Thursday, 1 September 2011

Blow Your Own Trumpet

Self-promotion doesn’t come naturally. I’m more likely to make apologetic noises than positive ones when talking about myself and my work. This approach is not ideal for a writer. I need to be able to say,        
        “Hey everybody, I’ve just written a hilarious story that would make a brilliant children’s picture book.”    
*cringe, cringe, squirm*

It makes me feel conceited. I can hear lots of imaginary people telling me that it’s not nice to... Blow Your Own Trumpet!
I can hear them saying that... I’m Too Big for my Boots!
And to watch out because... Pride Cometh Before a Fall!

Writers are meant to promote their work and I should be used to that sort of thing because we’re surrounded by advertising all the time. It's on the TV, the radio, in the newspapers. They’re all promoting themselves. Some of the things that we buy continue to promote themselves even after we’ve bought them. I’m thinking here about a pair of jeans that I bought yesterday. I had a most enjoyable shopping expedition with my daughter, a Bank Holiday treat, and a helpful shop assistant asked me,
“Have you tried not your daughter’s jeans?”
I was confused because I didn’t at the time know that Not Your Daughter’s Jeans is the name of a make of jeans. My daughter and the shop assistant were amused because obviously they did know.

The jeans were amazing. I treated myself to a pair and when I put them on today I found a label stuck to the inside one of the legs. It said,

                    “NYDJ cannot be held responsible for any positive consequence 
                    that may arise due to your fabulous appearance when wearing our jeans.”

My first thought was, “How funny!”

My second thought was, “How cheeky!”

My third thought was, “Yeah, that’s how to promote yourself! I’m going to blog about that.”


  1. Promotion is the new garlic. It is the spice of life.

  2. They say, 'If you've got it, fluant it.'So why shouldn't you push your own work? If you don't noone else will. Keep blowing that trumpet!

  3. This sounds so familiar. These past few years, most of my time and attention has gone to writing and I still find it difficult to call myself a writer without downplaying / apologising / cringing.

    Still, to me the opposite would be worse.

    I love your description of the jeans. Such a good way to promote a brand. (and it's working: you're voluntarily spreading the word about them.) :-)

  4. Great post Rosalind!

    Self promotion comes with the territory of being an artist. Sure we can have agents and reps sell us but ultimately, no one benefits more from the promotion than ourselves :) We make a living at our art - thus we have to sell it - yet we seem to be terrible at doing that! I have yet to meet an artist that would rather be out selling than creating!

    My husband works in the gaming industry and the man can sell icewater to eskimos. He is amazing and he has a great selling style. He gets to know his customers and he genuinely cares about them and their gaming experiences - he loves what he does so it is easy. He finds out what interests his customers and then winds his sales pitch into the conversation - honestly he really isn't selling he is just being excited about things he happens to sell. That is the trick to it I think - sharing the excitement about what you do with others and they naturally will want to come along for the ride.

  5. LOL - okay, I haven't heard of these jeans either, but I am diggin' the promotional tag inside. Brilliant! I am like you, I have a hard time promoting myself. My biggest fear is "signings" and such. I guess if I had a huge turnout I wouldn't have to do much, but I don't want to walk around to people in a book store introducing myself and promoting myself and my book. YIKES. That is where the fear really builds up in my tummy.

  6. Haven't heard about those jeans either, but then I'm a fashion neathanderal.
    I find promotion the most difficult part of being published. I can tell people about my book, but I can't exclaim how great it is. I've tried, lol, but I've not yet succeeded.

  7. Hi Rosalind .. sounds like a very good idea .. self-promotion is essential at the right time .. and hasn't that pair of jeans got predestined character?

    Never heard of the jeans - but what a great idea and ... Great fun .. cheers Hilary

  8. Hi,

    Ha ha, I'm thinking of having T-shirts printed with a pics of my novels' covers and giving them away for free with Amazon link! ;)


  9. I've often blogged about this. If you don't think what you've accomplished is worth telling others about, why should anyone else care about it and how will they ever find out about it? When you create a product then you've got to start the marketing campaign and keep it rolling.

    Tossing It Out

  10. What a great marketing idea! Love it. It's also nice to hear someone repeating a positive marketing message. Too often it's like... "This was awful, watch!"

    I haven't heard of those jeans either - but I will be looking to see if they have them here!

  11. It's a tricky one, learning how to promote yourself without getting in people's faces :-)

  12. But there's a difference between an author saying, "My book is great," and some anonymous person in a company saying, "This makes you look great." What an author says can influence opinion of that author.

  13. I've never heard of those jeans either, but if they're that fantastic, I think I need a pair!

    I think promoting a person, rather than a product, feels different though, and I think it's difficult to get the balance right. I actually find it off-putting if someone keeps on banging on about how great they are very five minutes, or constantly advertising what they've done. I suppose the true art of self-promotion involves promoting yourself without it appearing like you're doing so. Now, if I could just figure out how to do that...

  14. Do you think it is a gender thing - as girls we were always told not to show off - well I was..still feel uncomfortable and assertiveness is still an issue. I agree with Helen it is hard to get the balance right isn't it?

  15. Hi Michael, do you mean that garlic is like self-promotion because it leaves a funny taste in my mouth? ;-)

    Hi Bob, I think we must always remember to flaunt in moderation though.

    Hi K.C. I feel exactly the same when I say I’m a writer but then it doesn’t help that the reaction I get is so mixed. Most people don’t understand what it involves.

    Hi Shelley, maybe we should all hire your husband to do our promotion for us!

    Hi Abby, I thought it was just me but I hate signings too. I feel so self-conscious signing my name in a book even though I know I should be proud to do it.

    Hi Claire, Maybe we need to go to self-assertiveness classes ;-)

    Hi Hilary, that jeans tag was a great idea, wasn’t it!

  16. Hi Francine, wow! T-shirts! Good for you!!

    Hi Arlee, I know that what you say makes sense. My point is that some of us feel we’ve been brought up not to push ourselves forward like that.

    Hi Jemi, Those jeans are American so I’m guessing you’ll be able to get them in Canada too.

    Hi Sarah, that’s what worries me. I’d hate to think I’d got into people’s faces.

    Hi Miriam, the problem is I find it hard, as an author, to say it.

    Hi Helen, precisely! How do we promote ourselves without banging on about it?

    Hi Susan, I agree with you entirely. In fact I’m surprised no one else has mentioned the gender issue. Men are so much better at this sort of things than us girls.

  17. There's a line for sure but if you don't sound as though you like what you write, why would anyone else? I'm a fellow campaigner coming back a second time because I liked your site enough to write it down. So see? you are a good writer and I'll blow your horn for you!

  18. Hi I'm a fellow campaigner stopping in. I'd like a pair of those jeans, too. Where did you get them?
    I'm a picture book writer and am getting pub in 2012 after the illos are done. I'm having issues with an illo. Unless I pay an enormous amount they don't stick around. And they aren't happy with royalties any more they just want cash and lots of it.

  19. You have to think your own work is worth 'Tooting' about. If you don't know one else will think it is worth it!

  20. Oh, too funny. I'm with you, though. Not very good at patting myself on the back. By the way, I popped over from Karen's shindig. Nice to meet you, dear lady.

  21. I'm dreadful at self-promotion. As you get older, your skin gets thinner... and, in relation to confidence, my formerly thick skin is not as thick as it used to be. I wonder if they have Not Your Daughter's Jeans in My Sister's Wardrobe (a clothing shop I know).

  22. Wonderful post, self-promotion is hard. I make jewerly as a hobby (bead stringing and some wire work) and when people compliment my work it's hard to say "I made this". I'm going to have to overcome that once I have a novel ready to sell.

    Stopping by from the BBQ, nice to meet you. I wish I could say the same about summer, it's been hotter than normal here in NY state.

  23. I think it's natural that any nice, down-to-earth person like you would not feel completely "in the zone" with self-promotion. It's so different from writing.

    I love the story about the jeans. Glad that gave you the little push you needed because you are a brilliant writer.


  24. I'm stopping by from Karen's party. I've never heard of this brand, but then again I live in Asia where I don't see western brands all that much. The tag was brilliant..and cheeky!

  25. Oh, sigh. I hear you.

    On the one hand, you feel pressure to get sales so your career can continue. And you won't get sales if no-one knows about your book.

    On the other, it is cringe-worthy talking about yourself and your books. It's hard to know where the line is.

  26. Very thought- provoking post. It's something we all have to come to terms with and not easy!

  27. Hi Rosalind! I say toot that horn loudly! Good for you! :) I've come from Karen's BBQ and had to visit your blog and say hello. Salmon is a favorite, so I'm glad that is what you brought!
    One of my dearest friends is British and I love it when he says 'cheeky'. :) So nice to meet you!

  28. Yeah, I say toot that horn, too. What a great story. I love the motto of those jeans. I have never heard of them either! I wandered in from Karen's BBQ. nice to meet you!

  29. I hadn't heard of those jeans either!
    Self-promotion doesn't come easily to us Brits but we can learn, so I'm told.
    I've just come from Karen's barbecue, too. I'm Janice from jabblog in Berkshire.

  30. What is it about the English and Irish! Can't promote ourselves with out the cringe and mumble and stumble. Sounds like I need a pair of those jeans!!!!

  31. Haha, I like this post! Self-promotion is real tricky. I never like to be mistaken for being full of myself, so I'm hesitant to promote. Anyway, I found you from Karen's BBQ and wanted to say hi!

  32. I agree- the thought of promoting myself makes me cringe. But at the same time I've taken part in author promotions, blog hops, reviews, and interviews and never had a negative outlook on anyone trying to get their book out there so I figure fellow authors won't look at me that way either. nice to 'meet' you! new follower here from karenG's BBQ

  33. Loved the post. Doing something silly in that vein is a lot easier for my ego to be okay with than blatant self-promotion. Not sure why, but coming at it obliquely sounds fun whereas the other sounds vaguely terrifying!

    Trickling in late from Karen's BBQ.

  34. Great post! Ah, self-promotion. It's awkward but necessary....

  35. You're not the only one. I hadn't heard of that brand before my visit today. I feel like I'm pimping when I talk about my work, but lately, I have such a supportive bunch of blogging friends that when I talk about my work, I feel like I'm sitting on my verandah having a conversation. Promoting our work is a necessary evil.