What we sometimes miss in the ubiquitous phrase “self-promotion” is that because we’re promoting ourselves, we have to be just as appealing—and sometimes more so—than our products. In a rather interesting exercise, I made a list of the last ten novels I bought and tried to determine what had influenced me to buy them. At least three of the purchases were made as the result of my favorable impressions of the authors.
Media consultant Laura Holka, producer of The Pat McMahon Show, reminds us:
Never underestimate the power of “Holy Moly—I love that gal” energy and chemistry! Remember when Sally Field won the Best Actress Oscar and said “You really like me, you really, really like me” and everyone laughed and thought she was corny? She may have been a bit over the top but no one forgot her. She was so genuine and appealing that people remember that acceptance speech to this day. Likeability—I can’t stress the importance enough.
Marketing should rarely, if ever, be focused on the seller; good marketing is all about benefiting the consumer in some way and convincing him that your project—your book—is going to make his life better. Stating the obvious truth that his purchase of your book will certainly make your life better isn’t going to make the sale. You have to go the extra mile; present a cheerful, helpful face to the public; be willing to communicate with people; answer questions; and offer encouragement. It isn’t enough to post a big ol’ grinning snapshot on your website or blog. You have to be genuine. You have to be selfless, kind, and generous. People remember that. People will like you for it. And, when the time comes to support you by buying your work, they’ll be more than happy to do you a favor in return.
In a wonderful list of reminders from a recent blog post on The Seekers, novelist Elizabeth White didn’t pull any punches:
When people ask me for my number one suggestion for how to break into publishing—which happens quite regularly—they might be surprised at my answer…. So what is it?
Well, it’s what your mama told you when you skipped off to the backyard swingset with your little friends as a preschooler.
And I’m not talking about the fake-smile kissing-up kind of nice.
We all know that even though it takes fewer muscles to smile than to scowl, smiling still requires a little practice! Professional likableness is no different. Once you get into the habit of putting a little extra dab of kindness and cheer into your communications, it becomes the easiest thing in the world—and the rewards are boundless. Doors don’t get slammed in the faces of polite visitors anywhere near as often as they do rude intruders!
As much as some of us might like to live in tranquil solitude, typing away at our latest masterpiece from the seclusion of our ivory towers, we’re not likely to sell many books that way. Connecting with readers is the single most important step on the road to literary success. No readers = no book sales = no writing career. Australian-based author, speaker and business consultant Joanna Penn makes the convincing plea to use our greatest marketing tool—our own (presumably exceedingly likable) personalities—to pull in our audiences:
Have the courage to be different, and to be yourself. Behave as you wish, write what you want and not what society wants you to write. Follow your own path and you will find your own form of charisma. You will attract people who are interested in what you are writing. Be passionate in your interests and your business and writing life. Emotions count more than logic. Engage people with what you are saying and they will be passionate fans for your work.