Writing and Tooting Your Horn

Publishers used to be involved in both the editorial and marketing aspect of  most (if not every) books they  launched. These days, unless you are a New York Times bestselling author, publishers do little in the way of aggressive marketing, regardless of the size of the publishing house.

It has been said that authors must do their fair share of marketing. Most authors, myself included, would prefer to spend their time writing rather than promoting their books, but the truth of the matter is if we don’t do some marketing, our nearest and dearest friends, family and colleagues, may never know about our book.

I am lucky because years ago I had a small publishing company and therefore I understand some basic marketing techniques which over the years have become second nature to me. I have learned to do something much against my grain, which is to ‘toot my own horn.’

In the November 16th issue of Publisher’s Weekly there was an article called, “Blame it On The Rep: When An Author Has to Sell His Own Book.” The content of the article really hit home with me. I love the opening line, “Along with developing a patent for a cordless extension cord, being a writer was one of my life’s goals.” This is in alignment with my belief that most of us are writers not because we want to be one, but because we have to be one. It’s a passion that pulls us. Michael Spradlin, the author of the article, began his career as a publishing rep and then began writing his own books, a similar track to my own.

The biggest difference is that when I wrote my first book in the 1980s, The Internet was not a vital part of modern living like  it is today – but selling and reselling postal mailing lists was the best option for reaching an audience. I licked one too many stamps for envelopes announcing my latest book. These days, authors do not have any excuse not to market themselves. When Penny Sansevieri’s book, Red Hot Internet Publicity was released a couple of years ago – I devoured all her tips and ideas – something an author can do in the privacy of her home, without the risk of having doors slammed in her face. This new dimension to our profession is here to stay – whether our books are in book or kindle formSo all you writers out there, promise me when you finish reading this entry, you will change screens and announce to at least one person what you are working on or what is your next release! Don’t rely on others to do what is now your work.

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3 Responses to “Writing and Tooting Your Horn”


  1. 1 GutsyWriter November 22, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    So true, and I’m off to check out “Red Hot Internet Publicity.”
    I was waiting or you to “toot your horn” with your latest: YOUR HIGH RISK PREGNANCY: A PRACTICAL AND SUPPORTIVE GUIDE. The one you co-authored with Dr. Errol Norwitz of Yale University.

    I shall share with those I know who are going through a high-risk pregnancy.

  2. 2 John Gilmore November 22, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    It is an awkward situation: “HEY LOOK AT ME! I GOTS A BOOK!”

    But, it’s critical. My spouse always tells me I’m overdoing my self-publicity, but she’s also very reserved in her own self-publicity, and I say self-publicity in a general, non authorial sense. The truth is that some tooting of one’s own horn seems to alienate those close to you. At the same time, on those a bit further from you it seems to have no such negative effect. The hard part, I think, is balancing your loud and aggressive marketing with genuine close relationships. It’s always funny to know a professor who never speaks of her own work, and then to find her blog on which she is connected to tons of people and self-promoting the hell out of her latest publication. I think this illustrates the struggle for this balance.

    When I publish a book, I will be loud about it. I will be very, very loud.

  3. 3 Loren London November 22, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    The internet has opened up doors to so many of us in our own professions and offered us the opportunity to market ourselves from home. What an incredible way to toot our own horn and share information easily.
    Thank you Diana for your terrific blogs.
    Happy Thanksgiving…my favorite holiday too.


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"A writer uses a journal to try out the new step in front of the mirror."

~Mary Gordon

About Me


I am a memoirist, essayist, poet and teacher whose passion is keeping a notebook. My notebook is my muse and my alter ego. It contains personal snippets of my life and observations from the world around me. Diarist Anaïs Nin has been a great source of inspiration for me. My hobbies include writing, writing and more writing, but when I have extra time, I enjoy reading, walking, hiking, yoga, working out, cooking and hanging out with my family and Maltese Poodle, Spunky. In order not to become ensconced by the glare of my computer screen, I also teach in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and in various conferences and festivals around the country. My pleasure comes from sharing my joy of journaling with professional writers and anyone interested in writing.

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