Hi, my name is Christopher Gronlund and I have a confession: I am not at my best when it comes to online self promotion.
In person, sure! I’ll get up and speak before a large group, approach any agent or editor, or give my time to people who have read what I’ve written. All with enthusiasm and confidence.
But there’s something about the act of typing promotional things online that makes me feel like I’m a salesman in a cheap suit on a used car lot, standing in the shadow of a giant, blue inflatable gorilla in an effort to cool down before targeting my next mark.
Listening to Others
While I feel awkward promoting what I’m doing, I’m fine when others tell me what they’re up to. I love hearing what kinds of things people paint, the kinds of music they play, and the types of stories they tell. If you do nothing really creative but want to talk about your job, a hobby, or something else — sure, I’ll listen. Hell, I once listened to a fan of my writing at a comic book convention talk [in great detail] about how his cat woke him up by licking his nipples and how he licked the cat back to see how it liked being licked!
Unless you’re one of those people who are always on (the online marketing version of the used car salesman), I will listen to you promote the things in your life that you love.
But for some reason, the moment I type, “Hey, check this out,” on Twitter, I feel like I’m a mouth breather who’s just eaten an onion sandwich and has decided to crowd your personal space.
These Things I Know
I’ve read about all the ways I’m supposed to promote myself online as a writer. I’ve looked at how others outside of writing have promoted themselves online. I’m a member of the Dallas/Ft. Worth WordPress Meetup group, where more than a few members make a comfortable living by promoting themselves online. So I know what I’m supposed to do.
But many of those “supposed to” rules and suggestions run counter to my personality.
What works for some may not work for others.
A Different Way
I’m fine with taking my time with things. Instead of being like the mighty Shawn Kupfer — who is a much better juggling writer than I’ll ever be — I tend to work on one thing at a time. More than that, I’m fine taking my time with that one thing.
I know I’d make more money if I actually did something with a genre series I started, cranking books out and getting them online as quickly as I can. But I grew up looking to writers like John Irving as the ideal; not Jonathan Kellerman. (Please do not take this as a slam against those who work with genre fiction. I am quite fond of genre fiction as a medium. Genre fiction has served more than a few good friends well, and I’m incredibly happy for them all. They are my inspiration for sticking to what I love in the hope I will one day achieve their levels of success.)
This is a blog about writing, work, and life. I look to each facet to improve the other. In the jobs I’ve had, I come in quiet and slow and end up appreciated far more than those who believe the louder they are, the quicker they will climb the ladder. In life, I am shy when meeting new people, but that slow pace in getting to really know people has left me a very happy person, with more than a few friendships going back to first grade.
I don’t mind taking a different way to get there — even if it takes a bit longer than many of those around me.
The One Rule I Know
In all the lists I’ve read about online promotion is a recurring rule I agree with: be yourself.
Shawn Kupfer is Shawn Kupfer, just like Mark Finn is Mark Finn. Read either of their blogs, and you’ll get a damn good feeling for who they are. They are different people than Paul Lamb, who is different than Lisa Eckstein.
You are you; I am who I am.
As long as we’re true to who we are and let that come out in the things we write, we stand a chance at something more — even if it takes a bit longer to get there for some of us.