Welcome to the Self-Printed Preview Week! Today’s excerpt is from Part 3: Building an Online Platform and it’s called What’s With The “Be Professional” Thing? In Self-Printed I talk a LOT about acting like a professional writer even if you’re not one yet, especially on your blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, etc. But why do we need to? Why can’t we just blog about Jersey Shore, tweet about how our boyfriend’s dumped us and incessantly poke our Facebook friends? It’s because if you want to sell books, acting professional is the only way to go…
Why do you need to act like a professional? Why can’t you smear your emotional crap all over the place? Why can’t you do whatever it takes to get to a nice round number of Twitter followers? Why can’t you virtually poke me in the eye, especially when after reading this far, you really really want to?
You Have Something to Prove
Self-publishers, in the eyes of the discerning reader, start off fairly low on the Book Ladder. In fact for some, we’re not even on the ladder. The ladder is leaning against a house and we’re across the street and five doors down from it. Before the discerning reader will give our book a chance, we have to convince him or her that we have the potential to be just as good as anything the top-selling, most lauded, international-superstar-authors have to offer, and that just because we’re associated with a group known for bad quality doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ve gone down that road as well.
How can we do that? By sending I’m-not-crap signals at every opportunity. On the book, this is the cover. On our Amazon listing, this is the product description. And online, this is how much our blog looks like the website of a professional author, maybe even one who has someone else to make and maintain their website for them, someone with a website manager. (The dream!) When you’re a self-published author, everything you do online is a reflection of the quality of your book. Everything. Because even when no one is watching, Google is.
The More… the Merrier?
When you first start blogging, you feel like it’s just you and the screen. Then a few people leave comments, and you feel like it’s just you and them. Even though you know, intellectually, that whatever you type on those posts is entering the public domain, it doesn’t feel like it at the time. Even when your site stats say a couple of thousand people are visiting your blog on a regular basis, it still feels like a little group of friends, gathered together over a coffee every morning, chatting about quilts or whatever. It’s nice. It’s intimate. It’s safe.
It’s only when something from the real world pierces the bubble of your blogosphere that you realise how many people can, potentially, read your every blogged thought, and who some of those people might be. Maybe you write a post about how your family don’t believe in you, and then Aunty Joanne brings it up at your cousin’s wedding. Maybe you tell people the resort you’re going to on holidays and, while you’re there, someone comes up to you by the pool and says, “Are you the Quilting Queen of the Universe? I read your blog!” Or maybe you bitch about how your boss is clearly a devoted disciple of Satan, and then the next day you get fired.
And not to get all serious and sinister, but a lot worse can happen that that.
Your social media presence requires your personality, but it shouldn’t include your personal life. The easiest way to ensure that we keep one but exclude the other is to behave ourselves, and act the same way a professional writer – who knows, right from the outset, that lots of people, including reporters, agents and editors, are reading his/her every word – would do.
Dress for the Job You Want
You’ve heard that, right? Dress for the job you want, not the job you have? The same applies to your online presence. If you want to be a professional writer some day, start acting like one now – at least on your blog.
And so concludes Self-Printed’s preview week! I hope you’ve enjoyed these little tasters of the book that, through typing it, nearly wore my fingerprints away. (Over 100,000 words, people. What was I thinking?!) If you haven’t, we can still be friends.