Feedback Friday: No-No Words

Posted: January 10, 2014 in Feedback Friday
Tags: , , , ,

Someone in my Real Life asked me about my blog post last week, wherein I explained that I was going to try blogging more often because I find it difficult to do. Their question basically boiled down to “Why?”. “Why bother, if it’s hard? Just skip it. Forget the blog post, focus on the story and let the rest go.”

My response was to back away while searching desperately for something shiny to throw and distract their attention, because their question hit on a series of issues that I wasn’t comfortable discussing with A Reader. Issues like Platform. Marketing. Selling Yourself. Issues that are the subject of books for writers, and blogs for writers, but I’ll be damned if I can find somebody who will just straight up TALK about it, like, for real. Not in a “giving advice” kind of way, but in the really real “Oh for god’s sake this SUCKS” kind of way. We’re not supposed to do that.

Well. I thoroughly enjoy doing things that I’m not supposed to do.

Here’s the deal. You’re here, reading my shit, and I love you for it. No joke, I’d take you out for a drink if I could, because somebody reading something I wrote, liking it and coming back to read more is a lifelong dream that you personally have made come true for me. You’re awesome.

You also scare the shit out of me.

Common advice for writers, whether they’re independent or under contract with a house, is to get out there and build a platform. Make a blog. Get on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, whatever, wherever there are potential readers, put yourself out there. You may notice that I’ve done some of those things! (I recently joined Tumblr. I….do not understand it at all.) Yay for me! Such a good little writer!

Except, you know, that’s not all there is to it. Duh. No, once you’ve joined those places then you have to get to work generating content, and the nature of a blog/Facebook/Twitter is really to introduce the more personal side of an author, so they can connect with readers on a different level. I mean, I follow Joe Hill on Twitter now and I’m pretty sure we’re besties, even though he ignored me that one time I tweeted at him. Doesn’t matter. He’s a funny dude, especially late at night, and also? We both write our first drafts longhand? Which makes us soulmates. Learned that on Twitter, y’all. The point is, now I KNOW Joe Hill, like, intimately, and as such I feel a little bit invested in his success. I want to buy his next book, whatever that will be, and tell all of my friends about it, and maybe THEN he’ll tweet me back, like, WHAT THE FUCK, JOE HILL.

That went to a dark place for a second. Let’s take a deep breath together. Love you, Joe.

So anyway, with the generating content, that means putting yourself out there, talking about yourself and your life and hoping to god that somebody, somewhere, will find you likeable. Which is hard enough for an introvert with low self-esteem issues to do, but this is THE INTERNET. People are mean here. A lot. I would provide you with examples but come on, we all know. Go read a Yahoo article comment section or something, then come back. We’ll wait for you to finish crying.

I recently saw some ugliness directed at a fellow author/blogger over something she wrote, stuff that basically devolved into her being told she should hate herself and die. Now I’ve been lucky enough (KNOCK WOOD) to avoid any of that thus far, but I swear, every time I hit post I cringe just a little bit. Will this be the day that someone rips on me for always talking about shoes, like, bitch, FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO TALK ABOUT? Is someone going to decide they hate my shoes, and therefore they hate my stupid face and my stupid book too? Did I just say something that caused me to lose a reader? How about now?

How about….now?

It’s hard. It’s hard to put yourself out there and hope not too many people hate you, or that you don’t do something to ruin whatever enjoyment they’re getting out of your story, which should be judged on its own merit and not on personal feelings for the author but we know it’s not, not always. There’s always that ONE GUY who says something totally dickish and ruins everything else he’s ever done or said.

(I sure miss being able to watch Top Gun, is what I’m saying.)

On the other hand, you have to be honest, because people can spot a fake, and also, admiration for a personality you’ve made up isn’t real admiration. You’re still going to cry yourself to sleep at night worrying that someone will catch you out and hate the real you. So you commit to the honest track and you talk about the shoes, because really, honestly, truly-

 

I have a serious problem, you guys. I don’t even wear most of those.

An additional issue with this whole “platform” thing is that what works on a blog doesn’t necessarily work on a site like Twitter or Facebook. Here I can ramble on and on and ON; on Twitter, the character count is severely restricted, as if we’re sending out telegrams here and paying by the word. It’s hard to be witty in 140 characters or less. Some people are really good at it, and to that I say well, some people have clearly made a deal with the devil. Hugh Howey has said that if you can’t write at least one entertaining Tweet a day then you’re in trouble as a writer. Personally, I think that’s bullshit (and I’m not just trying to justify my abysmal twitter feed). As I touched on last week, there’s a big difference between writing a couple thousand words of fiction a week and writing non-fiction; shrinking it down to micro-non-fiction for a medium like Twitter is even harder.

All right, so, let’s say you have your content, it’s great, hilarious, people will LOVE IT. Now it’s time to dance, little monkey. First of all, did you consider SEO when you wrote your shit? That’s the best way for people to find your blog. I can’t tell you how much flak I catch from my husband for not giving two balls about SEO. I just can’t do it. I have a hard time with the tags I put on my entries, as I feel like I’m over tagging. When this one goes up it’ll probably have, like, 5 – 4 real ones and one I put on there for shits and giggles. That feels like way too many to me. Clearly I fail utterly at SEO.

Okay, now we’re dancing. Time to blast everybody with a tweet, a Facebook update, maybe another tweet because that shit moves fast and it’s off the feed before you blink. But, you know, try not to sound like you’re spamming people. Can you do that? Can you bombard people with your links without making them feel like a used car salesman just found them online and is leering skeevily in their general direction? Or without sounding like a pathetic attention whore, all, “Look at me! Read my stuff! LOVE ME, FOR GOD’S SAKE.”

I’ll tell you, every time I post a link on Twitter or Facebook, I feel a little bit like I’m knocking on your door, hat in hand, apologizing for bothering you but could you spare me a few minutes to talk about Jesus. It also feels egotistical. “Haha, what I wrote here is so awesome, everyone in the world must read it!” But how else do you get your shit out there? Not sharing = not being read, and that’s obviously not the goal. It gets a little easier the more you do it, but there’s still that lingering hesitance every time. I don’t know if that ever goes away. Ask me in a year, I guess.

So there’s my take on “platform”, which I think essentially boils down to “I have issues better served by therapy but I’m going to use you for that instead, and also, shoes”.

That sounds about right.

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Comments
  1. Mina Kelly says:

    Wait, that’s a lot of shoes? I think I have more shoes than you, and I always thought of myself as not having very many pairs. I certainly never have enough when it comes to finding a pair to match an outfit when I have to impressed the MiL! Those yellow and white ones at the back are super cute especially.

    (we’ll pretend I have opinions about SEO etc also, but I’m with you on that – ignoring it works best. Knowing too much just leads to the temptation to try and game the system, and the google will punish you for it anyway)

    • If you think that’s a reasonable amount, you are a person I need in my life.

      Really, I only think it’s a lot because I truthfully don’t wear many of them; I would say half have done nothing more than sit in my closet and look pretty. Doesn’t stop me from continuing to buy, though.

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