This past week I had the opportunity to talk to an amazingly talented woman who has a hugely successful business selling a particular type of high-end product. I don’t want to go into too much detail in order to keep her privacy, but there is something important I want to share about it.
You see, for as successful as she is — the awards she has received and the celebrities she has worked with — she has a very hard time promoting herself.
Now, one could ask, “Well, if she’s that successful, she doesn’t need to do any promotion, does she?” True. The many referrals she receives is keeping her business successful.
However, she has recently written a book that was published in June of this year and all you can hear is the sound of crickets. There have been few sales and no visibility. Nothing is happening because she is unable to talk about it.
An interesting twist to this is that in an earlier part of her life and career she did PR for clients with their own businesses. She had no problem promoting other people. In fact, she was really, really good at it, but doing it for herself? Not so much.
This is far from uncommon.
As we spoke, I mentioned that when some people start to talk about themselves and their books, they hear their mother or father’s voice in their head telling them to stop bragging. “Stop being so full of yourself.”
Also, not uncommon.
It was very clear I hit a chord with her because she started nodding and smiling and agreeing, and said that was one of the main messages she and her siblings learned in their family. “Don’t brag. Don’t talk about yourself.” This is quite common for authors to experience to one degree or another.
Question: How do you brag about yourself without bragging about yourself?
Couple that with the fact that we’ve ALL seen authors who really can’t tell the difference between sharing something of value and being a carnival barker.
In this day and age of social media, developing elegant, sensitive and savvy communications skills is an absolute “must.”
With all of that in mind, here are some ideas to hack this problem.
1. Resolve the internal conflict
Ideally, you want to resolve this internal dilemma so that you can promote your book and feel good about it. Until that happens, consider the following…
2. Create an alter ego
Create an alter ego of yourself and make that “person” your publicist. Give him or her another name, so that when you write a release, pitch various podcasts, journalists or whoever, your signature file will have your pseudo publicist’s name as the contact. If your name is Mary Jones, your publicist could be Mark Schultz, and can Mark ever promote the heck out of Mary! You can write and pitch from a different perspective and you will be amazed at what a difference this change can make.
3. Hire a publicist
You don’t have to do it yourself. Sometimes the best reason to hire a publicist is not only because they have the contacts and access to the best media databases, but if they love what you’re up to, they can pitch you in ways it’s hard to do yourself.
4. Share yourself through praising others
When you do post an interview on social media, focus on the host rather than yourself. For example, rather than saying, “Here’s an interview I did. What do you think?” Consider posting the interview and complimenting the host by saying something like, “I really love how Terry really understood the point I was making about…” This gives you the chance to not only post the interview about you and your book, but you’re sharing positive qualities about someone else. It comes off as generous to the media person, and through that you are saying a lot about yourself and posting the coverage at the same time.
5. Say “no” to Imposter syndrome
Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments or talents and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Not fun, but you don’t have to stay in it. Get clear on who you are and what your message is. Get crystal clear on how you’re helping others. When you post content and ideas that help others, you are also promoting yourself, but not in an in-your-face-obnoxious way. Keep your eye on your target audience/person.
6. Don’t compare yourself to others
I know. Easier said than done, but truly, there is no one like you. No one has written the book you have written. No one has had the experiences you’ve had. If you’re nervous about putting yourself out there, just make a decision that you’re going to do it, and then do it. Some things in life only get better with practice. Actually, I take that back. Everything in life gets better with practice, but you first have to make the decision to do it and then just do it.
There are ways to toot your own horn that are actually endearing. You don’t have to be an obnoxious person or blowhard to get the message out about your book. As the woman I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post is learning, she can learn to feel good about promoting herself and her book in ways that others will love and appreciate.
When it comes to your book, self-promotion is part of the deal if you want anyone beyond your family to read it. You have to be prepared to talk about yourself and what you do to get people interested, but do it in a way that’s engaging. Once you do that, you will be unstoppable.
To your success!
P.S. If you want some help learning other self-promotional tips without being too much or over the top, then sign up for a Deeper Dive Media Strategy Session. We will cover this in a way that delights you to talk about what you have to offer.