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To sell yourself, be yourself

Selfie at Immigrant March 2018“Can we get back to writing now, please?”

Sure.

You might consider my posts about Stoneman Douglas and my displeasure with the President to be distractions from what I should be doing, building a platform. I have books to sell, and a book I want a publisher to pick up. I should be busy building my social media presence, buying ads and promotion services, and making book trailers. And YouTube videos. Why don’t I make some YouTube videos? Sure, I’m 57 years old with a gray beard and a fast-food gut, and YouTube is embroiled in monetization controversies and Logan Paul. But it’s 2018, damnit! Do a flipping YouTube video!

But I decided that the best way to sell my books is to sell myself. And to sell myself, I have to be myself. Here’s why.

The problem I see with many writer’s platforms is that the writer isn’t there. Every day on Twitter, I see writers spam their books. Often, tweets about the same book are stacked one after the other. Their promos would show the cover, the genre, a blurb, and that it got five stars on Amazon (even if the five-star review came from the author’s mother).

Those things are not compelling enough for me to buy that book. There are too many books, and I have too little time. I need more of a reason to click that link. I need to know the person who wrote that book. Would I enjoy this person’s style? Does this person tell stories I’d like to read?

In a way, picking an author is like picking a landscaper or an electrician from Yelp. You want to know that the person can do the job, and that person is someone you want to do business with. You read the credentials and the reviews, but you also want to talk to the person to see if you feel comfortable. And if you’re satisfied, you’ll go back to that person and recommend them to others. Similarly, you want to build enough of a relationship with a writer before you feel comfortable enough to buy a book.

Several authors build reader relationships well. First is Steena Holmes. She’s an excellent writer who puts a lot of her personality into her works. More importantly, she puts in a lot of effort to connect with her readers. She sends birthday greetings and holiday postcards. Jenna Moreci has a breakout hit with The Savior’s Champion. She also connects well with her audience, and she’s a perfect example of how to use YouTube. She provides plenty of helpful tips on writing along with her sharp wit.

A writer to watch is Katie Masters, whose novel Beacons comes out next spring. She’s a cheerful, supportive presence on Twitter, calling herself “Your Writer Big Sister” and offering encouragement and advice. She’s the only person I’m happy to see type in all caps.

These writers not only share their personalities, they give much and ask for little, if anything, in return. Other writers nag you to buy their books, as if they are only interested in the sale and the Amazon review. With authors like Steena Holmes, Jenna Moreci, and Katie Masters, you want to buy their books. You’ve already spent plenty of time with them, you’ve come to know them well, and you want to read whatever they have published. Besides, you want to give to them because they’ve already shown their appreciation of you as a reader.

They sell themselves by being themselves. They don’t build platforms. They are the platform. They don’t seek to build a brand or web presence. They seek to build connections and relationships.

This is what I’ve attempted to do as well. I tell you about myself, what I believe in, and the background behind the books I write. I share tips I think you’ll find useful, and I post a daily table topics question on Twitter. I suppose at some point, I’ll do a YouTube video other than the one when my kids prodded me to eat a lot of In-N-Out peppers.

Writing is about connection. I look forward to connecting with you more in the future.


Also published on Medium.

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