(there’s no such thing as shameless) self-promotion

I can flirt with the best of them. I can make lewd comments, behave boldly, brashly, wear low-cut shirts, talk trash, cuss like a sailor, pinch a friend’s ass, and take seductive fat-girl photos. But I can’t toot—blow—my own horn.

Back when The Book was being published, people would ask me about it, and I’d do the pshaw wave. (It’s the opposite of the Queen of England’s wave; it says not hello or goodbye but getthefuckouttahere.)

I didn’t know I was supposed to be promoting it; I thought that was the publisher’s job. For a month—and, to my surprise, only a month—they scheduled me to appear in magazines and newspapers and cool online sites. I spoke on radio—“A Chef’s Table” (syndicated NPR) and several Satellite radio stations. Nah, let’s talk about you, I wanted to say. What are you doing these days? That’s more interesting to me, even if it’s less funny.

Self-promotion skeeves me out. I don’t like to brag or boast unless it’s about my daughter, and then I can be relentless. But it’s unseemly to promote yourself. Tacky. Fugly.

I often sign up for those marketing-tip emails from fierce bloggers and self-promoters, thinking it’ll give me a kick in the pants about just doing what has to be done to survive as an artist, to reclaim my envied position at the desk in my dining room. But I hate those people. They sound smarmy and loud. I read their first two emails with the voice of Billy Mays or Aussie crocodile wrestler, Steve Irwin. (Ironic: they’re both dead.) And I wind up deleting all the rest of them unread. I can’t bring myself to send the “remove me” message. It’s like quitting.

Self-promotion has been a sore spot with me where a friend is concerned. He does it; I don’t like it. I had another friend—used to shake your hand with a business card in it, like it was a plastic baggie full of crack. Butt crack is more like it.

I’m not saying I don’t want attention and admiration and overwhelming envy from you. I will flash you a poem or a song, usually with cleavage to make it more palatable, usually on a Saturday, when I think no one’s looking, and I will whack you over the head with a photograph or 20. But they’re usually not accompanied by: “And I am selling these photographs for money. Hit me up for deets!”

Sure, I post links to my blog from Facebook and Twitter and Flickr; those email marketers have taught me well (in their first two emails). But I usually follow them with a links to things more amazing, like Chuck Prophet’s new CD, Temple Beautiful. (He was just on “Fresh Air”!)

Do I lack confidence? Am I shy? No way! I am fucking awesome. I’m just uncomfortable asking you to prove our friendship is important by shelling out some money for yet another thing I’ve made. I would rather give you some. That’s why my next paragraph has me already hurting in the groin.

Please pre-order my book of poetry, BOYGIRLBOYGIRL, published by Finishing Line Press. It’s not that expensive, it has a pretty cover, and the more books I sell before March 5th, the more copies they print. (Imagine sticking the publisher with a thousand of these babies!)

I should mention this: each week, I get a recap of the sales. With names. So if you are my friend, and you don’t order, I’ll know about it. I’d rather not. Because it can’t help but become this uncomfortable thing between us. Like an unvited hard-on.

Try before you buy. Then, please, buy.

Your Friend,

The Skanky Ho

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3 Comments

  1. Kim Hosey February 10, 2012 at 12:36 am #

    You ARE fucking awesome.

    And you nailed it. I've tried to self promote, sort of (though I haven't had a book), and I just can't. I feel the same way about the marketing-tip e-mails — I get a few of them regularly, then delete them automatically. Sometimes I even save them "for later." I got really crazy the other day and unsubscribed from a few, after relentlessly cleaning out my inbox for like an hour straight. I'm an e-mail hoarder. It felt therapeutic to purge all the bullshit.

    I so badly want to write and photograph what I'm good at, because I know I could be good if I had the audience. But I don't have the audience, so I spend time worrying about it, trying to get gigs, and fantasizing about what I'd do with Big Shot's readers or Super Blogger's audience. It's lame. I hope I'm not the only one.

    And if you're not plugging yourself enough, I'll make sure to, at least. Your poems deserve a huge audience.

  2. Leslie F. Miller February 10, 2012 at 12:39 am #

    @Kim HoseyRassum Frassum. It's so fucking uncomfortable. But you DO have the audience, and you're ewsome!

  3. jo(e) February 12, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    I know exactly what you mean. I suck at promoting myself too.

    But I also really like to know when my friends have books coming out or readings lined up because I actually do love to read and I love to go to readings. So I like it when my friends put their own stuff out there.

    I'm looking forward to reading your poetry.