It’s so exciting to have so many friends around the world–writers, heartful marketers like Lynn Serafinn, bloggers, like Kathy Pooler–I’m a guest on her site today–and all kinds of people passionate about memoir writing. I was telling someone about my good friend Sharon Lippincott the other day, and they asked how I knew her. Sharon is one of my colleagues at the National Association of Memoir Writers, and–we’ve never met, in person that is. We have talked on the phone countless times, collaborated, schemed ideas, planned, and even Skyped–so I know what she looks like–but meet? No, not yet. I hope to see her in person when she comes west. But we are good friends thanks to the Internet.
The other day on Facebook I was awed by the number of people responding to the huge beautiful moon this weekend–dozens of people posted about it and added their photos of the moon taken from all over the country. I felt blessed to be connected even in cyber space by so many people and their response to the moon! It is because of social media that we can be connected like this–and though people disparage the cyber space thing at times–every one of those posts I read was made by a real person. And on Twitter–it does not operate by bots, for the most part. The tweets that I read, and I don’t spend enough time there really, are all by real people who are writing, publishing, and reaching out with their message. It’s amazing to see this. There are so many communities online and so many ways to shake hands with people. I’m learning a lot about this attitude from Dan Blank, whose terrific course” How to Build your Author’s Platform” will help you change your thinking.
I know that memoir writers sometimes struggle with “social media” and mistakenly think that it’s superficial or a waste of time. I was one of those people, but no more. When we approach marketing and getting the word out about something important to us with respect, we will receive it back. When we offer something of value to others–in a memoir it’s the lesson, the message, the wisdom that is offered–others will think about how that message affects them. They will get curious and reach out to you.
Lynn Serafinn, a two-time guest at the National Association of Memoir Writers, is offering a conference about what I call “heartful marketing” in London in June–and I’m going! The reason I’m going is to connect with a large community of people who are passionate about having a spirit-ful connection with others, and I want to bring back lessons and wisdom about how memoir writers can shift their attitude about marketing and reaching out from a grudging “Okay, I supposed I have to start a blog and get on Facebook, what a drag,” to curiosity–“how can I make new friends on the web whom I would never know otherwise. How can I learn how to make all this work for me so I grow my community?” See below for how you can sign up.
1. Think about who you already have in your community–friends, relatives, friends of friends. That’s where you start.
2. Make a list of people whose message you resonate with–and what they say that triggers your response to them.
3. Now make a list of well known people–authors, talk show hosts, movie stars–whoever you really admire and like. Look at the review on Amazon of your favorite authors–maybe someone there is a person you can connect with.
4. Remember community is a circle–give and receive, comment and respond. It’s a little like going to a party where you shake hands and find out what you have in common. You listen, and you say a few things about yourself. Not the long form speech about your book, but the two-line elevator speech where you say what it is about and how it can help others.
There. Homework done, but keep making your lists and adding to them. Check your negative attitude at the door, and open up to the grand community we have here on the www–the World Wide Web.
If you are interested in Lynn’s global conference, the early bird discount is available. Sign up here for the conference or the simulcast–it’s very reasonable and easy to attend.
In my local community, I’m teaching a workshop at Beth Barany’s Write and Publish your Book in 2012 on May 19th. A great group of presenters will get you up to date in the 21st century of writing and publishing.
Now, back to writing. Later, I’ll look into Facebook for a few minutes, Twitter for a few minutes, and stop off at a couple of blogs. Just a regular day with my community of writers!
Thanks for including homework, Linda Joy. I work so hard to create a tribe, and yet, in this internet age, our tribe is so spread out, I’m not quite sure who they all are. 🙂 It’s really cool that you are flying to actually see some of your tribe members. Have fun!
Memory Writers Network
Hi Linda: I hope the message in your latest news letter also appears somewhere here on your site. It’s the one about the fact that some of us memoir writers and our memoir writing students feel they must keep stories hidden. I appreciate your having offered ways to analyze what makes us want to conceal these stories. Thanks very much!
I can’t help but feel fortunate to be a writer in the 21st century when we have the technology that enables us to connect with other writers from all over the world. I love the community of writers I’ve connected with over the years! I first started thinking about the concept of tribe a couple of years ago after attending a writing conference where I felt like I was among “my people”. The concept has stayed with me. I treasure the friendships I’ve made online and am especially blessed by those that have translated to in-person relationships.
Hi Jerry, yes, everyone is spread out, yet just think that we are friends because I found you on the Internet! I think we can find people on the net, but we develop the friendships after that by phone and/or in person. We decide how and how much to connect with people, just as we do in “real life.” But also distance doesn’t have to determine the friendship and connection. It is real even if at a distance! Thanks for sharing!
Dear Lynette, Okay, I will post the ideas I put in that NAMW email here on a post very soon. Thanks for letting me know it was helpful to you, and thanks for being part of my tribe!
It is good to discover so many people interested in memoir writing and in such varied styles. It shouldn’t be surprising really as we are all different and, if we each write in our own voice, we see and tell things differently. This makes a very fruitful genre and it is surprising, therefore, that trade publishers are so unwilling vto make more of it.
Of course many memoirs only have niche interest and will not be read by the masses of readers out there. I am discovering that with my African Memoir series, which now amounts to four volumes, but part of the problem is in the distribution system. I am lucky enough to have found ( or rather have been found by) a trade publisher but even he faces difficulty in accessing parts of the market because of petty restrictions and demands for extra fees from printers and outlets in different countries. As a result my books are offered at silly prices in the US which people won’t pay. I hope that problem will soon be resolved when the four volumes are also released as e-books and i know the e-book market is far greater in the US than here in Uk where I am based.
I take your point about social media. I have always found it a problem and, although I do try to make sense of it, still find it difficult to get my mind around. As a result my contributions tend to be sporadic and scattered. This is often because i can’t find my way back to a thread I have contributed to. even this one risks getting lost in the ether of my mind.
Your idea of making lists only leads to more lists. I have five different lists on my desk and now need a list of lists just to keep track of them! As a result I have taken to dating things that get written on my lists. If they haven’t been attended to withing three weeks they just get crossed off and abandoned. Of course some things need to be listed well in advance, just so one doesn’t forget them and the three week rule would be out of place for vthese,. So now I have a list of due dates, detailing when things need to be done by. It goes some way towards helping, but lots of things still get crossed off unactioned.
The trouble with lists is they kee reminding me of things I have to do and this distracts me from doing the most important thing, writing down my memoirs. I have even tried putting “write the bit about…” on my list, but it doesn’t hellp. In face my lists waste even more time than my attempts to get to grips with social media, and then therte’s the flood of e-mails to attend to.
I sometimes wish my computer would crash completely. I still have an addres book, a pile of paper and a quill that works. Getting ink for it is harder these days’ but I still have a few bottles put by. Besides writing letters by hand I may go back to writing my manuscripts by hand. I can always send them out as photocopies to those who want to read them. Somewhere I still have the original dipping pen with which i learned to write in a mission school in Northern Rhodesia over 60 years ago. It still works too, so perhaps I’ll go back to that.
I also need time for reading – often other people’s memoirs, but i do read up to date stuff as well. So, my project for this year is to slow down, get more done and while I’m at it, invent the 30 hour day. this I will divide into six five hour slots and use one for sleeping, another for eating and being siciable with my tribe, the rest I will divide up among grouped tasks, not forgetting to keep one full five hour slot for my own writing.
Back to the original question: What is your tribe?
I have been initiated into several African tribes and written about these in my African Memoir books. There is some information about these on my website: http://www.ianmathie.com and a lot more in my books.
Tribal living is good. We should never have allowed the disintegration of familes to the extent that has happened in many parts of Europe, particularly UK, and even the US.