In Defense of Shameless Self Promotion

Posted on Posted in Daily Rants

I have recently had an epiphany.

It’s fairly common knowledge that, along with being an author, I perform a storytelling show at Renaissance faires and other such events. It’s been a rough year for me performing the show. I’ve had to deal with snow, jugglers setting up an unscheduled show right next to my stage and completely upstaging me, several events canceling with less than a week’s notice (not nearly enough warning to book something else), and this last weekend I had to perform within 100 feet of dudes in armor beating on each other with swords. Oh, and they were playing amplified bagpipe music all weekend. The theme for Star Wars and classic rock are historically accurate if you play them with a bagpipe, right? I managed to do shows, fighting to be notices over big sweaty guys hitting on each other, but it was exhausting. Three days later and I’m still wiped out.

As I was getting ready for my last show, one of the other faire workers came to my table. She was a vendor, wandering around with jewelry and trinkets on a stick. she asked me if she could give me some advice on my show, you know, that show I’ve been performing for the better part of twenty five, almost thirty years. However, since I’ve been working on being a kinder, nicer version of myself, I said, “Sure.” The little nugget of wisdom she decided to impart on me, the one that would make my show more successful, was that I should stop hawking my show at the beginning. That I should just start telling my stories and just have that as the draw to bring people in.

For those of you unfamiliar with how the whole street performer gig works, we spend the firs 5-15 minutes of our show working on getting an audience to come watch the show. With some acts, that part of the show is more important than others. Jugglers can get away with not as much hawking in the front end of their show, because their shtick has a built-in draw. Juggling is flashy and has the illusion of being dangerous. Other acts vary. As a storyteller, the majority of my audience really needs to be there at the beginning. So, I spend about 10-15 minutes projecting such lines as, “If you miss it, you will miss it,” “The truest lies you will ever hear,” “Not a far away show, a sit in the seats and watch show,” and my personal favorite, “If you miss it, a small piece of your soul will cry forever…and…you won’t know why.” I’m pretty shameless about getting people to come to me show.

I asked this Samaritan, “So what about the people that aren’t there at the beginning who don’t know about the show. They will miss the beginning of the story.”

She replied, “Whose fault is that? They should be there on time.”

And with that, I checked out of the conversation. She was operating at a level of logical disconnect beyond my ability to deal with in that moment. Screw that. I am not about to try and run my storytelling show without letting people know the show is going to happen. Storyteller and writer gots him some bills to pay.

And… then…

Over the last couple of days…

I realized…

This is pretty much exactly what I’ve done with my writing career. I’ve basically shut up about it outside of my storytelling show and table at conventions. And… Even at conventions, I’m not nearly as interactive with people as I used to be. I’ve lost my promotional edge, stopped the writerly version of hawking my show. And I used to be much better about it. Like a lot better.

Over the last couple of days…

I realized…

I heard a lot of people telling me to not be so shameless in promoting my writing online, whether directly or indirectly. Essentially, telling me to stop hawking my show; because really, the writing is a big extension of my storytelling show. I love telling stories to people, and writing books is a way for me to tell more stories to more people. And my online sales reflect that I’ve been listening to them. What’s worse, I’ve let it affect my writing. As I’ve stopped promoting myself, my sales have lagged. As my sales have lagged, my confidence has spiraled down. As my confidence has spiraled down, I’ve written less and less with an eye for publication.

Well… Screw that. I’m going back to shameless self-promotion. The publishing world, especially for a mostly-indie writer like me is a lot like performing next to armor combat going on one side of my stage, a joust on the other, and a parade going right through the middle of my audience. If I don’t speak up and use the full power of my presence, I’m going to drown in obscurity, just like I would at a Renaissance Faire if I decided to just start telling stories, hoping that would be enough to get people to come to my show.


With this in mind…

Please check out my recent Patreon Update post. If you enjoy my storytelling or writing, please consider supporting my Patreon page. It’s a platform where I can provide interesting stories and essays directly to my fans, kind of the digital equivalent of dropping something into my bag at the end of my show.

So, that’s my rant for today. Until next time, story lovers, may all of your stories have happy endings.


2 thoughts on “In Defense of Shameless Self Promotion

  1. Your self promotion is what made me try a book. I met Grandfather Shadow. I bought the rest before I finished the first book.
    Otherwise I might never have discovered your awesome stories.

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