Here’s a little something on this subject that just appeared in my inbox.
I realize I got a little out of hand with that whole Medium Fiction thing, posting here, there, and everywhere with pleas to read “Shunyata” and vote for me. It was a tough contest, because in order to get read, I really had to self-promote. It may come as a surprise to learn that I loathe self-promotion, or at least, I loathe the point where you travel from casual, appropriately-proud asker-of-favors to overbearing, obnoxious, and desperate.
Forgive me if I reached that point.
We’ve been talking about this over on popcorntheblog, because contributor Tara Conklin is about to have a book out and we all want to support her as much as we can (and of course, by promoting Tara, we also promote popcorn, which is thus also self-promotion). It feels easy-peasy to support someone close to me, another writer whose work I love–I do it here all the time, after all–but much less easy to swallow and ask everyone to support ME. It makes you wonder which successful writers and artists had a huge hand in their own success and which just got lucky. Someone told me the other day that Cheryl Strayed is a shameless self-promoter. How so? How did this person know? Would Wild have been any less successful if Strayed hadn’t gone to bat for herself? (I loved that book; I think it was worthy of self-promotion.)
Self-promotion is like networking, that other horribly uncomfortable occupation that one must engage in in order to get ahead. My friend Jesse Taggert is an excellent networker. Sometimes I think I should hire her to tell me what to do with my career. She’s the one, for example, who suggested I email the head of Medium just to casually say hi and tell her about my experience with the contest. She’s always got a plan to open a door.
Then again, as she said to me before I sent that email, “Take me with a grain of salt. It’s easier to be glib and enthusiastic about others’ actions versus your own.”
Which is, of course, true. I think most of us, at our core, just wish doors would open for us without the need for networking or self-promotion. Unfortunately I don’t think the world really works that way.
Your turn, readers: share your deepest secrets and stories of self-promotion. I am all ears.