The world of the author has many tightropes to walk, and a rope I’ve been seeing twinging and quivering above my safety net recently has been the idea of hyping yourself and your story. I am an intense, but low key kind of overachiever, and I’ve never been one for too much self-pimpage. Rather, I kind of tell you what’s going on, and then you know. I don’t decorate with too many exclamation marks or adjectives of incredulosity. I consider myself a student of the Kastensmidt, Hines, or Andrews school of promotion. Tell the people what’s going on. Once. Talk about your work if it’s relevant. Don’t look for opportunities to promote or schmooze needlessly. If you’re doing your job steadily, these opportunities will come to you.

And that seems to be the folks on my list. If you seem too over the top with hype, I sort of let you fade away.


That said, I’m also a writer who likes to meet new people, so occasionally I’ll take a gamble. I’ll friend someone I don’t know, or buy a book that is lesser known. Recently, I received a link from one of my new connections about how critics were raving about her website, and how I should check it out. Hmmmm….my information on this writer is that she is an unpublished and fairly unknown writer. Hypology has hit my email box.

Interesting also are books that are published by folks that have interesting recommendations from strange places. Often friends review the books. That’s cricket, using your connections, but you wonder about authenticity of feeling, quality, and such. And then, my favorite, the quote from a big author that is on a new author’s book. There is probably some genuineness of recommendation in that scenario, but you often wonder if that isn’t part of the job the big author does for the publisher, helping get the word out about the newbs.


With no reference to anyone, I began to think about what honest hype might look like. If you were to boil down the hype for new writers, both their own, and that blessed upon them by their contacts, of course, it wouldn’t create desire, but the world would be a very different place.

Instead of
“See what the critics are saying about my website!”
“I’ve had two people and some syncophants stop by. You should too.”

“Prior audiences really like my work.”
More honestly,
“People who read this when it was a fanfic couldn’t get enough. My mom liked it as well.”

On your small press book:
“One of the best books I’ve read in years!”
“I expect this author to give me a similar quote for my own novel.”

Your big writer recommendation
“XXX…pushes back the boundaries of the genre.”
“My feedback…says anything…you want it to…with ellipses.”

Telling a potential agent
“My book is the next Golden Compass.”
“I haven’t done my homework and my expectations are unrealistic. Please publish me anyway.”

“Catherine Schaff-Stump is an up and coming new writer.”
means right now
“Catherine Schaff-Stump is procrastinating in a big way.”

I’d love to see some of these from you.

There’s coffee to be had out there. Gotta go.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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