The Art Of Self Promotion

I suck at it! But I’m learning…P1010700

Here’s the scenario. Two weeks ago I’m sitting in a doctor’s surgery for a regular glucose tolerance test. (For anyone not in the know, these take two hours and in that time you have to sit still and do nothing for the duration). For a working mother, permission to sit still for two hours and do nothing is BLISS…

I opened my book (at the time, The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy), and I had my Kindle on stand-by. I chose an unobtrusive seat, fluffed my feathers, and made myself comfortable.

Ten minutes into my ‘alone time’ the surgery receptionist sat by me (the surgery was empty) and said:

“What are you reading?”

I showed her the cover of the Chimney Sweeper’s Boy. “This.”

“Is it good?”

“It’s okay.”

“I don’t know what’s struck me lately, but I’m in a book-reading mood. Do you know of any good books?”

My heart starts beating faster. His Brand Of Beautiful. Tell her, His Brand Of Beautiful. “Well… what do you like to read?”

“Oh. Anything. I don’t know.”

His Brand Of Beautiful. Tell her, His Brand Of Beautiful. Tell her House For All Seasons. Tell her Under The Hood. Tell her Fast Forward. “If I think of something, I’ll let you know.”

Now – there will be those out there (Jenn J Mcleod, Juliet Madison) who all cringe on my behalf and say: WHAT A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY!

I was way too shy to own up to having just written a book. Opportunity missed.

All this ‘promotion’ discussion reminds me of a line the real estate agent used when she was discussing the marketing program for selling our Hahndorf house. I wasn’t certain I wanted a sign out the front and she looked at me and said: “Lily… You can’t sell a secret.”

How those words have haunted me since my book launched in March. It’s hard to turn around a mind-set of not wanting anyone to know you’re writing… and turning that around to wanting everyone to know you’re writing.

Outside of Facebook friends, I’d hardly told anyone. Not friends. Not family.

And then of course, I suddenly want sales for my book. Because I’m serious about turning my writing into my second career. My 5 and 10-year goals are to increase the amount of income my writing can substitute from my ‘day job’… I’ll call my writing my own, personal, Self Managed Super Fund.

One month after my launch and my desire for sales is trumping any shyness I had.

Here’s some examples of my growth:

At the weekend, we had a family reunion. It would have been my granddad’s 100th birthday on Sunday (were he still alive) and my mother’s side of the family all got together at an Aunt’s farm for a big birthday shin-dig. Here, I actually ‘fessed up to having written a romance book, telling them my author name and the book title, and how they could buy it. (If they didn’t mind the heroine letting loose with the odd F-word and could handle steamy sex scenes and would still send me presents at Christmas.)

Yesterday, my boss told me she had asked the ladies in her bookclub if they’d be interested in me talking to them about e-publishing and my blog and my book… All these ladies know my family (particularly my father), and if you asked me a year ago whether I’d like this particular group to know I was writing, I would have said: “No Way Jose!!!”

This time around, I’m actually looking forward to it. Though they’re all on Pain Of Death not to breathe a word to my old man!

And finally.  I had a follow-up appointment at the Doctor’s surgery on Monday, getting the results of the tests from two weeks prior. This is how the conversation went:

“Hi Jane. Are you still in your book-reading phase?”

With a double-take that I’d remembered, Jane says: “Yes. Actually right now I’m reading Jim Stynes biography.”

“I have a couple of book names that I wrote down for you, if you’d like them?”

“Yes, please. That would be great.”

So I handed her my handwritten (because I’m not yet organised enough to get bookmarks or business cards or that sort of thing), notes with the names of: “His Brand Of Beautiful by Lily Malone”; “House For All Seasons by Jenn J McLeod”; “Under The Hood by Juanita Kees”; Fast Forward by Juliet Madison; “White Ginger by Susanne Bellamy” and “Fractured by Dawn Barker.”

You can’t sell a secret… It just took me a heck of a long time to realise this!

13 thoughts on “The Art Of Self Promotion”

  1. “You can’t sell a secret”. That’s a ripper, Lily. I must remember that when I next cringe at some opportunity I skip!

    I’m hopeless at self-promo too. I’ve never been good at it. Makes me all embarrassed and cringing. I do need to grow up and get over it!

    I’ll try to remember your advice.

    Thanks,
    Cate xo

  2. Putting my hand up as another one who would rather shoot themselves than self promote 🙂 “You can’t sell a secret.” I’ll remember that 🙂

    1. It’s a good line, Kerrie. It’s very, very true. When everyone else is out there “doing it” you have to leap in with both feet, I reckon. But I also feel sometimes that we’re all making “a lot of noise” and I’m not sure how many people we reach are really listening?? (Hope that makes sense).

      >

  3. Lily, thank you. I’m very shy about self promo too, but the fact that you were kind enough to recommend my book is lovely. I haven’t had good sales (because it’s a secret that I wrote a book!) and I think that holds me back even more from telling people about it because I’m anxious it’s not good enough. But I’m happy to help other authors so why can’t I ‘sell’ my own work?

    Maybe when the print version of my book is available and I hold a copy in my hand, I might feel more like the author who wrote “this book and here it is and isn’t the cover lovely…” (Wait till you see the print cover – it’s different and I love it!)

    I’m going to do more of what you’ve done, ‘sell’ other authors’ books when asked and maybe throw in a line, just by the way, that I’ve written one too.

    Great post! Cheers, Susanne

    1. Good for you Susanne. Always remember that a publisher loved your book enough to say: “yes!” and they don’t say “yes!” very often! That’s a great place to start when the doubt nibbles at you.
      In the meantime, wiser heads than me say: “write the next book…” because that is the “best promotion you’ll ever do.”
      Thanks for visiting – I always appreciate hearing from you!
      Lily M

      1. A publisher liked my book enough to pick it up – I need to remind myself of that too. Would love to hear how your next book is progressing. Just last night, I decided I need to do more to set up the next work so I posted a teaser on my newly revamped website. It should also serve as incentive to finish it over the Easter holiday! Nothing like a deadline to spur one on!

        Happy Easter!

  4. Fan bloody tastic post, Lily. good on you on so many levels. Particularly for including me on that list LOL. And guess what? When I walked away from the wife of my mechanic – she does a lovely job managing the little business – I said to J, ‘I should have given her a bookmark.’ yes I have bookmarks. And yet, I still cold not do it. We’re a weird mob!!!!!

  5. I guarantee there are many of us who can identify with your experience Lily. Get those bookmarks, get those business cards and be always on the ready 🙂 Whilst I do not PUSH myself onto other peoples reading preference, I will talk *general* books in a conversation and always offer my card or bookmark, that have always been conveniently in EVERY bag I carry … even before my story was published. Doesn’t hurt for people to know a bit about you & where to find you. Good for you for going back in armed and prepared 🙂

    1. Thank you for visiting Maryde, it’s lovely to see you here. Bookmarks aren’t expensive – there’s no excuse really. There were corporate days when I used to hand out business cards and think nothing of it. I need to channel that girl!
      Cheers
      Lily M

  6. Great post Lily, and great mantra – You can’t sell a secret 🙂

    Many thanks for telling her about Fast Forward! (And I’ve got some promo cards with the cover & blurb…etc, if you want me to send you any just let me know! (me – shy? nah!) 😉

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