Artists must connect with their audience. That is the first rule of being an artist, or at least an artist who wants to share their work with the world. To do so, you must first identify your audience, find them and communicate the value of what you have to offer them.
This is what marketing teaches us. It’s also a one-way street with a dead end.
Connecting with a person – any person – requires dialogue. You don’t connect with your friends and family by just spewing monologues at them, right? You share interests and show your interest in them. And, if it is a healthy relationship, they do the same: you connect.
You share interests and show your interest in them. And, if it is a healthy relationship, they do the same: you connect.
But what if that connection fails despite your best efforts to engage them?
Most writers are introvert by nature and aren’t too keen on the first stages of connecting, when you’re still uncertain if you have enough common ground to establish that connection. It’s difficult enough when you’re introduced to the acquaintance of an acquaintance, but when you reach out to a potential audience, they are often complete strangers. Scary!
Fortunately that apprehension fades as soon as you find out a stranger you reached out to is actually a nice person who indeed shares a common ground with you, such as a love for reading or a particular genre.
We’d like to think that this is “connecting”. People like your Facebook Page, follow you on Twitter or whatever platform, and they even subscribed to your email list. Wonderful! That’s what the marketing courses you’ve been taking tell you to achieve, and here you are.
Except nothing happens. No comments, no shares or retweets, no reactions to newsletters, no sales. Nothing. And you stare out your window and wonder what on Earth went wrong.
I was staring out that window myself when I happened on a video of Simon Sinek. In this interview, he addressed exactly this problem: why can’t people seem to really connect anymore?
The context of the interview has little to do with us solitary writers (it’s on leadership in large businesses) and I’m not joining the millennials discussion, but from at the 5:40 marker, Sinek makes a troublesome but in my experience accurate observation about the effects of constant internet access on human behaviour:
(And for good measure here’s the follow up he did.)
To connect to people, we must engage in conversation. Yet this glowing screen we stare at separates each of us from everyone else under the pretence of connecting us. Small wonder so many people are lonely these days!
And small wonder (self-publishing) writers have such a hard time gaining any kind of traction with their potential audience.
“Ground control to Major Tom”
So how do we reconnect to an audience that doesn’t realise it has disconnected and wouldn’t know how to connect is they did?
Personally, I prefer face-to-face contact. Still not easy when the people you write for are primarily on the other side of the globe, but it’s a start.
How do you tackle this? What have you tried to reach your audience that didn’t work? And most importantly: what did?
Please share your thoughts in the comments and maybe we can help each other!
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