The Art of Self-Promotion
My name is David Chitty. I’m the internationally best-selling author of the Fang Series. It has been said that I’m better than Shakespeare.
Self-promotion is one of the most important things that you, as a writer, can do to get your work read by the masses. Whether you’re writing articles for newspapers or magazines, trying to sell short stories, independently publishing novels or you’ve got a 15-book deal with Harper Collins, promotion must always be on your agenda.
Unfortunately, unless you’re the next JK Rowling or James Patterson, nobody’s going to pour money into your marketing campaign. So that means it’s up to you to promote yourself. How do you go about doing that?
Self-promotion is all about how you sell yourself. I started this by telling you that I’m the author the Fang Series, but I could have said I’ve sold between seven and eight hundred copies of my books and have had approximately twenty five thousand downloads across the board because the majority of my books are free.
Which of those statements drew your attention? Which one made you think, “I might listen to this chap; he knows what he’s talking about?” I’m guessing the first.
Publishers, agents, newspapers, magazines, whomever you approach with your content gets dozens, hundreds, thousands of emails or letters a day all from people just like us. They won’t read them all. They’ll skim over it and move onto the next one. You need something to stand out amongst the crowd, something to make them stop and actually look at what you’re sending them. At that point, your content does the rest of the work for you.
I know it sounds like I’m telling you to lie your way through the door. I’m not. That’s a very easy way to get rejected, or worse. But you can be economical with the truth, and here’s how I did it.
My books have been downloaded in every continent apart from Antarctica and South America. This can all be backed up by reams of data from the company I use to publish my books, which track where the sales originated from.
For about 2 years my first three books were hovering around a ten thousand sales rank on Barnes & Noble. What that means is that I was the ten thousandth best-selling book for that time period. So I was bestselling, I’m just not upfront with the numbers.
Better than Shakespeare
This claim is harder to back up. But it has been said. I simply don’t mention that it was my five year old nephew that said it after I told him what to say and bribed him with a biscuit. Certainly an immoral claim to make, but it is true.
Obviously, these are just some basics of how to promote yourself. Do you have a website? Do you have a Facebook page and Twitter account? Get them in place and make them easy enough to find. My Twitter handle is @davidchitty1 (because some other person has @davidchitty) and my Facebook is /officialdavidchitty. They may not the best for being found, but they’re good enough for me. The purpose of this essay isn’t to go into how to build your Twitter or Facebook following; but you do really need that sort of stuff in place to promote yourself and your work.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all for the art of self-promotion. I am fortunate enough to have had some success in the indie publishing world, giving me claims and stats to back myself up. I didn’t when I started out and I did virtually no promotion. Somehow people found my work. To promote yourself you need to find something about what you do that you can highlight. Find something within your writing, within your personal history or your life and run with it. I can’t tell you what that is for you. It could be that your writing has made people physically sick—a reviewer said that mine did—it could be that you’re the child of some famous astronaut and you’re writing a novel about the faking of the moon landing. Whatever it is that you have, focus on it, expand on it and highlight it every chance that you can. Use that to get you through the door and then let your work do the rest.
© 2016 David Chitty
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.