The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

The dark art of self-promotion

with 21 comments

The reason will become apparent shortly, but I have had cause recently to consider the dark art of self-promotion (see also here and the links from Kevin DeYoung here).  I have tried to plot out what seems to be the standard approach:

  • Want to read a book?  How about mine?
  • Want to give someone a book?  How about mine?
  • Looking to recommend a book?  How about mine?
  • I know someone reading my book.  Read about him reading my book here.
  • If you want to read about reading my book, you can read about it here and here and here.
  • I will be writing at some length about writing my book in coming days.
  • Then I will write about reading my book.
  • If you want to read my book – everyone who is anyone is reading my book – you can buy it here, here, here, here, here and here.  Or here and here.  Or even here.  Oh, and here.
  • Writing a book is a very humbling experience – I want everyone to know just how humbled I have been to have everyone talking about the book that I have humbly written.
  • You should read this book.
  • I would never wish to boast about my book: that would be wrong.  Instead, let me offer some links to people boasting about me: here, here, here, here and here.  Look at me humbly pointing to people telling you how great I am.
  • Here are some further endorsements: Chief A said, “Great book.  Everyone in my tribe should read this book.”  Chief B said, “What a book!  Are you in my tribe?  Read this book.”  In fact, I went to all the chiefs, and now if you consider yourself part of their tribe, you should read this book, otherwise you’re not a very good tribesman.
  • Really, if you had any sense you would be reading my book.
  • Why aren’t you reading my book?
  • Everyone else is reading my book.  What are you, Billy No-Mates?

I find it hard to reconcile the wise man’s advice – “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (Prv 27.2) – with such shameless self-advancement.

At the same time, I am obliged to dip a toe at least into that foetid pool of self-promotion, because I have a book being published (a very humbling experience, etc.).  I have an obligation to the publisher and my co-author to at least make my readers – both of them – aware of this, and to do what I can to advance the cause, so to speak.  Therefore, expect at least a trickle of the unpleasant fluid from the foetid pool over the next few months.  I will try not to make it too repugnant, honest.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 17 March 2010 at 10:17

Posted in General

Tagged with ,

21 Responses

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  1. Anyone who can mention “foetid” twice and “repugnant” once in the same paragraph need not promote themselves, they’ve won me over!

    Discerning readers actually mostly couldn’t care less who of the big names recommends a book, in my opinion. After all if someone recommends every single book on the market (or so it seems) does their judgement really count for anything? Can there really be that many “essential exceptional and fresh” books?

    Paul Wallace

    Wednesday 17 March 2010 at 11:06

    • “Can there really be that many ‘essential exceptional and fresh’ books?”

      Apart from mine, you mean?

      Jeremy Walker

      Wednesday 17 March 2010 at 15:30

      • That is of course too obvious to necessitate statement.

        I also appreciated your correctly Latinized spelling of “foetid” rather than the Americanized “fetid” which that de Young chap uses. I am very much in favor of retaining British spellings. :-)

        Paul Wallace

        Thursday 18 March 2010 at 07:52

  2. I would never, ever, do anything like that. So what’s the book about?

    Martin Downes

    Wednesday 17 March 2010 at 12:59

    • Pastoral theology section, I think. I will have some decent information soon.

      Jeremy Walker

      Wednesday 17 March 2010 at 15:29

      • “Maintaining Humility in the Pastoral Care of Souls” ?????

        Paul Wallace

        Thursday 18 March 2010 at 07:43

        • Humility and How I Mastered It is actually the companion volume to my woefully under-appreciated work, Pride and How I Conquered It. Order both, and you get a special discount on my little-known (I think I mean, narrowly enjoyed) Famous People Who Have Met Me.

          Jeremy Walker

          Thursday 18 March 2010 at 10:35

  3. I find your post foetid and repugnant.

    Jonathan Hunt

    Wednesday 17 March 2010 at 15:22

  4. Don’t worry, we’ll all continue to help your growth in humility by taking no note of this post and not in any way encouraging you to tell more. I’m even humbled by writing this comment, so I know how you must feel.


    Wednesday 17 March 2010 at 16:44

    • I am absolutely certain that I am far more humble than you will ever be, Cath.

      Jeremy Walker

      Thursday 18 March 2010 at 10:35

  5. Just wondering (come – be humble!) did any of you commenters need to check the dictionary for the word ‘foetid’??

    Just to let you all know that I needed to! *eagerly awaiting congratulation for my humility*

    Naomi Millar

    Thursday 18 March 2010 at 13:28

    • Nice public display of humility, Naomi. Most laudable. Did you type with both hands so that one did not know what the other was doing?

      Jeremy Walker

      Thursday 18 March 2010 at 13:45

      • I actually did as I’m an EXPERT at touch-typing!! Hehe!

        Naomi Millar

        Thursday 18 March 2010 at 16:19

    • No Naomi not this time, once I had to, I think it was being used to describe a particularly pungent green cheese (obviously not by a fan). It sort of explained itself in that context anyway!

      Paul Wallace

      Thursday 18 March 2010 at 14:17

  6. Yeah, it’s the type of word which has a pungent sound to it, so I sort of hazarded a guess before I checked it out…

    Naomi Millar

    Thursday 18 March 2010 at 16:10

  7. Jeremy,

    This post is both funny and has some real points for consideration behind it.

    you call it a “dark art”, so if it is a “dark art” then my initial devils advocate question was “should we be going down this path at all?” And if we are free to go down that path then what are the dangers, what are the pitfalls in the road and what are the lines that should never be crossed.

    I find this an interesting topic because I have known for a while that I need to do a much better job of self promotion.

    We use the term “Self promotion” but is it really self promotion if ones self is not the end goal? This is a question that enters the realm of heart motivation which is always a murky one when it comes to dealing with fallen man.

    So my question goes something like this: if we are to avoid self promotion then lets stop playing around with it and not do it at all. But in the more balanced way of thinking we can see a great deal of what appears to be “self” promotion throughout the Bible and particularly the NT. The issue doesn’t seem to be one of actions but of motivations. So if we delve into the “dark arts” of “self” promotion then are there actions that are acceptable and actions that are sinful? are there lines that shouldn’t be crossed?

    Seth Getz

    Monday 22 March 2010 at 19:16

    • Hello, Seth –

      I think it is helpful to remember that humility is not false modesty. So, for example, the apostle Paul exhorts all the Roman believers “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (12.3). For the apostle, the opposite of haughtiness is not to downplay all one’s gifts: the result of such foolishness would be the burying of one’s talent. Instead, Paul urges every saint to make a sound and soundly reasoned assessment of one’s graces and gifts with a view to employing them in the service of Christ and his people.

      So, there are at least two elements to pick up on there: one is the righteous assessment of one’s gifts, and the other is the righteous employment of one’s gifts. If you think you are something that you are not, then there is a danger of pride (albeit, perhaps, ignorantly). Then, as you say, those gifts are to be employed not for our own elevation, but in the service of others.

      To make a reasoned assessment of one’s gifts (perhaps with the help of a wise and insightful friend, and in the context of a healthy church) and then to employ them as diligently, effectively, and ambitiously as possible for the glory of God, not drawing attention to oneself but accepting that certain gifts are likely to come with some kind of notice or reputation, is not self-promotion.

      A classic example might be the job interview. In a culture where it is increasingly the norm to spice up one’s CV, what should the Christian do? Clearly, we do not embellish our resumés with exaggerations and untruths. But neither should we underplay our capabilities, capacities and achievements out of some false sense of modesty, which is equally dishonest. Rather, for the glory of God and the good of his church, we ought to be what we are by the grace of God, and do what we do with all our might.

      I don’t think that there is any self-promotion in such a stance, because our assessment and employment of the gifts are done in the right spirit and for the right reason. You will know how to apply the principle.

      I hope that helps a little.

      Jeremy Walker

      Wednesday 24 March 2010 at 10:19

  8. Hear! Hear!


    Thursday 25 March 2010 at 12:52

  9. […] more note prior to getting back to the subject matter – read this blog post for a very humorous look at “shameless […]

  10. […] more note prior to getting back to the subject matter – read this blog post for a very humorous look at “shameless self-promotion!) […]

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