SOURCE: This is Beirut blog, November 15, 2010

Writing is a profession. Authors have products to promote – their books.

A fly-fishing guide in our town has fish mounts in his shop and pictures of trophy catches with his clients. Doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals hang diplomas and certifications on their office walls.

Is either of them bragging or boasting?  I don’t think so. They are doing self- promoting. Those pictures and diplomas say, “I know from experience.”

So why is self-promotion difficult if you’re an author?

I believe two things stop us from promoting our books like the medical professionals hang diplomas or talking about our books like our fly-fishing guide.

First, the negative connotation of “self-promotion.” Second, an ingrained fear of being called a braggart.

An examination of words associated with self-promotion may help ease our hesitancy and help clarify the differences between being a braggart and simply promoting our work.

BRAG means making pompous or boastful statements; arrogant talk or manner; cockiness. A braggart is one who asserts boastfully.

We’ve all encountered the overzealous author with his stack of books under his arm harassing us into buying a copy of his new book. It’s too much and such behavior is what gives self-promotion its negative connotation. Bragging and pushiness to sell our books is not productive promotion.

SHARE means to partake of, use, experience, occupy, or enjoy with others. The operative word here is with.

Most of us look for the validation of a merchant’s product and want proof of a doctor’s expertise. If they don’t share the information, we don’t know. As authors, if we don’t share about our books, others don’t know about our accomplishments. I personally enjoy sharing work of my creative friends whether that work is a book, a painting, or a quilt.

PROMOTE is to encourage the sales, acceptance, etc., of (a product), especially through advertising or other publicity. It’s the means of seeking buyer approval. That’s not a bad thing because the final decision remains with the buyer.

So when authors don’t do self-promotions, aren’t we cheating ourselves? I think so.

What do you think?