So many writer friends cringe at promoting their work. “How can I ask total strangers to read my stories? Who am I to steal time and attention from their daily lives?” It’s a tough question to answer, especially when the market at large effectively tells you, ‘you’re nobody’. The easiest way to answer that question is to begin with a couple tougher ones.
Why do you write? Since I can’t answer that for you, I’ll answer it for me. Good fiction excites me. A well planned and written scene, no matter the subject, can make me tear up. My favorite books, movies, and shows still do. I watch some on a nearly annual basis and well up inside as those greatest moments approach. I’m also a huge daydreamer. So many stories spin off in so many other directions in my head, days after experiencing them. If your story excites you as you write it, it’ll show when you promote it.
Do you have a message? If everyone in the world read your book and understood what you’re trying to say, what would happen? I get tickled deep down inside just imagining it. That being said, there’s having a message and then there’s preaching a sermon; the latter of which turns everyone but fellow zealots away. If you’re writing to extol your favorite politician, religion, or cake recipe; you’re only going to really reach those already in your camp. The best fiction, the most lasting fiction, contains a thematic message. If your work carries a message you believe in, it’s easy to get excited about sharing it. And sharing your story is one short step away from promoting it.
So, you’re excited about sharing your story; excited enough to promote it. Excitement needs two travelling companions along the promotional trail; confidence and humility. Confidence helps you engage strangers while you yourself are an unknown and humility cushions the impact from all the doors likely to be slammed in your face. Unless they were already a celebrity, nobody started their writing career a best seller.
These two attributes counterbalance each other on the ego scale and warrant careful watching. Too much confidence yields a dangerous level of pride, while too much humility and the cushion against injury becomes a couch to cry on. Throughout my very short career as an author I’ve relied on my writer’s workshop, critique partners, and friends unafraid to tell the truth. These staunchest of allies keep my feet on the ground and my head held high.