Being yourself online, why is it so hard?

black and white cartoon rendering of clouds exhibiting emotions as if they were weatherIt may just be me, but I find some advice hard to implement. I’m not talking about unwanted advice. I’m talking about advice I’ve asked for, advice I want to follow. This particular topic is about being online as a person, not an advertisement.

We are told repeatedly, it’s evil to sell your book, you need to be yourself and people will find you.

It starts with who am I?

If only there were one answer to that. I’m a different person in different situations. When I’m consulting, I’m facilitative. When I’m with my mother and sister – and my friends – I’m goofy and fun.  In a stressful situation, I’m calm. If things are calm and stable, I’m bored.

When it comes to networking or marketing, I’m that eight-year-old at her first party. The one who stands in the corner trying to figure out how to fit in.

And who I’m not

I’m not confrontational. I read blogs or forum postings, or twitter conversations that are clearly written to be flamed. I wince when I read them.  I can’t take a stand just to get attention. I’m not saying it’s wrong to do that, just that I can’t. See, can’t even be confrontational about being non-confrontational.

And how I deal with it

So, I’m me online. I write blog posts that inform, or announce things like new books, or new covers. When I see something funny, I share it. If something annoys me – like people arguing that something is RIGHT for everyone, when it clearly is only one choice of many – I try to shine a light. If someone starts posting inflammatory comments, I tend to withdraw pretty quickly.  And, I don’t do bad reviews. If I can’t give a 3 star at least, I don’t do anything.

So how do I get attention to my books?

I comment on blogs that I find interesting and occasionally ask to do a guest post. I research book reviewers and ask them to review my book. If they pass, I don’t mind, because I don’t believe I have a right to their time. I respond to any comments on my blog, I respond to DMs and mentions on Twitter – well not the ones about horrible pictures of me being posted. I like and +1 things I actually like.

I think about what I’m asking. When I ask for a review, I pitch. I try to find books like mine that the reviewer liked and make the connection for them. When I ask for a guest post, I look at the kind of guest posts they already have up and try to find a topic that will complement their site.

And, I support the reviewers and bloggers who invite me into their audience. I tweet and blog and FaceBook and Google+ and share on Stumble and Digg and Reddit. I believe in paying forward.

And, now the question – are you selling millions of books?

No, I’m still building a readership. People like my books when they read them, so I’m confident that the sales will come, but, it’s long road and I’m just getting started.

I’d write and publish anyway. I need to share my stories.