Day 9 in the Great Writers Series is all about connecting with people – making friends, finding fans and earning patrons. These are three different categories of people that we as writers should connect with.
And the challenge for Day 9 was to reach out to one of each.
Making friends is supposed to be the easy part, right? Problem is, I’ve never been all that great at making friends. I’m generally social, though moreso on the net than IRL and even there some days are better than others. But building more than acquaintances can be hard. I’ve blogged before about the difficulty I have making friends (and it’s really kind of a sore subject right now since my best friend, MorganMorganMorgan, is getting ready to move to another state!). Nevertheless, I started talking more about my writing on Twitter (using hashtags #amwriting, #mywana and #julno) and even joined a group of writers all currently working on novels (JulNoWriMo, i.e. July Novel Writing Month 2012). I’m trying to connect. I really am.
Helping people is the key to finding fans. Share something that others need, like a little tidbit of knowledge, with the world generously. But knowing who you are as a writer here is key: what’s your voice.
As a writing teacher, I know that voice is as important as audience and purpose. How you come across to readers, in just the first few sentences, can make all the difference in whether they continue reading or not. Are you sincere? Are you snarky? Are you respectful? Are you condescending? Can they laugh with you? Can they trust you? Even Jeff acknowledges that finding your own voice can be the “greatest struggle for writers.”
So what is my voice? I think I’m generally funny, occasionally snarky, but never condescending or insincere. This is worth looking at further. (I just texted MorganMorganMorgan and randomly asked her to describe my voice. She’ll think I’m weird or crazy, but she’ll respond eventually. That’s the kind of friendship we have.)
Reaching out to others in your industry who have been successful and influential is one part of getting patrons, people who will help you spread your message. But you have to earn their help. Jeff says you do this by showing that you know what you’re doing, by helping others first, and by simply asking. But, of course, asking isn’t all that simple. It takes guts, nerve, confidence … and perhaps even thick skin. But, then again, everything worth doing involves a little risk, right?
Of course, and I can talk the big talk, but then when it comes to actually reaching out, I’m right back to the same old “making friends” struggle. Whether it’s a friend or a fan or a patron: Who do I reach out to? What do I say? And, perhaps the biggest question of all: Can I do it in my pajamas? 😉