Friday, January 6, 2012

Playbook For Self-Promotion

by Mindy McGinnis

I help coach a girls' basketball team. And by that I mean girls that are about four feet high.

Something I can't help but notice is that when we it's time to move past the basics and play ball, most of the kids have a really hard time being aggressive. And there's a reason for that. They've been told their whole lives to play nice, be polite, share, say thank you and never, ever brag.

So when the same Mommies and Daddies who have been pounding manners into their heads are now standing on the sideline shouting, "Take it from her! Steal the ball! Drive to the basket! Go around her! Let them know you're open! GET THE BALL!" it's very, very confusing to them.

I think the same is true of self-promotion. Whether you're e-published, indie bound or backed by a Big Six, it's still necessary to say, "Hey, I wrote a book, and I'm really hoping you'll check it out. Or visit my blog. Or follow me on Twitter. Or participate in my flash fiction contest. Or ..." I feel skeezy even typing all that.

But it's the case. If you don't ever have the ball in your hands, you're not going to make a basket. So you can't let the lifetime of self-effacing apologies keep you on the bench. Luckily for everyone, there are some great non-intrusive ways to help get yourself out there without feeling like you're committing a foul.

1) Business Cards—Quick. Easy. Simple. Your name, your blog, Twitter, Goodreads, Agent, what have you, all encapsulated in a nice easy, "Here you can take this or throw it away later after I go," way of putting yourself out there and into someone else's hands.

2) Email Signatures—HTML your blog or site, or Goodreads listing into your email siggy. It's there if they care, it's ignorable if they don't. And you don't have to feel like a Big Bossy Bosserton.

3) Link your Blog to your Facebook—I use Networked Blogs to auto-post my blog listings onto my personal Facebook page (I'll do it on my author page too, once I have one). Again, if people want to read it, they can. If not ... well, do you really think everyone reads every word on their Home page anyway?

These are just three, very low-maintenance things you can do that won't make you feel like you're the tip-off choice, but not exactly bench-warmer material either. If you want to drive to the basket and get a power dribble in, come back next month and we'll talk.

Oh, and if you feel the need to say, "Excuse me, pardon me," as you make the drive (as some of my girls do), well ... it can't hurt.


JeffO said...

It's funny, when I played hockey I never had any problem at all being aggressive. It's in 'the real world' where I have that trouble. Self-promotion is tough for me, I'll definitely admit it. I'll have to get better.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Agreed, Jeff. As an athlete I've got no problem boxing out, horning in, and even spin-tackling. As a writer, it's soooo hard to say, "... and I've got a blog!"


Jemi Fraser said...

I haven't got anything to promote at this point, but I don't know how good I'll be at it either. I'm NOT an outgoing person so these are good tips - thanks!

Shannon Lawrence said...

I'll have to get by on passive promotion, just like you mentioned. Putting myself out there in people's faces has never been a strong suit.

I did get business cards last spring, though, after enough people recommended them to me. I never thought of writers exchanging business cards, but we do!

Mindy McGinnis said...

Jemi - once you think about it there are plenty of non aggressive ways to raise awareness.

Shannon - yep. They're quick, easy and cheap. You can even leave them with your tip at a restaurant . Er.... Make it a good tip though !

E.B. Black said...

This is hands down the hardest part for me about writing. Yes, I can write a blog and a twitter, but to tell people about them seems presumptuous and rude to me.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Agreed EB, totally agreed. But unfortunately, there very well may be someone in the same genre and release time as you who *doesn't* feel that it's presumptuous :) It's good to find your comfort level and operate from there, which is why I'm starting small.

amber polo said...

Good reminders.
Does Facebook still host automatic blog feeds? How do I get mine back?

Mindy McGinnis said...

Amber - I use Networked Blogs to do auto blog feeds onto my home page. I'm pretty sure you can go to their webpage and hook it up through facebook that way, there's also a Networked Blogs app on FB that you can use.

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