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Don’t write a book.

I know a few people who wrote books and feel bad about promoting them.

They tell me, “I hate self promoting. It feels so cheesy, like I’m annoying people with so many promotions about my book.”

My answer to them is always the same, “OK, next time don’t write a book. Write a diary. It’s a lot easier and you don’t have to promote it at all.”

Harsh? Maybe.

True? Definitely.

If you wrote something you want on a shelf you better promote it.

If you want something you want on your nightstand, you don’t have to promote it.

Think of it this way, if you were a plumber and a customer said, “Can you fix my toilet?” You wouldn’t reply, “I don’t like to talk about what I do or how I can help people. It feels too self promotional.”

Instead you’d tell them exactly how you can fix their toilet because you’re a good plumber!

Are there ways to be too promotional and hurt your audience? Without a doubt. We all have friends that promote their dream so often they alienate everyone. This happens so often in publishing I’ve started coaching other authors on how to market books. Why am I doing this? Because I learned a lot when my last book hit the New York Times Bestsellers list. Turns out I’m a good plumber.

If you believe in your business, book, dream, etc. you better start promoting it.

If you think it’s something that will help people, quit denying that help out of some sort of false humility.

Otherwise, get busy on your diary.

Question:
Do you ever feel guilty when you self promote?

About Author

Jon Acuff
Jon Acuff

182 Comments

  1. Jessica

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today! I do that all the time – now I am realizing how silly that is.

  2. Jon, I cannot even tell you how much this spoke to me!

    Such a struggle for people pleaser, don’t rock the boat girl in me.

    You put it so clearly.

    Seriously. Thank.You.

  3. I inevitably feel guilty when I self-promote. But… I suppose you’re right.

  4. I hate self-promotion. Hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it! More than anything, I want someone else to just do it for me. I can tell you how wonderful my friends are and how amazing others are, but to tell you that my work is just as wonderful or amazing seems so impossible.

    But … I’m learning. I still hate it, but I’ve written enough diaries in my life.

  5. Holy. Crap. (Am I allowed to say “crap” here?) This is what I needed to hear. Thanks a gazillion for saying this out loud. Or in print. I needed this swift little kick in the tushie.

  6. Jordan

    Once a friend told me i was conceited. I said no way! Just because I am totally ok with who I am & promote my strengths (like you would in any job interview, right? ) doesn’t mean I don’t have weaknesses… I am just as aware of what they are and use that knowledge to my advantage as well.

  7. So good! You are absolutely right! Thanks for the reminder!

  8. If you think it’s something that will help people, quit denying that help out of some sort of false humility.

    That’s excellent ::: laugh :::

  9. Ahh!
    I totally need to think of myself as a blogging Mario or Luigi!
    Somewhere along the way I got this idea that self promotion was really bad, and while I have been trying to overcome that obstacle, it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be.

  10. Does it make me sound arrogant if my answer is no? I’m an extrovert who loves talking, so self promotion kind of fits like a comfy sweater.

  11. Lauren Shepherd

    I SO needed this…I am just about to start National Novel Writing Month in November, 50,000 words in a month. It has always been hard to self promote, because I feel like I am boasting. I needed to hear this because it is true, if I don’t promote, it does not get read. Thanks, Jon!

  12. I think there’s a world of difference between ‘self promotion’ & offering solutions. I’ve seen more than a few folks promote themselves instead of the service they provide. You nailed it though, if you have created a solution to a problem you have a responsibility to promote it.

  13. Self-promotion is such a tricky thing. I don’t want it to be about ME so much as what I have to offer that may help others. If I’ve written something – a blog post, a poem, whatever – that can help someone else, it should be part of my job to get it to the people who may need it. The hard part is believing in myself and my writing enough to believe that it actually WILL help someone, and THAT is what (ideally should) give me the courage to get past the guilt of promoting in the first place.

    • Jen

      I also find believing in myself to be difficult, but I know now that I’m only writing because God has hounded me relentlessly into doing so. I’m not doing it on my own power, so I want to do the best I can with it. Which includes marketing as much as I can.

  14. I have in the past, and find myself thinking thoughts of the past…I don’t like selling…but I have learned over the past 3 years blogging, I am always selling something.

    Ideas…words…etc…they’re all sold in some manner.

    I have discovered the best way to beat this “I don’t like to sell” mentality is to just keep writing. To keep publishing. To keep pursuing. Otherwise, I will never be ready to publish the book I am writing right now.

  15. Marketing is what I do, but when it comes to promoting ME versus my employer, I hate it. It makes me uncomfortable beyond words. There’s almost no way I can do it without feeling like I’m bragging, even when I know that it’s something that just HAS to be done.

    • Patrick:
      It is amazing to read your response. I coached a running program geared towards positive self image and found that sometimes we struggle with the line between bragging and positive self esteem. I know I battle it often. One day our lesson was to write out our strengths and the question came “Isn’t that bragging?” I gained great knowledge from my own response that day which caused me to write the following insert in my “diary” – http://simplegirlrevelations.blogspot.com/2013/09/bragging-or-confidence.html

    • Angela

      I agree completely.

    • Ditto for me!
      It’s a big enough challenge for me in print (LOVE promoting others though…), but promoting myself, and in-person is tough.

      BUT… I believe that God wants us to live honestly, with Him, others & ourselves. If we can be honest with our faults, we should be honest talking about our abilities! Long lesson to learn, however 🙂

      • Hadn’t thought of it quite that way before, Laura. I guess in some ways, if it’s easier for us to be aware of our faults than our strengths, we’re in a better position to correct them. But it definitely gives us a skewed idea of who we are.

  16. I don’t write a diary because I don’t have the discipline to write. Instead I apply myself daily to ensuring I consume more than my recommended minimum amount of sugar. We each have our own battles, but I’d like to think I’m really doing well with mine. While you enjoy your place on the NYT best seller list, I’ll prepare myself for the chocolate aisle 🙂

  17. I wrestled with this very thing, once I got myself out there, I began to really enjoy meeting people, as well as talk about my book. To me, it was made a little easier by the face that I wrote a children’s book. If I started to feel intimidated or self-serving, I just remembered that I was also promoting reading. I finally had to resolve that if I were given the passion of writing, then I should be passionate about promoting.

  18. Yes, me, too… you read the part of my mind I started, and then finished it. THANK YOU!!

  19. Tough words I needed today. Funny how that works out, huh? I’m in week one of a Kickstarter campaign to write a book. A very cool book, an important book, a book that will help people. Know how many updates and reposts I’ve done so far? Zero. Kind of like your zero day but not cool. Not cool at all. Gulp. Time to get over it, and do what needs done. Thanks, Jon, and congrats on the new beginning!

  20. I don’t hate promoting myself. I rather enjoy it. I know that sounds narcissistic, but I like sharing my work with people and getting their feedback.

    • Jon Acuff

      And people love your work Wes! Great stuff!

      • Jen

        And there’s the rub! People who enjoy marketing are good at it and tend to do better with their writing, since it comes across as natural and a part of who they are and what they do. However, it can be learned to some extent as well, thankfully.

  21. Preach it! If you won’t promote it, then who will? I got several “nugggets” from this article. Thanks for all you do and for inspiring people. Look forward to seeing where your new venture takes you. FYI: I really enjoy your Instagram posts, you are a posting machine!!

  22. It really depends on what I am promoting. If I have to force it into a conversation or speak of it every 10 seconds , then yes because chances are I am acting out of obligation rather than passion. If it comes naturally and I am truly excited about it, I never feel as if it is promoting. I would create even if it sat on my nightstand because every word written or activity done is another ounce of experience gained.

  23. Salanna

    It’s definitely hard for me.
    What you’re saying makes sense though. If I knew someone who had written a book but didn’t promote it, I’d likely conclude that it’s not worth reading. If even the author doesn’t feel like it’s worth telling people about, then I’m going to find something else to read.

  24. Ross

    I love the job I have, but I get so many side project requests that I am starting a side business. Apparently people think I’m skilled enough and they like my work enough to approach me. For me, the hard line to draw is that alienating self-promotion (I’m good with normal self-promotion as in “what I do can help you/meet your needs and I do it well”) versus the “humble brag” that is self-deprecating. I’m guilty of it but I hate hearing people say it who are good at what they do. I rest easy in knowing that when people see my success, I can know it came from nothing I did, but my “source” (however corny you want to take that).

  25. I have the same problem promoting my blog! Do I think it’s something that will “help” people?? NOPE!! But it will make people laugh and who among us couldn’t use more laughter??? 🙂 I’ll have to remember these words and start promoting a little more.

  26. Lisa

    I know for me it has a little to do with not thinking I am WORTHY of being recognized for my ideas and/or thoughts. The whole “who am I to say/think/write that” mentality that haunts some of us folks. I guess it comes down to raising our own ‘healthy deserve-level’…..which feels scary. I fear that self-promotion might equate to hotsy-totsy-ism. It may seem silly but it is very real…….or IS it??

  27. love the insight here, jon. i’m one of those who is not a big fan of being sold to, so i’m always cognizant of my own mentality when i’m promoting something of mine. the biggest thing with self-promotion is: if you whole-heartedly believe in what you’re promoting, it shouldn’t (and won’t) feel slimy.

  28. Jim

    Truth bombs galore today buddy! I think the hard part isn’t the self promotion–the hard part is figuring out how you do it in your own way. Personality tests and Strengthsfinder tests have helped me A LOT in this area.

    Also, the whole content/promotion ratio–that’s hard too. Don’t want to overwhelm. But the one saving grace is this—you keep experimenting and always keep improving.

  29. I used to. Now, I’m more of the mind that if what I’m doing has at least the potential to help people folks should hear about it. And it’s interesting, as I’m seeing more of my stuff be shared by people I don’t know. It’s the beginning of a fun ride, I think.

  30. I’m in the middle of editing my book with my publisher right now and I’ve been dreading the marketing process. As an introvert, self promotion is miserable.

    But I believe in my story.

    So, I better start believing in the necessity of promoting it. Thanks, Jon

  31. To answer your question: Yes! I’ve written two books, and they just sit. I’ve sold them to all our friends and family, but when I did book fairs and book signings and such, I sold maybe 2 at each. I finally just gave up promoting because nothing was happening. I stopped regularly blogging, tweeting, posting on my FB author page – it was so time consuming, and I don’t think it sold a thing. So for now, they’re just sitting there, in a box, waiting for something, but I’m not sure what that something is.

  32. Angela

    I recently finished graduate school and am now “hunting” for a job. And, I hate everything about it. I hate having to promote or brag on myself, but I kinda feel like I have to do that during this process. I hate being in the spotlight. Any suggestions?

  33. Jon! Great words! Question though: Do you think this works for author’s who are just starting out and maybe don’t have a book done yet? I’ve…uhhhh…I’ve got a friend (yeah, that’s it!) who is curious about starting to write professionally.

    Thanks for helping us dreamers!

  34. So true.

    I think the key is writing a book you believe in, and not just writing a book to write a book. If you think it will actually benefit people, you can’t help but talk about it.

  35. JP

    That analogy made so much sense. Love it when you boil it down to something so digestible it makes me feel like, “Why didn’t I get this before?” Keep the good stuff coming!

  36. Yep. Especially for good churchy girls, who are taught that being humble means hiding your little light under a bushel. *gasp!* Well, churchy people of the past, I see your bushel and I raise you one Mjölnir to shatter that lie to pieces.

    Besides, it’s not about promoting me. It’s about sharing a story, a message, a certain HOPE that only comes when you must take your little light through the darkest of places and know that only God can walk you through and you will come out the other side, still burning bright.

  37. Love this Jon! The kicker (at least in Youth Ministry) is that a lot of guys think they are experts and self promote, but in reality they have no credibility.

    When do you become an expert?

  38. Um, #halesyes. I was just feeling weird about posting that Hawks & Rock was finally live and accepting clients when I saw this post. Fate? Destiny? Coincidence con queso? I THINK SO! Thanks for the reminder. I’m good at what I do. I provide people with an awesome service that helps make their brand more awesomer. Why should I feel weird about promoting that? You’re so much cheaper than therapy, Jon.

  39. I’ve definitely had a paradigm shift since I started blogging 3 years ago. Are there people who OVER promote? Sure, but there are so many others who will never do it because of a false humility. I’ve told them that if they really believe in their art, they wouldn’t be ashamed to shout it from the rooftops! Just, you know…not ALL day. Nobody likes that guy.

  40. I struggle with self-promotion, mostly because I’d rather be writing or brainstorming ideas about writing or coming up with a new project or… well, you get the idea. Why is it in the creative fields, it feels cheesy to self-promote, but you wouldn’t expect any other business to not promote itself? Yet, even knowing that in my head, I still feel weird about it. I feel even weirder when people tell me they like something I wrote. I had to come up with a response so I didn’t hem and haw around like an idiot. 🙂 Thanks for this post – just what I needed to read today!

  41. I have moments when I feel guilty about self promotion, but I believe strongly that my writing can help people and then I feel guilty NOT promoting it. I think having a bit of a guilt gland is a decent way to keep the promotion to a healthy level.

    You’re totally right about other industries. Nothing wrong with promoting good content. And nothing wrong making money on your content.

    No diary for me.

  42. I love this. I always encourage people to be their own CEO’s when it comes to publishing. Why would anyone want to support something you yourself are afraid to support?

  43. I make my living promoting others on the interwebz. Also, I’m not exactly shy. You’d think I’d have this on lock.

    So much easier to do it for others than it is for myself.

  44. I used to feel guilty when “self promoting” until I realized that what I am promoting is not my self – it is God (totally don’t mean this as a Jesus Juke) but God has called me to share my story, to share the hope He has given me and NOT promoting it would be doing a great disservice to what He has called me to.

    (I’ve even resorted to “begging” people to follow me on Twitter or on my FB page because I know how important social media presence and once my book is ready for publication – I need that social media presence, so yes I will beg people to follow me in the social media world!)

  45. Carisa

    YEP! I tried to launch a craft publication last year and I had to stop because I just didn’t do well with self promoting. I kinda wish I had read this a year ago! Now I realize I shouldn’t have felt bad about it. I know I still will have a problem with self promoting if I ever try to do anything like that or similar again. Maybe I should stick with the diary. LOL

  46. Yes! I am currently struggling with that. Not with a book, but I am trying to raise funding for a ministry co-led by several college students (if only we were not broke). But I feel guilty promoting the fund-raising page on social media, and I feel even worse when hardly anyone has expressed any interest in it. Not sure what I should do now. Do I push harder or do I let things unfold naturally? I don’t want to pressure anyone into giving money, but I am disappointed by the nonchalant, disinterested attitude I’ve been getting.

    • Beth

      I just taught a class on Noah and how he preached for 120 years and built the ark with NO response. Noah challenges us to keep walking with the Lord and keep our faith alive, even when we aren’t seeing immediate results. Hit your knees and pray and God will provide in His perfect timing. And don’t give up…keep promoting! Just let the Holy Spirit guide you on how to promote. 🙂

  47. I used to hate self promoting until I started the adoption process and realized that if I didn’t I would never raise the funds I needed. I just try to temper it with lots of gratitude and first asking people to pray. Because prayer is powerful and God can use the tiniest bit of whatever you have to accomplish what He wills.

  48. Yes! Love this. BTW, have you read my book? Simple Trust, Simple Prayers http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Trust-Prayers-Life-Changing-Journals/dp/1616382759/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1380501172&sr=8-1&keywords=cindy+mallin Yes, I wrote it, but it’s changing people’s lives all over the world! (See, that was easy…)

  49. Since I have trouble telling my own family when I’ve written a post or article, I can not even imagine promoting a whole book. Actually, just the idea is curling me into an introverted ball of stress. This might actually be one of the major things holding me back getting serious about writing.

  50. Beth

    I needed to hear this. My husband and I are praying together about opening a shelter for women who are abused and their children. I know fundraising will be important and I HATE asking people for money. I’m going to have to put my false humility aside and focus on how the money will help so many people and how passionate I am about this mission. I’ve just recently started following you…so glad I did! Thx!

  51. Yes, I feel this way right now! I just released a new song, and I’ve been promoting it pretty aggressively through all my social media platforms–most of which post to my Facebook profile. I’m concerned about aggravating my friends with this, but I don’t have too many other options for promotion, particularly on a limited budget.

    By the way, speaking of promotion, here’s some info about my new song, which includes a link to preview it…. 😉 https://morgantrotter.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/you-are-my-delight-a-project-to-support-shelters-for-battered-women/

  52. Great post. Unless you’re self-pubbing for a select few, you’ll be marketing–whether self-pubbed or traditionally pubbed. The nice thing is that much of marketing can be done online these days–so no huge flight fees, etc. I’m self-pubbing November first, and in an interview recently, I said this: “I constantly run the risk of ticking people off with too much “Look at my book!” But I’d rather be out there a bit too much than be invisible. As a self-pubber, I’m the biggest advocate for my book, so I’m going to market the snot out of it. Pardon the expression.”

  53. Paige Gordon

    Dang Jon! Way to hit the nail on the head! Glad to hear your voice again man.
    I’ve definitely been praying for you and your family in this time of transition. Keep on being awesome!

  54. I think part of the issue is around the term “self-promote”. Yes, as an author, to an extent you are selling “you” as part of the book buying experience, it’s far from the whole deal. If you have more of a hobby as Jon said, you are in business. You are promoting a business/product/service, not just yourself.

    Are we supposed to be humble and not braggers? Of course. But bragging, overselling, being pushy or obnoxious, is not what selling is about when done the right way.

    Part of the issue I think too with marketing and selling happens when we try to do it at the wrong place or the wrong time. For example, if someone has asked what you do for a living or what you do besides your regular work, it’s OKAY to say I’m writing a book or I just published a book. When you force the info into a conversation, when you don’t even know if the person is interested in knowing about it, that’s when it becomes awkward. There are also plenty of other times where a message is welcomed. Find those as much as possible and it becomes much easier to share what you have with those who need it.

  55. I do. It is funny because the people who love me that most are the ones I hate self promoting to the most, yet they are the ones I know and have to start with. Lots to learn, listening ears are on. Amy

  56. I struggle because the “diary” I wrote was a book about my son’s death… well really about his journey to freedom in Christ before his death. I believe with all my heart that God called me to write the book, and I have struggled with the belief that if He wanted to promote it, He could… because I did a little promoting in the beginning (copyright @2011). I guess I feel like I do enough that if He was going to open it up to a bigger audience, He would. My concern is the balance… the subject is too precious to me… how could I ever misuse/abuse a platform such as my son’s death? If you could speak to that aspect, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

  57. Thanks for this Jon. I have written several books and have not really promoted them, I always used the excuse that I will sell them at my speaking engagements but the truth of the matter is I just don’t want to be that guy that over promotes… That being said, I have written some really good books that could really help creatives and the people who love them. Case in point is my guided sketch book 1001: A Sketch Odyssey http://www.amazon.com/1001-Sketch-Odyssey-designed-creativity/dp/148252886X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382378561&sr=8-1&keywords=1001%3A+a+sketch+odyssey

  58. I just finished writing a book and am going to start working on getting it out there soon and I look at it this way: I’m not promoting myself but the message that God gave me. And it’s a powerful one about freedom from depression. I have no problem with telling others about it and about my book because that’s why He had me write it – to share the good news!

    It’s not about me but about the message He gave me.
    Now get to work!

  59. Well, I mostly write fiction (urban fantasy/science fantasy), so whether or not it could help someone is a difficult question to answer. Also, since it isn’t really finished (I plan to work on the second draft during NaNoWriMo this year), I don’t know HOW to promote it!

    I have the synopsis, but I don’t even know the direction to go in for promotion. (I also have kind of a low self-esteem about it; I’m ridiculously afraid of putting it out there only for it to fail horribly..)

    But, all this is why I’m ALSO going to school again for graphic design! 😀 Even if my writing flops, at least I’ll have SOMETHING artistic that’s also a viable and money-making skill!!!

  60. Thank Jon! I feel like you read my mind today. I certainly do believe in the book I wrote, or I would not have spent all that hard work writing it!

  61. When I was finishing my first book, I was really struggling with feeling “worthy” of self-promotion, and my sister Lynn said something to me that I’ll never forget and, in fact, have framed on my wall:

    “And what if we are all unworthy, and it’s just a gift of grace? Then we merely become stewards of the success, not recipients. And our responsibility is to continue to succeed and to pass that grace along. Gratitude makes all the difference.”

    Welcome back, bub.

  62. Mrs. A

    I think the reason so many people don’t like self-promotion is that we are afraid people won’t like us if we do it. We fear rejection; therefore we never take the risk of putting ourselves out there. I have struggled with this for a long time.

    I have learned that my excuses and “false humility” are no more than masks for my fear. It’s a scary thing to open yourself up to the world, to criticism, to the possibility of overwhelming success. Because after all, if we succeed, we will have to grow and expand as a person.

    But as the poster said so well, we have a responsibility to others to share our gifts. I hope the doctor or scientist who discovers the cure for cancer will not be afraid of self promotion. He or she, and the knowledge they have, are needed, and so are you.

  63. The best definition of humility I ever heard is this: Acknowledgement of the truth. If you have something that may be beneficial to others, it is only because God gave you this gift in the first place. Thus all the credit goes ultimately to Him. So remember, do not “light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket,” rather “your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt 5:15-16).

  64. I’ll be honest, I was expecting far more book promos and Amazon links in the comments section of this blog post.

  65. God’s hilarious! Couldn’t have been a more timely post from you! Just spent 6 hours in the sun on Saturday at an Expo promoting my first book. Let’s just say if it weren’t for friends and a sweet grandma , I wouldn’t have sold any. Several reasons, I think.
    1. Expo means people roaming by wanting free stuff. Gonna hit the boutiques next. People walk around with their wallets open!
    2. I wasn’t a good self-promoter. I brush off the title of author. That’s for the “real” writers. I tell them they can get the book cheaper on Amazon. Oh yes, I did! As if they’re going to remember that when they get in front of their computer.

    Thanks so much for the harsh, but true post that obviously a lot of us are working through! Have to share it with my writing class.

    And I feel “cheesy” for doing it, but it’s my first step of bold self-promotion. Here’s a link to my book. Cheaper and free shipping if you have Amazon Prime 😉

    http://www.amazon.com/Tooth-Loose-Wacky-Firsts-Volume/dp/1482069881/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382379724&sr=8-1&keywords=tooth+on+the+loose

  66. I’ve got a friend who at least to me is over the top. He’s actually pretty good, he knows his stuff, but there’s just something in the way he does his self promotion that seems to scream out “look at me, I’m brilliant.” So I think that when I have my blog posts auto-post on Facebook and then I see that showing up on my feed, I cringe a little because I don’t want to be “that guy.” There’s a fine line, I think, and the challenge is knowing where that line is and how not to cross it.

  67. So right! “If you believe in your dream, you better start promoting it.” Love that.

    Goes along w/ Michael Hyatt’s recent post on why you should get paid for what you do. If you believe that what you do/make/etc. has value for other people, you should be ready and willing to tell them about it!

  68. Whenever I feel guilt about self promoting I just think about my blog at http://www.jamesdvoigt.wordpress.com and how people should visit it and enjoy the wonderful content there. And then I feel better. 🙂

    Great post by the way. Enjoying the blog already.

    J

  69. I always feel bad about promoting myself. I like to sell products I believe in. And I believe in myself. But it just feels weird when I’m selling myself.

  70. Finishing “Start” already had this in my head but this post is the final straw! Thanks Jon.

  71. Um, this. Yes.

    I believe SO strongly in the Shine Movement, but each time I post about it, I feel like I’m annoying people with the incessant posting… but we’re trying to bring about a cultural revolution! We can’t stay silent!

    Thanks Jon!
    #cheaperthantherapy (Thanks, Melissa 😉

  72. How timely was this? I just made a comment on an Instagram photo. A lady was sharing about her journey of getting organized, tying it in with her relationship with the Lord. Well, I’ve co-authored a book about that, so I commented sharing about it. But I prefaced it with: “I hope you don’t mind my mentioning…”

    I guess I should have left off the “I hope you don’ t mind” part and just graciously make her aware of it! 🙂

  73. Of course I feel guilty! But thanks for the needed kick in the butt. It was just what I needed.

  74. In a world plagued by complacency and apathy, I find it interesting and exciting when people promote books, music, businesses etc. The simple fact that someone has decided to CREATE something to add value to the masses sparks my interest. Even if their product, service or idea isn’t any good.

  75. This is so relevant to me as a singer/songwriter, too. I write and sing my songs because I truly feel that people need to hear them – but then I’m like “well, who am I to tell people they should listen to ME” – I was going to comment that it’s even harder than promoting your own book because at least that’s a concrete object. But no, it’s really not that different at all.

    Thanks for the challenge, Jon! Now I just have to figure out how much is enough without being too much…

    • Jon Acuff

      Thanks for chiming in Alice. This definitely does apply to musicians and artists and all sorts of folks.

  76. Self-promotion can definitely be perceived as arrogant and self-centered. Promoting your content, materials, tools, books, videos, on the other hand, is helping people find out about them. You want to reach out and change their lives. You are not selling yourself, you are selling solutions to people’s problems.

  77. I only feel weird about self promoting when I’m not confident that I’ve done my best or that what I’ve done won’t actually help someone. Other than that, I know my story has something to offer and I feel responsible to help my words reach the ears of those who need to hear it.

  78. Cameron Mast

    As a musician, I tend to not self-promote more because I’m afraid that people won’t like what I’ve created. I look for my validation in what others think of my music, not in what I think or more importantly, what God thinks. I know God loves me and has given me a gift, and I LOVE to make music. That’s all that really matters in the end…but in the meanwhile, I validate my success by what others (sometimes people I don’t even know) think. So…in the spirit of getting out of that, if you have 2 minutes, go check out my music. 🙂 Go look at what I’ve done, because I think it’s good. http://youtu.be/iWfxqfkUsZA

    This is also very timely for me because I was recently given charge of the social networks for an acapella group I’m in here at college. I want to promote us and tell more people about the group because I think they’re an awesome group of talented guys, but I don’t want to get in people’s face. Finally, a couple days ago I started inviting a whole bunch of people to like the group and told the guys from the group to do the same, and we got over 100 likes in a day or two. My mind was kinda blown, but it was REALLY encouraging. It’s like like wanting to have the book on the shelf. I want us on more stages performing for more people, so I’m gonna promote it like it’s everybody’s business. 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/HighStreetHarmonix

  79. Someone once said that reframing self promotion to understand that those who are offended by it probably aren’t your target audience in the first place. Then there’s always the fact that what we are all offended by says more about us than anything else. Good stuff Jon. I doubt you need it, but you’re a good man!

  80. I do when it embarrasses my wife! We were in a coffee house, and I made a fool of myself with the table of professionals next to me.

    Other than that I’m proud that I’m a maid man.

    Glad your back Mr. Acuff. Love Start!

  81. Well, in the interest of shameless self-promotion — the past two days Hubby’s book has been FREE on Amazon as a thank you and celebration of the second anniversary of its release.

    For Hubby, it was a great experience as a novice writer to finally publish it — it was scribbled in black composition books in the evenings after Russian language school. It was written pre-911. . . Pulled out and revised an edited from time to time, but not released until digital publishing really began to take wing.

    For me, it’s been fun to help him promote his book and put into practice some of the community outreach and networking skills I developed in the non-profit sector and use more in my community and mothering now.

    Knox’s Irregulars has been a bestseller in it’s genre. . . it’s a bit niche (Christian, military sci-fi. . . the negative reviews tend to be from those who bought it based on Amazon rec’s and then thought it was “too religious.”)

    Honestly, it has been encouraging. Hubby loves to write and would rather be doing that than just about anything. He learned a lot from the process of the first book — especially how much he enjoys the writing/editing/storytelling process. Our boys bounce ideas around with him and they all plot together. It’s great. Perhaps one day it will be a full time gig, but for now he writes in the evenings and enjoys the challenges of his day job.

    (For any who are interested, the anniversary freebie link is here: http://www.amazon.com/Knoxs-Irregulars-ebook/dp/B005XNQTXG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382387462&sr=8-1&keywords=knox%27s+irregulars )

  82. I love this! I have struggled with insecurity my whole life, over analyzing every move I make. This makes self-promotion pretty difficult, because it took years to realize I had something worth promoting! However, the lessons I have learned about embracing the gifts you have been given I believe could really impact others.

    Also, self-promotion can send me back into insecurity because sometimes I put something out there and don’t get the response I expected. I guess I use the “I don’t want to seem conceited” excuse to buffer myself.

  83. Well put, Jon.

    I’ll save this link and pass on to aspiring writers who ask me for advice… because writing a book is an act of communication, not a private matter. We must get the book in reader’s hands for the communication to take place.

    I think there are ways to promote without being self-promotional–but it sure is hard to find the line. I suppose a sensitivity to it and not starting every speech with the line “as I say in my book…” are good places for me to start. 🙂

  84. ugh! I really like that plumber example. And by ‘ugh’ I mean, your so right!

    I’ve been struggling with this since my first book launch in late August. I have a really hard time telling people I wrote a book.

    And when I do, I’m almost shameful about it…. it’s so weird that I would think that after all the work I’ve put into it. Not to mention the importance of the message.

    Thanks for the encouraging words… and welcome back to the internet, Jon!

  85. Thanks so much for sharing this Jon, it is so hard for me to share my dreams with people and ways I can help them (The joys of being insecure). Time to start blogging again.

  86. Allison

    Not an author (yet!) but I find self-promotion really difficult. It’s that stupid inner voice telling me that what I have to say and what I’m doing is not important. That no one cares. The connections I have made in D&B have helped me tremendously. They have helped me to realize that what I’m passionate about is important.

  87. Yes! If you have your hands on a solution, by all means, share it… sincerely, with respect and integrity. Lots of people are looking for solutions, including great plumbers! 🙂 Honestly, I would rather buy from a friend than a stranger. I love supporting my friends’ dreams. Thanks, Jon!

  88. Nope. I’m over it. I used to feel bad about it but I self pubbed my first book and my marketing department (me) told the author (me) to get over it and get her hustle on, so she (me) did. And then guess what happened?? Momma hit the NTYs Best-Seller List then signed a two book deal with St Martin’s Press! Boom.

    Wanna read/possibly blurb my book? I can have a copy in your hands by the end of the week.

    See what I did there?

    In the wise words of Jay-Z, “I’m a hustler baby. Just want you to know, ain’t where I been, but where I’m about to go…” 😉

    But seriously. Let me send you a book. It’s funny.

    • Jon Acuff

      “Get over it” is sometimes fantastic advice when we are trying to chicken out from doing the things we need to do. I think my mailing address is on the contact page. Can’t promise an endorsement without seeing the book but feel free to send it!

  89. Marlene Herbst

    Thanks for this Jon. If you don’t mind, I’m going to print it out and put it in what I call my “interview binder”. I’m putting it there because I need to read it as I prep for each interview. It will be a great reminder before stepping in and giving my first 3D impression. What I’m trying to say is Thank You for serving me well. I’m so happy you’re back at it! Keep on ROCKIN IT!

    • Jon Acuff

      Not mind? I would be honored! Feel free to print it out! And I love that you have an interview binder.

  90. I’ve seen over the past several months that promoting (in my case and because of the nature of what I did over the summer, starting my business off of an indiegogo campaign) feels a lot like asking for help. And when one can get over the pride that keeps us from asking for help, it becomes a lot easier. It creates a sense of community. People wanna help! So now that I’ve gone from asking for help to promoting my brand and product, people wanna promote for me! I love it. But I definitely want to maintain a healthy fear of over-promotion. No one likes a nag. I don’t know…. maybe that’s not right at all. But I do know that I am enjoying what I’m doing, and I’m not afraid to share it!

  91. I think a lot of people feel this way because we’ve all been around authors (or business owners) who think they’ve got the solution for everything and everybody. If you’re good at knowing who you can help and who isn’t a match for you, you’re doing people a disservice by not letting them know about what you can do. They can always say no.

    • Jon Acuff

      I think that’s key, the part about knowing who you can’t help. That’s like the author who says, “My book is for everyone.” No it’s not. It’s definitely not for some people.

  92. I do not feel guilty when I promote my work, if I feel that what I am promoting is going to likely provide genuine value to others. Actually, I feel like I am actually doing a disservice to others if I do not promote what I create, if I feel that what I create has the potential to provide genuine value and benefit to others.

  93. Tessa

    Jon,
    Do you feel the same way about fiction writers? Because I don’t think my novel will necessarily help anyone the way your books have helped me.

    Entertain? Hopefully. Inspire? Maybe. But help them get unstuck? Probably not.

    Thoughts?

    • Jon Acuff

      I think that Fiction books definitely help people. It might be in different ways than non, but it’s still help. I think this applies to all books that are traditionally published. If you want to self publish and not sell, that’s OK. That’s on you. But if you take an advance from a publisher and then don’t work hard to sell, I think it’s a problem.

  94. Of course if you happen to launch your self-published book on the same day that U.S. troops capture and kill Osama Bid Laden then you are required to stop posting about your book and only post about how glad you are he’s dead and thank our troops for all their hard work….. Or so I was told. Haters gonna hate. (Yes, this really happened to me.)

  95. Brandee

    We must do it. Not an excuse. But I came across this article today that I found really eye opening because I’m an introvert that can fake out-going so well that I had myself convinced I was an extrovert. Check it out! It may explain WHY some of us hate self-promoting.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/20/introverts-signs-am-i-introverted_n_3721431.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false#es_share_ended

  96. Brian

    Jon-
    Do you think this applies to other fields/jobs? What about itinerant preachers/worship leaders? If so- in what ways? Can we agree it is a slippery slope for some in some fields?
    (Asking for a friend) 🙂

  97. Great words! Timely, too. I’m moving into the area of self-promotion for my business and with my work in prevention and prevention writing. It feels slightly uncomfortable and a bit like a free-fall, but I’ve been prepped (enough) to move into this phase. I think?! Yesterday, while chopping veggies, I had an ahh-ha moment when the familiar words, “there is never a right time to do a difficult thing,” came to mind. It’s go time!

  98. Thanks Jon,
    I wrote a book a couple of years back and it didn’t gain the traction I hoped it would. I think it was partially because my motives for writing it weren’t all that great. I was really excited with the finished product and promoted it like crazy. I realized though I hadn’t build a platform to speak with permission into peoples lives.

    Plus it had the same title as a gay romance novel….which made for awkward pitches. I did fall into the trap of backing off the promotion of it, but I think your point is so true. We should be excited about the work we do and excited to share it, it is part of the artistic process of standing behind the product and saying how much you love it.

    Thanks man, excited to see the next step in Team Acuff!

  99. Jon, this is something I struggle with. I’ve always been taught to be humble and meek. To not rock the boat. And self-promoting can feel like I’m making myself into a bigger deal than I really am. It’s tough but I know I need to get over it.

  100. I do think it depends on where/how you promote your book. Only sharing your book over and over again on your Facebook page where your friends either have it or don’t fall under the audience that will read it may be overkill, but promoting in places where you could legitimately reach new readers every time is totally worth it, even if it seems a tad annoying at times.

  101. What bothers me most is what look like standard tactics in the Christian marketplace. Like blogging about sex to get the numbers back up.
    But I think even that is really me falling into the false humility you’re talking about. I actually am a good plumber, but so far I’m keeping that mostly to myself.

  102. Hi Jon,
    I have been trying to promote our website and business as much as I can and some have told me I should not have the website listed at the bottom of my email. I do not think that is too much if it is in my signature. Hey, it is how we make money so why not? Good to see you back online, Jon!

  103. Yes, I do that. I always think, “Everyone thinks their own stuff is good; somebody else saying that it’s good carries so much more weight.”

    I notice that in your example, somebody’s already asking the plumber how to fix the toilet. I have no problem talking to someone about my book if they initiate it. The trouble is in the initiation.

    But in the spirit of overcoming all that, please check out What’s Wrong with Outreach. Hope that wasn’t inappropriate.

  104. Jon,
    This is exactly what I am struggling with right now. I am 90% done with a book that I am super proud of, and one that has a message I KNOW other people need to hear. But I don’t want to come off as a dweeb, so I am stalled while I am on the cusp of releasing the book.

    I know I need to get over this. Thanks for the encouragement to do just that, by comparing it to other professions. That perspective really helps

  105. I’m a Worship Pastor who recently recorded an album and there were definitely times that it was a struggle for me to promote the album, and honestly it still can be . But I always come back to my belief that God gave me these songs to share and not keep to myself, and it would be worse for me not to share them with others.

  106. This is a good challenge. As someone who is gearing up to participate in his first NaNoWriMo, this hits home. But also, my wife and I want to join a campus ministry where we’ll be required to raise our own support – the epitome of self-promotion and the bane of my existence. Not only is it self-promotion, it’s also asking for money. Talk about humbling.

  107. This hit home. My wife and I are starting to take bigger steps to launch our dream and talking about it with people is definitely one of the hardest parts.

    Partly because the dream feels so personal and fragile, maybe a little from fear on how people respond and if they’ll be supportive. But very much about not being ok with the “talking about me” part.

    Thanks, Jon. And welcome back.

  108. Hey, I’m liking the new website! Looks great! I’m glad I signed up for the newsletter 🙂 I refer back to the things I’ve learned from Quitter and Start regularly. It’s been so helpful for me. Just the other day I wrote out “don’t compare your beginning with someone else’s middle” and hung it on my wall. Thanks for the “promotion” encouragement. It’s a good elbow nudge in my side to read this post. I may not have written a book but I did start my own business and it really is silly to feel embarrassed about promoting that. Great post Jon. Excited for your the next book!

  109. Aly

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’m working on my first book, and debating on whether to take a pseudonym… for self-promotion and vulnerability reasons… Thoughts?

  110. I am less worried about self promotion but more worried that only the people who read my blog now, will be it. Not many more people will be interested in hearing my story. These are just voices that I need to put down and know that this community values me, and what I have shared with them so far. I thank you for this opportunity that your influence has provided. Also the amount of support from complete strangers has been amazing!

  111. I’ve had to get comfortable with self-promotion. I published a co-authored cookbook in August so that forced me to start doing some major self-promotion. I’m still learning, how much is enough (and not too much), how to do it well, how NOT to do it. It’s a learning process.

  112. This has been a tough pill for me to swallow as I’ve put more effort into blogging. You said in ‘Start’ that promoting makes you look good, but practicing is what makes you good (a little misquoting Acuff, there). I’m still in a place where I know I need to focus on practicing. I know it’s not one or the other. And my ambitious book idea(s) won’t write themselves anymore than they will promote themselves –although word or mouth can help the latter but not the former.

  113. Jon,

    Good post, and great to have you back.

    I think the biggest fear most writers have with self-promoting is that it feels like you are cheapening literary merit by treating it with the integrity of a Sham-Wow infomercial. That said, nobody will see what your book has to offer if you don’t tell them about it.

    The first dream was to have “Open Mike” published. (Jon, I already gave you a copy last month, so you don’t have to rush out and buy it) Next step is to make it successful, which can be a difficult fairy tale to write.

    It is very important to surround yourself with people who not only want you to succeed, but have the drive to make it happen. I heard a wise man say that “Fear hates community.”

  114. Brian Seidel

    I have found that promotion and distribution is WAY harder than writing and publishing ever were, and I have felt horrible about self-promoting a lot. With every tweet I take myself on another guilt trip…Ugh…

  115. Jon, it’s like you know me. Like you’re Patrick Swayzeeing me in Ghost without the romantic side of it all and no pottery. Also…

    I have a blog http://www.patricklmitchell.wordpress.com

  116. Brendt Wayne Waters

    I think that one problem is that most self-promotion (to borrow from your analogy) comes off more like the plumber calling people unsolicited at 3 AM to ask if their toilet is broken and offering to break it, if it isn’t. And then the legitimate kind (that you describe here) gets overlooked or totally unseen.

  117. Do I ever feel guilty when I self-promote? Only all the time! It’s also difficult to accept compliments… but, I’m working on it. 😉

  118. I’ve found songwriting works the same way. But I play my own stuff when I lead worship, and I get the type of feedback the reinforces why I write songs in the first place. Sharing with people is a good thing 🙂

  119. Is this the spot where I promote my book? Just kidding – I really enjoy your work. I’m very much inspired to scale my own awesomeness. And I attribute new found inspiration to you.

  120. The day my first daughter was born, it’s like a light switch went off in me that shifted (improved) my perspective on this and everything else. I’m on this planet to lead, serve, and provide for my family…and that will require reaching beyond what comes naturally for me.

    Every moment spent promoting my work is a seed planted for my kids…And when I think of it in that context, it makes me wanna say, “Hey guys, Check me out.” 🙂

  121. Tim Wieneke

    Self promotion is the ultimate accountability; that’s the reason most people fear it. I use it in my business. When I claim a certain level of proficiency and promote myself for it, I don’t get to back down from it. I have to keep performing at that level and moving forward.

  122. Doni

    God knew I needed to see this today because it is exactly what I needed to hear-thank you 🙂

  123. Matt Schneider

    This post is providential. I currently have a self promoting project that started yesterday, and I’m feeling excited yet self conscious. Since you’ve inevitably opened this up to all kinds of promotions: I am a finalist in this week’s The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest. Please go online and vote by Sun., Oct 27 newyorker.com/humor/caption

  124. I’ve started to get over this, realizing that the book isn’t about me. It’s a message I’ve been called to share. And if the message is powerful enough, it deserves to spread. In other words, I’ve stopped thinking of it as self-promotion, altogether. I’m just sharing a truth that could change people’s lives.

  125. Torrian

    In The Words of Sagat from Street Fighter…”TIGER UPPER CUT!!”!! Great way to knock procrastinators in the Jaw one good time Jon! Get up and #Start

  126. Colleen

    I keep apologizing to friends on Facebook for promoting my book! And I’m not comfortable with promoting or doing readings/signings, but it’s absolutely necessary.

  127. Jeremy

    Thank you so much for this. I get so caught up in whether or not people will think I’m not being humble that I often deny the talents God has blessed me with. I had a friend tell me this past weekend that denying or making light of my talent doesn’t make me humble, it makes me a liar. I’m taking this to heart beginning now.

    I have been given a great singing ability, and I will do everything I can to use that however God wants me to.

    That was a lot harder to type than I thought.

    Thanks again.

  128. If what I have to offer is not as good as I can make it, I SHOULD be embarrassed to promote it.
    I don’t think that’s the issue for most of us come up against.
    Most of us tend to be self-conscious about promoting something we’ve produced when we compare ourselves to someone else who’s on a completely different mission, or different level than we are. Silly, silly, silly!

  129. Hmmmm….I don’t think I ever feel guilty about self-promoting anything I’ve written – blogs, books, even tweets. But somewhere in the deep recesses of my soul, I believe (maybe faulty, maybe not) that if what I write is valuable, true, important, noble, wonderful, et al, someone else will grab hold of it and promote it, as well.

    It’s not a sense of false humility – I know I’m a good writer and what I say is wise and well-received. I think it may be more a sense of looking for additional validation….which isn’t really any better, is it? 🙂

  130. Thank you. Really needed it. I believe Donald Miller wrote something very similar recently. I do dislike the squishy feeling of self-promotion, but I’ve learned that the squishiness can be false humility too.

  131. Dean

    I’m a pastor. I _think_ I’m a pretty good one, but you can’t say that and still be in ministry. Instead, you have to talk about your short-comings in a fairly passive-aggressive way so that others will compliment you and remind you that you do your job well.

    So, to answer your question, No. I don’t self-promote. I self-deprecate in the hopes that others will do my promotion for me. As I write that, I realize just how stupid that is…

  132. Aimee

    I’ve wanted to write a book for the last year and this is always what has held me back. Thank you so much for hitting the nail on the head for me. It’s time for writing to begin.

  133. I self promote ALL OF THE TIME! So now I have learned that I should write a book. Finally have something real to promote. Not that I am imaginary…..WWW.Strongfathers.com (see! Did it again!)

  134. Rachel

    I’m noticing a lot of comments saying that we need to give up our false humility to self-promote, but I think we actually need to give up our pride.

    Pride in being liked (or at least, non-offensive). Pride in our own self-sufficiency (and admitting we need the support of others to succeed). Pride in our own thoughts & strength (because if we don’t self-promote, there’s no risk of having our ideas challenged–and possibly refuted).

    For a lot of us, we don’t need more pride to help us self-promote, we need more humility.

    • This is exactly right… Are we willing to give up out pride in our “humility and modesty” or whatever we think we are doing to not self promote. Really, are we willing to look stupid or take hate for the sake of our dream?

  135. Mike

    I think it’s good to be sensitive to the sometimes uncomfortable-ness of self-promotion. BUT, Mr. Acuff, you’re right.

    You did, after all, name this site Acuff.ME.

    PS. How does one get the picture for posting comments instead of the generic head?

  136. How much do I love you? Probably too much. When I first started my blog, I had to do a lot of self promoting. I felt awkward about it til my good friend told me to get over myself…. I was speaking Gods truth and it wasn’t about me. People needed to hear what I had written. Kind of the same idea of “taking compliments” you wrote about.. Get over yourself and what people think.. And just do it. Thanks Jon.

  137. joseph

    Do the best books begin as diaries?

  138. Amy

    Self-promotion is a problem. Instead of telling people what they can do for you (buy your book), tell them what you can do for them! If you book is useful, helpful, honest, and true, this won’t be a problem. If your book is a vanity piece that has no value for people, you probably shouldn’t have bothered writing it.

  139. Chris

    Jon, great thoughts. Thanks for sharing. For my first book, do you recommend investing time to land a publisher or self-publish (e.g. Amazon) and promote on my own (with the thought that having a published book–albeit self-published–might make it easier to land a publisher for a future book? Your thoughts, please?

    Thanks,
    Chris

  140. Jon,
    Great points you’re making here. Can you take the next step and give some pointers on HOW people might go about “self-promoting” without crossing that cheesy line? I have personally been accused of being “the worst self-promoter in the world” and like others who’ve responded, I hate the idea of coming off as some greasy-handed salesman. Any tidbits would be appreciated.
    Thanks.

  141. I don’t particularly like promoting my books (fiction), mostly because I know how I feel when I am “sold to” on social media – that is, I generally skim right past such posts. However, I mostly feel that way about self-promoters who have *nothing else to say* to me other than the hard sell. If they balance their promotion with other stuff that interests me, I am more likely to pause and absorb their promotional material (either as a result of conscious choice – they’ve given me a reason to care by posting things that endear them to me – or the fact that I’ve been conditioned to read their posts because I know the post may not just be another sales pitch). Thus, I approach my own promotion the same way – I balance my promotional posts with other posts of interest, hoping I’ll be received the way that I receive others. But I do frequently hope my balance is “on” and that I’m not overdoing the promotion, especially around the time of new releases when my focus is on the selling more than it is on the “just being someone cool and fun to follow.”

    Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to point you to my totally SPECTACULAR new release, JOSEPH OF NAZARETH, a novel: http://amzn.to/1ewv2tg

    P.S. Jon, currently enjoying the “Quitter” audiobook…ah, the irony of listening to it while I work my day job… 🙂