Why No One But God Notices Your Writing (Concerning Self-Promotion)

It’s time we had a heart to heart talk about self-promotion.

Some consider self-promotion shameful and annoying. Others consider it necessary.

I’m in the “Necessary” camp.

I'm special

I make a living in a creative field (writer) where self-promotion isn’t an option, it’s just good business strategy.

What does zero self-promotion look like? It looks like hundreds of phone calls from bill collectors and nights of insomnia where I decide between paying rent and eating. It looks like regret and wasted talent.

Many of us — particularly those raised in church —  are taught that we only earn the right to sing the solo or speak to an audience if we do our time in anonymity sweeping the nursery floor. In some faith-based places, the road getting your art into the limelight is to deny you want anyone but God to see it. Walk right up to some pastors or employers and tell them what it is you do well, and it’s “Who do you think you are?”

Huh. The Bible I read describes knowing who you are as a very, very good thing. It compares three men who were given talents to take care of while the boss was away. One made a modest investment and got a modest return for his boss. The other took a huge risk and got a huge return for his boss. The third was afraid of what his boss would think of him, so he buried his talent in the ground to keep it safe and protected from others’ eyes. He got nothing for his boss. Zilch.

If you’ve read the story, things don’t go so well for that guy.

I don’t subscribe to this denying-I-have-talent tripe. It’s over-spiritualized lying. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Humility is not the same thing as having an inferiority complex.

Humility is not low self esteem.

Hiding my work, my story — my light in this world — is dishonest, not humble. You must uncork and serve up your work to get it noticed by the audience who needs it, shunned by those who feel they don’t need it, critiqued by those who will help it grow like iron sharpens iron, purchased by possible consumers, and promoted or ignored by major decision-makers. To deny yourself this privilege is to create a breeding ground for jealousy against those who are publicly doing what you wish you could. They’re up there because they are your collaborators, not your superiors. Take your place beside them!

And cowing under in constant deference because you think that’s humility, fellow Christians? That doesn’t win over anyone, because you are not free. To the outside world, it looks like exactly what it is: fear holding you back.

Creative types and entrepreneurs live on commission. I’m an author, editor, screenwriter, and world changer. When I write a blog post or get a cover story or win an award for a screenplay, the world will hear about it. Why? Because the last time you craved a Coke, you didn’t walk to the back of Walmart and get a warm soda out of the stock room. You got the chilled Coke out of the cooler right by the cash register.

Artists, don’t hide your light under a bushel in the name of humility just because it aggravates those who cannot find the “hide post” button.

Create. Fulfill needs with your creations. Tell people about what you created. Sell and give your creation to those who need it. Help other people create. And remember… rent’s due on the 1st.


Inspired by Matthew 25:14-30 and my fellow world-changers in The Start Experiment.


13 thoughts on “Why No One But God Notices Your Writing (Concerning Self-Promotion)

  1. Emily Carlton (@EmilyaCarlton) says:

    I like your thought process and logic here, Teri. I’m a creative too and self promotion is a mental battle for me. It’s hard- I have this mindset that I have to be uber humble and downgrade myself to a lower level than I am. I think the general USA public has a skewed view of self promotion (i.e. it’s bad/self-centered/greedy/etc.)

  2. a terrible husband... says:

    Love this. I, too, err on the side of promotion. If I believe so strongly in a message I’m sharing and am truly sharing so that one other person may have one better moment as a result of me sharing a similar experience with them then I am doing a disservice by not sharing – all in the name of fearing turning people off by sharing. I hope you promote the daylights out of this post!

  3. Allison says:

    I think this ties in to the problem among creatives regarding charging for our services. I tend to meet many more creatives who undercharge for their work than overcharge. What we do deserves an audience, and it deserves compensation, and yet we let fear cause us to second guess ourselves.

    • indyink says:

      We keep our eyes on our feet and not on our books, and there’s no sense in it. Creativity is a world-changing thing. More votes have been influenced by movies, books, and documentaries than all the political speeches we’ve had in recent years. You’d think we’d recognize just how important this is.

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