Columns > Published on March 24th, 2020

Overcoming Self-Hype Block

It feels kind of dumb writing about this when there is a pandemic going on, but I pitched this last month, and in dire times we turn to art. So fuck it, let’s talk about self-hype block.

First, I want to say that hyping/branding and selling yourself has nothing to do with creating art. Existentially, if I could just write books and music for myself, I’d still do it. It would be less fun and probably less enjoyable, but the act itself is always worth doing.

I love the act of creating, but I don’t enjoy the act of getting people to check out my work. This wasn't always the case. I used to love to hype my work, but I think that was because I felt more confident in my hype skills than the actual work. I was actually good at Twitter in 2013. I still have a lot of followers, but a lot of them are bots because I would tweet about working at a porn store.

Seven years later, I’m sick of social media (though I admit to running my press’s Twitter), and I’ve also had experience writing under a pen name. Lately I haven't been promoting and branding HER work, and I've ended up selling way more than books written in my own name that I promoted and shared.

After a decade of writing, editing and publishing, I see that a lot of it is just random, and a lot of it is bullshit. I’ve seen how a lot of the meat gets made and I’d rather just cook for other people than myself. And what I mean by that mediocre metaphor is I enjoy doing the bullshit and promotion for others more than I enjoy doing it for my own content.

I still have a lot of followers, but a lot of them are bots because I would tweet about working at a porn store.

I’m a publisher and I really love it. 

Sometimes I feel like the Flavor Flav of indie lit. I love hyping up my favorite new writers some of whom I’m lucky to publish. I have genuine confidence in them. I feel that fire and want to get up on a mountain and scream: read these awesome books!

I have no hype block for others, but when it comes to my own work I feel more like Larry David: Eh, read my books or don’t, I’m still gonna write them. I want to sell and share other people's work. It comes from that place of being a fan, wanting to share a book I genuinely love.

Hyping, marketing, and/or branding is type of muscle. Writing and creating is like working your arms and shoulders with free weights, and hyping/marketing, etc. is the equivalent of doing deadlifts. It’s hard to do an extra set of deadlifts when you’ve already done a full upper-body workout. It’s also really hard to put yourself out there on a daily or even weekly basis with the same kind of energy and enthusiasm.

When I pitched this in early February I was feeling exhausted, but was at that time of course blissfully ignorant about the upcoming pandemic that would grind everyone’s normal routines to a halt, and I was doing real deadlifts at the gym. Now the gym is closed and I’m quarantined at home. Sharing work online can feel trivial and unimportant, but I shouldn’t feel that way about something I put a lot time, energy, and love into, right?

Maybe all these words: hype, branding, selling, etc. are a problem in themselves. They can have a negative psychological effect. None of these words inspire me, and they don’t feel very genuine, either. I’m not naive and I understand marketing and business, but I’m a writer, and using the right words is a big part of this whole gig. 

I write songs too, and wrote one called "Celebrate" about two years ago. Songs are spooky things. They are sometimes a message to your future self. As I write this piece it’s clear that what we create is indeed something to celebrate—the chorus to the song is —let it go/I’m gonna cele-bra-ate.

Art is something we need to celebrate, especially if it's something we pour our sweat and passion into. Sharing is less about hype and more about celebration. Fuck it, who cares if it’s on brand or not.  What matters is celebrating the work. We are alive and we are creating things that we put our hearts into. That is something worth celebrating and worth sharing.

It’s a lot easier to celebrate something than to "sell it." While we all hunker down, feeling real fear and worry, it’s important to remember to celebrate the things that make life meaningful. For me, that is creating books and music.

I have a novel and an album with my band, The Dionysus Effect, coming out later this year—pandemic permitting—and I’m going to celebrate the hell out of that. I’m going to celebrate being healthy and alive, and celebrate all the authors I’m blessed to edit and publish. I have nine others songs besides "Celebrate" on the album, and I’m really proud of it.

Oh shit, I think writing this article cured my self-hype block. I’m gonna go celebrate.

Get A Confederacy of Hot Dogs at Bookshop or Amazon

About the author

Christoph Paul is the Managing Editor and owner of CLASH Books, who have published over 60 books and have been covered by NPR, Poets & Writers, Rolling Stone, Believer Magazine, Oprah Magazine, The Observer, Fangoria, and Publisher's Weekly. The press has had books translated into Spanish, French, and Italian. He has been editing books in almost every genre for over a decade. As an author, he won a humor award and had viral cult success under a pen name. He is the lead singer and bass player of the rock band The Dionysus Effect, who have received positive reviews in Loudwire, EARMILK, and Red Rock Magazine. He sometimes writes songs about the books he publishes because even artists are inspired by their day jobs. Follow him on Twitter @christophpaul_ @clashbooks @dionysuseffect.

Similar Columns

Explore other columns from across the blog.

Book Brawl: Geek Love vs. Water for Elephants

In Book Brawl, two books that are somehow related will get in the ring and fight it out for the coveted honor of being declared literary champion. Two books enter. One book leaves. This month,...

The 10 Best Sci-Fi Books That Should Be Box Office Blockbusters

It seems as if Hollywood is entirely bereft of fresh material. Next year, three different live-action Snow White films will be released in the States. Disney is still terrorizing audiences with t...

Books Without Borders: Life after Liquidation

Though many true book enthusiasts, particularly in the Northwest where locally owned retailers are more common than paperback novels with Fabio on the cover, would never have set foot in a mega-c...

From Silk Purses to Sows’ Ears

Photo via Freeimages.com Moviegoers whose taste in cinema consists entirely of keeping up with the Joneses, or if they’re confident in their ignorance, being the Joneses - the middlebrow, the ...

Cliche, the Literary Default

Original Photo by Gerhard Lipold As writers, we’re constantly told to avoid the cliché. MFA programs in particular indoctrinate an almost Pavlovian shock response against it; workshops in...

A Recap Of... The Wicked Universe

Out of Oz marks Gregory Maguire’s fourth and final book in the series beginning with his brilliant, beloved Wicked. Maguire’s Wicked universe is richly complex, politically contentious, and fille...

Learning | Free Lesson — LitReactor | 2024-05

Try Reedsy's novel writing masterclass — 100% free

Sign up for a free video lesson and learn how to make readers care about your main character.

Reedsy Marketplace UI

1 million authors trust the professionals on Reedsy. Come meet them.

Enter your email or get started with a social account: