Self-promotion is difficult. That’s probably true for anyone. It’s hard for an average person to wave a flag and say, “Hey, look at me and what I did! Isn’t it fabulous?”
I wonder if self-promotion is more difficult for women than men, since we have been schooled in the art of modesty. (And is this changing?) I also wonder if self-promotion is more difficult for clergy, who by nature and training become servant-leaders. We point to Jesus, not ourselves. (I welcome your comments on these dynamics.)
Because self-promotion is difficult, the members of my writing group, The Writing Revs, have agreed to help each other with marketing and promotion. It’s a logical extension of our relationship. For six years we have supported each other’s writing in a very hands-on way. Twice a month we meet to critique each other’s words and paragraphs. Now that some of our writing has met with success and we have books to sell, this is the next step along the path. How can we support each other’s marketing efforts?
Yesterday we had one quick answer to that question: Homemade Baked Goods!
At the meeting of National Capital Presbytery (clergy and elders from Presbyterian churches in the Washington, DC area who gather five times/year) the Writing Revs sponsored a little reception for one of our members, MaryAnn McKibben Dana, whose book, Sabbath in the Suburbs, was just published by Chalice Press. (Her info is linked here, or you could scroll down a bit until you see her book cover.)
We tried to find the right balance between being low-key (“Hey, have a cookie!”) and shameless (“Buy this fabulous book!). Honestly, I had a blast. I stood in the hallway outside the reception room, urging people to come in to congratulate MaryAnn. It was much easier to say effusive things about her work (which I mean wholeheartedly) than it is about my own. I can honestly urge people to read the book, and to consider using it in their book groups or churches. MaryAnn is creating a discussion guide which will be available on-line. I foresee a lot of fruitful conversation about the topic of Sabbath around this book. It’s a timely topic in our time-starved world.
I am so grateful for my Writing Revs — writing is a solitary business and it’s important to have the support and companionship of fellow writers on this journey. Writers need people who understand that writing is not just a pleasant pastime, but the way we create meaning in our lives. Writers need people who can remind us to use strong verbs and not mix our metaphors. Writers need people who can laugh and cry with us over words, because words are just that powerful.
If you are in a writing group, congratulations! I hope you will someday be thinking seriously about how you can help each other market your words.
Perhaps you are farther along on this journey. What are your tips for us? There’s no doubt that reviewing each other’s books on blogs, Goodreads, Facebook, etc. is immensely valuable. Word of mouth plays a huge part in selling books.