The Art of the Sell

I have written before about impostor syndrome.  This is related to that.

I feel like an impostor when I read the works of greater minds than me, as I am sure all authors do at some point.  But another thing that makes me feel like a fake is selling myself, and that’s what I’m thinking of today.

I started out about seven months ago by joining the writing community on Twitter.  This seemed natural to me for several reasons.  1, I like Twitter, as a platform.  2. It has a very strong community of writers and 3. I had recently read that publishers are now looking at your social media development when deciding whether or not to publish you.  The logic behind this is that they are looking for people who are able to market themselves.  I don’t think this is fair at all, because I think an author should be judged by their work alone, but this is the way the game is played now, so I have to follow the rules.

I am very close to 5k followers, the mysterious number that publishers are supposedly looking for.  I also made some cool connections.  One, a stranger-turned-friend who lives in Algeria and is a fledgling poet.  Another, the illustrator of my children’s book.  And as for support, the  Twitter WC is great because they are always there to give you a boost though writer’s block or celebrate your accomplishments with you. 

It was then suggested to me that I start a Facebook author page.  At first, I cringed.  I always thought of author pages to be for those who were selling books, and I am not.  It was then pointed out to me that 1. This will help in boosting my social media followings, 2. It will be ready to go when I am published, and 3. It is a great way to share my stuff on FB that I usually don’t, and people can choose to follow or not instead of me clogging up their feeds with something they’re not interested in.

Let’s discuss 3.

I don’t post my stuff to Facebook unless I particularly like it, because I feel like if my friends and family want to read my stuff, they know where to find it: my blog.  But I almost never share my blogs on Facebook, so I’m not sure in the end how many people know about it. 

Also, there’s the impostor syndrome, and the little voice in the back of my head that tells me those you know will judge you harsher than a stranger.  So, I only share my stuff with those that seem truly interested.  Now, what I have figured, is that if I made an author page, then my Facebook friends could like it if they choose to, and read my stuff on the regular, if they are so inclined.  If not, they can choose not to follow me, and I will understand.  My words aren’t for everyone. 

Hell, most of the time they’re barely for me.

I hate selling myself, but I do love the reactions I get from people.  Shares and comments on my blog posts make my whole day, and watching so many of my close friends follow me on Facebook gave me encouragement.  Twitter, where I feel most comfortable selling myself (always easier when it’s a group of strangers, in my opinion,) is going strong…I get a few new followers each day, which means a few new potential readers.

But most of the time, I still feel like a fake.  I wonder if I will lose that feeling on the day I hold a copy of a book in my hands, my name emblazoned across the front. 

Probably not.

Social Media Anxiety

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that I have been using it as a way to fight my anxiety.  You may also know that I have been working on expanding and promoting it.  This, my friend, is where the anxiety part really comes into play.

I have read a bunch of articles regarding promotion, monetization, and creating one’s “brand” and all I have to say is that I hate it.  It takes so much away from the writing, which is why I have this blog in the first place, and it puts a microscope on myself.  Example: there is not yet anywhere on my blog that features my full name.  This is for one reason and one reason only: I still need to work.  If a client puts my name in a search engine, I do not want them to judge my childcare abilities by my writings.  I might drop some f-bombs in my blog but I won’t be swearing around your kid, you know what I mean?  I might have a political or religious view that bears no weight on how well I change a diaper but may affect whether someone wants to hire me.  Now, I’ve got some poems that are coming out soon, or are out already (see Potatoes, up at the top,) so I know that my search engine results will soon change, and I will indeed be judged by my words.  One of these poems is about smoking pot.  I’m not exactly thrilled that a possible employer may stumble upon it and not hire me, but also, I’m not thrilled by the idea of censoring my true passion of writing for my day job, either.  I try to tell myself that this is just my anxiety, but I know it’s also a rational concern, so I find myself stuck between a rock and a hard place.

It is this microscope on the writer that causes anxiety for me.  I am not good at bragging about myself, for one.  I’m a fairly humble individual.  Back when filling out profiles on dating sites, I was always unsure how to describe myself.  I was never good at listing my qualities.  When asked in interviews what assets I can bring to a job, I freeze up.  I need someone to tell me I’m good at something to make it real, and even then, I don’t always believe them.  This is juxtaposed by a crazy high self-esteem wherein I believe I can do anything.  It’s a dilemma.

Let’s take Facebook and Twitter, for example.  On Twitter, I never shy from anything.  I always write exactly what I think.  On Facebook, however, I am more reserved.  Why?  Well, I have significantly less Twitter followers than Facebook friends, and I think that has something to do with it. Maybe it’s the fact my grandmother is on Facebook?  And my parents?  Maybe it’s because there’s strangers who follow me on Twitter, and I know all my FB friends?  I have more questions than answers, but I know I behave differently on different sites.  For instance, I always post my blog on Twitter, but rarely on FB.  For some reason (and yes, I am aware this is the crazy anxiety-ridden side of my brain) I think that people don’t care.  Mind you, these are people I know, personally, and who seem to enjoy me as an individual, enough so as to send me a friend request.  These people are the most likely to care, and I can’t convince myself of that.

That’s what it really comes down to.  I look at all the followers I have acquired on my blog in the past year.  Like 150 people, complete strangers to me, who decided to follow my blog because they saw something they liked.  Yet, I think that if I share my blog with friends and family, those people will not see anything they enjoy.  I know I’m wrong.  I know I have people who read it, who follow me on social media, who could easily unfollow my ass if I got too boring, but no one does.  Still, my anxious brain senses that I am simply wasting peoples time.  Rational brain knows that’s a lie, because I like your posts and pictures as much as you like mine.  Still, it holds me back from expressing myself, which is what I truly hate.

Right now, I am debating whether or not to share this post on Facebook.  I am thinking of what kind of tweet I can write about my it.  I am considering starting an Instagram challenge to promote my blog.  I am streamlining my accounts to fit my “brand,” a word I still can’t say without the implied quotation marks.  I am doubting all of it, and I wonder if I always will.  Still, I take those little times when someone did say “Hey, I liked that thing you wrote,” and I keep them very close to my heart.  I remember them in my darker moments.  These little instances are what keep me writing, and make me feel like I have something worthwhile to say.  Everything else is just roadblocks.