March 07, 2012

Writer, Promote Thyself - Ramona Heikel

For a long time I’ve been reading that writers should have a website and/or blog, in order to present their writing credits and updates on current projects. Check. One website, one blog. No problem.

Build a portfolio, even if you need to contribute your writing to non-paying markets. Check. Read writer’s guidelines. Check. This all fits well with my behind-the-scenes personality.

Submit your manuscript with one-inch margins and a maximum of 50,000 words, along with a plan to market your book.

Whoa! Just a minute there. What?

Back up. Did you say market? Promote myself? Brag? Annoy people, try to twist their arm? Sorry, not me!

There is a reason I avoided learning anything about marketing, and it’s because it’s dangerously close to advertising, which brings up repulsive visions of slick used-car salesmen and tree-killing flyers packed into mailboxes. When I was considering a career as an artist, the idea that only a “commercial artist” could make a living (designing advertising) settled that decision once and for all.

Secondly, I am mostly an introvert and don’t like drawing attention to myself unless there is a good reason (like a book). Luckily, I don’t have a book to market (yet), so I don’t have to worry about marketing for a while. Phew!

NOT! We writers apparently need to start marketing, building a platform, creating a following, before we have a published book. Aargh!

Oh, come on, do I have to?

I guess so, but listen here: I refuse to start using my dear Facebook friends and family to increase my blog traffic. That’s like leaving unwanted flyers in their mailboxes. I feel the same way about that as I did when networking first came about, telling us to use our friends and family to help get a job.

Oh, and here’s another suggestion we writers get: browse other people’s websites and blogs and follow our favorites. What, and feel even more like a failure when I see all their gorgeous graphics and read about all their amazing success stories? Now that sounds like a smart idea.

And yet, much as we sometimes do something unusual or uncomfortable for the sake of our kids (being open-minded to some of the inspirational lyrics of Metallica comes to mind), I now find myself willing to do what’s best for my writing vocation. Oh, all right. I guess I can at least learn about these things. It wouldn’t be so bad to add my weblink to my email signature, would it?

So, if there is anyone else left who is dragging their feet like me, here are a few resources that are starting me off in the right direction and even inspiring me with enthusiasm:

Get Known Before the Book Deal: Use your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform by Christina Katz (who originally wrote at, now at (delightful—and a very thorough and useful review on Amazon)

“50 Simple Ways to Build Your Platform”, Writer’s Digest, March/April 2011 (I only just found this issue at the library, and it is also by Christina Katz)

Susan Toy of Alberta Books Canada spoke at the recent Calgary Public Library Writer’s Weekend, and "specializes in promotion and sales of books that are written by Albertans, published by Alberta companies, or on topics of interest to readers in Alberta". Her website is here:

Times change. The used-car staff at Your New Car Calgary last fall turned out to be more like kind family and helpful friends than salesmen. So, wading into the unfamiliar territory of marketing my writing is probably not as bad as I think.

Posted by Ramona


  1. I have been a reluctant entrant into self-marketing too. I blogged anonymously for three years then I decided to create a writing blog...obviously using my real name. But then I discovered that for me at least, writing about writing is rather boring, and I missed the pictures and visual aspect of my previous blog. So now I decided to concentrate my efforts on that blog and I'm having much more fun, and no one has stalked me since I started using my real name there ;-)

    The other change is that I have started talking about my blog. If I want to turn it into a business or part of my career at least, I shouldn't be ashamed to declare, "I'm a blogger!" Even when I get looks that say, "Wha...?" So when my friends and family ask me what's new, I tell them what I'm doing on the blog.


  2. You've said it loud and clear what I've been dreading about writing a book. It's the marketing part I detest. Reading about marketing can be inspiring, but doing it need a lot of prayers,selling skill and bravery-at least for me.

    Thank you for your posting. I enjoyed reading it.

  3. Good post. I'm totally not a salesperson. My husband and I have been invited to join various business deals, but our motto has always been that "family and friends are not business opportunities." At the same time, as Jo says, we can be honest about who we are and what we are doing. I'm a blogger. I blog.

    I do also read quite a bit of other blogs, in part because I enjoy them and in part because I'm trying to see why they are successful. I think the biggest key, though, is simply being yourself. I enjoy blogs where the writer has a unique voice or sense of humour, and recently a visitor made my day by saying that I have a unique voice on my blog. So yes, you can do all the "marketing things" that are recommended and worked for other people, but don't do anything that makes you untrue to yourself. :)

  4. I appreciate all of your comments--it's nice to know I'm NOT the only one left struggling with this ;o)

  5. Marketing can definitely be a challenge. I know, as we market Christian authors, books and other products online. It's a huge online ocean out there and the truth is, your site is just one among the endless millions and can easily get lost in that huge sea of online information.

    Go Google your site address and then also Google the name of your site with quotations. The numbers will tell you how many fishing poles you have in the sea. You can also find great information at Alexa.

    The key is to create a net-work that will generate traffic for your site. Doing that one site at a time can be very time consuming.

  6. Thanks so much, CBM, I'll do that.


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