Monday, January 21, 2013


Today I'd like to talk to you all about something scary - Pimpage.

You see, I was having a discussion with a friend of mine recently about pimpage.  If you're not familiar with the phrase, that's because it's not a real word.  I can't even remember if I made it up or if I heard it somewhere else.  Either way, it's used to describe marketing your own writing or the work of others.  Basically, you're playing the pimp, trying to sell books.  And yeah, it's not the nicest way to put it, but it's remarkably apt.

I think we writers - for the most part - have a tough time with the concept of pimpage.  Selling our books feels suspiciously like selling our bodies.  We're opening our pages to the world so that others can peruse our wares, maybe take us home and fondle our inner selves a little.

"Hey, baby.  Want to see my chapters?  They'll make you feel real good, baby."

It's a scary prospect.  Which makes it understandable why so many of us are awful at it.

Personally I have a tough time pimping for myself.  I always feel like I'm bothering someone or that I'm being pushy or even that I'm imposing. On the other hand, I have no problem hawking for other people - as long as their work is good.

Way back when, in my old life, I was a salesman.  In fact, I was a manufacturers' representative for companies who make electronic components, tools, etc.  And as a company, we represented about 20 some lines.  Some of the lines were easy to sell.  Their products rocked my world.  I mean, if you're the kind of person who gets rocked by ergonomic screwdrivers and industrial heat guns and replacement semiconductors (which I am).  Easy peasy.

Which is why, if I love a book or I love the author who wrote it, I have no problem pimping their books.  I get excited about something; I want everyone else to have the opportunity to get excited about it, too.

Not sure why I can't exactly pony up with the pimpage for myself, though.  Again, it comes back to not wanting to toot my own horn.  Trust me, it's not from a lack of excitement about my writing.  And it's sure as heck not a lack of belief in my work.  Maybe it stems from a lack of belief in myself.

What do you think?  Are you the kind of person who can easily sell yourself and your books?  Or are you like me and can only get the courage up to sell for other people?  Maybe we should start a support group for the pimping deficient.  ;o)


Janet said...

Hi, my name is Janet and I am pimpage deficient!

Great post, B.E. - summed up my fears perfectly (self-promotion = bothering, being pushy and imposing). I also feel like I'm bragging and my mother taught me never, ever brag! It's a fine line - luckily one I haven't had to cross yet, but I know it will be extremely difficult if/when the time comes.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Ah, yes, the mothers... the culture really... that tells the little girls to hide their lights under a bushel. We need to teach ourselves to shine, Janet. ;o) And don't worry. I'll brag you up and you can brag me up with the time comes.

JB Lynn said...

Great post, B.E. --awesome title, lol

Unfortunately, in today's publishing world, pimpage is a necessary evil, but I agree with Janet that it's a fine line. I'll unfollow someone who is ALL about self-promo.

I've actually found some great authors because their friends/blogmates/fans have pimped their stuff...even if it's just a retweet of someone's self-promo tweet.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Thanks, JB! It's a necessary evil, but just think how much easier it is today than it was before the internet. ;o)

I've found some awesome authors through pimpage, too - even when it's not purposeful pimpage. Heck, I found this place and you through Jennifer Hillier - she didn't say 'hey go buy JB's books' but she's awesome and you're her friend so I assumed you had to be awesome by association. So glad to be right about that.

Cynthia Valero said...

Great post, B.E.! I am definitely self-pimpage deficient. However, the state of the publishing industry has forced us to become our own bullhorns, and I guess I have to learn to become more comfortable with it. Perhaps the trick is to pay attention to the ways that attract me to other authors and do the same.

Thanks for sharing, B.E.! It's nice to know I'm not alone in this.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Thanks, Cynthia. Like you said on FB, this probably resonates with a lot of writers. You are not alone. ;o)

And following the paths of other writers sounds like a good way to approach this. If it works to get you interested, it has to work to get other readers interested in you. =o)

Silver James said...

Oh but this hits home, B.E.! I HATE self-promotion. It's not that I don't believe in my work. I do or I wouldn't put it out there. I admire you for being a salesman. Me? I hate that too. I'd rather just sit in my writer's cave typing out stories. When I have to appear to promote my work, I put on a mask and a costume. It feels funny and my skin itches, but I do it. JB is right. In this day and age, an author has to be a salesperson. If we don't toot our own horns, if we don't ask for (and GIVE!) favors from our peers to help us out, then our work will get lost in that vast cosmic void that's called publishing these days.

L.M. Brown said...

Oh my goodness, yes!

I am awful at self promotion. Even if I post to a mailing list specifically set up for promotion I feel like I am spamming it with every single post.

I set up a Facebook account on the advice of my fellow authors for promotional purposes, but spend more time playing games, looking at LOL Cats and generally procrastinating than doing anything even remotely pimping. I am actually here on this blog after seeing the post on my FB wall.

I just can't seem to sell myself/my books at all.

Amy said...

Nice post! From a reader's perspective, I don't mind author's promoting their books. However, one sure way to turn me off to an author and a book is to schedule tweets to go out every hour all day with the same exact quotes and tweets each day or every other day and to keep up those same tweets going for months on end. Enough already! We know you have a book that was released last year and blah, blah, blah. I feel like those people are throwing their book at me. Otherwise, I usually hear about books from one author promoting themself or promoting a friend. I also tend to like to find the books that no one else reads so word of mouth is a big deal. Sure, I like some of the NYT Bestselling authors but it is the debut authors that I like to read a lot of or just those not as popular. Their stories tend to be a little more fresh and different. So, my advice as a reader to keep up the pimping!

B.E. Sanderson said...

I'm glad you thought so, Silver. And I'm happy to pimp for your books any day. They're awesome.

L.M. I hope this helped some. I checked out your blog and you've just released a book?? Sing about it! Tweet it! Post a link to FB! Believe in yourself!

We love readers, Amy! Welcome! As a reader, I totally hate that, too. Which is why I try not to do it myself - even when I'm pimping for someone else. =o)

Clarice Wynter said...

Great post, B.E.! I'm terrible at self-promotion. Terrible. It's the most difficult thing in the world for me. Like JB, I'm always worried I'll be perceived in the wrong way - will someone thing I'm bragging, or overdoing it? Too much promo turns me off of a book, but not enough certainly doesn't sell any. I'd love to know what the exact right amout of self-promo is - and then I'd probably still only be able to bring myself to do about half that.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Thanks, Clarice. Promo certainly is a balancing act sometimes - especially when the only way to know for sure if it's working are sales figures that may not be apparent for months.

JB Lynn said...

Love the conversation this post started!

Clarice -- I've heard that you should do a 7 to 1 ratio of tweets (I've also heard 9 to 1)...with the 1 being self-promo, the others (whether retweets of others tweets, links to articles, random thoughts, etc.

So if you do half of that....

B.E. Sanderson said...

Ooo, that's a good ratio to have, JB. Thanks! Now I just need to find things to tweet about in between tweeting about this place and my blogs. ;o)

Natalie Murphy said...

Great post, hun! I'm very similar to you with regards to pimping myself. If I have succeeded with something (example: university), I'm okay talking about it. However, if I feel like I haven't succeeded at something (example: writing, because I don't have an agent or a book deal), I won't pimp myself out, because I feel like I have no right. Make sense?

You also brought up a good point about pimping out friends etc... I've been thinking about this a lot recently. A few of my writer friends are being published in the next year, and I'm ridiculously happy for them. But...after having read their work, whether as a beta or a CP, I didn't necessarily enjoy their stories. What do you do then? I adore the writers themselves, and I want them to be successful, but I'm having some troubles about whether or not to attach my name to that person's work by pimping them. Puts me in a bit of a tough spot, I guess. *sighs*

B.E. Sanderson said...

Sorry I took so long to get back to you, Nat. Yeah, figuring out how to sell the books when you don't love them (but you do love the writer) is a difficult thing. I think the only thing you can do is be sincere and silent. You could always post a link to their book, saying how much you love the person, but saying little about the book itself. Or be honest and say the book wasn't for you, but find something nice to say about it anyway - well written, funny bits, good dialogue. And if there's nothing nice you can say, then silence is the best way.

Hope that helps.

Natalie Murphy said...

Yeah, I think that's good advice, B.E. I'll definitely use that when the time comes. Thankfully, I haven't had to worry about this yet, but it'll come up within the next year or so *sighs* Tough stuff.

Aisyah Putri Setiawan said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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