I was going to skip this blog post because I honestly didn’t have anything to write about, then I got an email. Another writer, who I just met, had asked for some pointers on a piece she wrote about pest control, which happens to be an area of expertise of mine. After I had made some very useful and thoughtful points, she followed up my email by asking me to link to her blog. Instead of eating her head, I thought I’d turn this into a blog — because maybe some of you simply don’t know better. Now you will. No excuses.
Self-Promotion in the Internet Age
I know social media and sharing can be confusing, especially if you’re just starting out as a digital copywriter. You want to be loved, you assume all writers are pulling for you and whatnot, but it’s simply not true. I mean, we’re not all rat bastards, but most of us couldn’t care less if you make it or not. It’s nothing personal, but we’ve just got better things to do — and probably a lot of them.
We’re not clogging up our blogs or our social feeds with your bullshit, that’s how you get a reputation for being a walking, talking spam machine. Instead, we work hard to develop content and hunt up shareables that people actually want to see. Stuff that teases and titillates, not garbage spam clogged with ads. You may be a great writer, but I don’t care. Unless I read your stuff, or I had something to add to the article you wrote, I’m not sharing it.
That’s that. I’m not your publicist. I’m my own publicist. And the last thing I want people taking away from my publicity is that I’m a whore who will give anybody attention in the name of creating a virtual traffic jam for the people who read my work.
If you write something and you want another writer to promote it, you have to earn it. Write something worth reading. There’s not enough begging, pleading, sweet talking or payment (ok, maybe payment) that will be enough. We work hard to build our personal brands, so must you.
Three Types of Self-Promotion to Avoid
Let’s get to the heart of this thing. What not to do. And I’m going to be very specific because this behavior is total garbage, completely unprofessional and it happens ALL THE TIME. You guys need to go to school. These are, IMO, the three worst self-promotions I see.
Promote a Stranger. This one gets me, but it also drives other writers I know totally mad. It’s when a writer you’ve never read, or have only read in a very limited capacity asks for you to promo their book, blog or whatever. I don’t have a clue if you’re worth a shit as a writer, why would I recommend you to anyone? Prove to me you deserve that recommend.
Rapid Fire Spam Promos. I see this on social media a lot and it makes me want to kill. Seriously. A writer who feels compelled to shoot marketing at you all the time, machine gun style, is not a writer I want to read. You could be the next Stephen King and I’m still going to tell you to go fuck yourself and block you.
Link to Me, Link to You. A few shared links between friends is one thing — I know a dozen writers off the top of my head that I’d link share or even let guest post here without a question. Then there are all the others. The newbies, the wannabes, the neverweres that believe that if I were to link to their blog, they’d get something magical out of it. In exchange for this magic, they’re going to link back to me. Hooray. Oh, wait. No. The opposite of that. I don’t need your promo, I don’t want to link to you, go fuck yourself.
Now, this is not to say that self-promotion is a sin. Far from it. You have to promote to get ahead, but you can do it in a way that makes it seem like a gift rather than an obligation. You get it? Don’t beg me to promote for you — do it yourself, to your own audience. Or get together with some other writers in your genre and do a giveaway. There are lots of ways to get new readers without doing any of the tasteless stuff I mentioned above.
Several novelists I know share bits of their works in progress and ask for feedback from their audience. That’s a very genuine way to invest the audience, self-promote and give something special to the people who are supporting your sorry ass. These people are total winners in my book.
Now get back to work. Promote like a grown-up or I’ll slap your face until you shut up.