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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Resume: Humble Self-Promotion?


       I’m currently halfway through a book about writing called Building a Life Out of Words by Shawn Smucker.  I can’t give a fully informed review on the book yet, but so far, I’ve found that the way in which Shawn interweaves life principles, writing advice, and his own story makes for a page turning read.  At the end of each chapter, he includes short articles by various writers who have been able to make a living out of writing. In light of this journey in developing my personhood for who I want to be down the road, I found one of these articles to be especially intriguing.

Attention, Everyone! Here’s My Latest Essay!” is an article at the end of chapter six by author, self-employed copywriter, and marketing consultant Jason Boyett.  The message of his essay is a subject that is necessary but is faced by many with much fear, awkwardness, and trepidation. 

Self-promotion. 

Firstly, he is not referring to braggadocious self-promotion where one boastfully steps on others to get ahead. By self-promotion, he is referring to tastefully and boldly marketing himself to potential publishers, agents, editors, and others in order to give exposure to his work.  Though he says “few things annoy me like selling and salesmanship”, he is unashamed in asking to write guest posts on blogs, requesting introductions with agents, and sending out his work in hopes of written endorsements…How can he dislike salesmanship and yet sell himself “with the gusto of a carnival barker”? 

Because he says that if one of his requests pays off, the benefit will have been worth the discomfort. He ends by saying that one cannot self-promote without delivering, however. “You have to make the link, endorsement, or introduction worthwhile.” 

I appreciated this essay because it challenged me to consider my reasons for promoting my work.  I am naturally a more introverted people-pleaser, so to think about making someone uncomfortable by asking them to help promote my ventures could make me want to just abandon the whole idea. Sometimes I’m tempted to tuck my dreams away and just continue helping others achieve their goals. Of course, helping others accomplish their dreams is a noble aspiration, as long as I do not hoard my own dreams behind it out of fear.  

I do admit that I can be pretty shameless in promoting my work. It hasn’t always been that way, so what’s changed? 

I have learned that the skills I possess and the hopeful dreams I carry are not just about me. Looking ahead at the kind of life I want to live, I don’t want to work for a large paycheck or social prestige but I want to work using the singularly unique voice and perspective I have to help bring joy and life to people who need them. I am not just promoting myself, but the greater message behind my work,no, a message much greater than me, that each individual has purpose. But in order for people to see that, I must do the hard work of throwing self-promoting lines again and again to get my writing and other work out there. 


I agree with Boyett that selling oneself can be so utterly uncomfortable and seemingly self-glorifying. With the right attitude, however, maybe self-promotion can really be one of the most humble acts of all. 

1 comment:

  1. It's a true story! I recently had to do some "salesman stuff" for my blog relaunch, and it felt strange. (Mostly I just didn't want the other bloggers I was talking to to misunderstand my emails and think I was a creepy weirdo.) But it paid off! I have gotten promotion for my blog and made a couple new friend connections in the process! The guy is right!

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