The Art of Graceful Self-Promotion
If I had a pound for every time a writer told me they hate networking I would be touring the world in my massive yacht instead of writing blogs for Scottish Book Trust. I work with writers who are trying really hard to get their work to an audience, usually hoping that there may be some easy way out of the excruciating process (there isn’t) or they just want to speak to someone who feels their pain (I do).
Very occasionally there is a subtext, and what they really mean is ‘I’m a real genius and the successful ones are shameless self promoters’. There lies the first rule of networking- be gracious to other writers.
So do all writers now have to be dynamic, marketing-savvy business types? I hope not. To expect this to come naturally to others would be hypocritical when I hate networking myself; I even hate the word networking. Why do your palms always start sweating when you need to shake hands with people you don’t know? And let’s not even venture into the minefield of the awkward professional kiss...
So what can you do to boost your chances?
0. Write something good. This should go without saying, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate the point.
1. Be gracious to other writers.
2. Be reasonably nice. No-one wants to work with a git.
3. Believe in your writing. Sadly, no-one else is going to do that for you, apart from your mum, and it’s generally not a good idea to bring her along.
4. Be prepared.
5. Take the plunge. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Yes, I know there are a number of brilliantly talented writers who do not follow these rules. They are famous and can get away with it. Maybe your genius will be recognised in its own right. You might also win the lottery (stranger things have happened), but maybe you could do a couple of things to help yourself along the way.
Remember that you are not alone. Most people don’t enjoy networking and self-promotion, but if you get out there and manage to persuade some people that you’re not a complete nutcase, you will have significantly increased your chances of success.
Some places to meet literary types in Scotland:
Caitrin Armstrong is the Writer Development Manager for Scottish Book Trust.