Sometimes I study a problem for a long time and get nowhere. Like what works with author self-promotion -- I've been at this dilemma for almost ten years now. I've read marketing books. I've analyzed the tiny amount of stuff that seems to work and the mountain of stuff that doesn't. I've hunted the elusive snipe of hard data. I've conducted my own controlled experiments (some successful, but most, eh.) I've looked at so many different approaches to and types of self-promotion that my corneas hurt.
All that, and I'm still not any closer to determining precisely what works and what doesn't. I have a handful of maybes and a drawer full of promisings.
Then the other day I was cruising the blogosphere looking at author blogs that primary are for self-promotion purposes (you know, the all buy-my-book all the time variety) and I started idly comparing author photos, posts, contests and what have you. The authors each had the requisite soft-focus Glamour Shot portrait and wrote patently phony but definitely chipper posts peddling themselves and their fiction. Most of them used that cutesy rah-rah pompom-shaking perky quasi-girlie talk so beloved by certain publishers and writer organizations that drives me right out of my skull.
P.S. If I read "I hope you enjoy reading my novel as much as I loved writing it" one more time, I'm going to need insulin shots.
I glanced at the newspaper by my desk to compare this tripe to the language of a journalist trying to sell me his questionable political views, saw a real estate ad at the bottom of the page, and then laughed. The homogenization level is so similar that you could exchange any author self-promo on blogs with any real estate advertising ad, billboard, etc. out there and you know what? No one would notice because you really can't tell the difference between them.
I understand the need for security via uniformity and conformity -- that's why we call the herd the herd -- but blending in does not sell books. I've seen too many talented writers tank over the years; writers who should still be out here working in the biz, and aren't because they got lost in the herd.
Finally I saw what I've been doing wrong, going at this problem as I have so that I could nail a one-size-fits-all answer. Like the secret handshake, there isn't one. The answer is as individual as the writer is (or should be.) We each need to find what sets us apart from each other, not what makes us into all one big blur, and build on that uniqueness.
What do you guys think?