Today I had lunch with a good friend of mine at work. She asked how the book process was going, to which I replied, “The scary editors have it now,” and then broke out in hives and a cold sweat.
Okay, not really. And the editors aren’t really scary; they’re people, just like you and me. But I am a little nervous. This is my second time around with submissions to editors, and I can’t help but imagine what it would be like to get the call that someone wanted to publish it….
Rest assured there would be a lot of shrieking and jumping around and scaring any small children and/or pets in the vicinity, but I digress. Back to my lunch conversation with my friend.
So anyway. My friend is not an author, but she is a very popular blogger, and we were discussing the issues of marketing, branding, public relations, advertising, etc. and how uncomfortable it makes us to even think about the business side of things. How we’re not sure we want to be a “brand.” We want to be a person.
In case you haven’t heard me say this 6,000 times before, I graduated from the University of Alabama. My degree is in advertising, and coming from UA, that says a lot. In fact – please excuse my bragging – but at the time I was enrolled there, from 2001-2005, UA boasted the second best communications college in the country. How they figured that, I couldn’t tell you, but somehow they came up with it.
(Who was #1, you ask? I’ll never tell. Muahahahaha!)
(Oh, all right. It was UCLA. Thanks for knocking us off the top platform, California. Sheesh.)
(Just kidding. I love you, Cali.)
Anyway, the bottom line is this: My advertising degree also thoroughly trained me in marketing, graphic design, and public relations. And I really enjoy the concepts behind what I learned: spreading the word about companies, products, and brands. Coordinating with other people and organizations to market cooperatively. It’s fun, really. And I’m good at it.
But when it comes to me? No, thank you. I feel super weird marketing myself.
As our conversation continued, my friend said something that really struck a chord in my mind. She said that the reason she doesn’t do a lot of marketing for her blog is that if people want to keep up with her, if they want to follow her and be a part of what she does, then she wants it to be “organic.” She wants people to feel like they’ve really stumbled upon something special.
She doesn’t want them to feel like they’ve somehow been manipulated into being a “means to an end” for her to further her blogging career. She’s not willing to tweet about every blog post, or do TV appearances (which she has been asked to do), or otherwise push her name in front of people.
And as she was saying all this: BING! I had an epiphany.
Sometimes, I do tweet about my blog posts. Sometimes, I promote articles I’ve written on other blogs, or guest posts I’ve done.
And every time I do it, I hate myself just a little bit.
So it’s time to stop. (Yep. That was my epiphany. Kinda lame, eh?)
Now, please understand what I’m saying here. I’m not coming down on anyone who promotes their book or themselves as an author. I mean, after all, it’s necessary for us to network to a certain extent, and it’s helpful if people know about us before we’re published. I don’t think any worse of other people when they market themselves. It’s just hard for me to market me. I want people to find my blog because they looked for it. Not because I wore them down to the point where they felt obligated to follow me.
I like the relational aspect of networking. I SO enjoy getting to know all of you through your blogs, Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, etc. That’s why I do the blog and Twitter and all that. To get to know you. To make friends.
But I don’t like marketing myself to the faceless masses. I have a pretty small circle of friends from Twitter and blogs, and I like it that way. I don’t want 10,000 Twitter followers unless we’re all seriously interested in each other as people, and not as networking tools. I don’t follow people just so they’ll follow me. And I will no longer tweet about my blog posts, because I hated doing it in the first place. I only did it because I felt like I was supposed to.
Am I annoyed by people who tweet their blog posts? NO. Not at all.
Am I irritated by people with Facebook fan pages? No, as long as they’ve got a good reason for having one (don’t worry, all of you have good reasons!). But I CANNOT face the thought of making one for myself. I can’t. I can’t do it. I can’t ask people to be “fans” of me. MAYBE when my book is published… maybe. But I will have to get a point where the thought of a fan page doesn’t make me want to slap myself in the face. And I’m just not there yet.
Again… just to reiterate… I’m not coming down on those of you who have FB fan pages. I’m glad you have them. Because, honestly, I am a fan of y’all. I think you’re awesome.
One thing I am doing is working with a friend of mine on a website. A real one, not just my blog. And, yes, I have felt supremely narcissistic the entire time we’ve been building it. But I feel that this is a move I can make now, without hating myself too much. I’m actually kind of excited about it. And also a little embarrassed. But mostly excited.
And when this new website is ready to go live, my blog is going to be integrated as a part of it. My plan for right now is to leave this blog up for about six months or so, with a message to redirect people to the new site.
Will I lose some of your pretty faces in the Followers box? Maybe. But if someone doesn’t check my blog for six months and doesn’t get the message about the new site? Then obviously, they were never interested in me as a person. They probably aren’t missing anything, and that’s okay.
I want us to market and promote each other because we like each other, not because we’re hoping for a favor in return. That’s why I do the Pre-Famous Interviews. It’s why I do Week in Links. Because I like you as people, and I want others to like you, too.
What do y’all think about all this marketing stuff? Does it make you feel awkward too? And if it does, have you found a way to go about it without feeling like you’re forcing yourself on people?