Every year, I try to hone my work to ensure that I am better serving the needs of creative professionals, and at the same time ensuring I am exploring new places and improving my craft. I obsess about everything, and today, I want to talk about two simple words that have consumed my thoughts recently
For the past couple of years, I have been using the phrase “Get Read” for an online course I teach which helps writers find their audience and develop a marketing plan. “Get Read” speaks to an effect that many writers desire. They simply want their books to be read. When I asked writers their greatest fear, it wasn’t to have people love their writing – it was simply to be given a chance; to not feel irrelevant.
Now, I have always supported that the work itself is what matters most; that for an author, the quality of the book and its ability to profoundly affect the life of a reader is what matters most. Yet, the space I tend to live in with creative professionals is the long journey of developing a career — from book to book, reader to reader. I am very interested in the opportunity for what can happen before, during and after one “gets read.”
I have been reading Amanda Palmer’s book The Art of Asking. I mentioned her a few weeks back in this post: Truly Embracing Your Audience. For her book, I am enjoying the detailed way that she answers this simple question:
“Hi Amanda! How can I raise a million dollars on Kickstarter, just like you did?!”
The answer is more complicated than most would like to admit: that it took more than a decade of trying, failing, giving, asking, and yes — EMBRACING and ENGAGING others. While there may have been a milestone in her life as a musician of “getting heard,” or as an author of “getting read,” that seemingly simple act is really the destination reached after a long and complex journey.
And, I will admit, I love that journey.
I have never knowingly listened to a Taylor Swift song in my life, yet this year-end video of her buying and delivering presents to fans also embodies the idea of EMBRACE and ENGAGE:
To me, the concept of “embrace” requires an opening up, and in doing so, the potential to feel vulnerable. Sometimes a writer will talk to me about their skepticism of marketing, the concept of “platform,” or having to engage directly with potential readers. What I always consider in these conversations is how these actions can makes the writer feel vulnerable. This can cause reactions such as reducing all of social media to:
“Social media is just self-involved people posting photos of lunch!”
… as a way to diminish it, thereby reducing their own vulnerability of having to learn a new tool, and opening themselves up to potentially awkward social situations.
This is where the term “engage” comes in. So many creative professionals hope that the moment they release their work to the world, that it will magically be found, immediately understood and appreciated, and shared far and wide on a tidal wave of other people’s enthusiasm. And while this can absolutely happen, it tends to be elusive. Which is why “engage” — taking action and encouraging actions — is such as powerful concept.
I find that embracing and engaging are core ways of not just finding one’s audience, but creating meaning in the process. Do you have to do these things? Nope. Is it an opportunity worth exploring? I tend to think so.
Regardless of how you spend your year, I hope you are able to embrace and engage those you care most about reaching.
What are your goals for this year?