The Five Stages of Self-Promotion

Our son got second place in the adults’ portion of the mini-triathlon! Do you hear me bragging about it? Heck, yeah.

Miles run today: 4

Words written in my novel in the past four days: 0

Hours driven yesterday: 9 1/2

My mom didn’t believe in bragging about her kids.

I begged her to brag about us, just a little. As a Leo, I didn’t mind the extra attention.

I mention this in order to show that she did the best she could in encouraging humility and modesty. In some ways, maybe it took. In others, not so much.

Now that I’m older, I struggle with the need for self-promotion and the inevitable eye-roll from other people when you try to promote yourself in any way. How arrogant is it to write lots of things on a blog and then think they are so good that other people might want to read them? Pretty darn arrogant, I think.

And if you’re writing a book, you may not believe that your book is the next To Kill a Mockingbird, but you have to have a certain belief that someone, somewhere, is going to enjoy reading your stuff.

For those of you who want to promote yourselves to land that new job, conquer that big mountain or market that new book, I have prepared a self-help-style primer for you to remind you that you are not alone:

The Five Stages of Self-Promotion

1. Denial. If you are trying to get word out about how wonderful you are, about your amazing accomplishment or your super new blog, you may sit in your office and think to yourself: “My book is wonderful. I am sure that because I have written something so good, everyone will simply find this gem without any work on my part. Oprah may find my work on Amazon for 99 cents and go back to her old talk show just to promote my book.”

This is called denial.

Sometimes people have these same feelings about something big that you have to train for, like a marathon. They don’t train and think they’ll be just fine running for 4+ hours. We call these people stupid naive.

2. Anger. Rail against the universe. Stand outside in the rain and cry and scream. Sometimes, if your spouse is in a cooperative mood, you can yell at him or her because he/she made the bad choice to get married to a writer.

Just like in the creepy Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale about the little girl and The Red Shoes and she kept dancing and dancing and couldn’t take them off… Sometimes writing feels like that, doesn’t it? Don’t lie. I can feel your lies through the computer screen.

Get mad all you want. But your word count is still stuck at the same place. Move on.

3. Bargaining. If you are a seriously introverted writer, a.) you are not alone and b.) you probably don’t relish the social events necessary for self-promotion.

“If I write more things, maybe more people will stumble upon my writing.” “If I sit in front of the computer a lot, maybe my friends, family and co-workers will get the hint that I’m writing my tail off and take pity on me.”

Don’t count on it, my friend.

This attitude is akin to reading a whole lot about running. But not running. The marathon itself requires running. And self-promotion, unfortunately, requires self-promotion. Some might call it bragging. But in today’s world of reality TV and blogs, we call it self-promotion.

4. Depression. By the depression stage of the game, you may be lolling around, playing computer solitaire or Angry Birds Space or reading unrelated blogs and telling yourself that it constitutes “research.”

Did you tell one person today that you’re writing a novel or have finished a novel? No? Then your work here is not done.

Remember, 92 percent of self-promotion is convincing yourself that you have something to promote.

Did you get dressed today? Really look at yourself. Be honest. Pajama pants and a tank top don’t count.

5. Acceptance. Now you are fully self-actualized, whatever the heck that means.

You are in the stage where you tell everyone you know that you are writing a novel. This is mostly so they will ask you the next time you meet, and you will be too embarrassed to admit that the last time you wrote ten words was at your Aunt Esther’s house for the family reunion five weeks ago.

Shout your self-promoting words to the rooftops! Someday, you will have fans and people who can’t wait to read your next words. Until then, become the person you yourself most want to read.

And find someone other than your mom to help you spread the word about your writing. She remembers, in vivid detail, all the years you made her wash your clothes and then got mad at her when the burgundy dye ran on your favorite sweater. And you got annoyed with her.

Sorry, Mom…. did I tell you that I’m writing a novel? Let me tell you about it…