How to Self-Promote Without Being Icky

Yesterday, I wrote a post about why we wrote our book. Today, I want to share how I think about self-promotion, about marketing a project that’s very much about my wife and me.

I’ve heard people say…

“I’m just can’t talk about myself like that.”

“I’m afraid of rejection.”

And most damning, “It feels icky.”

I’ve been a writer for six and a half years. (Well, at the start, I said I was a writer, but I had no evidence of that fact for editors.) I started off in motorcycle travel photojournalism, telling stories about traveling across southern Africa when we lived there. I had no name. I had no sponsors. I had no publishing credits. I didn’t even have very much skill. But I am very good at the key to good self-promotion:

I find out what people need and help them. 

You’re an editor of a small magazine in California about on-/off-road motorcycling? I’ll write you a story about my similar experiences in South Africa.

You publish a motorcycling magazine in South Africa? I’ll give your readers a piece on an American’s view of the riding scene, from the inside.

Your magazine covers living with a faith perspective for young adults in the U.S.? I’ll tell you the story of finding out Chrissy was pregnant and how we freaked out.

You are struggling with living out the extreme teachings of Jesus in middle-class America? We’ll tell you about the journey and struggle of re-entry after our years overseas, with insights from friends there, in This Ordinary Adventure.

All along the way, I listen to people, love people, and seek to solve their problems. This is the most natural and effective self-promotion possible.

So when I share one of our columns in Relevant with my Facebook friends, I use a quote that might be challenging or encouraging. When I tweet about my work for Urbana 12, I share student ministry insights from my InterVarsity colleagues and the excellent work of 250+ international missions. organizations. When I speak on campus about our book, I will first find out where students are at, what issues they’re dealing with, and what they need.

Even this post is an example of this commitment. If I wrote a post today called “Why Our Book is Awesome,” no one would read it. But I’m solving your problem of needing to promote your work but feeling uncomfortable about it and so here you are, at the end of the piece, with a little encouragement, maybe a new idea, and a general impression that I’m a happy, helpful guy with an interesting book coming out. See what I did there?

Love people and solve their problems. That’s the key to self-promotion.

And that’s not icky.

Did this post address your misgivings about self-promotion? Why or why not?