Please help me welcome multi-published romance and paranormal author Laura Kaye to the blog.
Rebecca was so kind to have me here today [thanks, Rebecca!], and she’s given me space to do my thing. And, right now, my fear is maybe no one will read it. Or they’ll read it and not comment, and then, what does that mean? Was it too boring? Too dull? Too pedantic?
See, this is the kind of commentary that sometimes goes on in the head of an introvert. I know. Because I am one.
Well, I’m a recovering introvert, anyway.
Part of the reason I might be working through my introvert nature is because, online, I feel I can be more myself than in a face-to-face situation. I’ve never been good at mingling at parties, making small talk, going up to strangers and introducing myself. And, while immersing yourself in social media can be a little like that, I’ve found the more I do it, the more my online presence jives with my introverted nature. So, with that in mind, here are some things this introvert has learned about creating a useful and effective online presence:
2) You are the expert. You are an expert on a lot more things than you think. A lot of my stress as an introvert stems from not knowing what to say and wondering if people could care less. But talking from a place of expertise dissolves a lot of those concerns. In my full-time job, I’m a history professor—that’s right, my daily work involves lots of public speaking. And except for a recurring dream at the start of every single semester that I show up on the first day of classes and haven’t prepared anything [still having this little subconscious burp after 12 full-time years of teaching!], I am never stressed about what to say or how my interactions will go when I walk in the room. The explanation’s simple. In that room, I’m the expert. That doesn’t mean I know it all, and frequently an interested student will have learned something along the way I don’t know much about. But identifying areas of expertise, preparing them, and falling back on them can be a real savior for an introvert because it gives you something ready and interesting to talk about. Applying this idea to your books, what cool gems did you learn while researching your stories? An interesting historical fact relevant to your setting? Some funky trivia about when or how something was invented? That research has given you a bit of expertise that you can use not only to strike up conversations, but also to help market your writing.
3) Be Authentic. We all strive for this in our writing, right? Authentic voice, authentic characters, authentic dialogue, authentic emotional reactions. It’s what makes our stories work. It’s what draws our readers in and makes them believe.
Well, authenticity is useful in developing your online presence, too. It relates to the content you plan to post on your website, blog, twitter, or facebook posts. Now, a lot of people hold back from these types of social media because they either fear 1) I don’t have anything interesting to say [see #1] or 2) if I speak authentically, I might offend someone, bug them with my sense of humor, or bore them with the things I find interesting, and thereby turn off a potential reader. But, here’s the thing: if you’ve done your job as a writer and poured your authentic self into your writing, you’ve already put the risk out there in the universe—the risk they won’t get your story, they won’t get your humor, they won’t agree with your take on the world. Since you’ve already taken that leap, allow yourself the realization that you’re not taking a new risk by being that same authentic self online. It’s all part of the same risk-taking process. Because, face it, that’s what writing is. How often do we talk about our books as our babies? We’ve already put our writers’ hearts on the line, so the risk’s not new. Plus, the benefit of being authentic? When you’re interested in and passionate about something, that passion comes through, attracts people and pulls them in, creates a unique identity for yourself that people will remember.
So, what does it mean to be authentic? Well, it means something different for each of us. If cooking is a huge part of your life, maybe it means you weave food into your stories, swap recipes on your blog. If knitting is your passion, maybe it’s your heroine’s too, and maybe you post pictures of your finished creations in a special facebook photo folder. If you can’t get enough of a man’s naked abs, then maybe a weekly man candy column’s your thing. But if you’re a knitting kinda girl and feel squeamish about the thought of posting naked guys on your blog, don’t do it. Because it wouldn’t be an authentic you.
4) Entertain, Inform, Connect, Share, Support. These five suggestions sum the other three up. Whether you’re trying to entice people to buy your book, visit your blog, or comment on your facebook post, strive to entertain. Think about the number of things that compete for people’s attention these days. If you want to rise above the din, you have to grab their attention. One way to do that is to inform [see#2]. People love to learn something new. So those bits of expertise in unusual, unexpected topics you learned while researching your books? Those could form the basis of some interesting blog posts, or be the kernel of a bigger book-related talk you do before a book signing. This is what I meant when I said expertise could relate to marketing—if you “give” people some interesting content as a “free” takeaway, they’re more willing to part with their dollars and give your book a try.
Another way to grab attention is to share your own experiences. To put something personal into the mix. To be the person behind the book. People don’t want to interact with a marketing machine; in fact, constantly and only trying to sell is one of the biggest social media no-nos. Remember that the online presence you’re building is uniquely yours. Connecting is another way to grab attention and garner friendships. How often have you wished someone would introduce you to an author you admire, or refer you to a good critique partner in your genre, or hook you up with a writing group or resource you didn’t know about? How often do you do those things for others? Using your online presence to connect others will come back to you in spades. As will being supportive. Want Twitter followers? Want Facebook Likes and Friends? Want people to follow your blog? Then you have to be a follower/liker/friend, too. I make it a practice to retweet every good review or other celebratory announcement that I see in my Twitter feed. The first thing I do on Facebook is scroll through the past few hours of newsfeed and click ‘like’ on all the posts that strike me and ‘share’ all the good news. These things cost me nothing. At first, they may not pay off in measurable tangibles, but eventually they will. And those folks will friend you, and follow you, and retweet you right back. And then you’ll have found your online peeps/tweeps. Which means, in the great big social reception that is the interwebz, you’ll always have people you know who you can talk to.
Thanks for the opportunity to chat up your blog, Rebecca!
Laura is a multi-published author of paranormal and contemporary romance. Her first books, HEARTS IN DARKNESS (4/20/11) and FOREVER FREED (5/20/11) are coming soon from The Wild Rose Press. Hot, Heartfelt Romance – Because everyone longs to belong…