Quick! Write 4 books and put them for sale on Amazon for 99 cents each.
Facebook it! Tweet it! Put a ‘share this’ button on your blog!
Now… sit back, and let the awards and money roll in. Well done, modern author.
I received a package in the mail this week, a new book from my friend Cynthia Morris. Here is the experience of unwrapping it:
Cynthia created a limited edition release of the book, with the special packaging above. She wanted to not treat the book as just another commodity, but as something special. In the back is a limited edition print that folds out with her art and signature on it.
Doing this cost her time, money and effort. The mental energy to strategize what to create, to package it, and to physically do all of the mailings herself.
Here is a photo of her home, where she prepared the packages to send off (I grabbed this from her Facebook page):
Does this scream “glamorous life of an author” to you? No, this is a REALISTIC view of the life of an author. Pouring care, time and attention to detail into their craft. And yes, in “craft,” I am including your ability to share your work with others in a meaningful way.
Sharing is a part of creation.
The craft of writing takes time.
Real connection with others, takes time.
This goes beyond the production of physical media, a book. This same caring can extend to how you use social media. Two successful authors mentioned to me this week how their fans are shocked if they actually @reply back to them on Twitter. It’s a simple thing. Yet, many authors will focus on everything but this real connection because they fear it won’t scale. Some would rather pin something on Pinterest than engage with a single reader on Twitter.
Do you want to differentiate yourself from most other writers out there? Once you are done writing for the day (writing does come first after all), focus on connecting with readers. Who are they? Where are they? What do they love? How can you engage with them in a meaningful, not promotional, manner?
I always use Neil Gaiman as an example of this. How here is someone who has achieved so much, is “famous,” works across a range of media. And yet, this is a typical moment in his Twitter feed:
You see @reply after @reply. Yes, some are to those he is close to, other authors, even his wife. But plenty are to fans, to “regular” folks he is engaging with in small ways. How does Neil have the time? He makes the time. It’s a choice. To care.
With all the social media buttons at our disposal, as much as we like to say “everything has changed,” in terms of marketing your book and managing your career as a writer, it really hasn’t. If you want to differentiate yourself, if you want to matter to your readers, find ways to connect with them in a meaningful and down-to-earth manner. It’s not the tool, it’s how you use it.
It’s a craft.