by Molly Greene
I’ve spent an enormous amount of time online in my quest to become a successful self-published author. A naïve newbie at first, now I feel like a somewhat jaded, slightly-more-experienced version of my newly hatched online self. And of course, I’ve learned a LOT …
1. People may not “get” your digital personality
When we meet folks in person and get to know them, they see our expressions and body language and hear the tone of our voice – and we see theirs. Audio and visual cues impart meaning to our words and communicate information. But these signals are missing in a digital world, and this creates an environment where others may misunderstand our intentions. Rough language and sarcasm especially don’t come across well until peeps have a chance to get familiar with our “style.” Lesson? I try to be myself, “light.”
2. Speaking out has consequences
My blog has the most awesome readers. I can recall only a handful of times someone has been an ass by leaving a caustic comment. And after four years of blogging weekly, I have little patience with troublemakers. Most of the time I manage to do what I’d do in person, which is smile and nod and say, “unh huh.” But a couple of times I’ve lost control and replied in comments with what I really felt. Once, the person was offended by my honesty and immediately left a very bad review for one of my books. In retrospect, I’d do the same thing, but now I’m very aware that speaking out may have consequences. Lesson? Be prepared to pay them.
3. Spelling and grammar matters
Never before in human history have grammar, vocabulary and spelling mattered soooooo much. And I’m not just talking about books, I mean email, Facebook posts, tweets, articles, guest posts, and blog comments. Sure, we have spellcheck, but despite its help boo-boos happen – I laugh about my own. Bottom line, really bad, consistent error-makers stand out. Check out: 10 top writing tips and the psychology behind them. Lesson? I think you get it.
4. Negative Nellies are everywhere – don’t be one
Everybody knows that ranting on social media is a turn-off and won’t gain you fans. In spite of that, one of my favorite bloggers – who I don’t know personally but followed religiously – launched into a months-long rant about stuff I won’t go into, and even dedicated fans told them to stop. Lesson? If you have social media followers who are readers and fans – not just personal friends – DO NOT post about rejections, unhappiness, jealousies, murdered animals or political positions – unless those philosophies are the basis of your message to the world. People want happy and upbeat. Give it to them. Choosing joy might just make it happen for you, too.
5. Gaining tech skills is a must-do
This is one of the biggest challenges in building an online presence: there is so freaking much to learn. Add a constricted budget to that and the end result is we’re doing much of the work ourselves. Website creation, website maintenance, learning different social media platforms and etiquette, blogging, not to mention actually honing writing craft AND creating ebooks AND finding vendors – cover artist, editors, blah blah blah – who have time for us and do a great job. Lesson? It’s overwhelming but it matters. One new thing at a time is the best way to tackle it.
6. Google is a portal to the world
Quality information is now incredibly accessible. I seldom ask humans questions anymore and choose instead to Google whatever it is I’m wondering about. That includes but is not limited to vendors, book promo sites, blog topic ideas, people, and word spellings and definitions. I use Google Maps to view the streets my protagonist walks down and the places where she wants to vacation. Google changed everything for me. Lesson? Google it!
7. There are fabulous people online, too
This has been the most fulfilling lesson: the people I’ve met who have become friends. My beta readers live in Greece and Australia. I’ve Skyped and exchanged email, Facebook messages, and Google-chatted with friends and blog clients in Australia, Germany, England, Canada and the U.S., and other places too numerous to name. This is the best of online interaction, and it’s made us all global citizens with access to people and cultures everywhere. Lesson? Too cool for words.
8. Our work has a global reach
Just as we can reach friends around the world, potential consumers for our writing are everywhere as well, both book and blog. It’s pretty wonderful that readers in countries like India are gobbling up self-published authors’ books – and this is only the beginning. Lesson? Self-publishing is a global business – to infinity and beyond!
To close, here’s a fab Pinterest board that says it all: What I’ve Learned From The Internet.
Readers, what have you learned? Leave a comment and share!
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