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Assertive Promotion: Going from Shy to Shameless

Assertive Promotion: Going from Shy to Shameless 1024 576 Reader Views

by Susan Violante, Managing Editor I Have Something to Say Press

I don’t know about all other authors, but my biggest challenge in marketing my book was myself. Although, those who know me well will disagree with me, I am socially impaired. In fact, so much so, that I was known as The Hermit during elementary and middle school years. I did blossom socially in high school and later in college, but it was still difficult for me to find new friends because of my social shyness. I believe this is why it came naturally to me to be a writer, actually. It was easier for me to make up social situations in my mind than to explore actual situations for myself.

This was my life for most of my writing career, as I sent out queries for articles and short stories to small publications, community papers, newsletters, etc. But it was all bound to change when I finally finished my book. I realized that from the get-go one night when we had a publicist guest speaker visit my writing group. My conscious and subconscious brain went to war as one wanted to reach out to the publicist to pitch my book while the other one kept me frozen to the chair with fear. I will always be grateful that my conscious brain won that battle, as I wouldn’t be where I am today had I not approached that publicist.

I’ve come a long way since those days in early 2009, as I have become shameless when it comes to promoting my books, and the books of the authors we work with at Reader Views.

The truth is that you have to step out of your comfort zone to achieve anything you want from life, so why not do it to promote your biggest achievement? I know it is not easy, but I promise you that the more you practice, the more you will discover that your fans are out there. Below are some tips which helped me in my journey from shy to shameless promoting:

Start with Online Conversations

I began sending emails to local Libraries, bookstores, and any other venues to request information on event planners, buyers, etc., or sometimes just visiting their website to get a point of contact. Once I had the name, email, and/or phone number of the proper contact for the venue that interested me, I would send an email introducing myself and request information on their process to submit my book for consideration for their shelves or for an opportunity of a speaking event. These days it’s even easier to connect through social media, messaging and chat boxes.

Keep a Positive Mindset and Be Persistent

I soon discovered that not everyone was eager to meet me, (I still can’t understand why!) Anyway, I would often brainwash myself into not getting discouraged, and sent out my press kit with a copy of my book and a very polite letter, letting them know that I was available for short notice speaking events should they have the need of a filler as I was a local author and lived actually in the neighborhood. This actually helped me to befriend a couple of local Barnes & Noble event coordinators, who did not seem eager to have me in their store. But, I found that the more I got rejected, the more I would get creative to win them over, but getting there was just the beginning.

Fake it Till You Make It

Once at the event, before I even let the shyness kick in, I would play mind games about who I wanted to be for the day. I came up with a character in my mind for my promoter persona and imagined myself talking to people. It felt awkward at first, but the more people I spoke to, the easier it became.

Put Yourself Out There

I also noticed at book signings that it helped me relax to be away from my side of the table. So, I stood out in front of my table, and began to give away bookmarks to customers passing by when they came in the store. Author Gary McGugan recently wrote a wonderful, detailed article for Reader Views about making the most of in-person events. For more information, see the original post here: Are You Making the Most of Your Promotional Opportunities?

Marketing is Part of the Writing Life

Finally, I realized that to get my title “out there,” I had to view promoting as a way of life. That is where swag comes in and I always keep a couple of books, bookmarks, T-shirts in the car – just in case.

In the end, don’t forget about experiences outside of writing that helped shape who you are today. If you’re a parent, you know that babies are shameless when trying to get what they want. They will manipulate even the most grouchy person using the cute factor shamelessly or being as loud as possible when all else fails. After raising two kids, I finally got the whole art of being shameless down, so it was just a matter of applying it as a tool to reach my marketing goals.

7 comments
  • Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    Susan, it is very nice to learn more about you. You do so much for other writers! And your idea of suggesting you are available on short notice to those in your community is something I neglected to mention in my The Frugal Book Promoter. I hope you are also following up occasionally with a reminder of your availability. I found my local library receptive to an offer to set up one of their display windows with stacks of my books, a poster, and a few crepes paper streamers (practically cost free!).
    Best,
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson

  • Michael Chavez

    I’m 72 and finished a novel that was picked up by a publisher. It will be out in July. Ten years ago I wrote my debut novel and, thereafter, had two other books published. Back then I was timid and shy about self-promotion. While several of those early novels achieved a bit of acclaim, I believe they would have been much more successful if I had stepped out of my comfort zone and aggressively promoted them. Thank you for your message. This time I plan to spread my wings and daringly fly to places unknown.

  • Terri Martin

    Shameless is the key word! I was taught growing up that it was not polite to be self-promoting. We called it bragging. If I got an A on the spelling test, or I won a blue ribbon in the horse show, or Ron Hunky asked me out I must keep a lid on it. Must not make others who might compare themselves feel bad. Poppycock! So we must think of it as advertising ourselves rather than bragging. After all, a restaurant promotes their menu, a carpenter his/her quality of work, a mechanic their integrity, etc.
    Thanks for making me feel that I’m not the only one who is struggling to get “out there.”

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