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I Need a Good Self-Promotion Publicity Stunt

February 22, 2015
I might do a book reading, but I'm not singing or playing any musical instruments. (image via wikimedia)

I might do a book reading, but I’m not singing or playing any musical instruments. (image via wikimedia)

Self-promotion is tough for me because I was raised to not call attention to myself.  I was taught to stay quiet and that if I did something well, others would notice.  Maybe that was true to some extent when I was growing up, but if those days ever existed, they’re over now.  It seems today it’s more about promotion than actually having a good product.  I’m not complaining.  I can’t complain because I don’t even have a new finished product yet, but I need to start thinking about self-promotion.

The ebook that I’m currently writing might be the best, most mainstream story I’ve ever written.  I won’t say what the title is because then it will sound like self-promotion and I’m not ready for that yet.  Anyway, I’ve never seen this particular story told before, and if I take my time, I might even write it well.  Unlike The Literary Girlfriend or The Writing Prompt, I’m not going to put any (or part) of it on Dysfunctional Literacy.  It’s not going to be free.  But I’m concerned that if I don’t put it on my blog Dysfunctional Literacy, then nobody will read it.

A lot of people know way more than I do about promotion.   I could use my blog or Twitter for self-promotion, but a lot of authors already do that, and I’m not sure it’s effective most of the time.  I think unpublished authors need something more.  I think I’d better come up with new exciting ways to self-promote my new ebook before I’m done writing it.  I already have a few ideas.

First, I’d like to get JK Rowling to say that she is me.  That would be a great attention-getter.  It worked for Robert Galbraith.  Robert Galbraith’s first book didn’t become a best-seller until JK Rowling announced that she was he.  That’s the kind of self-promotion I want.  I’d love for JK Rowling to say she was the author of Dysfunctional Literacy and all my ebooks.  My sales would skyrocket, and I wouldn’t have to do anything else.

I’ve even asked JK Rowling to claim that she is me.  Not personally or face-to-face or anything like that.  A few months ago, I wrote her and asked her to allow her lawyer or publicist to start telling people that she was me.  But she hasn’t responded.  She gets so much fan mail that maybe she hasn’t seen my message yet.

I’d go ahead and say that JK Rowling is me without her permission, but then I’d probably get sued, so I guess it’s a bad idea.

Maybe I could claim that my new book is really Harper Lee’s other lost manuscript.  Yeah, she and her estate haven’t mentioned a second lost manuscript, but of course they wouldn’t do that, at least not until they found it.  And I could claim to have just found it.  Harper Lee was brilliant, pretending not to have written another book for over 50 years and then announcing that she’s suddenly found a manuscript that she thought she had lost decades ago.  That’s publicity gold.

Her new book will be a best seller (I think it already is before it has even been released) without her having to do anything else.  I’m jealous.  Every misplaced manuscript that I’ve written sucks, and nobody cares when I find them.  Her lost manuscript might actually be good.  My manuscript that I can pretend is her second lost manuscript might not look anything like Harper Lee’s writing, but the publicity might help my book sales anyway.

Ugh, this is probably a bad idea too.

I could say that James Patterson co-wrote my new book.  Some people would believe that.  James Patterson can co-write anything.  I even know a guy named James Patterson who agreed to type a word in my manuscript just so he could say he co-wrote it.  I’d be willing to put JAMES PATTERSON in huge letters with everything else in a tiny font if I believed it would help book sales.

But the guy I know, his first name isn’t really James.  His last name is Patterson, but there isn’t a James anywhere in his name.  He doesn’t even have a James in his family.  The guy has eight brothers, three generations of fathers, uncles, grandfathers, kids, grandkids, and not one of them is named James.  A couple of them are named Pete.  What kind of family has two Peters and no James?  You could make a tongue-twister out of Peter Patterson, and they used the name anyway.  If they’d had the foresight to name a kid James, they could make themselves rich.

Instead, I’ll have to think of another idea.

*****

What do you think?  What self-promotional techniques have worked (or not worked) for you?  What would you like to try?  Do you have ideas but are reluctant to say what they are because somebody else might use them first?

42 Comments
  1. I like your ideas. I need to convince someone to say they are me. Then all the world’s wealth and success will be mine and I can stop being a 9 to 5 guy who trifles with a deranged insanity blog on his free time! Perhaps I’ll ask Lebron James to say that he writes my blog. Or maybe Brian Williams? He would probably do it.

  2. Alex Hurst permalink

    Got a few giggles out of this. My biggest suggestion is to submit your story for review to as many HIGH-PROFILE book bloggers as you can. More reviews means more trust, and book bloggers are free promotion. You can usually figure out if a reviewer is worth sending your MS to if they 1) have a lot of Twitter/Facebook/Blog followers, their comment section actually gets comments, or they have a ton of influence on Goodreads/BookLikes/etc.

    If your book is mainstream, it shouldn’t be too hard to find them. I’ll even give you some links to start your search with (hopefully this doesn’t put me in your spam folder! I’ll comment in a reply to this one just to be safe):

  3. Self-promotion on a blog is good, but it doesn’t reach that many people who will actually buy something, I find. Most people who read blogs like free stuff, I’ve found, although that’s true for everyone. I will buy your book, but I’m just one guy.
    I’ve thought of spray painting the name of my blog on a famous building, but that’s illegal, so I don’t know if that’s the best type of publicity.

  4. Reblogged this on jnicoleink.

  5. I have the same sentiments with self-promotion. Heck, I have 545 followers in WordPress and I’m only following 21 blogs including yours because I don’t believe in follow me and I will follow you policy. Follow, likes, comments out of genuine interest or otherwise not that’s what I believe in. That’s why probably I will not be a successful writer because I don’t know how to sell myself.

    • You only found 21 blogs interesting enough to follow? I do follow many who follow me, but, I have found so many of them and numerous others to be enlightening, interesting, informative or just plain funny. I am coming to check you out because I am intrigued by your selectiveness. And that is out of genuine interest relating to your comment 🙂

      • Why follow hundreds if not thousands of blogs one has no time nor interest to read and interact with I think to myself. But that is my personal preference. I respect other people’s view on it. You’re welcome to visit my space of course.

        • I respect your point of view, and honesty of course. I suppose I am only so surprised bc I find so many people on WordPress to be interesting, inspiring etc…I enjoyed your site and wish you well.

          • We all have our own preferences, tastes and own definition of what interesting is and that what makes this world exciting. Imagine if we all have the same point of view. I wish you the best in life and take care.

            • Agreed. To each his own. I can see your point clearly. I do follow more blogs than I find to be completely enthralling.
              In my thinking, as a writer, I am willing to put forth an extra effort to support my fellow writers, especially on wordpress, which has been a wonderfully receptive community to me.
              After all, as writers, we all simply want to be heard.
              I am so glad that we had this mutually respectful dialogue. Best to you also.

              • Respect is on the very top of my list, followed by understanding and truly listening. I learn a lot by just listening to people. I agree about wordpress community. I never seen a more supportive and broadminded crowd than here. I know this by joining the Blogging U. courses this site offers. They are fun, enlightening and inspirational.

                • I appreciate and reciprocate your respect. I am interested in those Blogging U courses, but have yet to take any. Thanks for the positive feedback. It is the extra push I needed to jump in.

  6. Can JK Rowling please also say that she is me?

  7. A sex tape usually works.

  8. Right on buddy! A lot of bloggers will agree with you. But consider it carefully. If you are not a natural extrovert it does not happen. Also self promotion alone is not what gets you there. Sometimes it is being in the right place at the right time or a chance reblog or a comment by somebody or something you wrote about which is very appropriate for that moment. The secret is to carry on. I write because I want to write. I have very few followers and even few who actually read me but at the end of a post, oh such a sense of relief and sense of achievement! Keeping up standards is important to me. On the other end of the scale a sex tape always gets viewers goggling. Which do you want?

  9. Reblogged this on lifestyle warbler and commented:
    My sentiments entirely!

  10. I fear the day when I’ll have to think about self-promotion, though that day will come soon -_-

  11. Good ideas here and helpful comments, too. Given the popularity of zombie stuff, maybe you could have a deceased writer claim to be back from the dead and publishing under your name. I’d suggest a shut-in like Salinger, or maybe if you want one of those wildly international successes, Tolkien.

  12. sparkyplants permalink

    Loved your post. In a fit of desperation one day, I wrote Ellen DeGeneres – I figured people listen to her. Haven’t heard back – yet. I was considering Zuckerberg, now that he has that book club of one thing going on, but I haven’t done it. I also thought I could hang out with the Girl Scouts on the corner and surreptitiously convince people the cookies would be so much more enjoyable if they ate them while reading my book. Haven’t done that, either. Self-promotion is difficult, no doubt. I think it is all about timing. I mean, look at this, a You-Tube video about a little kid biting his brother’s finger and saying “Charlie bit my finger.” goes viral. Why did it go viral and how? Surely the same thing could happen for a book. Maybe you should make a video about biting your brother’s finger while reading your book. Perhaps that would work.

    • KamiKanten permalink

      Is like living on another planet,having english as a first language is a huge advantage,I had no idea american writers write to celebs.

      • sparkyplants permalink

        Well – probably most self-respecting American writers do not write to celebrities, I’m probably the exception (I like to believe it is just me thinking ‘outside the box’.

        • KamiKanten permalink

          Well it depends,think twice about the celebrity that you write to,that would be your image people will associate with that person that can both lose a crowd and win another crowd.
          In Eastern Europe writing and literature in general is somehow “banned” from the shows that are not made for that type of audience.

  13. KamiKanten permalink

    Even though people should know about your writing and that involves promoting yourself as a reader I find myself sometimes bombarded by this cannons filled with writers with smiles on their face who all they write about on twitter,facebook and everywhere they can; about their books,their lives as a writer and good authors don’t have to try hard to make their personalities look interesting or exciting for the reader.

  14. sparkyplants permalink

    That’s a good thought and not one I had really explored. Perhaps you are right. Maybe my book will find its audience, or the audience will find the book. Thank-you for your insight and wisdom.

  15. Ugh…this is how I feel when I am interviewing for a job. It is so hard to self-promote. I do think it is important to toot your own horn every once in a while and this can be done without forcing a “sell.”

  16. bgenne permalink

    Honestly, it looks like you’re doing a good job building a network and an audience.

  17. Anonymous permalink

    As a person that is just beginning to force myself to use a computer for writing (I’m so much faster on paper and power is never low…) I might not be qualified yet to give advise.
    But I really don’t understand why you hesitate to mention the name of the book.

    I mean, this is your blog. Write just a statement. This is what I did. I hope you like it. Finish. To me that’s a very legitimate version of self-promotion. Besides you never know who might drop in an do the promotion for you. I don’t know how that recommendation algorithm works in wordpress. You just appeared in my reader shortly after I registered. I clicked and now am looking forward to all you posts. Maybe some marketing genius will stumble over your blog in much the same way.

    I certainly keep my fingers crossed for you. Your posts are brilliant.

  18. cmbeagley permalink

    I think nudity and food always seem to get a lot of attention. You could call your book something like the Naked Chef, but then you might be hearing from Jamie Oliver’s solicitors.

  19. Self-promotion may be “shameful” but it’s how we get our names out there. Your ideas, although rather extreme and especially shameful, are equally brilliant. It’s an authors worst nightmare to put the time and effort into creating a piece to then receive no recognition; negative or positive. To go unnoticed would be a worse result than to be labelled as a shameful self-promoter or even to receive negative reviews. I’d rather have my work being “terrible” because then I know where I can improve. Zero to hero.

  20. Seems you have to spend 50% of your time at self promotion to top the Amazon best seller lists. Which, if you’re holding down a day job too, don’t leave much time in the day.
    Alternatively, you could claim to be channelling the spirit of Hemingway/ a random Bronte/ Dickens/ other deceased author of your choosing(delete as appropriate).
    Surely, you’ve heard of Ghost Writers!

  21. tobepoets permalink

    I recognize myself in your story. I have difficulties in self-promotion, too. It still amazed me that it’s not about how good something is anymore but how good you sell it. I think somehow time and patience is the key and the right connections. But then again, I wonder how writers like JK Rowling made it. Did they start like us?
    If you manage to get to JK Rowling, let me know. I’d love to see that happening.

    B. at http://www.tobepoets.nl

  22. I understand exactly what you are saying on the promotion and copyright problems. I’d like to promote myself more, but I have so much trouble, not only because I’m not consistently asurrounded by internet, but because I’m just so afraid of everything. It will all be different once I go to art school, because then I will have to create a promote my work, but I wanted to really do something with my prospective business as a teen now. And it doesn’t help that I’m an introvert. Maybe you should create a fearless alias that does all your promoting for you, shamelessly, like Shameless Maya?
    Good luck!

    • I too am in introvert. I consider myself eccentric, a bit agoraphobic, and a self proclaimed abnormal person. For someone like me it is painfully difficult to self promote. But if I ever want to sell my books I will be forced to. The very thought of a negative review or criticism makes me cringe. My love for writing will help me trudge through the anxiety. I hope you can too. You sound like a brilliant young person.

  23. dfcrose permalink

    This might have just made my day. Allow me to explain.

    See, I write all the time. When I was very young, I started reading and that turned into the want to create my own little world, which I did, but never, not once, did I wish to share it with anybody. People yelled at me, that I was useless and that I spent my days sleeping, when in fact, I was locked in my room writing, but I never told them that. They wouldn’t understand. Writing what? Why?

    Today I feel a little differently. I would like to share my work because it was written with part of my soul, the better part of my soul, and that is what I want to be remembered by. But I’m scared. And I’m shy. And gods, I don’t know any of this things.

    So, just yesterday, I decided to create a blog and try this “sharing” online. But still, I don’t know how this works and how to get people to read what I wrote, even if it’s to say I suck. And then I found you. And you are so right. Self-promotion is tough and claiming to be someone else could really be what we need. But I suppose that for now, I will stick to have a little faith in myself and I will have faith in you, because you are amazing and I am 100% sure that anything, everything, you write is incredible. Every bit of it.

    Sincerely, DFCRose.

  24. dfcrose permalink

    Reblogged this on as their new sun rose over their new world and commented:
    This had made my day… It works for me just as it works for the rest of y’all

  25. I would love to be sued by JK Rowling!! JK Rowling is me!! JK Rowling is me!!………….Aaah, fudge.

  26. Great post! I was raised the same way and I have the same sentiments with self-promotion. I was taught not to boast about my accomplishments out of fear that I would be considered full of myself. I have learned that self-promotion is a necessary evil in the world of publishing and that it is okay to be confident as long as you don’t cross the line in to arrogance!

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