“Status update”, and a Q of the Week

This past weekend Juni and I went to Raven’s Knoll, for one more work-weekend: she and I and about half a dozen others worked on securing various things in the campground for the winter. I still have a bit of stiffness in my lower back from lifting entire tree trunks and other heavy things. But it’s still great fun to be there, and I find myself growing to love the site more and more each time I visit.

But at the same time, my money supply is quickly dwindling, and I’m still unemployed. The temp agencies I registered with back in August keep telling me that they can’t do anything with me because they are waiting on my security clearance – which is perhaps true, since in the previous five years I have lived in so many places. But it’s been four months now. How long does it take! I’m getting frustrated. While I wait on the temp agencies, I’m applying for jobs in services and retail, but finding myself terribly over-qualified for them. One rejection letter I recently received even said so! On top of that, the engine in our van completely died, so we have no transport now. We’ll probably have to sell it for scrap. It’s looking more and more likely that I will not be able to get home to Elora for christmas with my family.

Naturally, I have hope that lots of people will buy one of my books for their solstice / yule / christmas gift-giving, or that lots of people will hire me for one of my various professional services, or for public speaking at your next convention or festival. I can promise that when I do a workshop, no one will die. I also promise that my books are written with a coherent prose, and can be fact-checked, and will not do damage to the very movement I profess to support, unlike other more popular books I could name.

Right now, my book royalties are my only source of income. And since I am not Dan Brown, it’s not much. But having said that, an important question appears in my mind. At what point does the work of marketing of one’s own product or service transition from straightforward self-promotion to egotistical self-aggrandizing? How much promotion work is the right amount, and how much is annoyingly too much?

A friend of mine in Toronto recently published a novel. I joined the Facebook group in which she describes and promotes the book, in order to show friendship, and to see whether her book might be of interest to a few people I know. I got so many promotional messages from the FB group, sometimes several in the same day, that I became rather annoyed, and left. I’ll almost certainly not buy the book. But another friend of mine, who lives in England and who published some truly excellent books, hardly promotes himself at all: I discovered to my complete surprise that he had written two more books since the last time I saw him, five years ago.

In both cases, these people will perhaps not sell as many books as they otherwise could. Where is the happy medium between them? How can it be found?

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4 Responses to “Status update”, and a Q of the Week

  1. ninthraven says:

    I don’t know that I can answer the question, but I’ve been following a blog that might give you some insight — http://www.marketinggoddess.com/

  2. foxsong says:

    How much promotion work is the right amount, and how much is annoyingly too much?

    It’s a hard line to find, much less walk — we go round and round on this question with the band too. Perhaps the least conflicting (though not the least expensive) option is to let a promo person flog the product in question. A promo person can credibly say the kind of things that would sound like sheer ego coming from the artist’s own mouth.

    A good friend of ours does promo and we’re currently flirting with the idea of hiring him. We’d rather pay a percentage, and he’d rather have an upfront fee. But honestly, it might be worth it — we’re watching the people he’s working with getting airplay and taking off for European tours, so he’s obviously doing valuable work.

    You could try having a sock-puppet secret-identity promo guy… another friend of ours did that to push her music, and she was very successful! I don’t know how much face-to-face work is involved with books, but with music, our friend found she could do an enormous amout of web marketing and even phone work under that assumed name. It got her an awful lot of gigs. It might be worth a shot.

  3. marytek says:

    With regards to the temp agencies, it can be as short as 1 week and as long as one year before they can find a placement for you. Suggestion, though, with regards to finding temporary work in service/retail — understate your academic qualifications. Try to tailor the resume to the job; if they are looking for a general handyman, mentioning that you hold a PhD is not to your benefit.

    With regards to self-promotion: I know of who you speak of, and I do find their self-promotion so offputting that I have made a point to not purchase their book. It’s spiteful, I know, but the amount of information being lobbed in my direction (and everyone else’s) is just off-putting. If every utterance is about one’s book, and nothing else, than that is too much self-promotion.

    The individual in Toronto with their novel – every utterance from them is about their book, nothing else. They don’t talk about their family, their activities, interests like knitting or sci-fi… it’s all about the book. That is what is off-putting. In general we all get bombarded with advertising & promotion, so saturation of any advertising/marketing ploys just cause the general populace to tune out.

    Try to flog your books, your skills, but if every utterance is about how you need to sell more books — then that’s too much. People need to feel as if they are supporting an individual with varied interests, not just in the mighty dollar.

  4. Anonymous says:

    ok. If you are truly doing a sole proprietorship in terms of marketing your services, and I applaud you for doing this, how much depends on how formal you plan to organize this effort.

    Take advantage of small business training. You are certainly able to do it and learn. It helped me, and now I am in the process of reorganizing my business ventures in self-employment. The model is so good to me that although I have succeeded in running or managing my business to a degree, and keep it going, I still have more to learn, and I am rethinking some ideas of how to do the same thing; market and offer my services of what I know and can do to and get a decent compensation in the process.

    I know of a person you could chat with about this. email me.

    Also, the way to do some of this is how you are doing it now….let the people who know you market you. Really. What do you need? Well, from what you offer, I can possible let some folks know who you are and what you do. I can introduce you to them, and they may contact you. Is this a bad thing? no, but difficult to predict and manage. Well, ok, when this may happen is well…ok…and take up marytek’s advice to do a job to get the groceries…it is a job, not a commitment to a career. That is aloud, and absolutely necessary to allow people to pay you without the guilt of accomodating your impressive educational value.


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