There are a number of hardened memes each independent author must confront at some point in the publishing process. One of these is the platform meme, which says you have to be willing to create your own audience. As regular readers know, I equate an author’s platform with their celebrity.
A related publishing meme dictates that you can’t successfully leverage your platform and celebrity unless you actively engage your audience. No matter how clever your marketing is, it’s not enough to say, “Here I am!” — you also need to say, “How are you?” and “What do you think?”
There are two reasons why this engagement is deemed important. First, you must differentiate yourself from the torrent of information available to (and being broadcast at) consumers, because consumers have become experts at tuning out. Second, engagement builds the strongest possible relationship you can have with the consumer, short of asking them to move in with you. While your engagement will mean nothing to the majority of consumers, to those who are interested it may mean the difference between passing interest and brand-grade commitment.
It’s not all good news, of course. To the extent that the internet facilitates such engagement it also drives the need. While it’s literally true that the internet requires a person to opt in, as a social matter it’s assumed that everyone will do so — and this is particularly true for people who aspire to build any kind of brand awareness. Because celebrity is simply brand awareness for a person, and because celebrity brands now have the potential for direct human interaction, there is both an additional level of opportunity and obligation in engaging celebrity-interested consumers. [ Read more ]