This is how I’m feeling today. I had another post idea for today already written and scheduled. But I’ve got something else on my heart.
Being new at something means taking some missteps, being a bit overeager at times, and learning the hard way. But, man, it stinks when you realize how you’ve fumbled, despite best intentions.
At some point in every author’s career, she has to decide she means business and is committed to doing what it takes. One of those things, I’ve learned, is building platform. A following of potential readers through your website/blog, social media, newsletter subscribers, etc. Every follower represents a potential one-day customer. Good numbers are important for publishers to see your “reach” to be able to partner with them to sell your book(s).
In the past month or so, I’ve kicked up my platform building into high gear. I’ve planned a regular blogging schedule (every Tuesday and Thursday). I’ve made changes to the site so my newsletter sign-up shows up in the main navigation bar and on my Facebook page. I’ve hosted guest writers and have guest posted on other relevant blogs. I’m participating in more weekly hashtag conversations on Twitter, like #1linewed with other authors. I’ve seen growth in a lot of areas and have been excited to welcome lots of new followers. Time to celebrate, right?
But I have a confession. In my quest for growing numbers, I’ve sort of forgotten the most important key element, without which everything else becomes obsolete in this whole “game” of building platform. Connection. Let me give you an example.
On Facebook, I personally follow a lot of authors whom I’ve met or connected with over the last few years. My goal as an author is to have more readers and fellow writers follow my author page. Without thinking it through, I started sending Friend Requests to authors whom I saw were connected to other authors I already follow (you know, Facebook’s neato “You May Also Like…” suggestions that indicate how many of your already-friends follow that person). So I’ve gone a bit overboard sending Friend Requests out willy-nilly regardless of if I’ve read that author or even heard of her. A bit crazy, right? But that’s not the worst of it.
Whenever another author accepts my friend request, I have been sending a “Thanks for following” message that immediately includes a link to also follow me on my author page. Um…rude. Right? Some of you might not think of this as inappropriate. However, I started thinking how that might make me feel. Someone friends me. “Aw, how sweet. A new author friend to connect with!” Then I get a generic “Follow me here for great tips on writing and follow my writing journey…” Oh. She wants me to just be another tick on her followers count.
I want so badly to be successful at this author thing that I started to lose sight of what’s really important to me. I want my stories to connect people. I want readers to eventually find messages of grace and hope and encouragement not only in my books (which, who knows, may never grace shelves) but also in all interactions I have with them. I want to know their names. Their joys and challenges. Their hopes and dreams.
If I’ve recently “friended” you on Facebook and subsequently sent you a follow request, I’m sorry. I do, in fact, want to KNOW you.
Want to read your books and hear your stories. If you feel welcome and interested to follow any of my platforms, great! But that’s not a requirement for being my friend.
Any potential agent or publishers might cringe at this post. But I’ve got to do this in a way that feels natural, real, genuine. I’ll keep trying and working hard, of course. Being intentional is important and ultimately I write so that people will hopefully one day READ it. But first and foremost, I want to connect with PEOPLE, regardless of whether or not they’ll one day buy my books. If a community of people forms here or on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest, I trust God will bless it and the connections.
That’s my prayer and my hope.
Today, I’m also sharing my thoughts on SURRENDER with a guest post on Julie Arduini’s blog about how surrendering my marriage to God saved it. I hope you’ll take a moment and venture over there, too.
Confession of a Newbie Author…how one author forgot the real goal. — Tweet This!