The Myth of the Author Online Presence

A little bit of a rant here about the advice to authors, especially Indie authors, that have been making the rounds online since, well, forever. To the point of feeling as if I’ll get beat over the head if I don’t pay attention and follow it.

It’s a subject I would love for Dean Wesley Smith to tackle directly as one of the new-and-upcoming myths of the new Indie publishing business. Really. I would love his viewpoint.

Just for kicks, let’s start this off DWS-style.

The Myth: Your online presence should be all about selling your books. That means not writing about writing. That’s geared only towards other writers. No, you should start sharing things about yourself. Open up your personal life. Talk about EVERYTHING. Become ‘friends’ with the reader.

What does this advice tell me?

:snark mode on:

Psst. Hey, you, author.

Stop relating news about your writing. Readers don’t want to hear about it. It doesn’t matter that it’s only because of your writing that they have something to read.

Don’t you know you should blog and tweet and whatever only about things OTHER than writing? Writing should be locked away in the attic along with Crazy Aunt Matilda, to be seen only by accident!

:end snark mode:

I have several problems with this advice. Let’s start with the big one.

My life is MINE.

I try to be careful online. I do not put everything out there. I’m sure there’s still plenty about me out there, but I do not willingly share.

You will not hear about my family other than an odd comment. You will not hear about my home and pets on a regular basis. You will not hear about my real-life job or a lack of one. You will not hear about my doctor appointments unless it’s something that might stop my writing career. You will not hear about shopping for clothes or groceries.

That is my private life. Why does someone have to be a voyeur into my life to feel a connection to me?

My online presence is about what I feel passionate enough about to share.

Second point:

Marketing and promotion

The mantra: it’s all about finding and selling to readers. Marketing and promotion is where it’s at! If you aren’t doing both as much as writing, well, then, you really don’t deserve success and are unlikely to achieve it.

:snort:

You know what? My work are my best marketing and promotion tools. I put a lot of hard work into my work.

I know my work will not be to everyone’s tastes. That’s fine. I know this business is one of patience. A marathon, not a sprint. I’m willing to be patient as I find those new readers. Once someone does find and like me, they will tell others. The word-of-mouth will spread.

Every survey on the subject says that word-of-mouth is the MOST effective sales tool.

In the meantime, however, I’m marketing and promoting my little brains out. How am I doing that? By writing. Writing and writing, and writing some more.

And art. Creating, thinking, researching, and sketching. See all those covers on the right side? I’ve achieved a dream I’ve had since a teen to become a cover artist. Whelan, oh my goodness. I wanted to create painted covers that make people stop and take a second look!

I reached that dream by making covers for my own writing. None are perfect, but wow, am I proud of the painted covers. With each cover I learn new things and become better.

Am I marketing and promoting? You betcha!

Let’s move onto the third point.

Advice: Interact With What You Are Passionate About

Do you know what I am passionate about?

Writing and art.

Those two words on the line above. Those are my passions and who and what I am. Period. I refuse to feel guilty about it.

Share my the rest of my life? No, there isn’t much otherwise to share, or that I’m willing to share. I do not share my private life.

For me, it comes down to this: If I don’t write about my passions on my blog and in my online social life (and those are writing and art), then I don’t talk. No point in engaging. No point in the blog. No point in the rest of it. I might as well have a static webpage that gets updated only when a new book comes out.

Heck, I would have more writing time if I just went with a static webpage. But, I don’t want to. I LIKE helping other writers and artists. I LIKE reporting on the progress of the various projects. I LIKE giving advice that could help others. I LIKE hearing from other writers and artists. I LIKE talking and displaying the arts.

While I see and acknowledge that we as publishers/authors need to sell to people who are not authors, I also believe in being true to yourself. My media interaction does that, even if it is ‘insular’ to those doing the same thing. I do think readers respond to honesty. This is the honest me. Heck, if it weren’t, they wouldn’t have anything to read!

You want something personal about me? Here it is: Writing professionally has been a dream since learning how to read with Dick and Jane. I remember the moment of sitting in the chair and having the shocking realization that, yes, even at that young age, I could write and tell stories better than this person who not only became published, but published big enough to sell to schools! I loved telling stories before that. Had a burning desire to know what these strange marks on a page meant, because obviously my parents knew what they were when they were reading me a story. But after Dick and Jane, I knew I would become a published author one day. Nothing was going to stop me!

What Does All This Come Down To?

Unlike a lot of blogs that have decided that they must change their format and subjects to attract and appease a mythical perfect reader/buyer, this blog will not change. It will remain about my passions.

Just to be clear, here are my passions:

WRITING AND ART!

And, who knows? Maybe those readers who happen on my little corner of the internet will enjoy following me as I work on new projects and report my progress, failures and successes, and new releases. Maybe I will inspire them to try art or writing themselves. Or maybe I will inspire them to other endeavors they have a passion for but for some reason haven’t attempted.

I think that would be a wonderful thing. The world needs more writers and artists, not less.

So, this blog?

Just me, being me.

____________________

The Myth of the Author Online PresenceJ.A. Marlow

A planet-wide conspiracy is waiting at Grandmother’s house…

“Always wear the red hood and cape while you are in the forest,” Grandma admonished.

For a teen with purple and red hair, and an attitude to match, the small claustrophobic city of Oburos grows ever smaller with Uncle Travis’s attempts to take over her and her mother’s life.

An invitation to visit Grandmother’s house, nestled among the giant trees filling the planet, gives Kate a welcome respite. But, there is no time for rest. A conspiracy among the forest inhabitants, moving trees, and other mysteries await her at Grandmother’s house.

Kate learns just how little she knew of the forests, much less its animals. To survive she must learn fast, and that includes trust and teamwork.

And just where was Grandma, anyway?

A Science Fiction 83600 word stand-alone novel retelling of the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood” by J.A. Marlow.

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The Myth of the Author Online Presence

9 thoughts on “The Myth of the Author Online Presence”

  1. Applause! Same here. I just like to share a little more about my non-writing interests too. But my family life is mine and I’ll hardly ever talk about it.

    Reply
    • @Katharina – If you have other interests, go right ahead! Right now I’m pretty narrow-focused, but that’s on purpose with my 5-year plan. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Agreed. My blog is to help me network with others down the line. And to participate in the whole vast ongoing conversation about writing and indie publishing that’s going on these days.

    I did break down and put my picture on mt blog, though. Good Lord,l I hope it won’t hurt my book sales…

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Author blogging and how to do it – or not | Pegasus Pulp
  4. Amen, J.A! 🙂

    I’ve kept my blog as a writers’ blog; I’m not interested in turning it anything else.

    Yes, I’m passionate about writing, have been for a long time. That’s what I’m going to stick to.

    Reply

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