I recently took part in a lively discussion with other authors about the fine art of self-promotion. For most authors, and especially for those of us who are independently published, sharing information about your work with those around you is a must if you have any hope of selling books or securing personal appearances. There is nothing wrong with 'tooting your own horn,' but how do you know when you've crossed the line between passionate and pushy?
Let's take the example of a used car salesman my husband and I dealt with several months ago. "Bill" was a really nice guy and worked for a reputable local dealership. After expressing a slight interest in one of his vehicles, Bill made it a point to call our home at least four times a day--every day--for over two months. Even after expressing that we would call him if we decided to make a purchase, he persisted. Sadly, Bill's attitude pushed us right into the showroom of another dealership and into an entirely different vehicle. Had Bill backed down and let us take the time we needed without making us feel pressured, he may have gotten our sale.
Now, don't get me wrong--I fully understand that Bill was only trying to drum up business, and he needs to make money like anyone else. But allowing your customers--or in our case, readers--to take the lead does wonders for gaining trust and gaining sales and referrals. My rule of thumb is this: If the conversation is going well and the conditions are appropriate to do so (i.e. I'd never try to get business at someone's funeral!),I will casually mention that I am an author. Then, if the other party expresses further interest, I will expound on my work and offer a brochure. I never ask for any information from them unless we have discussed the possibility of a personal appearance--then I would need an email or phone number to follow up. Even in that instance, I am careful to contact them only a few times, and always ask that they follow up with me if they are still interested and at their convenience.
Keep this thought in mind--when you are sharing your work with others, be passionate. Create a burning desire within them to know more, and then, back off. Give them time to respond on their own, and chances are, you'll be more than pleased with the results. Good luck!