Monday, April 4, 2011

Go Ahead--Toot Your Own Horn!

Our mothers tried to teach us to be humble. "Don't brag about yourself," they admonished. And we listened and learned. Those childhood lessons stay with us, and so it's difficult for many writers to build a platform and let others know of their accomplishments.

It may be difficult, but it's also very necessary. Doing the writing is easy, but marketing your work and selling yourself are harder.Let's concentrate today on selling yourself as a writer.Unless you're a highly acclaimed novelist with a New York City agent, you're the one who will have to sell yourself to the public. It's you who must create a following of readers.

So, how are you going to do that? One way is to let people on the social media outlets know when you have a story published. One good reason to sign up for facebook or twitter, if you haven't done so already. I have a number of author friends on facebook who do this, and I never consider them bragging. Instead, I'm delighted to know when they've had a success. Sometimes, they'll add a link to the story, and that's even better as I can see firsthand what they've written.

Send the news to your family and friends, with a link to read the newly published piece, if possible. Or put it with the message as an attachment. There might be a few who will be jealous, or maybe envious. There is a difference between the two. I think it's OK to be envious but not so with jealousy. If they are, let them feel that way, you have no reason to feel bad that you've done something worthwhile. If you send your new story, or link to it, to friends and family, odds are that they are going to send it on to their circle of friends, or at least to some of them.

If you belong to a state authors organization that highlights news of members publications, take advantage of the opportunity and send them your publishing news. And if you don't belong to a writers organization, join one!

Accept any speaking engagements that come along. It's hard for some people to stand before others and talk, and more so to talk about yourself. You hear your mom warning you to stop bragging, but brush that aside. It's the golden opportunity to sell yourself and your work to readers. I was nervous as a cat the first time I did this, but I found out that I enjoyed it. Sure, I still get a little nervous when I first start speaking, but in less than a minute, I'm off and running and having a good time. And the audience knows a little more about me and the kind of things I write. If you aren't invited to speak, offer to do a program. Clubs and groups are usually looking for programs.

If you are fortunate enough to have a story published in an anthology like Chicken Soup for the Soul, there will be press releases sent out by the publisher to your local radio, TV and newspapers. Some will contact you for a possible appearance or news story, while many will not. If you want some publicity, it's up to you to follow up and remind them of the press release.

It's up to you to sell yourself. Go ahead--toot your own horn!

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