Think about your favorite authors. What images come to mind? Traditionally you would no doubt recollect book covers, moments of action in their novels, incredible characters, perhaps even where you were in your life when you first read them. Today however there are a score of authors such as Neil Gaiman and John Scalzi who have broken the fourth wall and reached out to their readers, becoming eminently accessible through their blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. When one thinks of them, you not only recall their books, but information about their lives, how they feel about different topics, places they have visited, important events in their lives: in short, never have authors been so accessible, and authorial presence been so potentially broad.
So what does this mean for you, fledgling author? It means you should run and start a blog. Quick, hop to it! Pick a name. Something catchy, maybe “Wings of Nevermore”? No, what does that even mean? “A Portrait of an Artist as a Teddy Bear”? Fail. Something more personal… perhaps a T.S. Eliot quote? Those are always popular, or maybe a reference to Oscar Wilde? How about “LyingInTheGutter.com”? Not bad. Obscure enough to cause head scratching, but rewarding to those familiar with the O. Wilde quote.
There you go! A brand new blog. Now. Write a post. Something trenchant, funny, slightly morbid, and painfully revealing. What you cooked for dinner? No. Don’t even think about your cats. What you’re currently working on? Better, but who cares? Nobody knows who you are yet. What about… what about a unique piece of research you’ve just done? Better. Say, a post about riding around with a cop last week so you could see what it’s like. Perfect!
OK, now your Facebook page. And your Twitter account. Remember, don’t just blab on about your own stuff. You need interesting fodder for the masses to chomp on. And most importantly, give them access to you. Share your doubts, your fears. Make it personal! The more scandalous the details, the more they’ll come running to read. Is that true? It sure works for some. Others however just develop a great voice and keep the truly personal personal. Which should you do?
See, here’s where this all breaks down. Either you enjoy blogging and tweeting and whatever, and do so naturally in your own voice, or you attempt to calculate what kind of authorial presence you’re going to shoot for, and end up coming across as false and flatulent. Scalzi and Gaiman naturally enjoy blogging, and do so with flair and panache that takes no effort. The trick to all this is to simply find your authorial presence ‘voice’, the tone and angle you like to present yourself in to the world. Once you find that, be it snarky, meditative, bitter, whatever, you can start to simply talk about what interests you, and if you’re an interesting person, it will click with your readers.
So don’t over think it. Just get out there and chat and make friends.
God, this is a crapulent post. Pretty damn obvious. I’m going to delete it.
Or just post it?