This is a duck. His name is Ducky Thomas. He is a duck named Thomas.
This is a video about a bookstore. It has nothing to do with ducks--not yet anyway I guess I must admit--but does indeed have a lot to do with the point.
They both have something in common. They have nothing directly to do with the books I write, but have everything to do with me as a writer. They are independent of what is published, but a vital cog in the publicity of who I am. And they aren't the end or the beginning. They are the journey.
There. I've waxed poetic. Now I can get on with the point.
We all know about Twitter. If you have the time and patience, you can gather a following, make a name for yourself, your opinions, and your work. The same can be said for Facebook, albeit in a more centralized, and long-term kind of way. You're going to make your friends, have your followers, talk about anything from The Simpsons and their obvious lack of relevance to Obama and his quest for health care. You'll be "liked", have the "@" symbol thrown your way, tagged, or even re-posted/re-tweeted. People will laugh with you, at you, talk about why your opinion is pointless and not at all as potent as what they have to say, and send messages to one another about whatever it is you posted last. Above all, they will know you as a writer, and understand you as a person in ways readers never could before, and they will look forward to what you have to post next.
But they are merely one step toward lifting you, as a writer, into the conversations of the world.
We live in a digital age. One in which communication is almost entirely of the written word. We view Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Plancast, Tumbler, and so on as pure facets of publicity, meant to broaden our audience and stamp a nice, fancy, little brand upon our heads. All of which is most certainly true. But it's not the mere existence of our digital selves on these sites that makes full embrace of what they offer us. It's what we write. It's how we use them. It's taking the blank slate and filling it with content that both evolves who we are as writers, and demonstrates fully what we can do with the words we are blessed with. True, starting a blog and writing about anything--anything at all--is exactly the right approach. But it isn't the endpoint.
When I first started blogging, I didn't intend on writing about the adventures of a stuffed duck, and I had no plans to begin at first a blog, and then a series of videos about life in a bookstore. But the more I worked through my personal blog, the more I came to see each entry as a script of my life--pages of the mind fluttering from the inner sanctum of thought to the public forum offered to me. Each entry was another showcase of what I could offer. In a very real sense, each time I posted a blog, I was adding to my resume. Obviously, it is every writer's great hope that each book that is published will further enhance the aura and legacy of who they are (read in: you will become instantly uber-famous, and own two castles in a decade). But it doesn't have to end there any more. In fact, the sheer number of books that are being published by extension of the popularity of a blog speak volumes to the time in which we live. Used to be that you had to find a press to print your article, or a series of collected works in which to be included in order to broaden the scope of your work. Now you have the internet, and whatever time you offer it. Work it all in unison and not only do people start to pay attention--no matter how small your collective--but they start to anticipate what's to come. Then that audience can grow as people share what you have to offer--which is far less work than what you will put into creating it, given that the sharing aspect of it is usually accommodated by the gratifying click of a button.
It's so very cliche, but the truth is, you never know who is watching, who is reading, who will share what you have to say, who is paying attention to as you scream from every corner of the internet you can crawl from, "HEY! PAY ATTENTION TO ME!" So, go. Do. Find your inner duck. And make every word count. Your future readers will take note.
Zachary Steele is usually a lot funnier than this, but, oh well, what are you going to do, right? He is the author of Anointed: The Passion of Timmy Christ, CEO, and the forthcoming Flutter: An Epic of Mass Distraction, and has been featured on NPR and in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Publisher's Weekly, and Shelf Awareness. He can be found boring the world with his thoughts on his blog,The Further Promotion of ME, as well as the bookstore-life blog, There Are No Words, and the newly minted Adventures of Ducky Thomas.