Not a Pushy Broad

I have a friend who describes herself as a “pushy broad,” meaning that she’s not afraid to stand up for herself, to take the initiative, ask the questions, get right to the bottom of things. While some people are sometimes put off by her approach, the undeniable truth is that she usually gets whatt she wants in the end. And I’m pretty sure she’s not one of those people who spend their time cuddling up to her if onlys at the end of the day.

With my friend in mind, I’ve been thinking more about the topic of self-promotion and what all it entails. I’m really not a pushy person by any means. It’s just the way I am. Does it work to my disadvantage? To be honest, most times I would have to say, yes. I know there are opportunities I miss out on simply because I don’t jump in with both feet and say, “Here I am.” I’m not the sort to push myself onto others. Make no mistake I’m more than willing to do anything I’m asked to especially for the sake of my book.

I know authors who have no qualms about walking into bookstores and asking to sign copies of their book that are in stock. Coles stores here have an “Author Signed” sticker they put on signed copies of books. People like to buy signed copies for themselves and for others. Booksellers have told me that it works very well as a marketing tool.

I’m always agreeable to do anything that is asked of me. If I’m asked in a particular store to sign books I’m all for it. In fact, I consider it a real honour to even be asked although I have yet to walk into a store and asked to sign copies of my book that is in stock.

Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with doing that, I’m just saying it’s not something I think I could ever see myself doing. It’s not me, not who I am. (But who knows further done the road I might have an entirely different story to tell.) Nor have I ever sent my book to be reviewed. It is true my publisher has done this on my behalf but I’ve never initiated it. To me it seems akin to asking someone what they think of my book, and as I’ve mentioned here before I never do that either. On the other hand if someone initiates a review of my work that feels different. In fact, it’s wonderful and so, so appreciated!

Posting things on my blog about my book feels a bit different to me. This blog is my online home, the place where people can find me if they so choose. You can choose to read my posts or not, choose to comment and let me know you’re out there, or not. You are free to totally ignore me if you choose. But I hope you won’t. 🙂

I know we’ve discussed self-promotion on this blog before, and most writers agree that a certain amount is required. Most also agree that they don’t necessarily enjoy that aspect of this profession.

I’m wondering now, of the writers out there, are you the type of person who could walk into a bookstore and ask to sign books? Do you/could you send copies of your book for review? In the way of self-promotion how far would you be willing to go? In other words, would you describe yourself as a “pushy broad?”

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25 Comments

  1. Honestly, when that time comes, I will do whatever it takes to market my novels and myself. I’m in marketing and PR, which helps, but it’s so important for writers to put themselves out there. Publishers are too busy to do much for us, and they tend to concentrate on their A-list authors.

    Being a full-time novelist is my dream, so I will push aside my modesty and my occasional shyness and do whatever it takes. However, I will NOT constantly post “buy my book” and “read my reviews!” on Facebook and Twitter, cause those people annoy the hell out of me. 😉

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    • It sounds as though this is something you definitely know a lot about, Holli. I’m sure your background will prepare you for the future.

      There is a line that can be crossed when it comes to self promotion. I’ve read tweets where the authors is doing just that, telling people to buy their book which they claim is terrififc. It’s a bit too much for me.

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  2. 1959duke

     /  March 3, 2011

    Thats a tough one especially now with bookstores closing right and left.

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  3. Yes, and I’ve done it many times! Actually, about 98 percent of the time, the bookstore folks are delighted. I don’t ask until I check the shelves to see that the book is there, and then my husband and I haul the titles up to the info desk and ask permission to sign. (Sometimes there are none. In that case, I introduce myself, leave a business card, tell them about my books and ask for a store card. I often buy a book, too, so they have a positive feeling about me.)

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    • I kind of like that approach, Sue and I do know authors who do this. Maybe it gets easier over time or maybe it takes a special kind of person. I’m not sure.

      Business cards are a great idea!

      I think it’s also important to help out the bookstore by buying books.

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  4. syr ruus

     /  March 3, 2011

    You spend months, maybe years, writing your book. Agonizing, rewriting, doubting this or that. Finally it’s finished (at least for now). You send out a query to the few publishers who still accept unsolicited manuscripts. You wait a year. Maybe two. Then comes the wonderful day when one publisher asks to see the entire manuscript. Hooray! you say. You’ve made it. In another year or so, you hear from them again. Sorry, they say, but this just does not fit in with our current publishing program. Good luck elsewhere. But you don’t give up. Sometimes you get an encouraging comment to keep you going. Then, miraculously, an e-mail arrives. Your work has been accepted! You have finally become an AUTHOR. Your book is published! There is a book launch for your friends and family. A few reviews, if you’re lucky. Some signings, if your publisher arranges them. But hey — it’s all about the writing, after all. Please, let me get on with it. I’ve got the next book, and the next one, and one after that in me. I’m a writer. You’re the bookseller. You published it. You sell it! Thank you.

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    • I take that as a “no” to my question, Syr. 😉

      It seems to me that it’s a joint effort, authors, publishers and booksellers. I remember my daughter making mention that it hardly seemed fair the amount of money an author made from the sale of books when there wouldn’t even be a book if it wasn’t for us.

      They say life isn’t fair. I think maybe this is one of those examples. In a perfect world we could write it, do all the work necessary up until the time it goes to print and then step back, concentrate on our next brilliant piece of work… That’s a thought many of us might like to savour.

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  5. I’m not pushy. In fact, I’m a social wallflower. But I think I’d easily walk into a bookstore as an author and ask the person in charge if he/she would like me to sign copies of my book that they may have in stock. After all, the bookstore has invested in the book, at least shelf space if nothing more. A signed copy is probably worth more than a blank one, so why not help them out by adding value to their stock. 🙂 Blessings to you, Laura…

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    • While I don’t describe myself as pushy, I don’t mind getting out and meeting people, doing public readings that sort of thing. I like being around people, hearing their stories, getting to know them. That part is fun. 🙂

      I see your reasoning about this, that our signing books help with sales but I do know that some bookstore owners don’t particularily like this. Books go out on consignment and once that book is signed it can’t be returned of it doesn’t sell.

      I guess there are all different ways to look at this

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      • That does shine a different light on the subject. This is a definite drawback on having the author sign the book in advance. Thank you for enlightening me. 🙂

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  6. Abigail Sharpe

     /  March 3, 2011

    I’m not pushy, but I get things done. Usually by smiling and being charming. *grin*

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  7. Always great discussions here, Laura. Here’s where I come from:

    I write fulltime as a freelance journalist, and have two books out now (and thank you again for all your support!). I give workshops, talks on gardening, do a little garden consulting/coaching, take the photos that accompany most of my work including my book…and spend a certain amount of time marketing myself. It has to be done, because I’m self employed, and the work isn’t going to come to me, or the sales or the reviews or the talks, unless I put myself out there to let people know what I can do; then for backup, I have clients, editors, etc who write glowing testimonials about what I do, which also helps.
    We have to think about why we write. We write to get our words out there, and if we write a book or an article, we want people to read them, buy the book or the paper or the magazine that we’re in…and if we don’t tell others what we do, how will they know?
    So I do what I have to do to make a living–and I DO make a living–but I also like to give back and encourage/promote other writer friends too. In fact, I like to do that even more because then it’s not about me. For all there’s a lot of ‘I’s in this comment, it’s really important to me to help other writers get their work out there. So it’s complicated. But what isn’t, in our ‘craft and sullen art”?

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    • I’m so glad that you make a living from your writing, Jodi. I think we are often lead to believe that just isn’t possible especially in Canada. So kudos to you. I also think that perhaps some writers are under the impression the work does come to some and that opportunities are constantly just popping up from out of the blue. So I’m glad you also dispelled that myth.

      I think most times it is our own insecurities that makes us hold back and you’re right we do want our words to reach as many people as possible. It is why we publish what we write.

      As someone who does this for a living you’ve brought a lot of insight into the conversation. Thanks so much.

      You are also one of the most supportive writers I’ve encountered and we all appreciate it. These things are definitely noticed. Your sincerity come shining through. 🙂

      I’ve got to say I find it much more easy to promote someone other than myself which I think is the case with most people.

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  8. I don’t think I could ever ask a bookstore if I could sign my books. Wish I could, but that’s just me. Because I self-published I have definitely sent my books out for review (and so far been glad I did) and also out to people that I think could help me get my book into their school or library. I can do all that ‘long distance’ rather than face to face. I guess I’m much pushier in print than in person.

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    • I’m thinking I couldn’t do that, Heather, but you know what maybe somewhere down the road I’ll change that attitude of mine, or maybe not..LOL Hmmm It might depend upon the circumstances.

      Long distance is much easier. Face to face leaves us feeling so vulnerable. Still, I think all those things would come easier with time.

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  9. I’m not an assertive person, but I can do all of the above. It started off as a very awkward me stuttering, pleading even. But as time went by, I became more confident and was able to use my matter-of-fact voice, instead of that mousy one that seemed to beg for forgiven. Thinking about those days still makes me laugh.

    Today, I can go into any store, check first to see if my book’s in stock, then ask the clerk if she would like me to sign copies.

    I think it’s all in your approach. I always have a friendly smile on my face, so that whomever I’m speaking to knows I’m not there to make their life harder. Not once has they said no thanks. Instead I get back what I give: a big smile. In fact, I’ve even made a few friends.

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    • Good point. I’m sure this all does get easier over time, and I’d venture to guess that once we crossed that bridge the first time it would only get easier. The same way it gets easier when we do public readings.

      Thanks so much, Joylene. It’s good to hear from people who have done this and to read how they approach it.

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  10. Ok, so I’m not a published author, but I’m going to pitch in here.

    I don’t know where you live, but where I am, our bookstores thrive on “Local Author” stuff. I am sure that if I walked in and offered to sign a book that they would be delighted (and maybe even embarrassed that they had not called me first.) So, take a walk or a drive one spring day and make their day!

    If you just can’t do it that way, take a friend and let her (after you’ve found your book on their shelf) approach them and say … “That woman over there, she’s Laura Best! She and I are good friends…I notice you have her book on her shelf, maybe she’d sign it for you!” Ethel and Lucy style…but effective none the less!

    And if you live in a big city, I don’t see the harm in doing it yourself. They will either love you — in which case you will get to sign the book and you might even stop in their establishment again, building a relationship. Or they will imply your need to “get lost” — in which case you will and you’ll never have to see them again. No skin off your nose, I’d say.

    I’d think that a day a week or bi-weekly doing PR would have lasting, long-term benefits.

    Send me a book. I haven’t read it yet. I’ll review it. 🙂

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    • Hi Linda, Thanks for visiting and for offering your opinion. The more opinions the better, I always say.

      I’m here in rural Nova Scotia, although I occasionally have reason to visit the big city.

      I like your idea about bringing a friend along when visiting a bookstore. I guess I’m a bit reserved because this is all quite new to me. Hopefully, as time goes by I’ll get more comfortable with it.

      Thanks for your offer to do a review. I’ll contact you by email to get your info.

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  11. I’m such an introvert, but when I ventured into owning my own business I learned basic marketing out of necessity. Promoting our books falls into the same pattern — don’t do it and no one will find you unless your product is so exceptional that it sells itself. I don’t have a published novel yet so I can’t say for sure what I would do, but I suspect I’d be finding a reasonably comfortable mid-ground, smiling on the outside as I approach people, but cringing apologetically on the inside.

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    • I think that for each of us that “mid-ground” you speak of will vary just as we all have different levels of comfort. That said, stepping outside our comfort zone is something we should all do from time to time even is we are cringing beneath that surface smile.

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  12. As usual, I got busy and didn’t get back here til now, but I have something else to add which might help.
    Laura, you’ve met me, and many people have seen me speak, (and alas, others will see me tomorrow and Friday on the tube, etc)…and I come across as gregarious, outgoing, extroverted…

    when in fact I am very much an introvert. Seriously. Briggs and Myer scale classic almost 100 percentile INFP, and have been classified thusly for well over 25 years. I am happiest by myself, or in the background watching, unless I can be helping someone. But to do what I do, I put on a coat of personality that makes me appear to be an extrovert. Because people are only people, and they aren’t going to eat me for breakfast, and they want to hear what I say–or what you say, or what you write–and that’s how I deal with it.

    I’d rather listen to what YOU have to say than what I have to say, which is why I encourage so much discussion after my talks, or ask questions in my blog, etc. etc. Learning from others is awesome–and encouraging others continues to be the reason I WILL get up in front of groups or cameras or microphones to rattle on about plants or books or writing…:-)

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    • You do make it look easy, Jodi and of course you’ve got a great subject to talk about. I agree that people often don’t realize what’s going on inside us. The truth of it is, if we don’t help promote our books they won’t sell. People won’t buy a book if they don’t know about it.

      I’ll be glued to the tube tomorrow night. I was excited to hear you’d be on Live at 5. Can’t see you on BT-Poverty vision, you understand.lol

      Remember to keep an emergency Mars handy..At least for afterward. 😉

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