Monday, April 9, 2018

Embracing Real Life

Recently, one of my friends asked--on Facebook--if it were possible to promote a book without social media.

This led to a lively discussion about promotion and how readers find out about books.

I pointed out that the majority of my friends--who are all big readers--do not even have a Facebook account. They don't use Twitter or Instagram. Nothing. They are too busy living their real lives and/or not interested in social media interactions.

But they read a lot. How do they find their books?

Number one by a long shot: Word-of-mouth. 

In effect, real life interactions, not on-line.

I think the idea of not having any social media accounts is absolutely shocking to most of my writer friends. Most authors I know rely heavily on their on-line presence for promotion, as well as support and news. We just assume that everyone lives like this. But they don't. And in fact, most people are totally clueless about all the melodrama we take for granted in the publishing world.

My interest in this topic is broader than book promotion. It ties into my research about "how to find your happy" and the notion that many people who spend a lot of time on social media are NOT happy. They are anxious and depressed. Is there a connection?

Of course there is.

Is there a way to pull the good stuff out of social media and minimize the bad stuff?

It's possible, but sometimes difficult. I have deleted almost all accounts, but I still have Facebook. I have a wonderful tribe there, and I am reluctant to give it up. This tribe includes friends, family, readers, colleagues. People who genuinely care about each other.

By muting/unfollowing/blocking, it is possible to curate your accounts into something positive and uplifting instead of something that makes you want to fling yourself off a bridge when you read it.

However, I will say this. I have made a concerted effort this year to live a REAL life, and minimize my on-line life, and it is most definitely making me happier.

I am giving workshops to schools, writing groups, and at conferences. Traveling all over the place. Taking classes. Forcing myself out of that warm cozy introvert space and connecting with people in real life.

This is both wonderful and exhausting, but I'm forcing myself to do it.

Being engaged in the real world is helping my peace-of-mind, but how does it affect a writing career?

In my opinion, it comes down to this...who is your audience? How can you connect with them?

If you have a younger audience, they are more likely to be on-line. If you have a more mature audience, like my friends, they will probably find out about their books from friends, book clubs, or perusing a book store.

I know authors who give talks at libraries, at book clubs, local events. They are more interested in making personal connections within the community, and hoping to start a word-of-mouth campaign in this manner.

I know authors who have huge on-line street teams that work for certain kinds of books and certain audiences.

You need to figure out how to connect with your readers, and to be honest about what makes you happy.

If you are miserable doing Facebook parties, avoid them. 

If you are too shy to give a talk at the local library, skip that.

You need to find a way to conduct your career that intersects with your own personal happiness. 

Another way to think about this whole thing...will I sell books by taking a long walk in the woods?


Will I be happier?


And...trickle-down effect: I write better when I'm happier. I also get inspired about writing topics when I'm walking in the woods. More inspiration: travel, meeting people, leaving the house (hee hee, that's a joke, but not really).

We might not always see the connection between living in the moment/being engaged in real life and our writing careers, but it's there.

Off for my walk,



JenM said...

Count me in as another one of those big readers who doesn't go near Facebook. My hubs has always had privacy concerns about it, so we decided long ago that we would never set up an account. After the events of the last few years, we are so happy that we made that decision. I find most of my books through blogs and word-of-mouth and I'm perfectly happy with doing it that way.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Jen! I realized as I deleted Twitter and Instagram that none of those accounts really matter. It didn't change my life. I didn't feel like I was missing something important. In fact, I think I'm missing a lot of angst and melodrama that I really don't need. Hee hee! One of my favorite ways of finding books is still perusing the local bookstore to see what the employees are reading/recommend. It's a fun way to discover books.

Handy Man, Crafty Woman said...

I think it's a good move. I've had to scale way back. All the negative news and arguing was too much for me. I hope it's possible to build a writing career with little to no social media; for me the emotional cost is just too much.

Penny Watson said...

HMCW...I think it's possible. I also think your personal happiness is more important in the long run than anything else.