I know this has happened to you before too. A page on Facebook catches your eye and you decide to give it a Like. The next day, the Likeable So-and-So behind this page kindly reminds you to check out their new book. That’s fair. You Like them so maybe you will check out their new book. Yeah. It sounds pretty good, actually! Why not? But the next day (let’s call it Wednesday), another message arrives to make sure you remember about that reminder to check out the new book. And Thursday there is yet another reminder about the reminder about the reminder. By Friday, you’ve decided there is no way in hell you will check out that new book even if it’s the greatest story ever written. In fact, you might even discourage others from purchasing it when you complain about it on Saturday afternoon over at your writing forum.
In the majority of cases, the above scenario is an exaggeration of how it is apt to go when someone you Like abuses your affection. I have a current situation going on however that makes that same kind of headache seem like a timid marketing strategy. I wish I only heard from this So-and-So once a day. It’s more like two or three. Due to the complex nature of networking, Unliking this person has only happened in my heart thus far. But one of these days, I’m going to click that button.
In this modern age, writers are faced with two big responsibilities out there in the cyber world: We must lend support to our fellow writers, and we must take care with the trust that our support network gives us. This isn’t news to anyone, I realize. Even so, knowing the perimeters can be sticky business for some.
Over the last ten years, there have been many generous souls who have supported me by offering advice, reading my typos, and mentioning my work in their blogs. I can’t repay a lot of this stuff, it’s been just that wonderful. I owe it to these people to help them if ever they do offer me some small chance to do so. I admire these people and I admire their work. I want to support the things they write because, by golly, it’s good.
Another way to honor the help that’s been given to me is to keep my eyes open for opportunities where I might read someone else’s typos or lend a caring ear. We can’t live in complete fear of reaching out, right? Where would I be if other writers had not reached out to me?
The truth is, most of us want to support the people who are doing things we find interesting and exciting. We want to Like them and help them spread the word. But have a heart, dear friend! If we sign up for your newsletters, please be a doll and like us back. It matters not one whit to me if you Like me in return, but do go on and like me enough NOT to fill up my inbox with stuff I already know. Beating a dead dog is never a good idea. My city actually pays someone to come and take road kill away. Sorry there old dead dog, but I don’t want to look at that. And by the same token, I must resist the urge to fill your inbox needlessly as well.
No doubt about it, this is all very delicate business. If I’m too pushy, people will hate me. If I’m too chicken to say anything, there won’t be very many fans out there to wonder about my work. By my experience, some people just seem to have a better feel for finding that middle ground. In John Locke’s new book HOW I SOLD 1 MILLION BOOKS IN 5 MONTHS! he makes an excellent case for treading lightly with your newsletters and blogs. This guy has sold one million books so he certainly knows how to market his work. He advises writers not to blog every day. Not only that, but when you do blog, keep it short. Keep it important. If you’re talking about the coffee you spilled at breakfast and sharing details about your dry-cleaning, you’re practically training people to tune you out. Don’t do that to me and don’t do it to yourself. It’s anti-marketing. You’re spending hours and hours of your precious time to warn people away from your writing.
The way you treat your contacts takes some serious thought, is all I’m saying. Judging by some of the things people send me, not all of us are on the same page here. And I’m not talking about personal emails either. That’s a whole different thing, so please don’t take offence. Unfortunately, your most fascinating moments of the day still have to butt heads with the time crunch I face in mine. While it’s true that not everyone disdains daily updates, some people most definitely do. Don’t make your fans regret Liking you because you suffer a burning urge to keep in close touch. You’re probably really nice, and anyway it’s hard for me to Unlike you.
Please visit Carole at carolelanham.com and check out her Apron Hall of Fame at horrorhomemaker.com.
Coming in October 2011:
THE WHISPER JAR A Collection of Curious Secrets