The Business of Being Personal


Bouchercon Book Bag - Grand Priaze

Bouchercon Book Bag – Grand Priaze

Whew!  I must have stumped you well last week!  I only had one person able to answer the questions.  Congratulations, Sharon from Littleton, CO for guessing these contest questions right:

  1. What was Anthony Boucher’s full legal name?  William Anthony Parker White
  2. When and where was the first Bouchercon? 1970 – Santa Monica, CA
  3. Who is the main suspect in Liesa’s upcoming novel, “Sliced Vegetarian?”  Brian Hughes – the special needs worker at Gigantos Supermarket (and Ginny Caerphilly’s boyfriend)

Better luck next time, my friends.  By the way, what kind of contests do you prefer: raffles, trivia, puzzles, other?  I’d like to do more of these, but will probably do them in my quarterly newsletter, which I’ll be starting to send in January.  Please let me know if you’d like to be on my mailing list.


RMMWA 2014 Holiday Tree

Happy holidays, my reading and writing friends!

If you are an aspiring author, chances are you’ve been inundated with the concept of “author platform” over the past few years.  An author platform is a fancy way of saying “personal branding.”  I may be opening a can of worms here, but in yesteryears personal branding was pretty much handled by a resume and a handshake.  Today, we’ve replaced that minimalist effort with social media.

As authors, we are supposed to engage with multiple social sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.  The list goes on…and on…and on.  I could see an author getting stuck in social media and never writing anything for real consumption again (please don’t ask how my book’s coming!).

But the bigger question is, with all this personal advertising and letting total strangers get to “know” us, are we any better off? Hmm.

I like to write this journal on-line, because I feel like I’m being a pen pal.  I love hearing from and responding to you individually.  But with Goodreads, I’m not really fond of reviewing books by others (everyone should get five stars just for going through the publishing process in my mind), and saying “something” in 140 characters for Twitter 1,000 times a day is truly noise pollution from my perspective. Sheesh! What’s an author to do?

With so much noise on the Internet, I am finding that connecting with others is a more personal mission.  It isn’t a game of “who’s following me?” but the more genuine back and forth of building personal binds between potential friends and true acquaintances. This “belly-to-belly” approach isn’t efficient, but much more rewarding.

Littleton Writers Holiday Party

Social Media at its finest is a one-to-one connection.

The Internet is a “safe place” for introverts to hang out.  We only have to post our opinions and comment a few times here and there to build reputations in our chosen communities. But when we truly buy into our areas of interest, and the people who populate those areas, we must make a personal effort, have good timing and embrace good luck.  In the ’80s we called it “networking.” Before that, it was simply “good business.”

This reminds me of the “Christmas Carol,” where one of the ghosts reminds Scrooge, “Business? Business?  PEOPLE are your business!”  In the spirit of that people focus, I’m attending a few holiday parties this year.  Not my area of strength, but people are indeed my business and I find that the more I put into this effort, the richer my life becomes.

It’s no good to go to a party, convention or business gathering and make the excuse, “I’m shy” to not engage.  We need to reach out, shake hands, have our photos taken and be involved.

The Littleton Writers’ party was on Sunday. Small turn-out, but I had the chance to engage not only with my writing friends, but with their interesting and wonderful spouses.  John talked about education in the south, Dave talked project management, and I always enjoy Marta’s dialog on public relations and the light rails going around our cities in the Denver metroplex.  How cool is that?

Edgar Holiday Ornaments

Being social can be crafty.

Tomorrow, I’ll be at the local chapter of Mystery Writers of America.  Because I volunteered (something cynics among us think of as a waste), I got to play with arts and crafts, I’ll be reading a snippet from my second book to the group, and I had the chance to get to know the chapter president and a few other people much better than before.  Every person in this group is not only a potential reader, but someone who may promote my book, or give me a book review.  This is HUGE!

On Saturday, I may miss a function.  These parties are, after all, “work” for authors.  But my sister is coming in from Detroit, and I have wanted to chat with her for a while.  Family is priority one to me.  But if she slips off with her daughter, I may go to the RMFW holiday party.  If I do, there’s probably someone I haven’t met yet who may become a friend or at least friendly acquaintance.

Author platforms. We build ’em one plank (or friendship) at a time.

8 thoughts on “The Business of Being Personal

  1. “This ‘belly-to-belly’ approach isn’t efficient, but much more rewarding.”—Yes! I so agree with this. There are authors who amass tons of Twitter followers and whose timelines are full of promotional tweets and retweets and nothing personal (and by personal, I don’t mean soul-bearing; Twitter’s not the place for that). It’s lovely to retweet someone, but I think people want interaction and the personal touch, too. It can be tricky to find a balance, for sure.

    • Thanks, Carrie. That balance thing is the hardest to do. I’m thrilled to blog, but it turns out so me, me, me, even I want to gag. Yet, when someone writes back as you just did, I feel a personal connection–a way to get to know you better. I hope we’ll get to be great friends over time. Have a great holiday season, but don’t watch Life of Pi or Star Wars, right? Hope you get lots of chocolate chip cookies instead.

  2. A personal connection is much nicer, I agree, although, I would imagine, hard work for an author in the long run. But one reader can then be the connection to a larger group in turn, as you point out.
    Sorry I missed your last post, things have been hectic at work. I hope you have a wonderful time with your sister (my brother is arriving soon from Europe, am excited to see him again).

    • Hi Letizia,
      Thanks for your thoughts. I hope that when the holiday season begins, you find yourself surrounded not by papers to grade, but by friends to share good times with–starting with your brother’s visit. I suspect you are the kind of person who draws friends to you always. Happy holidays!

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