Keepin’ It Real

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Two posts in one day?!


I wrote something a while ago — a long while ago — but I never posted it (though I did touch on it in Wednesday’s post at The Parking Lot Confessional). It felt like an angry letter, the kind you write and then sit on until you feel better and then never end up sending.

But then I read this post today by Maureen Johnson: Manifesto. And I shouted, “AMEN!” Okay, well, I thought “Amen”. And then, encouraged by Maureen’s words, I decided to post this thing that I’d sat on for so long.

Keepin’ It Real

Lately, it seems everywhere I turn someone’s telling me how to write a blog, how not to write a blog, how to build my platform, how if I don’t build my platform I’m doomed, how to have a writing career, how to blow a writing career, how to write, sell, pitch, land an agent, how to lose an agent, how to use social networking, how not to use social networking, etc.

Ugh. It’s all making me a bit ill.

I know as an author I need to be building a platform, but I’m interested in PEOPLE. Real people. I’m interested in you. Who are you? What makes you tick? Do we have ideas and beliefs in common? What stories do you have to share?

No, no, wait. Stop. Don’t tell me about your product. Tell me about YOU.

Are we really all so desperate to be noticed that we have to be promoting all the time? Where is the line between being authentic and being obnoxious? Is it possible to promote without being the equivalent of a car salesman?

I don’t want to be a product. A brand. I want to be real.

I understand the need for promotion, especially with the changes in today’s publishing market. But when all I hear is someone promoting, I find myself wondering if there is any depth there. Any substance. There’s a certain desperation in all the Look at me! chatter.

Of course not everyone I meet is like this. There are some very cool, very real people in Cyberland. I’ve met some of them, and they’re very cool and very real people in person, too. They use social networking to build connections, community. And when they post information, I read it.

These are the people I’m interested in following, friending, tweet-chatting, retweeting.

Interestingly enough, most of the professional, “big league” authors I meet are more interested in learning about you than they are talking about themselves and promoting their own work.

One example: At a conference last summer, I was walking to dinner with a group of writers. I knew who most of them were, but a few I hadn’t yet met. One fellow asked my name, what I write, etc. I answered, and he continued to ask me about my projects and whatnot. “What about you?” I finally asked him. “What are you working on?” He then told me what he wrote, and…well…he’s a big time author.

Go ahead, laugh. Yes, I should have recognized him. To my defense, I didn’t see his name lanyard, but I knew who he was as soon as he said the title of his book. (OK, so I don’t know everyone’s faces yet. I’ll get there.)

The point is, he had confidence and depth. He was making conversation, making connections. He was interested in other people. He wasn’t doing somersaults to get attention or sell his books. He was genuine. Authentic. Am I more likely to read his future books as a result? You bet.

That’s the kind of author I want to be. That’s the kind of person I want to be.

I’m all for keepin’ it real. Who’s with me?