Guest Post: The Art of Connection by Danika Stone
We are longtime friends!family (you’ll learn more about that below!) of Danika Stone, author of several genres and age groups. Danika is a ray of sunshine who manages to connect with audiences across all of her stories, so as part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we asked her to share advice for fellow authors (but bloggers, too! Lots of good tidbits in here for everyone). Check out her post below, add her on social media, and pick up any of her books (what are you waiting for!?)!
The Art of Connection by Danika Stone
It’s weird to be an author. No really. It is! You spend all this time sitting alone at a computer, telling stories about an imaginary world that you hope, one day, will find its way into the minds and hearts of others. Finished, you follow this solitary process with months or years of trying to get it published. By the time you’ve signed the fateful contract and the novel is well and truly on its way, the idea of connecting with readers can feel like an afterthought. But in today’s publishing world, that next step—staying in touch with your audience—is more important than ever.
As a multi-genre writer with many publications under my belt, here are my top three ways to stay connected with my favorite humans of all time: The book readers!
1. Be yourself.
Many authors try to create a social media feed that is a glowing highlight reel of an all too perfect life. I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t. Why? For one, because it’s not real. No one’s life is perfect, and pretending it is can turn anyone off. (C’mon… you know who I’m talking about!) But there are other reasons too…
Readers are people and they’re curious about the ‘real’ you. They want to know who you are and when you falsely represent that on social media, people can tell. That trust, once gone, is hard to regain. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to share each and every detail of your messy life (though I’ve been known to post the HEAPS of laundry my boys create), but the parts that you DO share, should be accurate.
I fill my social media feed with snapshots of my day. No matter what I’m doing, or who I’m with, if I have a moment that sticks out in some way, I try to capture it. Those moments—good and bad, happy and sometimes intensely sad—are the real side of Danika Stone. So whether it’s having a Tim Horton’s coffee while sitting in my Jeep, or wandering along a rocky beach in the mountains, I try to pull my readers into it. That connection is more real than any curated feed!
2. Focus on joy
Life is hard. Believe me, I know this. But the truth is, there are moments of joy hidden in the pain… you just have to look for them.
When you step into the publishing world, you’re agreeing to allow other people into your writing life. Most readers are incredible, kind people; they will support you in ways you’d never imagined. But… some won’t. You can’t let your attention go to those folks. Forget replying to nasty comments or harsh reviews. Don’t say anything at all. Just move on. And if it’s something that concerns you, block them.
The joys of being a writer—if you focus on them—far outweigh the negatives. Your readers will be drawn to you as someone who loves the process of writing, especially when you’re honest about the struggles you feel when the words won’t come, they’ll cheer for you, particularly when you’re also cheering for your peers, and they’ll remember how you make them feel, far more than what you actually said.
An audience—no matter what genre you write for—is created over time. Positivity can be created too, but it’s up to you to make that happen. Remember, joy is just a matter of where your place your attention.
3. Build your friends!family
Maybe it’s my background in fandom, but I honestly think of my online friends as family. There are people I have gone on vacation with who I originally met on LiveJournal, Tumblr, and Twitter. (Yes, my 1990s the-internet-is-dangerous parents would have been horrified!) But the creation of friends!family is great for building an audience as well.
Being a writer online is a give and take. Yes, you are there to allow readers to reach out to you, but you’re also there to connect with them as peers. Many of my readers are now writing their own books and several have gone further in their own careers than I have in mine! By allowing yourself to develop these connections into real relationships, you can extend the magic of writing in ways you cannot possibly imagine.
You should build a friends!family with authors, bloggers, reviewers and readers, because—as intimidating as it may seem from the outside—the writing world is much more like a small town than a city. It can be lonely here, if you don’t know who to reach out to, so find your people. Cheer them on. Care for them. Do this and that audience of friends will stick with you forever!