BSP, or Blatant Self-Promotion. Why should it be a no-no?

“I’m going to become a world-famous author through my mastery of the Internet.”

That was my response yesterday when our minister at the First Unitarian Universalist Society  passed around the mike and asked us what goals we could set for ourselves over the summer. We were observing our annual “Flower Communion,” in which we bring flowers from our gardens to share. Reverend Sam Trumbore had segued seamlessly from imagery of flowers and buds to the theme of what might be budding in our own lives and ready to burst into bloom.  

Chihuly florabunda rose

Chihuly florabunda rose

These were not the roses I brought. I do have a Chihuly rose bush blooming in my garden, and the blooms are absolutely breathtaking, but I was too selfish to share them. I brought some crimson Blaze climbing roses instead, more than adequate for the occasion. 

This blog isn’t about roses, though. It’s about my grandiose statement of world domination. Had I gone over the top? Am I escalating into a manic episode? Grandiosity is a common symptom of mania, as I and others with a bipolar diagnosis know full well. But I wasn’t being manic – just realistic, or almost, though it may take more than one summer to attain my dreams.

 

Why do we authors find it so distasteful to brag? Especially we women authors? Blatant self-promotion (BSP for short) is frowned upon on many Internet sites, and it’s said to be a turn-off when authors promote their work too openly at panels and signings. Yet why be so ashamed? I believe it’s ingrained in our upbringing, drummed into us from an early age, especially if we’re of AARP age or above. But how will anyone find out about our books if we’re too reticent to brag a little?

Blaze of Glory climbing rose

Blaze of Glory climbing rose

FUUSA‘s book club met last night, and we were talking about selections for the fall. One man suggested the group choose my book Eldercide, which I’ll be relaunching in September as Evening Falls Early. Another man seconded the motion, pointing out that perhaps copies of Eldercide will become valuable collectors’ items once it’s no longer available under that name. Both men were present at the morning service, so I guess my boastful declaration didn’t turn them off. Would the group have selected the book if I’d been silent when they handed the mic around? I’ll never know.

The Chihuly rose is a recently introduced florabunda, named for the famous glass artisan Dale Chihuly. It survived my northeastern Zone 5 winter in fine form, and I heartily recommend it. The blaze rose shown here is “Blaze of Glory,” a Jackson & Perkins introduction from 2005. My own blaze climbing rose is the more traditional crimson version, and it’s really taking off this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. minervakoenig
    Jun 15, 2009 @ 19:09:43

    Hi Julie,

    Just thought I’d stop by and leave a comment, viz. our discussion on CrimeSpace about commenting on fellow writers’ blogs.

    Two things:

    1) I have a tradition of looking first in my public library for books, then, if I can’t find them there, buying them, reading them, and donating them to the library. I’d like to do this with one or more of your books, unless you object — (I know some writers don’t like having their books in the library). I’m in Austin, Texas, and we have wonderful libraries here, but they don’t have any of your titles.

    2) In regards to BSP, I think the important thing, for me, is to make sure I’m doing it ‘appropriately.’ We’ve all had that experience at some social event or other where someone begins infringing on our personal space with their BSP, so I try to be mindful of that. Although, I have to admit that, since I’m still unpublished, I have not done very much promotion at all. When my book finally does hit the public airwaves, I may turn into one of those people! I hope not. In my business life (I’m an architect by trade) I like to think I’ve learnt how to be subtle about promotion — here’s hoping the lesson translates.

    MK
    http://www.minervakoenig.com

    Reply

    • julielomoe
      Jun 15, 2009 @ 21:39:26

      Hi Minerva,
      Great to hear from you here – I hope you’ll visit again. I’d love it if you’d order my books and then donate them to a library. You can order them either on Amazon or directly from my publisher, Virtual Bookworm at http://www.virtualbookworm.com.

      An alternative for folks who aren’t willing or able to buy books is to request that the library order copies.

      I like your comments about BSP. I tend to restrain myself in 1:1 encounters, and when I talk about my books, I focus more on the subject matter than on how great I think they are – the latter’s a definite turn-off!

      Good luck with your writing as well as your architectural “day job.” S.J. Rozan has made a success of that combination, I believe.

      Reply

  2. Patricia Stoltey
    Jun 16, 2009 @ 02:17:49

    BSP is hard for me as well. It’s something I make myself do, but try not to overdo. I can still hear my dad saying, “Don’t brag. People won’t like you if you brag about yourself.”

    And even though I understand why some authors go overboard in an effort to sell books, it turns me off. I’m about to unfollow a perfectly nice guy on Twitter because all of his tweets say the same thing…buy my book.

    Reply

    • julielomoe
      Jun 16, 2009 @ 20:00:11

      This message was instilled in me too. Fortunately, I’m of an age where I no longer care very much about whether people like me. Nonetheless, I try to limit the BSP.

      Reply

  3. Therese
    Jun 16, 2009 @ 08:51:38

    Julie, You are a pleasant person in general. As long as you are a pleasant person in general, you will know, intuitively, how far to go when promoting your book. I admire the way my husband (also a pleasant person in general) has gone about promoting his book : 1) he worked extremely hard writing his book, so hard that he is certain that the product he has to offer readers is top-notch ; 2) he believes so strongly in what his book says that his enthusiasm is infectious, even among readers who disagree with his opinions ; 3) he has been active for years in several local groups, so he has established a ready-made network of people who are willing to read his book and mention it to others ; 4) he promotes the book in a cheerful, good-humoured way, but does so incessantly ; 5) he takes advantage of current technology (emails, blogs, etc.). ; 6) he never expresses sour grapes towards more prominent writers whose book sales exceed his own.

    Julie, as far as I can tell, you already follow those six guidelines. I think that, these days, women don’t have to be bashful about promoting their books as vigorously as men do.

    Reply

    • julielomoe
      Jun 16, 2009 @ 20:04:21

      Thanks, Therese. I don’t know if I’ve ever been called a “pleasant person” before. But I worked as a creative arts therapist on locked wards with the most difficult patients in a psychiatric center for 13 years, and none of them ever assaulted me or even threatened me, so I must be doing something right.

      I love your six guidelines – great advice!

      Reply

  4. Jane Kennedy Sutton
    Jun 16, 2009 @ 12:38:17

    I don’t think making an announcement about your book or your dreams to a roomful of people as BSP, it’s simply a good opportunity to let people know about you. I am only turned off by authors who bring every conversation back to their book, who go on and on when they do have the opportunity to speak to a group about how great their book is or who constantly pressure you by asking when you are going to buy their book.

    JaneKennedySutton

    Reply

    • julielomoe
      Jun 16, 2009 @ 20:07:29

      Thanks, Jane – I agree. In my experience, authors are most likely to commit this gaffe on panels, when every question ends up with people rambling on and on about their own books. I’ve been guilty of this sin myself.

      Reply

  5. Marvin D Wilson
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 09:57:43

    I say let it all hang out. Hey – when you’re still an aspiring author, if you don’t toot your own horn nobody’s gonna do it for ya. Shout yourself out, I say. 🙂

    The Old Silly From Free Spirit blog

    Reply

    • julielomoe
      Jun 18, 2009 @ 16:00:21

      Thanks for the advice, Marvin. It’s especially timely because in two hours I’ll be going to a free dinner for members of my local YMCA, with food from 15 different restaurants. I plan to wear my turquoise tee-shirt with the cover illustration for Mood Swing. As I usually do, I’ll bring a MWA tote bag with some of my books as well.

      I don’t “let it all hang out,” though – but you just gave me an idea for today’s blog! After I write it, I’ll take a luxurious bath with a glass of red wine – makes me friendlier and more outgoing, up to a point. I imagine the event at the Y will be dry.

      Reply

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