“When played right, self-promotion can have a resounding ROI—Return on Investment—
especially when guided by a few rules.”
10 (Practically) Cringe-less
A reluctant author
and offers tips
By Kimberly Dana
Nonetheless, through a
steady upswing of sales, a
myriad of book signings,
and more hours on social
media than I care to admit
to, I managed to snag
some amazing opportuni-
ties—all thanks to shame-
less self-promotion. Never, for instance,
did I think I would interview on an NBC
morning show, speak to a room of 200
people, or have a tiny pigtailed fan beg
me to write a sequel, which is the best
accolade an author can ask for.
I’ve made peace with self-promotion as
a necessary affliction that perhaps can’t
be cured, but most certainly can be
treated. When played right, self-promotion can have a resounding ROI—Return
on Investment—especially when guided
by a few rules.
Rule #1 Fortify your brand with a
basic media kit. The key essentials
include an author website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, and some
eye-catching business cards. Invest in a
quality headshot taken by a professional
photographer that can be used for your
website and various promo ops.
Rule #2 Always show gratitude, no
matter what. If no one shows up for a
book signing, write a gracious thank-you
note to your host. Ditto for author presentations. Speak to your audience,
regardless of how meager the turnout, as
though they are the VIPs of the world.
Hyperprepare and be professional at all
times, especially online. It may be tempt-
ing to post snarky political comments or
an old, risqué college pic, but you are
bound to offend someone, possibly an
ardent agent or esteemed
editor. Don’t do it!
Rule #3 Choose wisely.
especially ones with an
excessive price tag, should
be vetted carefully. Book
marketers and publicists
will haggle you 24/7 with promises to
make you the next Stephenie Meyer, only
to drain you emotionally and financially.
Opt for affordable opportunities with a
To that end, below are 10 smart, economical, and (practically) cringe-less
ways to promote yourself, your brand,
and your books.
1. Start weekly Twitter chats with readers.
2. Keyword your blog posts.
3. Create a monthly newsletter with
news of upcoming events.
4. Post pictures of fans reading your
5. Host a book release party. (Don’t forget the canapés.)
6. Create a Meet the Author or Writer
7. Provide a book link in your email
8. Write magazine articles that your
niche audience might read.
9. Post short stories on your blog.
10. Contact your alma mater. They might
be willing to do a story on you.
Now put down the salmon mousse can-
apé and go sell yourself like a gold rush
harlot, you brilliant author, you! ■
Confession: no word gives me more angst
than the boastful, hyphenated noun self-
promotion. The thought of soliciting book
sales from my middle school crush on
Facebook is downright creepy. Moreover,
prowling around on social media web-
sites in search of new friends and followers
is a complete time suck. “Self-promotion
isn’t for me,” I confided to an author
friend the night of my first book release
party. Biting into a salmon mousse can-
apé, she smirked, as if she knew so much
better. (Spoiler alert: she did.)
Not wanting to rain on my cutesy appetizer-filled book parade, she called later to
readjust my oh-so-naive and erroneous
ways: “Authors cannot live by canapés
alone. You wanted to get into this racket.
Own the angst and sell yourself like a
gold rush harlot.”
Touché. Self-promotion is fraught with
the cringiest of awkward moments, but
my more experienced comrade was right.
Combing the social media circuit in
search of friends, followers, and readers
isn’t just necessary; it’s an integral part of
the average author’s day. I consoled myself
with one small, comforting thought: I
can at least be smart about it.
Smart is always easier said than done.
Kimberly Dana is a young adult and children’s
author who lives in Nashville with her husband
and spoiled shih tzu.
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