For 2023, my resolution is simple: I will promote myself, in some small way, at least once a day, every day of the year.
TL;DR: Shout your awesomeness into the void! Sometimes it shouts back with rainbows and sparkles!
(You’ll find a list of creative ways to promote yourself and your work at the end of this post.)
Those of you who know me are probably giving me the side eye. I know! I know! I am terrible at marketing. I am terrible at sales.
As a kid, I barely sold anything for school fundraisers! I used to trudge dutifully from door to door, trying to sell pizza kits, gift wrap, and Girl Scout cookies in an annual, mandatory fundraising ritual. Each year, I struggled to sell even just a few things. (I think people who did buy from me genuinely felt bad for how bad I was at selling things.) Meanwhile, my sister would make a sale at EVERY house in the neighborhood, make her goal quotas, and THEN take *my* sales tracker and go around and sell the EXACT same things to the EXACT same people to whom she’d *JUST* sold those very same items. (In retrospect, that was pretty awesome of her…)
Things haven’t changed much in adulthood — my sister can still sell you the clothes off your back (and you’ll be grateful she did!), and I have never once hit commission. (Okay, okay… I only stayed at that job for 7 months, but that was long enough to start catching some heat for never making commission—and to remember why I hate selling things!) (Yes, my sister is that awesome at sales.)
I hate being the center of attention, but being good at marketing and sales requires you do exactly that. And now, some *Good News!* for you:
Since 2014—when I first started (seriously) submitting my stories for publication in 2014—I’ve realized that every time I launch a story, essay, poem, photograph, or other work out for a publisher’s consideration, I’m *also* screaming into the merciless, unwelcoming void: HEY, YOU! YOU! YES, YOU! LOOK AT THIS THING I MADE FOR YOU! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT HOW PROUD I AM OF MY CREATION! DO YOU LIKE IT, TOO?! DO YOU LIKE MY HAT?!
And most of the time, the publisher shouts back: NO! FUCK YOU! GET THIS NONSENSE OUT OF HERE! I DO NOT LIKE THAT HAT!
Sometimes a kindly editor says, HEY! YOU! THAT WAS A COOL THING YOU DID THERE, BUT WE LIKED THIS OTHER THING SOMEONE ELSE DID BETTER! BUT YOU DID XYZ RIGHT! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! GO, DOG. GO!
And then… every now and then, an amazing publisher replies to me with:
FUCK YES I *LOVE* THIS AMAZINGNESS WEIRD DARLING THING YOU MADE!!! AND, ALSO, OMGGGG MOLO, YOU ROCK!!!
(okay, it doesn’t usually go *quite* like this, but you know what I mean.)
I’m a sucker for intermittent reinforcement, because over the years, those brief moments of victory somehow overcame literally hundreds of rejections. And that’s how I can brag about a published author, poet, translator, editor, and artist! (Okay, let’s be honest—I tend toss achievement-grenades casually into conversations and run away while whomever I’m talking to is still parsing wtf just happened.) (At least one of my friends is savvy to this tactic, however, and calls it humblebragging, so now I just try to brag (when appropriate))
(This has been a rather roundabout way of telling you how I’ve come up with this New Year’s Resolution, but I hope you enjoyed the journey.)
My resolution (again): I will promote myself, in some small way, at least once a day, every day of the year.
I’m also weirdly competitive and struggle with being too hard on myself, so I had to come up with creative ways I could meet this goal *without* sending myself into a bad brainspace. I think these suggestions will work for me, and maybe they will work for you, too!
Creative ways to promote yourself every day:
- Submit your work (a story, poem, photograph, or basically anything else you’ve created) to someone for publication consideration.
- Tell someone, somehow, about something you’ve created or been working on.
- Make a social media post about yourself (especially some small thing from the day that brought you joy – those little moments of sharing joy also function as telling other people about what makes you who you are! and that’s cool, just like you!)
- Share your work (a snippet of writing, a whole piece, a work of art, a close-up detail, etc.) somehow, somewhere, with anyone!
- Write a review for something you enjoyed!
- Reach out to people who you want to be your new colleagues, collaborators, clients, or friends!
- Turn projects in on time (I struggle with this one sometimes, but successfully hitting deadlines is important!)
- Advocate for yourself professionally and pursue your professional bucket list goals NOW! (You are the *only* person who truly knows what *you* need to be happy, and you are your own best advocate. You know that bucket list goal? Imagine how crazy it seems to you now. Imagine how fucking A you would feel if you accomplished it and had time to come up with even more awesome dreams!)
- Do something that moves you one step closer (no matter how small!) to completing a bucket list item
- Tell someone about one of your accomplishments. (It doesn’t matter which, or how small. Pick one! Pick a different one tomorrow!)
- Tell someone about your vision for your future. (If they have suggestions on how to make that vision reality, be receptive!
- Draw a silly doodle and share it with someone
- Participate in a convention (this includes being a panelist, moderating, selling things you’ve created, or even just chatting with other attendees after panels or in the dealer hall or con bar.)
- On days you have braincells, draft at least 1 content idea for your list of self-promotion posts (or emails) that you can lift from on days when you have 0 critical thinking braincells left.
- [Something else you’ll later learn could be a self-promotion strategy yet goes here!]
I’ll stop here, but if you’ve got suggestions on more ways to self-promote, I’m all ears!
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