I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and you're all focused and ready to tackle 2019. I know, but it's what I'm supposed to say, right? Just like our social interaction with family and friends, there are exchanges as authors that are expected of us. Whether we're sharing a cute pic of our pets on Instagram, Tweeting our latest release on Twitter, or playing games on the Book of Faces...what will our future be if your name starts with the letter L? We as authors, are expected to present ourselves in a certain way. Smile, be happy, engage, be supportive of other authors, and first and foremost, keep yourself in the public eye. Because if you're out of sight, you are definitely out of mind.
Theses are all tools we use to promote our books and ignite sales. But what if you're not the extrovert you need to be? What if engaging is difficult, and sometimes even excruciatingly painful? Finding a way to communicate with the public can be daunting. You're smiling on the outside, and crying on the inside. I know, because I was like this. When I first became a published author, I needed, by contract, to become a social media force to be seen and noticed. Navigating the various on line social media was difficult for me. Yes, I was removed, but I often found myself struggling to keep up with too much information, and this often resulted in an overload of feelings of inadequacy. Then there were the public appearances.
Meeting with the public and speaking about my book left me in a hurricane of angst, and quite often, burning stomach pain from anxiety. I needed to find a way to tackle the marketing mountain without plummeting to the bottom. I could cut out the face to face, and choose to rely on the internet. There are authors who have mastered the use of the keyboard to boost their sales and gain the exposure they need, and I wish I had a better handle on this gift that seems to escape me, but I don't. Come to find out, that as difficult as it was to engage in person, it was also my best form of promo.
I started to think of everyone like friends and family. They came to see me, talk to me, and learn about my latest release. All the things that brought fear to me, began to dissolve and reshape into opportunity. Now, I know this sounds simple. Believe me it wasn't. It took years of persevering and pushing myself. Forcing myself to face my fear. Increasing my public appearances and leaping out of my comfort zone. The more signings I booked, the more at ease I became. My once sense of dread actually started to change into excitement.
It's been almost eleven years since since my first signing, and I can't believe the who I am today. Learning to deal with and overcome my fear has changed so many other things for me. I'm no longer the quiet person at the party who blends in with the wallpaper. I feel at ease engaging and socializing. I no longer feel judged, or weird. Heck, I know I'm weird, I just go with it now. A few weeks ago I had a radio interview. For the first half hour, the host spoke with me, joked with me, laughed with me. She explained this was the time she used to put the guests at ease. Loosen them up and gain a level of comfort. She then said to me words that probably meant nothing to her, but had a huge impact on me. She told me, that she guessed there was no need for that with me. She didn't detect any nerves or hesitation. I chuckled and responded, telling her I was just sharing a cup of coffee with her.
The words resonated in my brain, and I smiled all day. I really had conquered my fear and the one thing that I thought impossible became my biggest tool. I could use what I knew the most about to help me in my author career. I could use...me. I'll never be proficient to the point of total comfort with social media, but I found my skill. The cup of coffee, chatting about life, and finding a common ground that I could walk on with my readers.
This is my marketing mountain that I conquered. I'm not saying you will ever be comfortable with public appearances, but what I am saying is keep trying to find yours. Look for the one thing you can build on, even if it's volcanic explosion in your stomach hard, if you think you understand it in your head, then that's probably the direction you need to explore.
I'm here if you need to reach out, author to author, person to person. We really are all in this together, we just need to be reminded from time to time.