Am I too British to self-promote effectively?

It’s been a really interesting week since launching Evie Woolmore’s first two novels, trawling the internet to see how other independently published novelists are promoting their books. There are reams and reams of tips, guides and advice out there, not to mention the rhythmic twitter of tweets to read, buy and review. One of the aspects I don’t want to get into in this blog is sharing advice on how to indie-publish – there are plenty of other people doing that very well – but I am keen to explore more specific and subjective experiences. And I would like to start with a matter of cultural identity.

In addition to tackling the world of social media head on, I have been emailing my friends directly, one at a time, with personalised messages promoting the new launches. But it has taken me a fiendishly long time to find a way to phrase these emails, particularly to those of my friends who didn’t know I was a writer. Despite facebook and twitter allegedly breaking down boundaries around traditional social codes, I still find that putting myself and my achievements forward, and thus asking people to fork out money on my behalf, feels very uncomfortable. I wouldn’t think twice about singing my own praises in a job application. But though this ought to be no different, it does somehow feel very much so.

When I was building my twitter strategy,I contemplated some new hashtags, and in a moment of introspection I came up with “It’s not vanity, it’s business”. I’m sure other indie-published authors would agree with me. I have a talent and I want to earn money from it. It’s not a question of fanning my own ego, but genuinely believing I can offer the service of an enjoyable reading experience. That ought to be a valid reason for why it’s perfectly OK to ask everyone I know to buy books from the allonymbooks project.

But – and here is where I suspect my Britishness comes into play – I would prefer the books spoke for themselves. I don’t want to be a boasting mother at the school gate. I find it excruciating to challenge my friends to spend their hard-earned cash on Evie’s unheard-of novels rather than others in the Kindle top 100. To say, like an Olympic athlete, “I deserve to be here because I’m good enough so measure me by the competition” feels like speaking a foreign language. It’s not about fearing negative criticism – I have been dumped by agents and had endless editors love my books but say they aren’t remotely marketable, so I am immune to that! – but rather fearing being thought brash, inappropriate, ostentatious and pushy. The promotional world of indie publishing feels disorderly and chaotic beside my British respect for patient queueing. Yet why shouldn’t I be undertaking on the inside lane? If the road is clear, shouldn’t I be driving on it?

I’d like allonymbooks to tackle promotion in a subtler, more careful way than the six-tweet-a-day model. One of the reasons I set allonymbooks up in the first place was because I was writing novels which were blurring generic boundaries (and troubling editors at the same time), yet I felt sure that receptive readers are to be found roaming the marketplace of indie-publishing. So I’d like to see if it’s possible to find scope in that same marketplace for a different kind of promotional style. And perhaps in some way it will be a more British one too.

9 thoughts on “Am I too British to self-promote effectively?

  1. Pingback: Pseudonym, allonym, anonym, username… | allonymbooks

  2. Yes, couldn’t agree more! It’s reeeeeeally tricky to self-promote if you have any sort of modesty – but I fear I’m gonna have to get over that and just go for it. I have to say, you’ve done a good job of your covers – they definitely look professional! I’ll take a butcher’s at the books, too – are they on Kobo?

  3. It is really tricky, you’re right. I have read all the ‘how to’ suggestions, and paradoxically I feel more awkward about approaching friends than I do about approaching strangers. It does also take a lot of time too, and it can be hard to find a good ‘style’ that you feel comfortable with. I’m still getting the hang of using twitter, I have to say…!

    Thanks for the compliment about the covers. They were done by a graphic designer friend, and the other Evie Woolmore books will all have the same style – they’re all magical realist litfic so I think the layered effect works well for the type of content.

    The books are only on Kindle at the moment – do you only have a Kobo?

  4. Yes, I’m a Kobo user – even though my books are only available on Kindle. I plan to get my stuff formatted for the all e-reader platforms in the new year – I guess that’s something we should both be doing! Very best of British with it all – I haven’t got the hang of Twitter at all – what d’you mean by ‘getting the hang of it’? You mean people are starting to re-tweet your posts, thereby spreading the word?

  5. I find Twitter is a strange space for indie-publishing authors, because with all the noise it is very difficult to say something that will be heard. There are many of our peers who are tweeting constantly and IMHO indiscriminately about their books without engaging with other writers, either in tweet-alogue or promoting the work of others. I find it difficult to assess the right balance between promoting the blog and promoting the books, to find the right number of tweets (I am sure I don’t tweet enough) but also to tweet about the right things to engage other tweeters. I don’t get much retweeting yet but I think on balance I would rather get followers to the blog first, and get the discussions going and say things people are interested in reading. So thank you for taking the time to comment!
    Yes, epub formats are on my to do list…
    btw, enjoyed the opening of your novel, The King Thing!

  6. Thanks! Also, I’m trying to finish my second novel, and a third, before Christmas, to get a decent stack available – that leaves very little time for all the other stuff – interacting like this is time-consuming – so I think I’m going to be concentrating on it more after all my books are up there. I’ll take a look at your blog etc. when I get a chance.

    P.S. – other people might have mentioned this before, so I’m sorry if I’m repeating stuff you’re already aware of, but I did read your brand as ‘All On My Books” – and I keep seeing it like that even though I now know it’s “allonym”. If the word causes confusion, is it right for your branding? (Hope you don’t mind, but I thought I’d better mention it !)

  7. Good luck with the new novel – may the muse be a regular visitor at your desk!
    Re the PS – as one who frequently reads too quickly for my own good, you make an excellent point. As a slip of the eye, so to speak, it has turned out to have a useful punning quality which has made the name stand out.

  8. Pingback: The Story So Far… | allonymbooks

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