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2011 May 10

When one thinks of Ernest Hemingway, one usually thinks of bullfights and boxing and spare sentences. Hemingway was the quintessential “man’s man,” but would you be surprised to find out he engineered it that way?

In an article in The New York Times last week, “How Writers Build the Brand,” Tom Perrottet reminds us that self-promotion is not simply the tool of the narcissistic Facebook age, but a necessary evil for writers for hundreds of years. He says that to build his reputation as a macho writer, Hemingway didn’t stop at staged photo ops of safaris, but also posed for beer ads and lent his name to products such as Pan Am and Parker pens. He wasn’t alone–our favorite modernist feminist, Virginia Woolf, even did a fashion shoot for British Vogue in 1925. Go read the article for more fascinating tricks of the trade, including hot-air balloons embellished with book titles, book review editor bribes, and writers (ahem, Walt Whitman) writing their own anonymous reviews.

Self-promotion has become a reality in today’s world, saturated with thousands of new books and blogs every year–how is anyone supposed to stand out in the glut of information out there?

While writers face this reality every day, whether they write novels, essays, plays, or poems, so too do bloggers. This issue of self-promotion plagues me often, as I wonder how I can get more people to read what I write here.  When I have sought a solution to this conundrum, a popular suggestion is to email other bloggers and ask them to support you with a link to your blog on their blog roll. While I think this may be an effective method, something about emailing other bloggers to ask for a link exchange seems like wheedling or begging. So, too, does participating in those omni-present “challenges” where everyone wears neon hot pants on May 4th or figures out 11 ways to ear a bowler hat in 3 days.

What do you think of self-promotion? Is Twitter and Facebook and occasional comments on others’ blogs enough promotion, or do I need to swallow my pride and step it up? Any tips to share? How do you find the blogs (or books) you read?

*image via The Guardian

2 Responses Post a comment
  1. May 11, 2011

    I’m not comfortable with self-promotion either and I can’t see myself asking other bloggers to add me to their blog rolls. I feel guilty enough putting my posts on facebook and twitter. I don’t know if my friends think I’m being a pest and I haven’t created a separate facebook page for my blog because I would feel weird asking people to “like” it although I’m thinking about doing it anyway. I do get traffic from local news sources in my city that sometimes link back to my blog. It seems they routinely survey blogs they know are local and post things they think are of general interest.

    I suppose that having a blog roll yourself would encourage the people you add to put you on their own, as a courtesy.

  2. May 16, 2011

    I’ve been wondering the same things about self-promotion, so if you learn any tricks, please let me know! A lot of friends I know who blog take part of blog “link-ups” or weird blog group type things which I always find somewhat annoying and/or high-school-ish, most of the time, although not always. But, it does seem to get them a lot of “followers.” But I kind of just want my blog to get followers because of good writing, plain and simple. Y’know?

    Anyway, your blog is awesome, and I will probably promote it myself soon. :) And I appreciate you linking to mine on here, too–I feel proud to be on that list!

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