Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday: You're Selling Yourself

Okay, so here we are, throwing our words out into the blogosphere. We comment. We laugh together. We cry. We think. You read my blog. I read yours.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why?

Well, I'm here to distill The Truth: As an author (pre-published or published) you're selling yourself.

And here's the kicker: You have to make yourself something people want to buy. You must make what you say something people will pay (time or money) to read.

How does one do that, exactly? [insert whiny voice, if necessary]

Well, for me, it's the same principles that apply to my relationships in real life. Because aren't blogs just online relationships?

1. Assume good will.
2. Treat others how you want to be treated.
3. If you must, put on your happy face and pretend.
4. Remember that every child blogger has someone that loves them. If in doubt, see #2. And then #3.

Have you ever thought about the purpose for your blog? Do you have goals for your blog? Have you thought of it as selling yourself as an author? And how's that workin' for ya? Do you think people are buying?

72 comments:

Jess of All Trades said...

I pretend that I write my blog for just me (and with my current number of followers, I pretty much do). But in secret, I hope it will become a powerful, fun 'look at me!' networking device.
Y'know. A place where all my future rabid fans can find me.

Yessss, Pinky... *back to the drawing board*

Thanks for the food for thought!

Scobberlotcher said...

I started my blog to help promote my writing/book. Now that I've blogged for a year and a half, however, I find I've gotten more out of it than I expected. Since writing is solitary and I used to work in an office, I find that my bloggy friends are like having cube-mates I can share life with. :)

Falen said...

i started my blog because i thought it would be fun (and it is) and because it may help with promoting my writing.
At the very least, my blog keeps me accountable regarding my writing

Christine Fonseca said...

I come from a business/marketing background (way back when) - so to me, every interaction between human beings involves a bit of selling - you want to sell an idea, have a need met, etc. It is natural for humans. I do adopt similar principles in my relationships as you - I put the "costumer", in this case the person with whom I have the relationship, first - see if there is a way to meet their need w/o sacrificing my own needs. After all, we ALL have to share this planet, right?

For my blog and my writing, it is definitely a "selling yourslf" type of thing - and as with everything, I think authenticity is key.

Great post - as always.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

It gives me an excuse to do photography, which was being neglected due to my writing. :D

Laura Pauling said...

I've been blogging for less than 2 months, and I thought long and hard before I started one. I wanted to make sure I blogged for the right reasons. One, I want a potential agent or editor to be able to find me and get a feel for who I am once they are interested in my work.

But I found lots of other great reasons once I started. I really enjoy getting to know other writers where ever they are on the publication path. And, especially now, while I'm revising, it's fun to write fresh and fun without the pressure of it being perfect!!

Carolyn V. said...

I need to work on my blog, but always feel pressure to put something out, even if it isn't ready. Maybe this is something I should rethink.

Stephanie L. McGee said...

I started blogging as a way of just keeping a record of my progress and process. It's become a great place to converse with friends and to share in the ups and downs of the publishing roller coaster.

Yeah, I probably need to work on the blog some, but I like where it is at present. I've done a lot of searching throughout the last few months and I've had some hits and misses on the way. But I am happy with it and with the blogging process.

Catherine Denton said...

Hmmm, hadn't really thought about it as selling myself. But I agree. If I love a book, I look up the author. If they interact kindly then I love them even more. If they're snobby or rude, I'll probably not invest in their books again. Good thoughts!

Paul Greci said...

I started my blog after I found representation. I knew I'd start one and knew it'd be time consuming and didn't want to crowd my writing time with more distractions, so I waited even though I had no guarantee that the day would ever come.

Now, I blog to connect with people. I feel a lot less isolated and have met some great people, have traded manuscripts with some of them and thru their blogs have gotten a little window into their lives. I feel like I'm making friends with other writers and that feels good.

Scott said...

Oh, great, my blog's a selling tool?

I'm with you on the rules and follow them to the best of my abilities.

The purpose of my blog, well, it began as a chronicle of my progress on a writing project and morphed into something more. To some extent, the blog is a platform for the book I'm about to query. Okay, the platform is really, really, really small, but those pieces will one day - optimistic view - carry over into a new blog devoted solely to my book. Woo-hoo!

I think, for the most part, my blog and the blogs I follow, publicly and in the shadows, give a good impression of the bloggers. I mean, I know you would never, ever become a Sith Lord because you wouldn't want the hood to cover up your fabulous hair! I think that little tidbit of knowledge, about you, is important, because it helps me connect with you and makes you more real to me, which, in the end, is probably a good thing. : )

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I started for the same reasons as just about everybody--to have an online platform. But I found it fun to write what was on my mind or in my day and put up photos, magazine-style. And, especially, I've enjoyed chatting with like-minded people and visiting their blogs, where I might learn something or just have a good time.

Jonathon Arntson said...

A month ago, when I started my blog, is was mostly about writing reviews on books and movies. It quickly turned into a place to lay down my thoughts as a writer and take feedback. I have learned so much about writing in the passed few weeks and my blog has transformed with my new knowledge.

I think people are buying me, I mean my follower numbers are increasing by the day, but I am not quite sure why yet. As I figure that out, I am just going to keep plugging away at the keyboard and put my head into the screen.

Karen said...

I struggle with this, not the selling myself so much as the branding myself. That's probably a result of writing in both the PB and YA genres.

I started blogging (years ago) as simply a creative outlet to write and share my thoughts and keep up with friends through their blogs. And for the most part, it's still that, but with an ultimate goal thrown in.

This post made me laugh thinking about a conversation I had with Hubbykins. When I told him I wanted to write, his first question was not "What do you want to write?" or even "Why?" It was "Have you secured your domain name?"

Suze said...

I started my blog as a new year's resolution to track my progress and my thoughts on writing. Now I can see how much I procrastinate. Sigh... The huge benefit, of course, is getting wonderful encouragement from those who are so much more experienced than me... and that in turn makes me want to try harder, just so that I don't let anyone down! I have 8 very generous followers right now, and honestly, I don't think I'd mind if I never got any more :)

Lisa Nowak said...

I started my blog to build my platform. The problem after that was figuring out which direction the blog should take. I began my posting whatever came to mind, but I soon learned that the posts that got the most hits were ones that presented new idea information that others found intriguing or had an uplifting message told in an original way. It was a no-brainer to realize that being positive and helpful was my natural blogging voice. I think to be successful at blogging you need to be aware of how you're being received and act accordingly

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I started in order to give myself a writing outlet and an opportunity to connect with other writers. Now it's total blog love. :-)

Melissa said...

I started my blog just to review books, but now I post a tidbit of my writing every Tuesday for feedback (except this week)...it's worked out really well thus far :)

JenniferWalkup said...

good point! i like having a blog to talk writing topics with other writers and to connect in a way I can't in real life since i don't have as many real-life author-friends as online.

Jen said...

Blogging for me was a way to get comfortable with sharing my thoughts and gifts with the world, I often second guess myself about what others think, and in the blogging world I don't have to sit there and watch them read it, I can wait for them to take time, let it soak and then respond.

I suppose the blog was for me, and in return I hoped for bloggers to enjoy my writing, and soon post parts of my story for one's thoughts!

Nisa said...

I just can't see it as selling myself. I started to maybe help others like myself who were new to the journey. I keep doing it because I love the online writer's community and because it's kind of addicting.

MG Higgins said...

I started blogging because all my writing friends were doing it (had been doing it for ages) and I felt like I was missing something. Now I blog because it's fun and I learn a lot and the connections I'm making are really satisfying. Yes, it's a platform, but I don't know if I'd have the energy to keep doing it if that's all it was.

Melissa said...

I started reading blogs (in lurk mode) back in March of last year. By doing this I was able to see how people went about writing books. And I noticed the relationships they were building, friendships forming. When that knowledge clicked, I decided I wanted to do the same thing. There's nobody around where I live who writes, so I'm pretty much alone. Blogging has allowed me to make a lot of friends who share my love of writing. That is extremely valuable to me:)

Janet Johnson said...

I started a personal blog (as a starting place) last summer at the encouragement of my critique group friend who's WAY ahead of me on the getting-involved-in-the-writing-community thing. I worried I wouldn't have time, but turns out it's fun. Who'd a thunk?

What I really enjoy is that sense of connectedness. I'm not the only one plugging away with a keyboard and big dreams.

Jen Chandler said...

I blog because if I didn't, my heart would explode. That being said, I blog for the relationships, for the connections,for the simple, blissful fact that SOMEONE other than my cat is reading what I write :) I have met such wonderful people in the blog world and I love sharing this virtual life with them.

Jen

L.T. Elliot said...

I started out on my blogging journey to just chronicle the adventures of writing but it's because this weird extension of me and sometimes instead of looking all natural and svelte, I look like a three armed loony. But you people keep coming so I guess I'm not totally screwing it up. =P

Elle Strauss said...

Since we're being honest here, I started to blog after attending a writers conference where nearly every guest speaker said if you're not blogging you should. Also facebook, twitter etc. I was afraid to start anything because, A) I'm not uber computer literate, and B) I was afraid it would turn into this little bird I had to feed everyday.

I surprised myself by really enjoying blogging. I like the chance to write something that's not fiction and I love the community I'm getting to know.

I think when it's time to "sell" myself or brand, I will get a book specific website and hit FB and twitter hard. Until then, blogging is enough for me. It scratches an itch I didn't know I had.

Maria Zannini said...

I love to blog and I go into it with very specific goals in mind.

I divide my blog topics between my homesteading misadventures and writing/marketing topics.

Are people buying? I guess. I have a goodly amount of traffic and people do leave me comments, though I'm not nearly as charismatic as you, Elana. LOL

I think it's the hair. I need to get some.

Kimberly Franklin said...

Gosh Elana, you make us all sound so dirty "selling ourselves" and all. ;- )

I started my blog to connect with other writers and for practice. And I did just that. Now, not only do I have tons of writerly friends, but in doing something so small as blogging, I've found my voice (warning: it's crazy!).

Love your blog!! I'm a total blog addict now. I must join BAG - Blogging Anonymous Group. : )

Melanie Avila said...

Those are the rules I live by. Especially #3.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

I started blogging to market my farm, I realized what blogging was all about, found a whole bunch of writers along the way, found out writers are so much fun to connect with and it was a little community, started a seperate blog for writing and crafts, and here I am-two blogs later-and addicted!

Truth is I mostly blog for the fun of it and to chat, as long as they follow rule #2! What I have learned from my fellow bloggy buddies has been priceless!

Good post Elana!

Kayeleen said...

I started my blog this year as a New Years resolution/way to track my own progress. I'm not very proficient at posting yet. I feel like I don't have anything valuable to say after reading so many other blogs that I find helpful and meaningful.

I love connecting with people in the blogosphere. It makes me feel less alone in my own journey. Maybe someday, someone will come across my blog and think as highly of it as I do of the people I follow.

Kristi said...

Oh my gosh! I've SO been struggling with this concept lately! BIG TIME!

I'm loving meeting other bloggers/writer's and supporting them but as far as self promotion goes I feel quite *ooky* about it really. I'm forcing myself to put something up about my upcoming book that is being published but something about it feels slimy because in all reality I love the relationships and people I've met and value them MORE than selling a few books.

Does this make me weird? Is this normal? Maybe I need to take a class on self-promotion?

Thanks for the post...it hit on a subject I knew I needed to hear...

kimberlyloomis said...

Definitely all about marketing myself and my writing. Admittedly it's for that reason I started doing the twice a week serial. As much as it's not quite the springboard into publication I would prefer it seems to have garnered some interest from other friends, writers and very cool folks in the blogosphere. It also helps to get some comments from other people about SOMETHING you're writing while working on those queries, field rejections, and cranking on that new manuscript you won't let anyone look at yet.

Thanks for the post and I really appreciate the opportunity to share in the honesty of what so many of us are doing. Really.

Have a great day!

Kat Harris said...

Blogging is a great way to network with other writers.

I've found, however, that it's much harder to "sell" people who aren't writers on the idea of regularly following a blog. I've been blogging for almost two years. (Blogoversary in two weeks!) But only recently have I really started developing goals for it.

Elana Johnson said...

Kristi, I don't think it makes you weird or normal or anything. I think it's different for everyone, although I do see your point of the relationships you've found over the promotional aspect.

This has been a great post for me. I like to see what others were thinking when they decided to blog. I love that insight into your minds and into your lives. It's like a study in human psych or something.

So thanks!

Tamika: said...

I'm learning that is my art. An artist performs with intense desire and thought to pleasing others. I pray my writing will envelope people. Blogging stimulates that process by producing words and thoughts in new and exciting ways.

After that I just love it!

Brandon said...

I started my blog for a few key reasons:

- I recognize it as a way to promote myself (you got me there!).

- I want to hold myself accountable to my writing goals, and posting my thoughts and progress online was a way to do that.

- I love how blogging brings social and support group benefits to what has traditionally been considered a solitary activity.

I think I used to worry that maintaining a blog would detract from prepping a good manuscript. But I quickly realized that time spent within the blogosphere has an excellent ROI.

Great post!

Voidwalker said...

Hey, long time no splash. :O) We all have different ideas for the purpose of blogging, but in the end I think you nailed it. It is, for most of us writers, a way of getting ourselves out there.

I do love the social interaction, tips, tricks and questions that come up in the blogs. The online relationships that are being built are not only helpful, but they are enjoyable to a great degree.

Jessica said...

Good questions and thoughts Elana. I hadn't thought about me selling myself, yet. But when I've sold a book, then yeah, I think my blog will become more of a tool and less of a ... whatever it is now. :-)
I think it's good to point out that what we sell attracts certain "buyers".
Oh man. You just inspired another post. I'll credit you, of course. *wink*
YOu know what? I think you're my Wilson. LOL!

Liza said...

In some regard, I see it as selling. I blog to improve my skills, but, yea, I want readers too. I do worry that I'm too earnest and a little boring, but hope with time to move on a bit from that. When I consider my blog, I want to be sure that if I look back at it in five years, in ten years, that the only reason it embarrasses me is because the writing needed to grow...and nothing more.

Mary Campbell said...

How's that working for ya. You're so funny Elana. I don't know what my goal for blogging is. Mostly I just want to be apart of the writing community and if you enjoy my blog - great.

I tried twice to leave a comment yesterday and blogger ate it. I'll try again to day. I like all the pictures of you at different stages in your life. I often look at the old me and cry too. I cry for the lost innocence and enthusiasm and the thinness. But it's okay to be who we are now. Just enjoy the now. That's what I'm trying to do.

Chasing the Moon said...

I first began my blog as a way to feel more like a writer. Then I got annoyed with my whining and deleted all my posts except one.

I started again with a new focus and a new me. It's about writing, spirituality, creativity, and networking. I've been meeting some amazing people lately. It's kind of evolving as I do.

Off to explore your blog!

Dominique said...

I guess blogs are about selling ourselves, just like all forms of communication. That's how you go from stranger to acquaintance to friend.

I don't know how much selling of myself is going, but I have some blog followers and commenters, so it seems to be okay.

Cheree said...

I started blogging because I'd read lots of people saying that blogging was a good way to get yourself out there.

I have to admit before I started, I never really read blogs, but now I'm hooked.

onewriterslife said...

Great topic, Elana. I'm a brand new Blogger and am doing it for the same reasons so many other writers here are doing it. We want that extra exposure, right? I mean, after we put our name on our query letters, we tend to list the other ways agents/editors can reach us.

It's sort of looking at some Admiral's chest to see how many medals he has there, 'cuz, don't ya know, the more the merrier.

After listing our credits, we add our address, all the phone numbers (just in case they need to call us to tell us they ARE interested in our ms), our email address, our website, and if we're lucky, our blog address. Geeeeeez!

Then why do I feel as though I've just stepped out of the shower...and my towel is across the bathroom, hanging on a rod WAY OVER THERE?

Exposure is a good thing, right?

DL Hammons said...

I first started my current blog as an avenue to write when I didn't feel like working on my novel or other WIP's. Then as I began to get serious about my writing (aka - trying to get published), I figured I could expand the content to include posts documenting my journey down that road. Now I consider it as much of a networking tool as anything else. It's also a barometer. If I'm writing content that people find entertaining, and want to follow regularly, then I know I'm doing something write and I use that as motivation to keep sending out those query letters.

How's that for goals?

Kimberly Job said...

Great food for thought. Maybe I'll blog about it--after I figure out my answers. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

I started my blog because someone told me I should have one! I'd read a grand total of 3 blog posts before I put one together. I had zippo idea of what I was doing!

I've since learned a lot and am very, very glad I didn't do anything terribly embarrassing in the first few posts :)

IanIan said...

Nice thoughts <3
My purpose for blogging is mostly fun and practicing my English skills <3 And the only goal right now is maybe to prevent myself from giving up & maintain my blog for as long as I could, LOL <3

Just Another Sarah said...

I think about what the goal of my blog is, a lot. I'm not completely sure I've figured it out. I think I meant for it to be a bit of a branding of myself...but I am not completely sure that it's ended up that way. In fact, I don't really know.

Kelly said...

I originally started a blog because I noticed lots of writers on the Blueboards had one and I thought maybe I needed one... Then I started to really enjoy having one to network and be active in this wonderful writing community. And from what I've read, it's good to have a web presence even before a book comes out, so that's good stuff too!

WindyA said...

I started blogging for myself. And when I did that, I sucked. Never really did it. But when I started lurking, then commenting and found awesome friends, I've been pretty consistent and it's been really nice to know there are peeps out there who "get me" and there've been some great conversations started from a single blog comment.

Aaron Polson said...

I can only sell things I believe in. Good think I feel okay about myself most of the time...(most of the time).

My blog buddies are like a second family.

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

I really sort of stressed about my blog-focus (or lack of one) a few months back, when it seemed like everyone and their mom was posting about the need for a purpose... finally, I decided that I didn't need or what a super-serious, niche-of-a-blog. You know? Like, I don't always want to write about writing, for example. Or baking. Or ways to be a better wife. Or books. Or editing. Or Kentucky. Yes, I might write about any of those things on any given day... but mostly I write for an audience, and for myself - I write to gain bloggy friends who are like minded, and for what ever reason, come back to me and comment when I comment on their blogs -- and even sometimes when I don't.

I don't really have blog goals -- well, 100 followers would be nice, but I'm not seeking it out with a giveaway or anything.

As far as selling myself as an author, I haven't worried about it too much, yet. When my ms is closer to complete, I'll probably hone it on it more.

I guess I can't start tooooo soon on that, though.

Great post. You got me thinking!

Lisa and Laura said...

Dude, whatever it is you're doing KEEP ON DOING IT. 55 comments and 467 followers? You rock.

Lori W. said...

I didn't have very specific goals for my blog when I started, and I'm still ironing out kinks. What I love about your post are the four relationship principles. I have "met" the nicest writers/bloggers out there.

At a conference, I met a writer who'd just signed w/an agent and was getting tons of praise for her work. Yet, she spent her time cheering up the forlorn, the beginners and the frustrated. She was all about give which is like your blog post today. Appreciate it!

Susan R. Mills said...

You are exactly right. Even if you think you are blogging for some other reason, the marketing aspect is naturally a part of it for every author. And to answer your question, I hope people are buying. :)

Diana Paz said...

I love your list and am adopting it :)

I've thought about why I blog too. I think I wanted to "be" somewhere; to have a place where I could exist as a writer. I'm a mom and I substitute teach, I'm a wife and a friend. But other than those solitary moments with my laptop, there was no place where I was "Diana, the writer." However, short of being anonymous, I was aware from the beginning that I had to be very careful of who "Diana, the writer" appeared to be.

Sharon Mayhew said...

I bean blogging on my critique group's blog...All of a sudden I noticed I was the only one blogging, so I decided to start my own. I really enjoy writing about what ever strikes my fancy. I don't think I could write about writing every day. I love posting the photos I've taken from my trips and from everyday life. I love learning from all of the blogs I read. If I didn't have a blog, I don't think I would read so many other blogs. And it's good practice.

bettielee said...

I hope I don't sound like a jackass saying this... I started my blog because I see myself on a journey. The journey towards being a writer. I blog about my ups and downs, and try to be really honest and forthright about the experience, the ramifications in my life with my family and my crappy job that just barely pays the bills, and so I will have something to look back at if and when I ever publish. I totally agree with the "selling yourself" part of it all, but I hope I'm telling the truth.

Natalie Lloyd said...

I've read query tracker for so long I don't even remember when I started! Your articles there are so encouraging. When I saw your comment on my blog, I did a double take! It was like getting a comment from a celeb :) Thank you for stopping by. I love this post. Blogging is so fun - I love the community vibe there. My blog is still fairly new so I'm still feeling my way through. It's so fun connecting with new people! Thanks again for saying hi. It's great to "meet" you :)

ali said...

I think the purpose for my blog is to be true. The personna I want people to see when they visit my blog (and I think the same when they meet me IRL) is that I can be trusted. That I'm a girl that tells it like it is and doesn't shovel any crap ;)

I think I'm successful. But I still wonder how to cross that threshold to SUCCESS in the blogging world. Not sure I'm there yet.

Kind of where I am in my writing life in general, I guess. I'm on the threshold. I hope one day, I'll get to cross it.

Kristi Faith said...

wow, I'm way behind....62 comments!

Okay, my penny of a thought...I treat my blog the way I treat my home. Everyone is welcome and I do my best to keep everyone happy. :0)

I did BEGIN the blog with the purpose of selling myself, but it evolved into so much more(thankfully!)and I think I have more cool kids with me than I ever imagined in the first place. :0)

Christina Farley said...

Absolutely. But then somewhere along the way I got addicted. Because there are some really interesting and fun things people post. I feel out of touch when I don't blog. Like: what's happening in the writing world!!!!

So, yeah, it's good for me and then it's even better for me!

Bish Denham said...

I started out not really knowing what blogging was all about. Now I'm a bit more focused. I write about growing up in the Virgin Islands for two reasons: 1. To preserve a bit of family history because what I experienced no longer exists. 2. To share, enlighten, and educate. And yes...I'm selling myself too. Many of my stories are tropical, I want anyone who reads them to know that I have first hand knowledge of the setting, history etc.

Tess said...

When I started blogging last spring, I was all about building platform

but something has happened along the way and I realize it's more about community and learning and sharing for me now.

go figure.

Shelli said...

ill add to my friday round up

catwoods said...

I blog because I love the outlet as well as the connection to others.

I love your list of blogging rules and try to follow them. Blogs keep you honest and make you follow the Thumper rule:

"If you can't say something nice..."

Because in reality, everyone can see you!

Daisy Whitney said...

Amazing how the golden rule really is the way to live! Good post, Elana!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

When people learned I was a writer, they'd automatically ask me for my web address. I realized it was time for some type of presence on the Internet.

Through blogging I've connected with awesome writers, both published and pre-published. Selling is secondary to me. I treasure those relationships.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Warren Baldwin said...

Excellent thoughts about how we present ourselves. I've learned that good relationships can be built through various iternet avenues, if we exercise care and practice honesty.

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