Monday, April 11, 2011

Creating an Online Presence: 4 Tips from an Introvert

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:


1) I am not boring. And neither are you. First of all, if you’re an author, you’ve already accomplished something most people will never do. That in and of itself makes you interesting. Lots of people want to be writers, or at least they’re curious about what it takes—if nothing else they’ll be interested in hearing how you made it when others didn’t. Plus, those really cool characters you created? That impossibly intricate plot you wove all through that story? That smokin’ hot exotic locale you described until your reader was right there in the thick of it? That’s all you. You’re the source of all that coolness, complication, and hotness! When talking about yourself fails you, talk about your characters. Heck, sometimes let them do the talking [when blogging, facebooking, tweeting, etc.] And that leads me to…


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…


Website: http://www.laurakayeauthor.com/
Blog: http://laurakayeauthor.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @laurakayeauthor

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/laurakayeauthor

25 comments:

  1. Thanks for having me here today Rebecca!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Aww, you're shy? I love your writing Laura! Can't wait to read Hearts in Darkness! I've read The List a number of times ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Laura, I had to pop on and say how much I LOVE the cover for your book, Hearts In Darkness. I read the blurb and have added it to my TBR list! Happy sales!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Huh - you hide your introverted-ness really well - I never would've guessed! These are great tips for everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very well said! And a very interesting take on a topic that I think probably plagues a lot of writers (why else would we sit by ourselves listening/talking to the voices in our head?) Thanks for the post!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for dropping in everyone!

    @phoenixliv and Christi--I'm shy in certain situations, not across the Board, and teaching has helped push through a lot of those issues. But put me in a reception/gathering with a bunch of people I don't know and you'll find me hanging at the food table trying to look busy! LOL

    @AJ--Oh, thanks! I love the HEARTS cover too and hope I'll be able to request that artist from hereon out! And it just won some cover awards too! Squee! Now, I just hope people love the story as much as the cover! LOL

    @Lea--yes, this is true, as we've discussed many times! [Don't mind me, I'm just listening to the voices in my head...] LOL

    ReplyDelete
  7. Have any of you ever taken the Myers-Briggs personality test? One of the four measured indicators is extroversion vs. introversion. I never score all the way to the extreme end of the introversion scale, usually closer to the middle, but always still on the introversion side. Here's some thinking on the difference between extroverts and introverts from the test. I don't feel the first one relates to me as much, but the second and third points are ones I particularly identify with. And, I think I'm middle of the road on the fourth point--although I mostly gain energy from being with one or two people I care a lot about rather than a big group of people who are just acquaintances.

    # Extroverts are action oriented, while introverts are thought oriented.
    # Extroverts seek breadth of knowledge and influence, while introverts seek depth of knowledge and influence.
    # Extroverts often prefer more frequent interaction, while introverts prefer more substantial interaction.
    # Extroverts recharge and get their energy from spending time with people, while introverts recharge and get their energy from spending time alone

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey Laura, you all must be in a different time zone or you're very early risers. LOL

    Thanks so much for being here today. Great post. I love the points you mentioned from the Myers-Briggs test. I can especially relate to #4. I do okay in a crowd for a while, but I reach a point where I hit the wall and have just had ENOUGH.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This post was absolutely perfect for me today! I have just had my website completed and it's ready to "launch" and I've been freaking out about blogging because WHO in the world would want to read anything that I have to say, right? This was one of THE best blogs I've read for us writers. Thank you , thank you!
    Patti

    ReplyDelete
  10. Go, East Coasters! LOL Although I was up ungodly early because a dang chest cold kept me up all night. The silver lining is reading 2/3 of Suzanne Collins's Catching Fire--total Hunger Games devotee now! :)

    Patricia--Oh, what a nice comment. I'm heading over to your blog right now!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Patricia--post the link to your blog if you come back to visit, the link on your name doesn't yet work! :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi, Laura,

    Great post - love your ideas in the blog, and in the comments section!

    And I agree with Christi - I'd never have guessed you are shy.

    Take good care,
    Laura

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Laura,

    Very cool article.

    I consider myself an anti-social extrovert. A true oxy-moron.
    If I don't have to go out in the world and communicate i don't. I like to hole up and act like a hermit crab, But when I am out, I like to talk with everyone. it truly is crazy and weird.

    Gabriella

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Gabriella--thanks for dropping over here. I like that--"anti-social extrovert"--I totally get your meaning!

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is such a great post. I am an extreme introvert. I won't bore you with the details (see what I did there?), but this was exactly what I needed to hear/read today.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Aw, TK, glad this fit the bill! And, uh, yeah, we're on to you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I really liked your entry Laura...

    It was detailed and gave me a new perspective.
    I think of myself as an extrovert but at the same time I need my space. Does that make sense?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi Laura--

    Super post! I'm the opposite--totally extroverted, far right hand corner on Myers-Briggs, but sometimes, it's still hard to put yourself out there. Thanks from an extrovert!

    Feel better soon!

    Sharon

    ReplyDelete
  19. Cleo and Sharon--thanks for stopping by! Sharon, I'm so not surprised you'd score hard on the extrovert side! :) Cleo--I bet if you took the Myers Briggs test you'd score closer to the middle of the road, that might explain your having some of both tendencies! Fun conversation, guys! Thanks for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great post, Laura. As you and I have discussed, I am novice when it comes to blogging, and it's hard for me to get myself out there as well. I always worry about saying the right thing, etc. Your post has given me a lot of great tips!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Glad you found it helpful, Stacy. Starting out can be hard, but just do what feels right and the readers will come. IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME... lol :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Awesome post, simply awesome. I'm teaching a mini-class tonight to our writers group on how to critique. All day long I've been stressing, "What makes ME the expert?" Your lovely post was exactly what I needed.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Awesome to hear, Vonnie! You'll do great!

    ReplyDelete
  24. This is really great information. I'm painfully shy and introverted and as I try to make connections on the net (where I feel like I can be myself more, too), I'm trying to be consistent. This was really helpful - thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  25. You're welcome, Marie! Thanks for all the friends/follows everywhere!

    ReplyDelete