By Sandra Beckwith
In response to a recent article on my book marketing blog, a reader commented, “Blowing my own horn, so to speak, has never been in my nature.”
I had to think about this for a moment to truly understand it.
From my perspective, “blowing your own horn” would look something like this: “I’m the best. I’m the greatest. There’s nobody better than me. Look at how great I am.”
Of course you wouldn’t do that – and neither would this woman. It’s a great way to turn people off. And, what’s more, it has nothing to do with your book.
And that’s a key point.
Book promotion is exactly that: Promotion of your book. If you were promoting yourself, it would be called “self promotion” or “author promotion.” So, when you tell people about your book, you’re not “blowing your own horn.” You’re sharing information about your book.
It’s not about you
Making this mental shift from “it’s about me” to “it’s about my book” is essential. Most of us struggle to brag about ourselves. (And baby boomer women were raised to think that behavior is tacky and inappropriate.)
When you see that you’re not talking about yourself, you’re talking about a book that people need or want, you can start to understand what you should be doing. Most people write a book to:
You won’t do any of that if the people you wrote it for don’t know about it. It’s up to you to help them discover your book. Discovery is the whole point of book promotion.
You’re providing a public service
You’re actually providing a public service when you do what it takes to get the word out about your book. That might sound like a stretch, but think about it. How can you educate, entertain, or influence anyone with your book if nobody knows about it?
It’s up to you to loop them in.
But do it in a way that’s comfortable for both you and the people you’re trying to reach. If you’re a gentle soul, then reach out gently, in your own way. If you tend to be hard-charging and aggressive, then we’d be surprised if you didn’t approach book promotion the same way (whether we like it or not).
What’s your style?
We all have our own comfort level when it comes to the claims we make about our books. While some might be comfortable saying that their book could be the next National Book Award winner, others prefer to leave the superlatives to others.
One area where this comes into play is with best-seller status. Many authors lay claim to “Amazon best-seller” status. They can do this legitimately, even without telling others that it was actually an “Amazon category best-seller” in an extremely niche category with just a handful of books for competition.
You might be comfortable claiming best-seller status in that situation. Some might not be. In fact, while a couple of books I co-authored were category best-sellers for a nano-second each, I’m not comfortable labeling myself as a “best-selling author.” I know and respect many authors who do this and that’s fine. It’s just not how I roll.
And that’s what I’m referring to when I talk about knowing your style. It’s about what you’re comfortable doing and saying.
Focus on the book
Always remember that your goal is to help or entertain people with your book. Because it’s your responsibility to help them discover your book, you need to find a way to talk about it that works for you.
Consider developing key messages about the book to communicate in interviews and on social media. Practice deflecting back to the book when a podcast host says, “Tell us about yourself.” (A good way to respond to that is to say, “I wrote the book because . . . . ”)
If you’re uncomfortable putting yourself out there in the name of book promotion, just remember to keep your focus on the book. Remind yourself that it’s not about you. It’s about the book.
If you’re like most authors, you’re enormously proud of the book you’ve produced. Let that pride energize you and give you the courage to step out and make sure the people who will love your book learn about it.
It’s an individual choice; there’s no right or wrong. As you move forward and assess outcomes, you might find that you need to put a little more zip into your promotion or that you might need to tone it down a bit.
But letting people know how they’ll benefit from reading your book? That’s never the wrong thing to do. It’s a public service.
Where do you stand on blowing your own horn? What are you comfortable doing for your book — and not doing?