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Friday, January 11, 2019

 

Friday Speak Out!: What the Cat Taught Me about Gaining Followers

by Raven Carluk

It's been eighteen months since Benjamin the puppy joined the family. He's been a bundle of laughs, playful and happy, and desperate for everyone to love him. And I mean everyone, including the cats.

Unfortunately for him, my cat Mackey is not a fan of dogs. He couldn't believe that I had allowed this bouncy, uncontrollable fluffball into his house. Worse, I wouldn't make it leave him alone.

As I spent most of the last two years playing referee to them, I began to see parallels between my boys and my writing career. The harder Ben tried to be in the cat's face and get liked, the more Mackey hated him and rejected the puppy. The rejection only hurt Ben's feelings and made him wonder why; exactly how I felt after every post that went unanswered.

Why was my enthusiasm not rewarded by multitudes of readers? Was I not good enough? Was I doing something wrong? Perhaps if I sounded more excited in my tweets, or just kept working on the presentation, someone would like me. These unknown potential followers weren't responding, so I didn't know what I was doing wrong, and I just had to keep trying. One more antic in an attempt to win them over.

Watching the dog and cat interact, I realized I had been acting just like Benjamin. I wanted everyone to like me, and I was getting stressed out when they didn't. It was that stress that made me take such a long break from writing, hoping that an answer would just appear to me some day.

The answer didn't magically appear in plain text. I had to take that step back and watch the drama play out through my pets to understand. I couldn't be in everyone's face all the time, and I couldn't force them to like me. I could only be myself, and I would either gain new readers or I wouldn't. Followers come organically, and no amount of exuberance changes that fact. It's certainly nothing personal, nothing that I'm doing wrong.

Mackey and Benjamin have finally found their balance. The puppy stopped trying to be liked, and the cat finally accepts his companionship. Maybe even a sort of friendship.

And I have a new inner peace and understanding for myself. Not trying would do more for my career, and my sense of well-being, than spending my energy making desperate pleas for strangers to read my books. Because of my dog and cat, I know I need to spend my time simply being the best me and let what will happen happen.

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Raven Corinn Carluk, author of paranormal romance and dark fantasy, resides in Vancouver WA with her family and multitude of pets. She is a multi-faceted creative, and enjoys a good story no matter the medium. Keep informed and enjoy free reads at RavenCorinnCarluk.Blogspot.Com
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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
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5 Comments:

Blogger Barbara Barth said...

As a dog lover, this post drew me right in. A great analogy and good advice to pass on to others. Thanks, Raven!

6:35 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

Thanks for the post, Raven! I hear this from bloggers all the time. I have a friend who started blogging and after a few months abandoned it because she thought the audience would automatically come and was only doing it to build her book platform. Building an audience takes time and dedication, and it helps if you enjoy the process, not only the outcome. Networking and commenting on other posts helps, joining organizations in your genre, and doing guest posts like these. :) I agree that you should just be yourself no matter what you do, and I LOVE your analogy. Good luck on building your readership, and write on! :)

10:36 AM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

I agree with what Barbara said. This advice is extra powerful because of the easy anaology you drew between your pets and readers and writers. Great post!

12:05 PM  
Blogger S. L. Danielson said...

As a cat mom, I was drawn to your post immediately and the subject rings true for me.
I'm still finding that balance between yappy dog and apathetic cat..lol

2:24 PM  
Blogger Sioux Roslawski said...

Raven--I've gone through the same despondency. I write what I think are decent posts, with some substance... and then I see other bloggers who write nothing but fluff (they might blog about their spoon collection), and have oodles of followers. It makes me wonder. What have I done to offend/turn off/bore readers?

You arrived at the same conclusion I did. We have to be ourselves, and true to ourselves. If we're constantly reinventing ourselves, trying to garner attention, we'll confuse our audience.

Look for places where you can do a guest post (like The Muffin). Obviously, readers respond to you.

Good luck. It's something all writers need.

6:41 AM  

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