Why Self-Promotion is a Bitch


Oh wait. Let me just reapply my lipgloss.

“How was your summer?” A good friend recently asked me.

“You know. Strange.”

“No, I don’t know. What do you mean?”

“Well, the weather for one thing. And between the ski area being open and my book coming out, we’ve been working pretty hard.”

“Oh yeah, your book! How’s that going anyway?”

That’s when the little voice inside my head says Kim, just stop it. You don’t have to promote your book to your friends. They’re going to buy it anyways. But it’s like an addiction. Or like washing your hands for the fifteenth time while mumbling the words to Gloria Gaynor’s classic “I Will Survive.”

After a while you start to get a little weird.

Maybe in this era of Facebook updates and frequent retweets, promoting yourself isn’t as shameful as it once was. Everyone’s doing it. We all have learned to don the party wig, apply another coat of lipgloss and smile for the camera, being sure to capture our best side. Who knows? This could be our new profile photo. Or worse, someone could tag us in an unflattering light before we have a chance to swipe our names off the offending photo. It’s always good to think ahead.

But this kind of thing doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to work at it. Often, I’m just faking it. So instead of doing all the wonderful summer-vacation sort of activities I’ve honed myself on the past few years, I’ve been busy sharpening other skills. Here’s a list of my accomplishments (see! I’m getting better at this self-promotion thing):

  • Even though I didn’t climb any volcanoes this season or even sleep outside nearly enough, I did learn to surf, thanks to my friend Hillary.
  • Launched a major book promotion campaign. This isn’t easy, even with a great publicist at my side. Who knew that this blog (and all your comments and participation) would be a driving factor in the campaign? Thanks for all that, by the way.
  • Managed to drop the phrase, “My book is coming out in October” into 90% of all my conversations. Not sure if that’s a good thing, or a sign of a serious underlying obsession. (Did I mention that my book is now available on Kindle? Oops. Did it again.)
  • Dropped below 500K on my Alexa ranking. As if that actually means anything.
  • Decided that someday my husband and I will live in the Alps, either Chamonix (sorry skiclimber; it’s a big enough town we probably won’t run into each other) or Verbier (thanks to Corrine and Eric).
  • Almost 100  10 5 people so far told me after reading an advanced copy of my book that they liked it. One reader said my blog changed her life; so just imagine what reading the book will do. (No, this reader is NOT my mom, although those of you following along know that Mom’s reaction was equally full of praise. It’s good to have a fan. Even if she’s your mom.)
  • Actually, the # 1 comment I’ve gotten from readers so far: “I had no idea your job was so dangerous.”
  • Oops. We ski patrollers aren’t supposed to talk about that.

22 responses »

  1. Self-promotion is hard! I think especially for those of us raised to be more quiet and humble and to believe it is, in fact ‘shameful’ or ‘self-aggrandizing’ to talk about and promote ourselves and our work.

    But that’s just bullsh*t. We totally deserve attention for things that we accomplish. Our successes are worthy of notice. There are many graceful ways to talk about ourselves and promote work that we’re proud of. And you are doing an amazing job. Congratulations on everything you’ve worked hard for and accomplished.

    I can’t wait to read your book! 🙂

  2. Self-promotion is a bitch. I am completely over talking about my book and I’m still revising it.
    Your book is so, so great and I can’t wait for more people to find out what a gem it is.

    • Emily!
      Ha. I know what you mean. Alexa is a toolbar that ranks websites worldwide. The lower the number the better the rank. Google is #1 and Facebook is pretty close. Currently Splendid Market is about 5M (I just checked it). But there’s a lot you can do to lower it even more. Get the Alexa toolbar for your browser and every time you visit your own site you will contribute to the rubric. Also, you can encourage those that visit your site to get the Alexa toolbar, because only those with the toolbar can help bring your rank down. Hope that explains it!

  3. you’re doing a great job! Your name is everywhere. There talking about you up in here in Canada. And I think I saw a flattering photo of you up on a billboard here. Okay, maybe that wasn’t you, but it reminded me of you.
    Can’t wait till a copy of your pre-ordered book comes so I can be added to that list of 5.

  4. I often talk to fellow-writers who are reluctant about marketing their work. I remind them that they have something of value to communicate, a gift to share. The fact that we get paid for writing is nothing to be ashamed of. Writing a book is work and few people can afford to work for free. Most writers will never grow rich off their writing, or even make a direct living at it. Even those few writers who do live large, typically achieve that because people really are finding something of value in the work. Not all promotion is either shameful or shameless. You are a storyteller, a story doesn’t achieve its purpose until someone reads it, and people can’t read it until someone tells them it exists. No shame in that. In fact, you should be proud. 🙂

  5. The self-promotion is something I struggle with as well. I know it’s absolutely necessary, and I know we have to ensure we stand out from the crowd somehow, but when I see some of the ad-nauseam promos that hit my social media sites I wonder if we are doing ourselves a disservice. I guess it’s a fine line that I’ve yet to navigate effectively.
    Having said that, reading your blog and checking out the photos and book cover, I just might come back to read your book, so you’ve got that balance! 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by Khyiah. I know what you mean about the social media sites becoming full of advertising. With businesses using FB and Twitter, I wonder more and more if we are just signing up for an ad campaign.

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