One of the many necessary things aspiring authors must do to build name recognition is to grow an audience of people who enjoy their craft. Sure, we write for ourselves, but I can’t imagine any author with books available for sale who doesn’t have an inner desire for validation from more than friends and family.
Expectations are high in our social-media-saturated world. We are expected to have rich “author platforms” with websites and Facebook pages and newsletters and Twitter accounts and YouTube videos and the list goes on-and-on-and-on. But it’s not enough simply to have those platforms, we’re also expected to be available to our (hopefully growing) audience 24/7. Some authors refuse to play this game called marketing. They argue that they’d rather be writing and working on their next release than interacting with the sometimes unwashed masses.
Yes, we all have different goals as authors, and my goal is to reach as many people as I can with my stories. I want to make them laugh and cry and engage in discussions. I want them to anticipate my next book.
And so, much to my mother’s chagrin, I have been quite open over the years with accepting friend requests willy-nilly. Every new friend is a potential new reader, and except for that 8-month sabbatical I took from the FB world a while back, I’ve never felt the need to “unfriend” anyone. At least not until yesterday.
I clicked “accept friend request” from someone who looked like he could be a West Point classmate and within moments I got a personal message:
hello thank you so much to make me your friend and i like to keep more of you
as good friends so are you in the USA? have nice day..
I read it a couple of times and couldn’t help hearing Borat’s voice. So I wrote back:
Yes, but please tell me why you sent me a friend request?
My immediate concern was that he wanted “to keep more of” me, and although I was pretty sure he didn’t mean it in a “Silence of the Lambs” kind of way, I nevertheless checked out his page. No mutual friends. Just as I was about to delete him, this sad tale popped up:
Thank you so much to make me your friend and i like to keep more of you as
good friends so i m from Kansas is in the South, in the North of the United
States, i m 58 and wife die in child birth.i have daughter and one gran son,i m
widowed for 23 year ago.i live alone in my home, i m working as I’m a Civil
Engineer of oil pipelines,I work for myself as a private contractor.I travel with
my work alot. so tell me more about your self? How old are you? Are you
single? Do you have kids? what do you do for a living? I hope to read back
from you soon
I couldn’t make that up if I tried, and it’s really not as sad when you read it aloud with a Borat accent (my son did this brilliantly and added my new potential “friend” was probably from Kansastan), but within seconds I did what I never thought I’d do to a potential new follower: Unfriend.
Guess I’ll do a bit more snooping before accepting any more silly-willy-nilly friend requests. Pretty sure this one wouldn’t have enjoyed my writing anyway.