Saturday 6 April 2024

We Need Fans and Followers, not so much Friends and Family

 I found myself getting quite irritated by a tweet I read decently. Another writer was complaining that at a family dinner no one asked her how her writing was going. I wrote a reply which I then deleted. The writer was already upset; there was no point in my upsetting them more. And I’ve actually got quite a lot to say for which there would not be enough characters even if I had a paid account with X.

Why should we actually expect our friends and family to be interested in our writing? My husband is a football fan and often watches three matches at once via computer and TV screen, and apart form a cursory ”How did they get on?” when I’m really trying to assess his mood, I’m not really interested.  He’s also an IT expert and very useful in that capacity at times. I’m glad he continues to be successful but again, I don’t need to know the details.

So why should your family, at a family dinner, ask how your writing is going? More likely they need to know how you are doing. Are you well? Are managing to pay the rent? Are you happy? Is there anything they can help with? Aha! Yes, they could buy one of your books. But don’t expect them to think of that unless you tell them.

I have a lot of writing friends and I’m always interested in how their process is going, including with marketing. We chat as professionals working in the same filed often do. But I’m still not necessarily interested in every detail of those works – many of my writing friends work in a genre that doesn’t light my fire. 

And there are some writers I adore. I become a fan and if I remember, a follower: I hit the “Follow” button an Amazon.

We probably think we are more emotionally tied to our creative work than people are to other sorts of work.  Are we though?

What about your cousin the nurse who has just had to help a patient who was dying? Or your brother-in-law the plumber who has just had to fit a new boiler in a very old house and the pipe-work wouldn’t play ball? Or your friend at the gym who has just had to give someone the sack because they just weren’t up to the job even though that means that they will no longer be able to pay their rent? Do you ever really want to kwon how it’s going for them? Do you bother to ask? If your answer is no, then you have absolutely no right to expect them to be interested in your writing. If yes, then no doubt you will soon see that they’ll show an interest in what’s most on your mind as well.

Some friends and family may also be or become fans and followers. We need to reach out to our identified reader, make sure we’re visible to them and make it’s easy for them to become followers.

We need to be pragmatic. Sure, there is a deeply emotional side to writing – we probably couldn’t do it well if there wasn’t. But we also have to have our business head on. If people aren’t noticing that we’re writing it may well be our own fault.

Tied up with this is imposter syndrome.

The people closest to us don’t get that we need time to write? And we don’t assert that? Why can’t we be more assertive? The answer is probably because we don’t believe it ourselves. Maybe we need to be clearer:

·         Grab your time to write. I now shut my study door if I don’t want to be disturbed. My family are now trained; sometimes I forget to open it again – and get an apologetic knock on the door.   

·         Be prepared to describe yourself as a writer – even if you have a day job tell people that.

·         Tell people about your writing when they ask how you are.

·         Be proud of what you’ve achieved and be prepared to tell people about it – as long as you don’t get too swanky.  

·         Find the people who can become fans and followers. I network a lot with children’s writers because I sometimes write for children. But my fans and followers are more likely to be school children and those involved in education. So, I befriend teachers and school librarians on social media.

·         Don’t whinge that you’re not getting noticed.  Do something that will get you noticed Whinging will get you the wrong sort of attention.  If you have friends that have been more successful than you, look at what they’re doing and see if you can emulate. Only, of course, if you feel comfortable with that. Hint: there are zillions of promotional activities that work. There are bound to be a few with which you can feel comfortable. Go grab them.  

Enjoy interacting with your fans and followers.


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