Monday, September 13, 2010

Get out there and promote yourself!

As you already know, writing is only a small part (and the best part) of being writer. Published authors will tell you that you have to do the legwork if you want get published. I decided to write this after a friend asked me to be her agent. I was flattered of course, because that showed her confidence in me. At the same time, it reminded me about the importance of networking.

I’d like to remind aspiring/emerging writers that being a bit more aggressive (audacious) will get you a mile further in your writing career. I’ve known some emerging writers whose writing can lead them to a brilliant career as authors. However, they are shrinking violets. Have you ever seen a shy politician? My point exactly! I’m not saying you should be a braggart or a kowtower; instead be a writer with good public relations (P.R.) skills.

Let me give you the perfect example. Recently, a former mentor and published author (let’s call him Matt) told me he met an emerging writer (let’s call him John) at a literary event. After being introduced, they both talked about their work. John expressed his passion for fiction and poetry. Matt’s curiosity was piqued and immediately asked John to email him a couple of poems. Matt was impressed with the poems and deemed them worthy of publication. The result: Matt asked his publisher if he could also include John’s poems in the anthology where Matt’s work was to appear.

So next time you feel like hiding under a rock at a literary function, think of my tips for Public Relations 101:

• Attend literary events every chance and go out of your way to introduce yourself.

• Participate in writing workshops.

• Befriend your mentors.

• Keep in touch with the people you meet at events, workshops, readings, etc. (they may know an agent or publisher).

• Talk about your work without being arrogant.

• Most importantly, never, never, badmouth or gossip about your peers or mentors. It’s unprofessional and it can only jeopardize your writing career.

• Promote yourself using the available tools such as a business card or press release.

• Remember the importance of an online presence for public relations—a web site, a blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.

What P.R. skills do you find work for you?


  1. I agree that having confidence in ourselves and our work is vital. No one will believe in my project if I don't; my enthusiasm should pique the interest of others.

  2. I am honestly a shrinking violet. Without the web, I wouldn't be known as a writer at all. Great motivating post!


  3. Hi Claudia, I had no idea when I was first published how much work I would have to do on my own as an author to get the word out. And for me that has been hard as I am not a great self promoter! It has certainly been a challenge for me. I have to say though that online promotion has been so useful....I have a website with an active blog and promote alot on facebook. I often wonder how authors did it before all this online networking!

    Good post!


  4. Hi Tamika,
    You're right. Confidence is a "must" in this business.

    Hi Clarissa,
    I'm glad to hear you benefit from the web and other social networks. I know what you mean. At first, approaching people can be daunting, but once you get the hang of it, it's so much fun. ;)

    Hi Cathy,
    Hmm now that you put it that way. I never thought about it. I guess the competition was not as fierce as today's.

  5. Wallflowers won't make it then, huh? I've heard that before, but this makes me want to hope off the wall. Thanks!


  6. Great tips, Claudia! I always make sure to take business cards and postcards of my books no matter where I go. It might sound cheesy but you'd be surprised how handy they are when people ask you what books you write, etc!

  7. Hi Justine,
    Oh no, I didn't mean to say if you're shy you won't make it. All I'm saying is that you have to market your work because it's not the agent's job. But, thanks to the internet and social networks, it's easier to promote your book without having to do it in person. ;)
    (You still have to do the legwork).

    Hi Talli,
    I don't think it's cheesy at all to always carry your postcards with you. I think it's brilliant! I carry my business cards everywhere. You know how many times I've handed them out because someone's curious about what I do?

  8. I THINK Nora Roberts said this, (I THINK it was her, so this is a disclaimer that it might not be her, but it's a big name like hers) but she said no matter what the publisher does for you in marketing, always set aside at least ten percent of your advance from each book to do your own marketing. So, if SHE thinks she benefits from that ten percent, why wouldn't I?

    Also, I agree with comments above. Network, network, network. This is one of the hardest businesses to break into, but writers are some of the most supportive in any. We should take advantage of word of mouth, or "buzz".

  9. Hi Anna,
    Thanks for sharing Nora Robert's advice. She's right. And yes, good old word of mouth also helps ;)

  10. Excellent advice. I might add be a friend and pay it forward.

  11. I devote quite a bit of time networking; through my blog, Facebook, LinkedIn and others. I've had great results with the efforts I've put into my opinion it's not only a great way to get your name "out there" and promote yourself, but I've met some wonderful people, learned some valuable tools, and ways to network more efficiently; ways to target my audience.

    You could be the author of one of the best blogs on the Internet, but without putting forth the effort to network, your blog stands a very good chance of getting lost in the blogsphere.

  12. Being a confirmed shrinking violet I only tend to toot my own tiny horn if I won something and then I run back and hide again. Not good, I know, I know!! LOL!

    Thank you for these tips though - very useful! As an outside observer - I noticed that writers with a prolific twitter/facebook and blog accounts tend to get a lot of good PR out to others with regards to their writing/presence.

    Take care

  13. Hi Carol,
    Yep! I believe in paying it forward ;)

    Hi Crystal,
    Thanks for dropping by. Nice to hear you're a great networker ;) But you're right. If you don't have a presence in the internet or you're not putting the effort that entails to succeed in this industry you might as well consider yourself invisible.

    Hi there Old Kitty,
    How's Charlie? I can't picture you being a shrinking violet. ;) C'mon be like Charlie that's all over the place making new friends (not to mention his escapades, LOL!)
    Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Not sure I could cope with being like a politician. Is it ever too late to start seriously promoting a book? I feel like I'm working on it (and still thinking about organizing that blog tour one day), but life just has this habit of intervening.

  15. Hi Sheila,
    It's never too late to promote your book. I know life gets in the way sometimes but you have to grab the bull by its horns. Do the virtual tour if you cannot do the conventional one. ;)