As a writer I’ve been regularly confronting the concept of self-promotion for a solid three years now. With online applications such as Twitter and Facebook many worry that we are not only falling into a nasty pattern of narcissism, but some businesses and sole-proprietor businesses will abuse their networks of family, friends, and acquaintances to make a buck.
I’d like to tackle this from the perspective of a writer. Writers face the tricky matter of essentially “selling” ourselves and our talents of weaving words together. Readers and publishers look for someone with name recognition, and so writers must think of ways they can “make a name for themselves.” If you’re familiar with the biblical story of the tower of Babel, you may recall that the attempt of humanity to do such a thing resulted in their language being garbled by God.
Such a prospect is not necessarily encouraging for writers—especially a Christian writer.
The only way I can see handling this delicate matter of self-promotion in a way that avoids the exploitation of friends, family, and acquaintances is the following:
- Only promote what may help them. If I’m hoping they’ll buy my book and I send updates and links their way to that end, then the book I write should be of value to them.
- Don’t bombard anyone. I try to only send a manageable number of updates about myself and my work via twitter and facebook. I don’t want anyone to become tired of my endless stream of self-promotion. Everyone has a different limit here, so be cautious.
- It’s not all business. Part of keeping in touch with friends and family is adding some color from your own life, sharing pictures and stories that may be funny, interesting, or unusual. Don’t stick to mere work concerns in social media.
I can’t say for sure if I’ve done this perfectly, but as a writer who has to walk this fine line, I find that friends and family generally want to know what I’m up to. Therefore, it’s my job to keep them in the loop without wearing them out with my updates.