I was never the most popular girl in school and have never been a party girl. Indeed, when excusing myself early from every party I attend, the common suggestion offered with a wry grin is, “Put on your big girl panties and stay a little longer.”
Large and loud social gatherings are not for me. I want real friendships and real connections. I still write letters and send cards with handwritten notes in my wayward cursive. I send thank you notes for the smallest of kindnesses, enjoy long and intimate in-home gatherings, lengthy visits with family and friends, and routine and leisurely phone conversations with those that I hold dear.
While I had succumbed –long past everyone else– to texting, and had grown comfortable with quickly connecting in short spurts, I was a hold out to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and all other social media. However, as soon as my book was accepted for publication, it was strongly suggested that my attitude would benefit by adapting. It was time to embrace social media outlets and the platform that each would afford for my book.
Admittedly, when I joined Facebook, I found that I enjoyed the updates and photos of the growing families of friends and relatives that I cherished. I understood that if I wanted my goal of putting my book into the hands of other readers facing the loss I had faced, I had to see my story as a product. While I quickly understood the value of sharing that product exponentially on social media, I had difficulty grasping the process and I was challenged by the execution of the technology that seemed to come so easily to all but myself.
Immediately, I recognized the need for help and began to reach out to family and friends who patiently and repeatedly taught me step by step the basics of becoming a presence on the various platforms. My publisher, Brooke Warner and She Writes Press provided a strong community of support and extensive training. I bought-or borrowed-and devoured every suggested book, GOOGLED every bit of information, viewed every YouTube video, and attended every webinar available. During all of these experiences, I took copious notes, re-watched every presentation and took and studied more notes. Yet, it seemed like I continued to flounder and felt completely and hopelessly incompetent.
Even with the generosity of other authors who offered support in Facebook posts-and boosts-sat beside me to assist in developing a website and offered to call and walk me through re-sizing pictures on Canva, I realized that while my network was expanding, my ineptitude with technology remained a major challenge. Sure, I felt pride when I did experience success. I enjoyed learning new things, growing in new realms, and accomplishing difficult tasks. Yet the exorbitant amounts of time required did not seem to me worth what I was gaining, and I was growing increasingly frustrated.
Finally, I began to process and internalize the message that was presented in every book, article, webinar, and video. The primary purpose of social media was to engage with others. Engaging was what I valued and what I enjoyed. I excelled at engaging!
Suddenly, it all made sense! As I expanded my network and connections with other authors, I began to enjoy connecting, and even the time it required to connect! I offered to read and review books, expanded my outreach, and began to make friends and feel comfortable and confident online.
While I am still lacking in the skills to post videos, tag, tweet, and pin, it has all begun to make sense. The message has merged with my personal and professional needs. Relationships are what propel everything in life, including the marketing of a book!