So, folks, tell me…  How do you feel about authors doing self-promotion?

I have mixed feelings, I’ll admit.

The Underdesk Crowd

When I write these Wanderings, I enjoy feeling as if I’m at a convention or something, chatting with people either on a panel or maybe in the hallway between events.

I like telling you guys about new projects.  I don’t mind announcing when something new is bought, sold, or re-released.  After all, in most cases, the reason you’re reading these words is because you “met” me through one or more of my writing projects.

My discomfort level comes when I need to say things like, “Hey.  I’m glad you’re excited about this new project.  I hope you’ll actually buy it, not just take it from the library or borrow it from your best friend.  You see, to make a living, I need sales.  I’m not independently wealthy.  Yes.  I’m married, but it may shock you how little an archeologist makes.  I need, not just for my ego, but so the cats and guinea pigs can keep living in the style to which they’ve become accustomed, to be able to earn a living from my work.”

Whoosh!  I have palpitations just from writing that!  Why?  Because I’ve been poor.  I mean really poor, as in nearly hitting the poverty level.  There have been times in my life where the library or used book store was my only option.  I’ll always be grateful that when, at our very first meeting,  I asked Roger Zelazny to sign an obviously used copy of Creatures of Light and Darkness for a college friend, he didn’t shove it away and refuse.

I’m also really, really bad about hinting I’d like to be involved in a project – an anthology, say, or a theme issue of a magazine.  Why?  Because it seems to be bad form.  Won’t people ask me if they want my work?  I’ve learned to my surprise that they won’t always, that if they’re talking about something in my vicinity they may be indirectly sounding me out, trying to see if I’ll express an interest.  If I don’t, they think, “Oh, she’s not interested.”

In reality, I’m like the girl at the dance who’s there cleaned up, dressed nice, and hoping, hoping, hoping…  But I’m afraid that I’ll be rude if I ask someone if it’s possible for me to dance.

I’ve been told I should encourage people to sign up for my mailing list.

Deep breath: “Hi folks, please sign up for my mailing list.  Especially now that I’m experimenting with self-publishing, this is the best way to learn of promotions, contests, and new releases.  The new releases might not matter to you, but the other two will always be of limited duration.  I’d hate for you to miss, just because you were on vacation or having a bad week at work.”

Whew…  Heavy, heavy sigh…

(Time Travel Moment.  In the Comments, John C. encouraged me to include link to my website, where you can sign up for my mailing list. Here it is.  Thank you, John, for the coaching!)

If I ever do a Kickstarter or related program, I’ll really have a lot of trouble because that means asking people to give me money for nothing but trust.  Wow!  That’s terrifying.

Roger Zelazny was a lovely person to learn about the business of writing from, but his advice in these areas was non-existent because these options didn’t exist.  He began writing in a time and place when self-promotion – up to and including anything more than gently hinting that you had a new book out – was considered very bad form.  We talked a lot about the (then, early 1990s) trend of self-promotion for awards.  He thought it was a bad idea.  I’m afraid that his restraint in such matters rubbed off.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on when you find self-promotion helpful, when you find it off-putting.

And, now, having asked that, I think I’ll join Kel the cat under my desk…

6 Responses to “Self-Promotion”

  1. King Ben's Grandma Says:

    There’s nothing wrong with self promoting. Who has more knowledge of the the thing being promoted than you? The only time it would be off-putting is if it was rude & obnoxious or the thing being promoted was useless garbage. I can’t image you producing, let alone promoting, useless garbage. Promote away… I’ll be happy to pay… I always enjoy… what you have to say😍🌈💥💫✨

  2. John C Says:

    Wonderful, Jane! I’m glad you’re doing more promotion. The next step is to offer a link to your newsletter sign-up, which can be found on your home page at h

  3. Cassandra Says:

    In this day and age, with social media available globally, self-promotion is not only easy, it’s almost expected. While I’m not a writer and I don’t know how the world of writers is, I am an artist (though I don’t draw much anymore), and I know that artists will always promote themselves and throw their Patreon links everywhere they can. Even when their art is shared on social media by other people, those people are shamed by the public if they do not provide a source link to the artist so that whoever views the art can check out that artist further. It is never something that is bothersome because we know that you are people too, that this is how you make a living, As long as you don’t promise something, start a Kickstarter, take our money, and then don’t deliver what we paid for, you’re good.

  4. Maria W. Says:

    You’re writings have always been amazing. I’ve loved everything I’ve read of yours. I’m with King Ben’s Grandma – you ever do something that helps raise some cash to venture in to self-publishing is donate in a heart beat. Also going to sign up for that newsletter now 😁

  5. janelindskold Says:

    Thanks for the encouragement and for explaining the WHY you think that self-promotion is a good idea. This is more valuable to me than you may imagine. I really appreciate your time and thoughts.

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