I see a lot of social media posts these days about “authenticity.” The idea is that clients and customers, and potential clients and customers, really appreciate your authenticity—mainly because so many fake people have tried to sell them something they didn’t want to buy.
Now, I don’t claim to be an authenticity expert or a marketing guru. Although I’ve worked as a marketing writer for over 18 years, I still think I’ve got a lot to learn. In fact, I don’t expect that to change. In today’s fluid, dynamic online world, learning is a constant.
What I do know for sure, though, is that authenticity isn’t an option, like cruise control or free wifi. Authenticity—putting yourself out there in your truest form, not some artificial persona—is an absolute, non-negotiable necessity.
Fact or Fiction
In my travels around the internet, I’ve also read a lot about marketing for authors. As a matter of fact, I even put together a little e-book freebie called Marketing For Authors that I give to people who join my email newsletter list.
Along with the fiction I write, I still produce marketing pieces for clients. So I read quite a bit about marketing. The challenges of marketing fiction to readers are vastly different from those around marketing medical practices or law firms. But no matter the audience, one thing matters to both: and that, again, is authenticity.
You see, when I spent my days marketing doctors to potential patients, I realized that the most caring, authentic medical professionals actually came across that way in their interviews. And furthermore, their patients’ testimonials reflected this as well.
It’s true for getting people interested in your fiction, too.
To Thine Own Self Be True
Before you judge me too harshly, let me state for the record that I’ve always tried to be my most authentic self. That’s true not only on social media but also in other forms, like podcasts, videos, and yes, blog posts.
What that means is that I’m really me—not some artificial persona. Sometimes that works in my favor, but just as often, it clearly doesn’t. And that’s okay.
This was brought home to me forcibly when an old blog post of mine gained new life. I belong to an online community called Biz Catalyst, and some of my blog posts get picked up for distribution there. Earlier this year, I found myself replying to new comments on one such old post, called We’re All Looking for the Answer.
The fact of the matter is that my fiction, like that of most authors, holds some autobiographical elements. But my most recent novel, Whizzers, which launched in July, contains much more than that. It’s my most personal work to date, and it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m not only proud of it, I’m still excited to share it with the world.
And that personal aspect also came through in the aforementioned blog post…so much so that I received more praise than I deserved from folks when it got picked up. For that, I’m truly grateful. And being myself surely didn’t hurt; in fact, I have to say it could only have helped.
I’d love to hear from you on this in the comments below. And for your free copy of Marketing For Authors, please fill out the contact form here.
So, the plan for today was to write a post about recovery. Unfortunately, I’m in a different kind of recovery mode today—recovering from a sinus infection.
What that means for you, the reader, is I’m going to keep this short. Really short.
I took my last drink 30 years ago, which means I got into recovery in 1989 at the age of 24. As surreal as it is to write or even say, I reached the milestone of three decades of continuous sobriety this past February.
You Mean This Stuff Works?
Alcohol solved a lot of adolescent problems for me: asking a girl to dance, anguish over being bullied as an even younger adolescent, family drama. You name it, alcohol helped to numb the pain…for a while.
Thing is, I didn’t realize it was doing something special for me. I just figured that was the normal effect. By the time I realized it was doing something to me, it was way down the line—about ten years down the line, to be precise.
Booze seemed to help for a period of years, and so did the use of a few other substances. Once it no longer worked reliably, I needed something better. Something real.
The Recovery Racket
I’ve heard comedian and podcaster Marc Maron refer to recovery as “the recovery racket,” which is always amusing to me—not only because he’s also, like me, in that racket, but also because of the implication that there’s big money being made. Big money is being made, but not by 12-step programs.
Treatment centers, doctors, counselors, even the court system…everybody and their brother makes money off the problem of alcoholism (not to mention the booze industry itself). But the “secret society” doesn’t get rich, because it’s kind of the opposite of a cult. No one can kick you out, you’re a member if you say you are, and the organization collects no dues or fees. They just pass the basket.
In 1989, the average person threw a buck in the basket when they passed it around. And in 2019, the average is—you guessed it—a buck. Not exactly raking it in.
Yet the program continues to work for those who want it and are willing to do the work. There are other options out there, and maybe they’re effective for others. I don’t pretend to know. What worked for me 30 years ago still works today, and I’m grateful for that.
Staying sober is the longest thing I’ve done consistently throughout my entire life. That says more for the program than it does for me, but it’s not an accomplishment. It’s a gift.
Not so long ago, it was easy to think of the week of Thanksgiving as “Gratitude Week.” In fact, I actually did that: back in 2016, Facebook reminds me, I posted an entire week’s worth of “Things I’m Grateful For” to my timeline. It was fun, and certainly provided some positive attitude adjustment around the holiday.
This year, I had a low-key get together consisting of my wife, my mother, and myself. Pretty easy to manage, and no arguments about toxic politicians. What more could you want?
Like many of us, I found myself reflecting on how the holidays have changed over the years. I’ve changed, too. Somehow, though, I think the holidays themselves have changed more.
Then Came Black Friday
Thanksgiving was never my favorite holiday. That would be Halloween. But as a boy, I could certainly find some charm in it. Relatives came over—which might mean a few bucks from Nana or Grandpa—and the yearly ritual of turkey and stuffing was a welcome one.
I don’t want to sound like a “get off my lawn” old man, but I never got the appeal of Black Friday, which didn’t even exist when I was a kid. Don’t get me wrong: I can understand waiting in line for something of value, something really important. Before the advent of Ticketmaster, folks would wait in line for hours, even overnight, for a chance to score good seats for a show. But that’s a concert. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, perhaps. Big difference between that and a refrigerator or flat screen TV.
Recent years have seen the rise of utter Black Friday insanity here in the US. Bad behavior abounds, and every year at least one astonishing video winds up on social media. The one I saw this year featured a group of people fighting over some boxed item, knocking over the stack, grabbing them out of each other’s arms. An adult actually took one away from a child. Disgusting, ludicrous, tragic. Pick an adjective. You won’t find me there, that’s for sure.
And Now It’s Cyber Monday?
As the holidays have become more and more commercialized, it seems like every business views the beginning of the holiday season as “time to load up.” It starts with Black Friday—which actually begins on Thanksgiving Day itself, somehow—and extends through Small Business Saturday and into Cyber Monday. So Thanksgiving is now effectively a five-day sale with moving targets. Pretty nauseating.
I’m a small business owner myself, with a publishing company, books to sell, freelance writing and editing projects to complete. And I suppose I could be forgiven if I used the holidays to try to get the most bang for my advertising buck. This year, however, I found myself especially reluctant to do so. In fact, I chose the weekend before Thanksgiving for my big one-day marketing event.
It seems to have worked, although I won’t know for sure until I get that all-important Automatic Deposit Remittance from IngramSpark. Whatever the result, I’m glad the holiday worked out this way. For me, Cyber Monday is just another day to write a blog post and make some new connections. Happy Holidays!