March 18, 2019

Keeping Up in a Virtually Social World

Nowadays, with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, personal blogs, and more, authors are expected to produce an endless stream of witty, useful, personal, and distinct content (not counting that whole writing books thing). But believe it or not, not all authors are inherently fascinating people.

The terror of the blank page has multiplied, tormenting introverted authors across social media platforms. 

The thing is, while I love genuinely connecting with readers, pretending I have a never-ending supply of something worth saying can be draining and intimidating—and not only for me. It doesn't help that many platforms are now actively hiding the things we do post.

Some authors, of course, actually are outgoing (or outgoing on social media) and have intriguing personalities. Or adorable pets. They set the bar impossibly high. So the rest of us, well, fake it. Or desperately try to do so, even though what we actually want is to return to a time when books spoke for themselves, and authors could legitimately retreat into relative obscurity, even as their work rose to unparalleled popularity. (Hey, a girl can dream, right?)

This pressure to be interesting is perpetuated by much of the advice that has circulated for years in author communities. And to that end, “fake it 'til you make it” used to seem like a pretty good motto. Projecting confidence does encourage others to assume you actually have something worth saying. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite help you figure out what to say—which can leave you writing about the impossibility of being interesting 100% of the time.

While writers can’t disappear entirely into our writing, I struggle to remember that I also don’t have to play the “keeping up” game. Yes, creating and maintaining a virtual presence is part of the job, but that presence needs to be a reflection of me, not of who marketing experts think I am supposed to be.

So I'm left hoping that despite not being an endlessly fascinating chatterbox, what my readers ultimately want is to connect with the real me. This is part of why I'm moving away from platforms like Facebook that have become pay to play—meaning if I don't pay, readers don't see my posts, even in my VIP reader group. I'm hoping Patreon will allow us to (re)connect in a more genuine way. As long as I can figure out what to say. 😉💕

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