know anyone that would be interested. Keep them informed but your best bet is to focus on your defined audience or clientele. 

6. Do share other's work.
It's a two way street out there. You can't expect someone to share your work if you aren't willing to share there's. Find a community of people with similar aspirations and join in. Advocate for them alongside yourself. Someone else's shinning star will not dim your own.

7. Don't be ashamed to ask your audience to share.
Sometimes a reader won't even think to share an article unless you remind them. That is why there are so many share options at the bottom of every article you read. Remind them that if they liked something then they should share it or follow you. Capture the reader before they get distracted by another button or post or email. Ask and you shall receive.

8. Don't post links without a description.
I see this all the time, especially on Twitter. A link. What is it? Exactly. Readers are not going to click on a link without you explaining what it is and why they should read it. Just a link could be a virus or spam or even porn! No reader with any internet common sense will click on it, so make sure you tell us why you are posting the link. We're interested, I promise!

9. Do be creative and thought provoking.
This goes back to providing valuable material. Maybe you're selling something, but bombarding people with advertisements is not effective self promotion. You need to provide them with incentive. Give them an interesting article related to your product. Or offer a contest or give-away. Don't just expect anyone to care about a boring ad. That's why people fast forward through them on their DVR.

10. Do have patience. 
Effective self promotion takes time. Don't expect a 100,000 views or sales from your first attempt. Learn from your efforts and figure out what works best for you and your audience. Listen to feedback and ask for comments or suggestions. And don't be afraid to try new methods. You never know what might be your golden ticket.

Please feel free to argue any of these points or add to them. Please share this post with your own followers and check back for new tips on writing and platform building frequently! Thanks for reading.

-jami lynn