Let People See YOU to Truly Connect
Perspectives on marketing and networking from an author.
By Carolina P. McMullen
My name is Carolina McMullen, I am a self-published author born in Spain but breaded and fried in this wonderful land of opportunity.
Let me emphasize the word opportunity. Opportunities are given to the ones who don’t just try but are willing to work and learn from their mistakes and are willing to try different approaches to success.
The Business Side of What You Love
When I became an author, I never thought of myself as a small business. I am an artist and assumed everyone would just see me as such, and naturally buy my books because they are captivating. It wasn’t until I had to promote my first book that I realized writing was only half of the adventure. The business side of my chosen career found me woefully unprepared. I had no idea how time consuming promoting one’s product could be or how fickle one’s target audience could be.
Thankfully, technology and the internet have changed the dynamics of small businesses. Social media is the most powerful means of marketing in existence today. Think about it: Anyone can be anything they want with the help of social media; however, if you’re not out there and presenting the real you, eventually your hard work will fall apart right in front of your eyes. For example, I might be the best or the worst writer in the world, but if I don’t put myself as well as my work out there, no one would ever have the opportunity to discover who I actually am.
Connecting Through Social Media
Selling your brand is hard but not impossible. Instinctively, we are led by our egos. In this regard, I am guilty as charged. In reality, to be successful, we must undergo a learning process that will result in individual life and business lessons. For example, I learned that trying to keep up with the Joneses can be overwhelming and ineffective. No one wants to see the same sales pitch they just saw used by another, probably more famous, author. In general people may have an interest in my books, but for the most part they also have an interest in me.
People want to feel a connection in that I am just like them. They want to relate to my good days as well as my bad. Sometimes my hair and makeup are not perfect and other times I look like a movie star. It’s the connection I make on the dress-down days that keeps my fans coming back for more. Since the goal is to sell books, while sharing myself, I slip in references to places and stories mentioned in my books by talking about the location of a convent, for example, or highlighting the real people of the town where my stories take place.
Once I realized being myself is my best approach, everything became clear. For my followers, simplicity keeps them engaged. Sometimes it’s hard to do. There will always be haters, but you have to remain focused. I found I cannot just talk about my books. The haters hated more and my loyal loving base became bored and abandoned me. When I started sharing my life as a real person, the base returned and even grew.
Let Yourself Shine
What worked for me might not work as well for you. Try different approaches and find your own way. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Sometimes we tend to be our own toughest critic. Always remember we cannot please everyone. Since undertaking my “I’m one of you approach,” my books have sold, I’ve had major book signings both here and in Europe, I’ve met the Queen of Spain and many, many readers. Everyone is important, but most important is being true to yourself.
Carolina P. McMullen is a Spanish writer living just outside Charleston, South Carolina, with her husband and three chihuahuas. Her books are about the beauty and complexity of growing up a woman in southern Spain in the 1900s. For more information see her website at carolinapmcmullen.com or follow her on Twitter @CarolinaVicenta.