3 Ways Promote Yourself As A Writer (Even When You Don’t Want To)

Written by Emily Harstone | January 20, 2014

“Writing is something you do alone. Its a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.”  ― John Green

As an introvert, a writer, and a very reluctant self-promoter, this quote has always struck me as being particularly profound. Not just because of what it says, but because of who said it. John Green is a bestselling Young Adult novelist as well as a video blogger watched by millions of people every week. He is also very clearly an introvert. Having met him once at a reading before he was as famous as he is now, I was struck by how uncomfortable he looked interacting with everyone, yet even that discomfort came across as charming.

He had found a way through YouTube  to connect with people. He created a fanbase with his brother, and they used it to promote books and various other projects that had a positive impact on the world. In short John Green did not have to stop being an introvert to promote his books, and he never had to become heavy handed about it either.

As a writer, one has to find unusual ways to promote oneself without feeling like you have to force it down someone’s throat. Some authors are naturally self-promotional and they understand and know how to promote themselves in a positive way. I am in awe of authors like this, but I definitely do not have their talent. Below are three ways that a reluctant self-promoter (like myself) can support their work.

1. Start A Blog (or a Vlog, or a Tumblr)

Most writers have blogs so this might be obvious, but what I am suggesting is not to start a blog directly about yourself or your writing, but about something else. Perhaps your blog can be devoted to favorite quotations, or the best literary journals, or even pictures that remind you of books; it could be anything. Tumblr, a micro blogging site, is particularly full of blogs with a very specific focus. There is even a blog there devoted to women poets wearing sweatpants. You can also start a video blog about things you care about, book reviews for example, or short biographies of your favorite authors. Readers are more likely to stumble across your work through search engines and links, and you will probably reach a lot of readers who don’t know you in person.

2. Use Your Facebook Page

Now a lot of people these days suggest starting an authors facebook page to promote your literary work. I definitely think that you should do that, but you can also use your personal page to your advantage. On my personal page I never talk about anything too personal: most of what I write about and post are pictures of my dog, the rural area where we live, and good books I have read. But because I have over 400 friends, many of whom I am barely in touch with, I get a lot of responses to what I post. So I try to shuffle in talk about writing, links to my poems published in literary journals, and things like that fairly often. Often those links get shared by other people, and so my readership broadens. My work has also been solicited by editors who are friends, or friends on facebook. It really helps my career to be on there.

3. Have A Beautiful Business Card

I bump into people who want to read my work all the time. Sometimes it will come up in a coffee shop, or at the gym, or, well, volunteering. However, even though I have a website that is easy to Google, I know most people won’t take that step without a reminder. That is why I have a business card. It doesn’t mention my other profession as a professor, it just has my name, my website, my email address, and the word poet. My business card has all that information, and on the other side is a beautiful picture of a willow tree. Everyone comments on the picture. It is important to have some sort of visual image, because that encourages the individual that receives the card to save the card; it isn’t just another scrap of paper.  I made my cards at moo.com, but I am sure there are many other good options.