Swoon Author Claire Kann: Dramatis Personae aka How to Be Your Most Awesome Self on the Internets
I'm going to be controversial for a minute: If your book's description or excerpt doesn't grab a reader's attention, there isn't much else you can do on that particular front. Pretty covers, trusted recommendations from friends and v/bloggers, blurbs from Big Name Authors, glowing reviews or other methods along those lines could help, but most of that is out of your control. So what can you do?
Let's Talk About: Creating Your Online Persona
Authors are encouraged to not only produce a product (see: the splendiferous and sensational world of books), but also to be a personality. There is an expectation to build and maintain an online platform. People will have a vested interest in your work because they like you. Marketing yourself can be just as hard as marketing your work so it’s important to find and use the platform(s) that suit you the best.
Okay, Swooners, let’s get personal. Gather round as I spin the tale of how I figured this out for myself. When deciding on my online persona, I had two Goals:
1) Make it impossible to ignore the fact my books exist and are available for purchase.
2) Make it impossible to ignore that I am an online storyteller.
Next, I added in the Human™ Component:
I have anxiety, hoard my privacy like a dragon on top of a mound of gold, and using social media stresses me out. My day job takes up a lot of my time. I also have a blunt personality but am not a particularly pushy person. I'm never going to be someone who shouts, "BUY MY BOOOOOOOK!"
So far so good, yes? Okay. Now a lot of the time, you might not know what will work, but you definitely know what can get kicked to the Elimination Station:
Video editing? On my computer? In this economy? No. Also, I'm quite touchy about my image being spread far and wide on these here internets.
Replying makes me feel like I'm bothering people. If someone doesn't reply to my direct tweet, I assume they hate me—or I've made them mad, and they're off on a subtweeting rampage. While that may not be true (or is it!?), on the whole Twitter just doesn't work for me and ol' noggin. I feel best when I can promo post, boost, and bounce.
You’re probably making the stern professor face at this blog post right about now. “Claire,” you say. “Those are the social media heavyweights. This better be going somewhere good...” Fear not, for I shan’t lead you astray, Swooners.
Keeping my goals in mind, I added these options to my Claire-Approved Pile:
I needed a home base. A one-stop-shop where all of my pertinent info could live. Squarespace’s layouts made my heart happy and I kept it simple: an About Me section with a current bio sans photo, up-to-date purchase links for published work, links to my online stories, and both a form and email to contact me: www.clairekann.com
Online Storytelling Platforms:
Raise your hand if you've met some of your best internet friends through Swoon Reads! I initially felt drawn to Swoon Reads because I could post my stories safely, people could read them, we could talk in the comments, there were all kinds of writing resources readily available and it was just so much fun—if you’re not happy with where your online persona lives and breathes, then what’s the point? Admittedly, when I made it to the other side of the Swoon fence, I lost the posting new material portion of that. I had to find another platform where my stories could be read (for freeeeeee!) and build my platform from the ground up again. My current weapon of choice is Wattpad.
*gestures wildly at this and my other Swoon blog posts* I like to think I'm pretty good at it and making my personality shine. I also have one through my website where I post a weekly round up of links to any guest posts that I write.
In a surprise twist, I found out I enjoy book events and public speaking! Who knew? I sure didn't! I love them because I get to be a character. On a scale of one to ten, Everyday Claire lives life at about a two. On Stage Claire is dialed up to eleven—the best, super, ultra-version of myself on a panel with other cool people talking about books or meeting readers and then crying in the bathroom for ten minutes afterward because they asked for my autograph. Sure, my introvert batteries are bound to explode like a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, and I'll have to spend two whole days in complete solitude to recover but HEY. It's so, so worth it for me.
I like it. A lot. I'd raise that to love if chronological posting order made its long-demanded return *dies on that hill* My posts are almost always for book promo—mine or other books I've enjoyed—with memoir-style microstories attached. And my Pokemon Go catches.
Some of you may be shaking your head at me. "You're doing it wrong! Your followers want to know more about you as a person!" you say. "That's the whole point and exactly what you're not doing. You can’t fool us with your energetic and rambly sentences!"
Ah, yes. I'm aware of that. The thing is, I don't want to be known as the chick on Instagram who only posts about her cat and yummy gluten-free food hacks (Although that would be cool...). How many times have you followed someone because of their hilarious tweets, only to find out months, if not years later, they also write books? How many authors do you follow that give out stellar writing advice which you tune in for religiously but you never buy their books? Because of that, I made a conscious decision to only offer this: my passion for and presentation of my work.
"But you are not your work," you say.
I'm aware of that too. But a lot of me goes into my work, and I'm always telling stories. This blog post here? It's a story! It's my personal brand of informative, memoir-infused writing, complete with metaphors, alliteration, funny one-liners, and pacing issues (probably). That is what I do. This is who I am and what works for me.
So, Swooners, tell me: Who are you? Where do you put your best writer self on display?