Saturday, February 12, 2011

The thin line between self-promotion and self-parody

Read a terrific post over on Inkspot titled “Blatant Self-Poisoning?” (h/t @Vrydolak) regarding authors who self-promote too much and how that can backfire.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I know next-to-nothing about social networking, and present as proof that I’ve only been on twitter a few months and am not even on Facebook.

But I do know what I’ve read about using social networking to promote yourself (and recall Neil Gaiman wrote wonderfully on this) and that is you should use social networking tools to sell yourself, not your product. Because if you can sell yourself successfully, then the rest should follow, right?

But what does it mean, selling yourself, especially in the context of an aspiring writer? To me, it means truly being who you are on these networks, warts and all, not a carefully created fa├žade of who someday you’d like to be, or worse yet, who you want people to think you already are. I’m telling you, the genuine people are obvious, and the not-so-genuine people are just as obvious.

In fact, many twitter accounts of aspiring writers could actually be, without changing a thing, a parody account called @aspiring_writer:

“Wrote 10,000 words today. Boy, I’m tired!”

“Got an acceptance! Yipee!”

“Was it Proust who said that the only thing worse than writing was not writing?”

Okay, I made that last one up. And again, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m guilty of all of the above. But hopefully, in moderation.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that me, personally, I’d rather hear your thoughts on what’s happening in Egypt than your word count.

I’d rather know what you had for lunch than you got a rejection or an acceptance.

I’d rather know what you’re watching on TV than how many “WIPs” you have ongoing.

Can you use social networking to sell books, or to try to sell yourself as an author who writes books and stories worth reading? Probably. But it ain’t gonna happen being a one-note-Johnny, who tweets or blogs about nothing but writing and the writing life. I’m pretty sure about that.

Now, like I said, I know nothing about the proper use of social networking, especially with regard to using it to sell books or anthologies. But I know what annoys me.

And I know self-parody when I see it.


Thumper said...

You pretty much nailed why I don't often use social media for much self promotion; it's rarely done well, and after a while it's annoying. I don't want to annoy people...

Brendan said...

Thanks for checking in, Thump! And thanks.

Like I said, it's a thin line and hard to know where it is. And like you, I'd rather just try to avoid it entirely and let the chips fall where they may.