The University had a pin board (in the shape of a person) set up in the atrium with the heading “what part of your body do you like the most?” This was a campaign for healthier self-esteem or something to that account. I walked by the board, disinterested, and kept going. Then I walked back and wrote the word ‘my breasts’ on one of the little sheets of paper.
Was it taboo of me, considering no one else wrote anything like that? Should I not like that part of my body? or at least, not have publicly admitted that I do? It made me think of how a lot of times writers are uncomfortable being proud of their work. Self-promotion can feel about as exposing as writing on a board that you like your breasts.
The best advice I ever got from a publisher was ‘be proud of your work’. Before I heard this advice, and took it to heart, I hadn’t put my work “out there” and I definitely hadn’t done any self promotion. It seemed almost conceited to do so. I certainly didn’t want to brag or try to say that my writing was so great. But this particular publisher, who was doing a seminar for my writer’s group, had a great point. She mentioned that some authors don’t want their picture at the back of the book, which she said was unfortunate. Her point was, why wouldn’t you? You should be proud of yourself and your work. And she’s absolutely right!
Most of my writing has a bit of spice to it. The Virgin Diaries has a woman who’s never had sex and then her transition to having sex for the first time, Moonlight Shadow has a girl that is the only hope of an alien race which is dying out… but she has to procreate with an alien boy to save them (does she do it in the end or not? you’d have to read the novel to find out!); Hamster Heaven brings up faith differences between religions. All my novels seem to have things in them that can feel embarrassing to ‘share’ with the world.
I think one of the hardest parts of starting out in self promotion is knowing that your friends and family are watching / reading / judging. You don’t want to seem like you’re bragging about yourself. You also don’t want to put your work out there and be ridiculed, or worse, have no success with it at all. I could write (and probably will write) a whole other blog on success and one’s definition of it. But whatever your definition of success is, if you’re not getting any reads or reviews on your work then you’ll probably feel unsuccessful, because at the heart of every author is the desire to ‘share’ their work and connect with others. It makes me so happy whenever a reader says they can relate to something in my story or that they enjoyed my novel. But no one can enjoy your novel if you don’t first put your work out there, into the world, and then promote it too! How are people going to know this is a really great novel if you haven’t told them?
So don’t be afraid to promote your work, and be proud of it. There will always be a bit of self-doubt with exposing your written work to others. And if you are perfectly comfortable with putting your work out there then either you’ve written a children’s book or you haven’t delved into the depths of your soul far enough and written about something that challenges you or scares you. Which brings to mind yet another great word of advice ‘write about what scares you, makes you uncomfortable’ (this I heard from an author giving Dan Humfrey writing advice on Gossip Girl).
I’ve noticed I have a similar theme in my writing, the fear of being intimate. That’s been a big fear of mine all my life! Is it easy to write about? No. Is it easy to promote and let others read? Heck no. Would it be better to keep my work hidden away so no one can ridicule me? No, it wouldn’t. Because in the end most people appreciate the honesty and they want to believe in your work too, if you give them a chance.
So be proud of your work. Get it out there. And promote it 🙂
Happy writing everyone!
And here’s a bit of self promotion…… 😀