Over making pancakes for lunch (I'm an adult, that's a fine lunch) on this horrible, rainy Sunday, I've been thinking about engagement. Not the relationship kind, but the writer-reader kind. The you and me kind. I've come to the conclusion that I'm not great at it and I'd like to change, but change requires working out what it is that needs to change.
I know what I'm doing wrong so that's a start. I'm not engaging much at all. Partly it's a time thing; I can only fit so much into a day. Sure, I have the social media tools: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. (I've even updated the handles so they're easier to find.) I have author pages you can follow at Amazon, Smashwords, Bookbub and more. I have a burgeoning mailing list. I have this. Between all these things, I can reach tens of thousands of readers. I could communicate with my industry, but I'm a little shy and awed by the other amazing writers out there. I need to get over that.
But I don't know what to give you.
Sure, there's the mailshots to tell you about a new book out, an audiobook, or a sale. Yes, I reply to all Facebook and Twitter communications (I really like that I can engage like that: no middlemen, relative immediacy) but after that... I get stuck. So I started to think about what engagement is. What does it give you? What does it give me? What would I want to see if I were on the other end of the device, clicking this page, reading this?
I've made some headway in the past. For one thing, I'm accessible on those social media tools. Recently, I've been updating this site's blog (this bit, right here) with short articles on how I write in between the usual book-related news. I think that is a direction I might take: more articles on writing, on publishing, on industry reactions, aimed at readers, writers, and those interested in publishing. Judging by the questions I get in real life, there is a lot of interest in the process of writing and the mechanics of publishing and the business side to things. There are certainly plenty of myths to dispell.
I've thought about sharing more of my personal life but I hesitate at that when I don't know who is reading. I've had some personal setbacks over the past couple of years that have been hard to deal with emotionally and have affected my work output. I hesitate to share - even though it makes me human, it makes me relatable - because I know there is, for some, a mentality of relishing in another person's distress and I don't want to engage with that. I do know I want you to know who I am, what I'm doing, what my day to day life is like. I know I like reading those kind of things on the sites of authors I admire.
So, engagement? Engagement is access. Access is approachability. Approach is reachability (wow: are these -ability words really words?). Reach is knowledge. Knowledge is interest. Interest is communication. Communication is engagement. There's probably a fancy flowchart this could fit into and I need to think about it further. I'll do that today while drinking my mint tea and watching the new Hallmark mystery movie because that is what Sundays are for.