This post was sparked by a feature many people use on Twitter, but it applies to life, writing, and just about every other endeavor I can think of. In the old days I might have titled this Poseurs and People, Know the Difference.
I don’t intend to go back through the tired old arguments here about self-publishing, e-books, etc. versus the more standard publishing model where you write, submit, get rejected for a while, work harder, and get published.
What I do want to offer is a suggestion for some introspection and thought. Just because you say you are a writer, or an editor, or an expert in SEO, or Internet Marketing does not make it so. Having a blog does not make you a professional blogger, and writing about SEO and Internet Marketing (particularly if you linger on the same topics people who actually hold those positions in real life blog about) does not make you an expert.
Putting out your own PDF, e-book, podcast, or self-published print book does not make you a respected expert, an accomplished author, or likely to be seen as such. Learning things takes time. Expertise involves experience and study. Writing is an art, like any other, and needs to be studied and improved upon constantly. Work toward acceptance. Take acclaim when it’s offered to you, but don’t claim it as your right just because you think it should be so.
If you believe in your heart that what you’re doing is just too out there, different, unique, or cool for the rest of the world to get it and you have to forge your own path, go for it. In 99 percent of cases, that is a cop out on actually learning, working hard, and paying attention to the world around you, but there is that one percent.
I’m not here to tell people to stop blogging, writing, self-publishing, or any of those things, so don’t start jumping on me just yet. I’m saying, if you write your own awards letters, they don’t impress anyone. If you buy or trade your reviews and quotes just to make yourself seem like what you’d like to be, you might want to turn the gaze inward a bit and see what you REALLY want to be, then work toward that.
You don’t have to be a pro blogger to be a cool blogger. You don’t have to be a best-seller to be a good writer. You do have to be authentic and real to be in any way relevant.
As a final note - on your web site, in your social media interaction (like Twitter) - let people find you interesting and then offer them what you have. If someone adds you to their facebook friends don’t immediately go to their wall and write “Hi, glad to meet you, please download my free e-book” - on Twitter don’t set up an auto-direct-message saying “Glad to Meet You…I’m Here To Help…Download my free e-book…visit my website…Hey! It’s all about ME!” because you come across as a dillweed, or worse, and it will win you no followers and no points. Hell, half the people following you are colleagues, not potential clients…maybe they want to trade e-books? Probably not. Today I got offered a free e-book download telling me how to sell a book. I am guessing this person couldn’t be bothered to check my profile, but just expected everyone who might possibly connect with him to be a beginning writer in need of his (not professionally published) advice.
Here’s some more not professionally published advice.
Be yourself - follow your own muse - and please, if you write an e-book on self-help - wait for me to ask for it before you offer the download. All of you are giving me a complex.