Does An Author Need An Ego To Be Successful?

If you want to be an author, especially a self-published one, you have to be able to promote yourself. There’s really no way around this if you expect to sell any books. But self promotion involves something that many authors cringe at: having an ego.

I don’t mean have an ego like Donald Trump (for example) does, where he thinks he’s God’s gift to the world. No. I’m talking about being confident with your own writing and being able to sell yourself to new readers on a consistent basis.

The Writer-Ego Paradox

By it’s very nature, writing is a solitary endeavor. We sit at our keyboards alone while we pound out sentence after sentence of a work created in our imaginations. There’s no one watching us. No crowds cheering as we write the last sentence of our latest novel. A lot of writers, including myself, don’t even like people around during the writing process.

At the same time, an author just starting out who has no name recognition, must be able to get in front of people (in real life and/or online) and say, “Hey, I wrote this book. You should read it!” While many see this as mere self-promotion, it feels like having an inflated ego. I think that this feeling of having an inflated ego holds a lot of promising authors back because they’re scared of turning people off.

Self-Promotion vs. Ego

I think the two terms have a lot of overlap and there is no distinct line of when self-promotion turns into a big ego (the key word here is “big”). The good new is this: because of that overlap, you have some flexibility. This means that if you’re a shy person, you can probably go well out of your comfort zone to promote yourself and still not have people thinking, “Damn! His ego is bigger than Donald Trump’s.”

What exactly does it mean to promote yourself? Here are a few items that come to mind:

  1. Be active on social media and promote your book/s. *
  2. Never be afraid to tell someone you’re an author.
  3. Keep your name out there with new books, a good blog, commenting on other blogs, etc.
  4. Network with other authors and be a useful resource for them.
  5. Brand yourself in your genre or specialty.

* Be extremely careful promoting your work on social media. On Twitter, for example, only about 1 out of 10 tweets should be of a promotional nature. Be equally cautious on other platforms. Spend most of your time on social media engaging with others and sharing ideas. Others should see you as a relatable human, not a marketing gimmick.

In Social Media, You Reap What You Sow

Imagine this: you’re following someone on Twitter and all they do is talk about themselves, constantly link to their own books and ignore everyone else. Chances are you won’t be following them for very long, right?

But if you’re following someone who is engaged with others, offers insight, promotes other people’s books (if you like a book you just read, give it a shout out on Twitter!) and generally adds a lot to the community – you’re going to keep following that person and maybe even buy one of their books. And if you’re an author, and this person is promoting your book, chances are you’ll reciprocate the favor.

I think the key to good self-promotion is twofold: be human and be engaging. People like others who are relatable. If you do this, then promoting your work to others will be a lot less “This guy has a big ego” and more of “I like this guy, I’m gonna check out some of his books!” Okay, maybe it’s not that cut-and-dry, but you see my point.

It’s worth noting that as an author, writing your book is only part of your job. The other part is promoting that book. And to do so you might have to step outside of your comfort zone.

We All Have An Ego

Yes, everyone has an ego to a certain extent. So an ego isn’t some nasty thing we should all avoid. It’s part of human nature. No author, at least starting out, can just sit back and watch his/her books fly off the shelf. Your ego is what will allow you to tell people you wrote something worth reading.

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