Wiscon Panel: The Etiquette of Self Promotion

Panelists: Nayad Monroe, Catherine Lundoff, Madge Miller, and Marianne Kirby.


We’ve all been there. I was there this weekend. At my Saturday night party, I was introduced to a male novelist who kept invading my personal space. He sidled up to me, with his agenda. “I would consider it a personal favor,” he said, “if you would buy my book.” I didn’t. I just felt…oily afterwards.

What’s an emerging novelist to do? Certainly, you want to promote and sell your book, but how far is going too far? When are you underselling yourself? What is the correct balance.

Since I was up (the married to Mr. Morning factor) I went to the panel The Etiquette of Self Promotion. It was a good panel. Here are some of the things that panelists talked about.

1. How to present yourself on panels as an author.
When you are on a panel at a convention, it’s a great way to promote who you are. Some Don’t’s? Don’t work your book into the conversation every chance you get on the panel. Don’t build a wall of your books around you upfront. Some Do’s. Do answer questions intelligently and thoughtfully. Do show one copy of your work.

2. Promotionals. Good promotional materials are cards and bookmarks.

3. Radio and television. The PR person on the panel suggested that these are solid venues for getting the word out, but make sure you contact the right person. At radio stations, there is usually a guest coordinator. There is a similar someone at television stations. Go through proper channels.

4. Your publisher’s PR person. Most of the writers on the panel felt that the PR person was not, in most cases, going to set things up for you. However, when you set things up for yourself, you should make sure to let the PR person know, so they can maximize your appearance with support and materials.

5. Bookstores. Don’t be afraid to go into book stores and sign copies of your book that are on the shelves.

6. Web presence. There was a great deal of discussion about web presence. Everyone agreed that there should be some sort of web presence, although not everyone agreed about the tools to use. Some panelists adore Twitter; others preferred Goodreads, Live Journal, or a blogging device. The most important point was to update frequently. A stale web presence is worse than no web presence.

There was also some discussion about the procrastination of writing for the web versus writing. Almost all the panelists agreed that writing had to come first. Go figure.

Overall, I think the panel gave some good options to consider for self promotion. While authors often have introvert issues with promotions, still it seems to be worth our while to try to get the word out about our works.

I’d love to hear some of your opinions. What works for you? What do you dislike? What would you recommend to others?


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.

2 thoughts on “Wiscon Panel: The Etiquette of Self Promotion”

  1. Hi, the other panelist was me!

    I was so glad to see so many people there at that time of morning. *laugh* So thank you for being there and for participating. I’m really glad that it wound up being a useful panel. The Business of Writing track, no matter what the con, is just never quite as sexy so I always worry that people will be bored.

    And thanks for this write-up!

    Marianne Kirby

  2. I’ve added your name, so thanks. I was very chagrined that my support materials failed me.

    I certainly wasn’t bored. It was needed information, so it’s my obligation to share with the world.


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