Shouting Quietly: The Art of Self-Promotion

Marketing is a hot topic at the moment. With more and more writers self-publishing, everyone wants to know how they can get their share of attention. But not all authors feel comfortable shouting about themselves and their work. Their strength is in writing, not in marketing, self-promotion or PR!

At the Writing East Midlands conference on 5 March 2016, creative business coach Pete Mosley talked about ‘the art of shouting quietly’ – or self-promotion for introverts.

The Art of Self-Promotion

To promote yourself successfully you first have to define what ‘success’ means to you. It could be selling a thousand copies of your book … or a hundred. It could be getting a good review from a well-known critic or a blogger you admire. You might feel that you’ve succeeded if one person tells you how your book has changed their life for the better. Your definition of success is up to you.

Talking to people is the most effective way to connect. That doesn’t mean that you need to be a brilliant speech-maker or a bubbly character:

  • ‘Speak less, listen more’ is a good rule for creating rapport with people.
  • Everyone appreciates a good listener, and as an introvert that’s a skill you can use to your advantage.
  • You never know who is sitting next to you until you ask them!
  • Don’t forget that networking is also about nurturing your existing contacts, not just constantly adding people to your list.

"Creative people fuel the world"You do have to challenge yourself sometimes when it comes to self-promotion. Pete described it as being ‘a little bit brave on a regular basis’. You might need to discipline yourself to move out of your comfort zone – attending a networking event, for instance, or speaking in public. But you might find yourself at an unexpected advantage. Most people would rather listen to a wobbly speech that comes from the heart than a slick elevator pitch.

Don’t forget to take credit for your past achievements. It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but to boost your confidence, think about what’s gone well for you so far. If you’ve written a first draft, that’s already a huge achievement! A lot of people dream of getting that far but never make it. Also think about the skills and experiences you’ve acquired in the past that you’re not using. They all add to your armoury and make you credible and interesting.

Instead of setting yourself up as an authority, you can gather and share other people’s information – retweeting, sharing and collating links into blog posts – and occasionally interject your own posts and links to your work. That way you can build a reputation as a ‘thought leader’; someone who knows what’s going on in their field.

You can also buddy up and collaborate with other people working in a similar context:

  • Find people with similar but slightly different skills to you and build relationships with them.
  • You could run events together, either ‘virtually’ or in the real world.
  • Don’t be afraid to aim high and be cheeky. Write to people, even people who appear to be ‘high up’ in their field already, and tell them what you need – they might just surprise you!

Other tips for self-promoting your work:

  • Putting out short stories, flash fiction, blog posts and poems is a good way of testing the market and building an audience for your work. Don’t be afraid to try things out and get feedback.
  • People buy from people they like and trust, so you will need to create empathy with your audience. They will connect with your core values, so decide what they are and how you can express them.
  • It might sound a bit corporate, but it’s worth putting time and effort into your market research to understand who your audience are and where they are. Where do you want your voice to be heard – globally, within your country, regionally or locally? This will determine where you need to go in order to promote yourself.
  • You don’t have to use every social media platform. It’s better to use one or two platforms really well than to try and do everything.

Pete recommended using crowdfunding to support your self-promotion venture. That’s a canny marketing tactic because you’re establishing an audience for your book before you’ve even sold a copy.

Remember – asking for help is not an admission of failure. You will need to continue asking for help as your career progresses, and that’s fine!

"Asking for help is not an admission of failure"

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