The difference between bragging and marketing.
If done well, telling the difference between bragging and marketing can be as challenging as deciding if a shirt is midnight blue and black. For real, who can tell?
I have to brag. Our society generally ignores the social intersections I embody, making it necessary for me, like many Black women, to blow my own horn. I’ve learned to highlight my talents and accomplishments as well as appreciate them for myself. “Shine,” “Black Girl Magic,” “Do You,” all are a part of granting a level of acclamation usually denied.
For people who are used to those around them celebrating even the most mediocre of their achievements, someone doing it for themselves—resisting the erasure of their personhood—may seem like bragging, when it is not. It’s exhibiting confidence and shining for the world to see—an important aspect of marketing.
In addition to our books, authors must market at least a part of ourselves. We must draw people to their public persona and build a following of readers who not only like their characters, but them as well. As a result, there is a need to “market” oneself, which may include
a little a lot of horn blowing…bragging…marketing. Because I spent most of my life as my own cheerleader, doing it to highlight my authorship was not a huge leap.
Sharing milestones and achievements with readers provides a chance for them to celebrate with an author. In my article “The World’s a Stage-For Authors Too, I point out the importance of connecting with readers:
Just as important as creating a finished product that conveys the desired message is to build an audience that will want to hear it. There are tons of writers out there, which makes it critical to build a platform and following. This is a mostly non-writing process and will require a lot of time and energy to get one’s actual voice out there.
In our social media-driven world, potential readers often want to see and hear from their writers. A lot of successful writers developed a way of connecting to readers outside of their writing, presenting personalities and appeal. Some will use social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) primarily not to sell books but themselves, acquiring hundreds, thousands and even millions of followers.
Posts and banners brandishing an author’s image and phrases like “award-winning” and “best seller” get attention. Interviews, book signings and open mics all require letting the world know how great the work and the writer are to motivate audiences to want to read more. It’s all business as usual that makes it possible to keep selling.
For authors, there is a fine line between brand-building and bragging—a thin one that is often blurred. One person’s swag and shine are another’s boasting and self-aggrandizement. Deciding which is for authors to decide individually, but some bravado is as necessary as ink and paper.