For those who don’t know, BSP stands for Blatant Self Promotion. It’s a term among authors who must publicize their stories in addition to writing them. BSP means plugging your signings, appearances, awards, guest posts, and anything else that draws attention to your work—and yourself as an author.
Not all writers enjoy BSP, but as PR departments shrink and more writers self-publish, promoting yourself is a reality in today’s world of publishing.
Being good at BSP means you boost yourself with dignity. Being bad at BSP can mean one of two things: you are too pushy, or you are not pushy enough. Finding the right BSP balance means recognizing the difference between effectively highlighting your achievements, being obnoxious, or being too shy.
My efforts at BSP include this blog and website, a personal Facebook page, a Facebook Editor/Author page, a Twitter account, listings in various artist registries, membership in professional organizations, and a few online writerly list- serves and author groups. There are many other options. These are the ones I’ve chosen to utilize.
Why did someone say I was no good at BSP? Because last week, when I won an award, I posted this short status on my various places:
“So…this happened + a smiley face” followed by this link to the announcement.
What I should have done was post something more Blatantly Self Promoting, such as: “Attention, everyone! Great news! I was named by the Delaware Division of the Arts as the 2014 Cape Henlopen Writers Retreat Fellow! Woot!”
I am not being sarcastic. I am THRILLED to have been selected by the DDoA for this honor, but I thought “So…this happened + a smiley face” was a cute way of making the announcement–not too braggy, not too timid, but just right. The Goldlilocks approach to self-aggrandizement. Maybe it was a little less brazen than a PR firm might like, but I don’t want to be the BSPer who is pushy or obnoxious.
We all have limits to what makes us comfortable. Do you see the words “award winning author” on this website? No, you do not. That’s not within my comfort zone. Additionally, because some of the works I’ve edited have won awards, I could hawk myself as an “award winning editor” but I don’t do that, either. That would be stealing the light from the author and perhaps a little misleading.
Do others describe themselves as award-winners? Of course. Maybe I am bad at BSP, but I keep Goldilocks in mind and do what feels right.
All that being said, and no matter how squirrely BSP makes me inside, it must be done. Over time, I’ve come up with my own rules of publicizing myself and my work. I call it Be Yourself Promotion.
Here are my 5 Principles of Be Yourself Promotion:
1. Be Myself. If I had to describe myself in three words, they’d be goofy, passionate, and curious. I have a silly side, so what I share on social media can be wacky, or it can be an enlightening piece about writing. I enjoy current events and don’t fear voicing my opinion. I mention my family, but don’t air personal problems online. I ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. In other words, I’m a person so I act like a person, not a writing machine.
2. Respect my clients. I never discuss my clients’ works or the condition of their books when they appeared to me as a first draft. I won’t disparage a student’s homework or efforts. If a client wins an honor or award, even if I participated in the editing process, the award or honor is theirs, not mine to share or horn in on.
3. Don’t rag on a working author. If I dislike a working author’s work, I say nothing. I don’t care how famous, or infamous, an author may be, if he or she is writing to make a living, I will not hurt their efforts—publicly. Privately, of course I tell my friends if I think a book stinks, or a writer phoned one in or make a bad choice. In writing or in public, I keep that to myself. Why? In part because, if I wanted to offer a critique, I’d do that in a proper review, and I don’t do reviews. Second, any author you trash is sure to sit next to you at a panel at a conference. Uncomfortable!
4. Never trash entire genres. If I don’t like a certain type of story, I don’t read it. There is no need to announce that to the world, and certainly no reason to put down another genre or tell others what you perceive to be all wrong with it. The reasons people give for disliking another genre usually reflect badly on the person, not the genre.
5. Be encouraging. Was I a cheerleader in a former life? Maybe. I want everyone to succeed as a writer. This is why I write How To posts on this blog, why I start a Sprint at 7:00 Thread every single morning on Facebook, why I Tweet helpful craft articles and submission opportunities. My proudest online creation might be Good News Friday. I mean every bit of the rah-rah, too.
Those are the operating principles of my Be Myself Promotion: Be authentic, respectful and encouraging, and skip the ragging or trashing.
Do you have a set of professional principles you live by? Want to share?