Social Media for Self-Promotion: What’s Acceptable and What’s Just Plain Obnoxious?

Social Media for Self-Promotion: What’s Acceptable and What’s Just Plain Obnoxious? November 13, 2014

Over at Catholic Writers Guild this month, I’m talking about social media for writers.  I start with some comments on why marketing matters, and why it can be a struggle for Catholic authors:

For about 5% of authors, marketing is a delight: A chance to get out of the writer’s box, meet people, chat, share the exciting news.  For the rest of us, it’s a chore.  I’d rather be writing.  I’d rather be holed up in my hermitage minding my own business.  I don’t want to bother people.

Many of us Catholic writers have an ideal of humility that involves the hidden life, and we like it that way.  We’d rather be hidden.  We have to learn to accept the other kind of humility, the kind that comes with taking the basket off the lamp so that the whole world can see the light we’re living by.   What I want is to show the world the Light of Christ; what’s going to happen is that people will see me, too.  That means they’ll get to see how poorly I measure up to the standard I’m trying to meet.

Knowing that you need to promote your work is different from knowing how to do it well.  Specifically, how to go about it in a way that doesn’t make people hate you:

In light of the reasonableness of using social media to promote good Catholic writing — our own or anyone else’s — we have to ask ourselves: At what point have we crossed the line from “spirited” into plain old obnoxious?

I don’t really know what the rules ought to be.  Miss Manners I am not.  That’s why I tried for about two months to get someone else to write this column.  (We had a request for this topic at CWG.) Finally I broke down and threw out a few ideas for starters:

  • In e-mail correspondence, the busyness of the recipient matters very much. There are things you can do to make life easier for the person you are trying to reach.
  • In specialty groups, self-promotion gives way to group interest.  If you only joined a discussion group in order to sell your books, you’re doing it wrong.
  • Bumping or posting on friends’ and contacts’ walls should be limited to links of personal interest.  Your friends aren’t interested in everything you say.  They are interested in the things you have in common.  Stick to that.
  • Your own wall is yours to do with as you like.  That doesn’t mean people won’t think you’re shallow and self-centered. But it’s your party, so you can be vapid if you want to.

You can read the whole thing here, including my top two tips for e-mailing people who don’t have time to read your e-mail.  If you care to add to the discussion (you know you do), there’s an open invitation to leave a link in the combox to your thoughts at your own blog.

[Leave your link over at CWG, not here where there is no combox, silly.]

The Catholic Writers Guild


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