noun, plural e·gos.
the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, andwilling, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others andfrom objects of its thought.
Psychoanalysis . the part of the psychic apparatus thatexperiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediatesbetween the primitive drives of the id and the demands of thesocial and physical environment.
egotism; conceit; self-importance: Her ego becomes moreunbearable each day.
self-esteem or self-image; feelings: Your criticism wounded hisego.
( often initial capital letter ) Philosophy .
the enduring and conscious element that knows experience.
Scholasticism. the complete person comprising both body andsoul.
Today we are going to cover egos. Now as we see Dictionary.com defines ego in several different ways. I'm going to focus on the third definition. Now, as indie authors, we have to have some what of an ego in order to talk about our books, suggest them to people, do interviews, and essentially brag about ourselves for a little bit. But that only takes a bit of egotism and some confidence, hell, I know authors who fake it most of the time and it works.
But there are authors out there who have too much ego. Why does it matter, you ask? I don't know about you, but when I was an aspiring author, hell as a published author, I look up to those authors who are down to earth. Someone you can talk to as a person and someone you can relate to. I think this is important as an author, if you have too big of an ego and come off that way, eventually it'll hurt your sales, your reputation, and as an indie author you can't afford that.
Let me give you an example. Back in 2006, a friend flew me out for a book signing for a particular author. It was a pretty exclusive book signing since it was an end of a tour party. I was so excited, because it was an author that I admired, adored, and looked up to. So I get out there, and I'm nervous as hell because this is my first time meeting a big name author. But by the end of the night, there I stood at the table with her and decided, 'she's a normal person, I can talk to her as such.' I don't remember what I said, but she completely blew me off and wandered away. I was devastated. It wasn't like I expected her to remember my name, or my face, but a small conversation to take home with me. As I closely watched her, she didn't approach anyone and blew off everyone who tried to approach her. Now, we're talking about a book signing with maybe 50 people at it. She acted like she was better than everyone and above them all.
This stuck with me, and to this day, I have a hard time picking up her books to read them. I felt like persona she gave online, on social networking, on her website and interviews was not the cold shoulder person I had met. That didn't sit right with me. I haven't bought one of her books since.
So let me give you the flip side of this.
Two years ago another author that I adored came to a city near me. I was three months pregnant, and my poor husband feared for the interior of his car because I threatened to throw up every few miles. This was a huge signing so I didn't expect any personal time, I just wanted to see her and get a book signed. So my husband indulged me. We got up there and there was a massive group, as expected, I found someone I had communicated with online, and she gushed about how this author just adored her fans and were grateful for all of them. So the author did her speaking, and then came the book signing part. I got up there, and was nervous, but I didn't want to make the same 'mistake' that I had at the other book signing, so I mumbled, 'hi.'
The author caught me off guard. "Oh my gosh, I love your hair!" (it was tinted purple at the time) And despite the fact that there were at least 100 people behind me, she took a couple minutes to talk to me. She found out I was pregnant, wished me luck, and gave me a huge hug. I was in aw and on cloud nine for the rest of the night. I don't expect her to remember me next time, but I know that I will always continue to support her because I watch how she struck up a conversation with everyone. Better yet, I watched how at the end of the signing, she hung around to mingle with those who stayed after. Some of them she'd even known by name because they showed up to all her signings.
Ego. It can hurt you if you let it get out of control. Those are two memories I will always keep with me and two great examples. As an indie author, if we turn one person off by pretending or thinking we are better than everyone else, it really hurts us. Because that person will tell someone else. Now, I'm not saying don't advertise or don't talk about yourself ever, but remember you are nothing with out your readers. When you're writing your bio, or answering questions, be weary of things that make you sound egotistical things like, "a brand new look on this genre" "as demanded by thousands of fans" "Worlds best author." when writing bios, answering interview questions, unless you're quoting a source that can be found--that's a different story.
I recently attended a convention under my other name, and one of the best things about this convention was that readers, bloggers, and authors all had time to mingle. The person who ran the convention stressed that it was the best thing we could do as authors, sit down with readers, and don't automatically start talking up your books, hell don't even mention them. There were several people who bought books after just sitting down and having a normal conversation with the authors, and they had no clue that they were talking to authors.
So check your ego, get your head out of your ass, and be a normal person who just happens to write. Be down to earth, even as an author, big name, small name, new or seasoned, you are still human and not a god or goddess. Agree? Disagree? I'd love to hear your thoughts below. Please feel free to comment.