Adjective; literary

excessively proud of oneself or one’s achievements; overly vain.

“this vainglorious boast of personal infallibility”

Synonyms: assured, biggety (or biggity) [Southern & Midland], bigheaded, complacent, consequential, egoistic (also egoistical), egotistic (or egotistical), important, overweening, pompous, prideful, proud, self-conceited, self-important, self-opinionated, self-satisfied, smug, stuck-up, swellheaded, vain, conceited

The most difficult part of this business, for most of us, is promoting ourselves and our books. It’s also the most important, if we want to be read and paidfor our work. This applies to both the traditionally published, and the independent. The book is published, but how are readers to know about it?

There are many paths to a reader. The best is the same in any business, because it is also the strongest. I did it myself, yesterday. I tried to use my First Reader’s 30+ year old Kirby vacuum, and to my great frustration, it left as much on the carpet as had been there to begin with. I hopped on Amazon, looking at the top rated vacuums, reading reviews, and still hadn’t made up my mind. It wasn’t until I made a wisecrack on facebook about vacuums being pushed as Father’s Day gifts, and perceptive friends started recommending vacuums that they had used and loved, that I made up my mind about the purchase. Word of mouth is king, when it comes to marketing and promotion.

Word of mouth can come in many ways. It can come from the mouths of happy consumers. In this case, readers who review, or just rave about their latest read to anyone who will listen, whether in person or on social media are ideal. Those are the readers who sell books. They aren’t trying. They just really enjoyed that book, it stuck out in their mind, so when someone asks for the latest space opera, they say, Oh! You just have to read…

There’s also the word of those who are being helpful. Whether it’s readers who know that if they share their favorite author’s promo post, it helps that author out and therefore they write more books to be read later, or readers who are big fans and see themselves as unofficial street team-members assisting an author. Sometimes it can be fellow authors helping one another out – like the Indie Author sales we host here at MGC. This can be really beneficial when an author with a large fanbase shares the work of a new author. The down side of this can be two-fold: one, the “Name” author is likely to then be hit up with exuberant newbs (see the title of the post) asking him to do the same for them. And secondly, the reputation of the Name can actually be harmed by recommending sub-par works. I’ve gotten very cautious about the work I share and promote (in my Eat This While You Read That posts, for instance. I’ll be rebooting that series in about a week, by the by) because I want to keep the trust of my readers. It might be someone who is young and just doesn’t realize they NEED editing. Or it could be work that’s just not like mine, and my fans would shy away from. I have to use some judicious thought in who I promote, and what I say when I promote them.

Finally, the last mouth that can be talking is… the author themselves. This can be effective, or harmful. Look, we all need to talk about our work. Get excited about it. That’s a great and wonderful thing, because the onlookers will pick up on your enthusiasm for your work, and they will react positively to it. If, on the other hand, you project ‘just another book for another buck’ and you’re not talking about what’s in the book, just how many copies you’re hoping to sell… well, no one likes to be sold a bill of goods.

Excitement is one thing. But keep in mind that no-one wants to see constant self-promotion. If you nominate your own work in every thread where someone is asking for book recommendations, there might be a problem. If you are posting links to your work in every group, forum, and you aren’t paying any attention to the rules about self-promotion… not only are you going to get a bad name as ‘that guy’ and get banned from groups as fast as you join them, you’re going to give other indie authors a bad name, too.

Not that it matters to you. If you’re the vainglorious one, nothing at all matters to you except making a quick buck. You’re not interested in spending any money on your books: need a cover? Grab a quick image online. Doesn’t matter who created it, it’s yours now. Need an editor? Ignore the pros and readers who plead with you to find at least a copy-editor, and publish it anyhow, because rent is due and you don’t care about return readers. Banned from groups for over-promotion? Tell everyone how unfair it is, and then join ten more groups to use for free promotion. Buying ads? Ain’t nobody got cash for that, man! Promoting yourself in another author’s fan group? Well, heck, my book is sorta like that guy’s book…

You all know someone like that. The one that makes you cringe, and wonder if you are overdoing it with your own book. The one that when you admit you’re an Indie Author, people wonder if you’re driving around with a trunk full of copies, flogging them at flea markets or begging people to take a copy just so your garage might eventually empty out.

It is possible to self-promote without being That Guy. Making an ass of yourself only happens if you ignore the feedback from others. Ideally? You’ll grow a group of readers who will turn into fans and they’ll be the ones bringing up your book when a call is put out for a good read. Also, there are paid promotional opportunities to pitch your book, in email lists and ads that are targeted. Dorothy Grant put together a great list of these, and there are more out there if you look.

But first, stop and think. Where did you find the last books you read? Who told you about them? Why did you decide to pick them up?

It’s a tough balance, between blowing our own horns and picking up a damn vuvuzuela. Pay attention to rules, don’t choose to be That Guy, and do share your own links from time to time on your own wall/page/tweet-whatever. I found out today that I have cousins – admittedly, not close ones, but still – that had no idea I was an author. Which amused me highly since I was being approached to write some free content. Um. Thanks?

Remember, guys. Exposure will kill you. And being the one running around flashing your junk will get you attention, all right. It just might not be the attention you think it is!

31 thoughts on “Vainglorious

  1. Saw a partial example of this in the past week. Sort of. One author has a new book coming out today and was promoting the heck out of it. Apparently he broke a few rules in some groups he was in. Mind you he’s on my TBR list and he did apologize to some of the people he was ticking off. Guess you can over promote.

    1. You can definitely over promote. And unfortunately, someone breaking rules, or being pushy, can lead to updated rules that crack down even on the polite promoters. With the way Facebook works, promotion inside a group is hugely more effective than on one’s own timeline, and that is more effective than a ‘page’ because Facebook throttles who sees those, hoping to get you to pay.

      1. Ah yes, fecesbook. Where the default news story setting is “Top Stories” and even if you keep changing to “Most Recent” will switch back. Heard about the throttling of page views a few years ago and all the rage at that.

        1. If you use the plugin Facebook Purity you can keep it at most recent permanently. I keep looking for alternatives, but I have a lot of family that won’t budge.

  2. On the other hand, some readers will recall the top-line SF writer who had a catastrophic cash crunch and wrote four novels — mostly involving fornication — in two weeks. They are generally not associated with his name.

    1. Oh, this isn’t about writing for money – if you can do that, wonderful. It’s about only writing for money, and churning out dreck all the time, and then spamming every venue you can find with that. That’s not a good idea, because not only will it give you a bad name, it tars other writers with your brush, too.

  3. I know one of the things I’m “doing wrong” in terms of marketing is not going through and updating covers. Several of mine are four *gasp* and almost five *yoiks!!* years old, which is almost vintage in e-book years. And I do not have print rights for them, so I can’t use them if I decide to put those volumes in hard-copy. If/when I were to freshen those up would probably be a great time to try promotions (those that have enough reviews to make the hurdles on some of the promotion sites. “We’ll promote your book for a fee once you have X number of reviews.” How do you get X number of reviews? Promote the book so you get readers. *sigh*)

    1. Refreshing covers is probably not a bad idea. I’m a bit hesitant to do much of it – I worry that my readers will think it’s a new book and not be happy to learn it’s not.

      1. I’m in the midst of changing covers for Big Blue (partly because I’ve received multiple reports from people whose opinion I have reason to trust that the current one sucks much). It’s a pain in the ass. Well, part of that is I’m also making some small changes to the interior which means for the print version I can’t just change the cover but have to make a whole new edition. And when that’s ready, I’ll have to pull the old one, and then make sure that Amazon has the new one and the ebook version linked together as the same book.

        Hopefully the new cover will draw more sales making all this worth it.

        1. Good! I think we all have some long-time-gone covers that we’d rather change out. I did change a couple last year (maybe two years ago) that were dreadful from my early days. These days I’m aiming more and more for clean, crisp, professional art and fonts that send the right message.

  4. Regarding being That Guy, there are several examples of authors whose work I used to enjoy, past tense. They lost me as a reader with intemperate internet presences. At this point I will not buy their work -regardless- of how good it might be. Two in particular who start with S, but there are others.

    I intend to be guided by their bad example, and do the opposite of what they do.

      1. Speaking of, I note a real estate agent I worked with has used his mailing list to promote his new book. He sent out two emails, weeks apart.

        I thought it was rather fun, getting those emails out of left field like that. I have no idea what effect it had on his sales, or his real estate business.

        1. That’s actually a really good way to market! You wouldn’t want to overdo it, but you can take advantage of an existing relationship to say ‘hey, look what else I do!’

  5. Wow, cool post Cedar. It reminded me so much of my new novel, which was released last week . . .

  6. Excellent points, and I SUCK at promotion… sigh… If it weren’t for friends blog posts, I wouldn’t have much of a presence. I’ll put the book up ONCE on facebook, and a couple of times on the blog, but that’s about it. I’d forgotten about Dot’s list, need to review that, for sure!!!

    1. But you do have a happy fanbase who will promote for you, and really, that’s ideal. Speaking of which, I owe you a review. By owe, I mean that was a really good read and I like to tip my authors 😉

  7. All of the right things involve spending energy more than money, and can take time away from writing. Coming as I am from an almost-six-month hiatus mainly due to ill health, it has been devilishly hard finding that energy. I’m back to being able to write, firmly buried in producing the next 167K literary novel, and wondering how to make that starter tribe.

    It’s a good thing I love writing! And it’s even better that, out from under the side effects of five horrible drugs, I’m able to write again. But I am a LOT behind. Any suggestions for those who get behind much appreciated.

  8. Reblogged this on The Writer in Black and commented:
    I have twin problems. One is that I suck a promotion. Get advice from someone who’s actually a professional marketer and I’m completely clueless how to turn that advice into specific actions to take on my part.

    OTOH, I’d rather have weak promotion and a slower career growth than be “that guy”. So I’m even afraid to do too much promotion on my own pages for fear of driving people away.

    1. I think the key to promoting on one’s own pages is to do it on occasion. Not too often, but not never, either. Bring up a story once a month, if it’s old. Mention new stuff once a week for the first month… And make sure that there are good, visible lings on your website/blog to your work. I tweaked my site recently to have a slick, professional looking slider of my work in the top corner of the page no matter where you are on the site (unless you’re on mobile, which displays differently, not a bad thing).

    2. That reminds me. I have to grab one of your books next chance I can afford it. 🙂

      1. All of my stuff–stuff that I have control over rather than where I’m in someone else’s book–is available for free on Kindle Unlimited if you have that.

        1. Currently I am in a creative rather than a consumptive mode. Prefer owning a copy anyway. 🙂

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