How does one self-promote without sounding shameless?
This is specifically about people who self publish a book, but I suppose it also applies to small businesses. I just feel like bringing up my 'product' would be the equivalent of talking to a telemarketer on the phone. It makes the person I'm talking to feel like they've been tricked into an informercial, or like a pop-up just appeared in real life. Maybe they don't actually feel this way, but my fear of coming off as a shameless hack prevents me from promoting my work. Does anyone else run into this problem? And, if so, how do you find a balance?
If you are talking to an individual and the conversation turns (or is turned) to what you do for a living (or as a hobby), then it would be natural to discuss your writings...or if the topic about what you have written about comes up, the same would apply. If you gently "steer" the conversation in the desired direction and do it in a manner that seems organic, it is doubtful that anyone would feel "marketed" to.
Earlier today I was reading about marketing and the author mentioned an 80/20 rule, which in this context means that 80% of your efforts should be adding content useful to your audience and 20% should be for promoting yourself. It was being discussed in the context of social media, but I suppose it could be used for conversations as well. Most of it should be "how's it going...how are the kids..." but a small part could be, "ya, just started working on a new book..."
I don't see anything wrong in that. If you believe in the work you do, you should want to share it with others because it will enrich their lives.
It just can't be ALL you talk about. No one likes that person.
I think the spirit of the 80/20 rule is that promotion should essentially be about establishing relationships, not selling products. Build the relationships and the sales will come. I don't really have any actual experience with marketing, selling, or promoting, though, so who knows if that is useful. Sounds good though.
Personally, I think that sense of feeling shameless is a feeling that an honest person can't ignore, because it comes from correct self-observation (and perhaps, from somewhere even deeper than that).
But some things help people and add value to their life. If that is the case, I'd say it's good and proper to have natural enthusiasm for what one is doing and if it becomes a natural extension of oneself, and of one's general work and progress in life, then it has it's place in being promoted. In fact, if that is the case, it might not even feel like shameless promotion, it'll happen effortlessly and naturally, like water sparkling.
I've thought about this a great deal. There are people who shamelessly self-promote, without the wider good of the world in mind. These are dead ends in my view. Only small gains to be made. Big gains (in terms of acclaim and wider consequences etc) are usually made from effortless talent and just being joyful in what one is doing.
"I've even written a book on it!" ;-)
"It took me ages, years to write, it was such hard work. It's on Amazon, finally."
I think there's humility in that.
When speaking to people face to face, I agree with the the responses already posted. I never start a conversation with "Let me tell you what I'm writing" or anything else about my books. If someone asks me what I've been up to, I'll mention it but not press the conversation unless they ask more questions.
On-line is a little different. Depending on the site, you can be "in your face" with promotion. Say you have a FB page about you and your books. I think there you can post what you're writing, when your books become available, etc because that's often why people follow those pages. That said, I still like to add posts which ask more general questions about what the readers like in books, their favorite authors, etc. It lets them know I not care about my writing career, but also them as real people.
At places such as here at HP where blatant self-promotion isn't allowed, you can still promote yourself without sounding like an infomercial. When the situation arises in whatever topic you're writing about, you can add comments such as "I believe enough in this issue to discuss it in more detail in my non-fiction book [place title here]. Or if your hub is about writing, you can use your own characters, settings, and plots as examples. You can also mention your personal experiences as a writer and state what tips worked best for you. There are a lot of little things you can add which don't come off sounding that much like self-promotion.
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