Monday, January 30, 2012

Self-Promotion as Nagging?

L.G.C. Smith

I hate the word 'nag.' I'm old enough to still hear sexism in it. Women nag. Men . . . I don't know what they do. Hound? Nagging always seems to put a negative spin on things, and if I care enough to remind someone about something, or insist that a minimum basic standard of family or community participation be met, people should accept the admonition/encouragement (or whatever) appreciatively and snap to it. I am helping. I am being noble. You don't have to listen, but don't tell me I'm nagging.

There's one area where I can't help feeling like a nag, no matter how I spin it, and that's self-promotion. Whether we are traditionally published or indie-pubs, we have to find ways to let readers know we have something they might like to read.

I am constitutionally ill-equipped to do this. I was raised by people who felt it was bad form to toot your own horn. I internalized this completely.

So I have questions for readers: What can writers tell you that doesn't feel like nagging? How can we do it so you know we love and respect you? Because we do. Big time. Seriously. We are nothing without you. The last thing we want to do is nag you about our books.

8 comments:

Toni in Florida said...

The least "naggy" way to tell us about your books for sale is also the most natural: share with us your glee and joy that your latest work has hit the shelves (virtual or physical). Your fans like to celebrate your success with you, so it's not nagging to give us a reason to cheer with and for you.

L.G.C. Smith said...

Thanks, Toni. Not that I have many fans. But that takes time and good books. So I guess this means I'm supposed to feel something besides acute anxiety when my books go out into the world. :)

William Doonan said...

This is the bugbear in the room when we talk about writing books. And I think we are on the verge of an opportunity to fundamentally change the way we do things (I'm taking the phrase back from Gingrich)!

What if, instead of saying 'buy my book', we could say, 'order my book for free' or 'download my book for free?" We need a new model for making money from books, unrelated to purchase price. Sponsorship? Ads on the back? I don't know what it will look like, but TV reinvented its revenue stream, and it's time for books to do it as well.

William Doonan
www.themummiesofblogspace9.com

L.G.C. Smith said...

These kinds of shifts are challenging, aren't they? One aspect I really like in Indie publishing is that authors can make a reasonable return per copy AND lower the price to readers. (Never mind all the issues about quality--that's another discussion.)But that doesn't go as far as what you're talking about. The next five years are going to be really interesting for publishing and authors.

Rachael Herron said...

I agree with Toni -- the only time I feel I'm not peddling my wares by holding out a fake tin cup is when I'm excited about telling my friends online about what I'm doing. Otherwise, yes, I hate it, too. Good question.

Gigi Pandian said...

I read an article on Slate earlier this week that talked about the word "nagging" being sexist. I was surprised, because I hadn't thought of it that way -- I think my father as being a bigger nag than my mother!

L.G.C. Smith said...

Gigi, my dad is a way bigger nag than my mom. I think the only reason I finished my PhD was because I couldn't bear to listen to him nag me about it for the rest of my life.

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