I would give anything to be able to enthusiastically blast my ideas on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ ten times a day. I would kill to tell stories and keep a crowd in stitches with my effervescent nature.
I envy those who ooze energy and action. I admire those who get charged up by interaction and stimulation. I have spent a good portion of my life trying to be dynamic like that. Striving and doing like all the best people can. The way most successful and magnetic people do. It seems the right way to be. The way to be heard.
But alas, I am a dyed in the wool, sensitive introvert. I hold my breath until I can retreat to my inner world of ideas and feelings. I love interacting and gathering intimacy but long bouts of large-scale socializing and rushed living leave me feeling drained,raw and edgy. Sharing ideas is energizing but pushing fan page links and requesting Amazon reviews is not.
In the old days writers were allowed to disappear for a few months to create in peace. Family members, friends and fellow authors honored this creative solitude. Admittedly, that setup mostly worked for male writers. Women still struggled to find a room of their own. Nevertheless, writing used to be a solitary pursuit.
Now the world has gone ape-sh*t for media coverage. No one leaves you alone to create. You must produce AND promote. Much of the personal advertising falls to the writer. Agents and publicists are hard to come by. A writer must have a substantial platform of readers before a publisher even gives them a glance. Book tours and press releases are mandatory for published authors. It is necessary every day to offer up tidbits of wit and insight so the people don’t forget you. Facebook, twitter, Google+, kindle self-publishing, blogging, professional groups. Put yourself out there. Promote, promote, promote.
But I do it. I try. I throw up links to share and bond with my readers. I allow glimpses of my personal life on Facebook. I tweet and retweet to maintain a fragile web of connections that could vanish if left unattended for an afternoon.
It’s all about constantly courting the public. Or is it?
According to Michael Ellsberg, Forbes.com contributor and author of The Education of Millionaires, one well placed guest post on a popular single author’s blog is better than a three minute segment on CNN or a 1000 word write-up in The New York Times. One small introduction and a guest post on eccentric entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss’s (The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body) website skyrocketed Ellsberg’s book ranking on Amazon from #1295 to #45 in a matter of hours. Ellsberg did twitter blasts, email list launches, radio interviews and webinars but nothing ramped the success needle up like the nod from his acquaintance Tim Ferriss. Much like the Oprah effect, Tim Ferriss’s magic touch is due to his great influence over a large and extremely loyal audience.
Most of us don’t have people like Tim Ferriss in our pocket and I am not advising you to stalk mega-media stars, but I do believe most of us are capable of creating meaningful relationships. We all know someone who is slightly ahead of us on the success path. Nurture that connection. Offer your assistance. Learn from them.
Could it be that a strategic placement and endorsement from an influential individual is worth 1000 tweets? Wouldn’t it be lovely to use our energy for significant relationships instead of burning up precious fuel dithering in social media?
Do the Work – Steven Pressfield
Well known author (The War of Art, Do the Work) and screenwriter (The Legend of Bagger Vance), Steven Pressfield, states our most formidable enemy in writing is Resistance. Resistance is what makes us futz around for hours reading email, cleaning out drawers and flipping through magazines before we get down to our real work — writing. Resistance wants to distract, discourage and derail us. Pressfield says social media is Resistance’s most supreme tool.
Pressfield limits his media exposure. His publicist tweets for him. He rarely does interviews. The only consistent dialogue he maintains with his fans is through his blog Steven Pressfield Online. He admits to spending time connecting with a small tribe of followers who contribute comments to the Writing Wednesdays section of his site. A carefully placed and nourished relationship.
Above all Pressfield says DO THE WORK. Write through fear, frustration and Resistance. Focus on your craft. Write for the love of it, not for commercial success. Pressfield claims he never made any money when he worked for commercial success. He only succeeded when he followed his heart and did the work.
Keys to Success
Nothing gives me more energy than a good day of writing and the cultivation of meaningful relationships. Could it be these are the tools of a successful writing career? Doing beloved work and spreading kindness seems to be the right way to write and live.
How much time do you spend self-promoting? Do you have to be mindful of your energy? Have you found any foolproof methods to boost readership that don’t involve social media hustling?