At times, we can become so blinded by crafting the perfect sentence or intricate story structure that we forget there is a reader at the center of the reason we are writing. We can also become blind to the human being on the other side of our marketing plan and our goal to build a platform.
Can you imagine if we courted our future mate the way we try to attract readers? There you are, all dressed up, standing in the middle of the town square, yelling at the top of your lungs, asking people to follow you. A select few decide to follow you to your backyard, but you don’t say anything to them. At best, you throw out an inspirational quote, and you wish them a Happy Thanksgiving or Remembrance Day, but mostly, they sit in your backyard. You are silent. You don’t come out and say hi because your hair isn’t done and you’re wearing your sloppy writers’ clothes. Until, one day, you finally finish writing your book and you emerge from your cottage waving your diamond ring of a manuscript and say, “Let’s Get Married!!!”
I don’t know about you, but I like to get to know the person I am going to marry. I also want to know that they care about me enough to engage in conversation.
Bringing Social Back
All too often, I see two tendencies from authors building their platform. The first is to be only a consumer of social media. Meaning, they scroll through and read quotes and smile at cat videos or get enraged over political posts, but do nothing and keep scrolling. If we’re lucky, the consumer will throw out a thumbs up or a heart every once in a while. If we’re super lucky, we get a comment like “beautiful” on a post. If the consumer were doing this at a dinner party, people would say it is anti-social.
The second tendency is to use social media as an infinity-long infomercial. Every post is an ad for what they sell or service they provide and every comment they make on other people’s posts is to discuss how they can help said issue with their book or blog. There is nothing social about spamming people.
As humans, I believe we are all longing for meaningful connections. Especially since the advent of social media. It might feel like we are staying connected with people, but are we? Are we engaging in deep conversations? Are we asking important questions that lead to revealing answers? Are we relating?
Building Relationships with Readers
Yes, this takes time and attention. But it takes a lot less than you might think. Schedule 20 minutes a day into your schedule and reach out to people. Ask them about them. Ask them about something that is of interest to them. Change it up, and ask someone else those questions the next day, and someone else the day after that. Don’t stalk people. Be genuinely interested in other people’s lives. That’s only 20 minutes of focused and purposeful engagement… sitting in the school pick up line, while you wait for your lunch at the take-out counter, or relaxing in the bathtub. There is a very serious side effect to this, though. You might start to feel connected to others and enjoy meaningful time with people you share interests with instead of feeling horrible just scrolling past highlight reels and divisive posts. Bonus!
Dare to diversify
Do you really want to marry the first person you kiss? This is where I give you full permission to play the field (so to speak). Widen your circle of friends and start conversations with new contacts. Life gets boring when we’re always talking with the same people. How many of us get friend requests or have new people follow us (whom we blindly follow back) yet never bother to send them a quick hello? Be the one to make the first move and engage with new people as you connect with them online. Go back to the previous paragraph: ask questions, engage, rinse and repeat.
If you are starting your book writing journey, we have a resource for outlining your book, and if you are near the end and looking for information on how to publish your book, we’ve got you covered here.