Dear Indie Author, Remember to Guide Your Readers to Your Own Platforms

None of us can deny the power of social media to impact businesses, big and small. As we’ve seen repeatedly, what we post to our accounts can have positive and negative real-life effects, destructive and groundbreaking. With it, we can reach people worldwide without leaving the house. It is no longer just about posting family photos. People are making real money and establishing real connections.

However, an over reliance on social media to hold up the core of our business can prove disastrous since we do not own them. Lately, I have heard many complaints of Instagram pages being hacked, Facebook jail, and TikTok suspensions.

And these are not complaints from people with small accounts. People with tens of thousands of followers have had to start from zero.

People who operate systematically, moving their tribe (those genuinely interested in their content because everyone isn’t), over to their own platforms, do not lose when their accounts are hacked or when IG decides to glitch.

They do not lose because they understand a basic principle:

Social Media is the vehicle, not the destination.

Photo by cottonbro studio

Social Media is a powerful tool for socializing and networking with your target audience. Still, you want to always be moving them along your funnel.

This looks like adding them to your blog, email/text list, website, or membership site.

To do this, use a call-to-action at the end of your posts to tell people what you want them to do.

The call-to-action or CTA is when you give your people direction. What do you want us to do after seeing your post?

  • Do you want us to visit your website by clicking the link in your bio?
  • Do you want us to leave a comment? Are you asking for feedback?
  • Do you want us to buy something? Are you having a Black Friday sale?

The goal is to avoid getting too comfortable with the followers you get from these social media platforms. Only some people following you are interested in what you have to offer. You can ensure they know where to find you outside Instagram and Facebook. This allows you to nourish relationships and build stronger bonds with those who care.

In a matter of seconds, your thousands of followers can be gone if someone hacks you or your account is deleted for whatever reason.

Protect yourself by establishing an online home.


Indie Author Basics simplifies and streamlines the Self-Publishing Process so authors can Self-Publish high-quality books without pulling out their hair.

What Indie Authors Could Learn from the Instagram + Facebook Outage

Today, October 4, 2021 Facebook and Instagram went down in the US.

This is nothing new. Facebook and Instagram have had outages before. I have no doubt everyone will be back online soon.

That linked article said this happened this morning, but I was on Instagram and Facebook, and it was working fine, so the outage is relatively recent. (I noticed it afternoon-ish.)

The interesting thing about all of this is it wasn’t until I sent my fourth quarter email out to my list that I noticed these platforms were down. I got an alert from the news app on my phone just as soon as I pressed send.

“Oh. Okay.”

Short story: I wasn’t panicked.

This message is simple:

It would be best to have other ways of engaging with your readers outside of these two major platforms. Instagram and Facebook might be the most popular, but they are not the only social networking sites available, nor are they the only places authors should look to when engaging an audience.

If anything permanent happened to these social media sites, I’d like people to know they can still visit me online at yecheilyahysrayl.com, contact me using my contact form and sign up to my email list and blog for updates.

Many Indie Authors depend solely on Instagram and Facebook for sharing content. This isn’t even just for Authors. Many new entrepreneurs operate solely by way of Facebook pages and Cash App. 

Not good. 

If Instagram and Facebook were to be down indefinitely, people would lose contact with most of their audience.

How so?

Well, my language is poetry so to quote Najwa Zebian: “The biggest mistake that we make is that we build our homes in other people.”

Indie Authors and new entrepreneurs make a mistake when they build their businesses solely on temporary social media platforms with no means of staying in contact with people beyond that social media site.

Consider:

You have 8,000 Instagram followers, but someone hacks you or Instagram dies. You have 12,000 Facebook followers, but FB’s dead too. Now thousands of potentially eager clients no longer exist. Well, they exist, but they have no idea how to contact you because:

  • You don’t have a website they can visit to support you. 
  • You don’t have an email marketing strategy for them to keep up with you. 
  • You don’t have a blog to continue to share your content. You know, the content you usually share on the Instagram that no longer exists.

Heartbreaking stuff.

Other Ways of Connecting / Interacting with Your Readers Outside of Facebook and Instagram

Every Author Should Have a Website

Not to beat a dead horse here, but you should really have an author website. We’ve talked about this guys. Your website is your home. It is where people can go to learn more about you, buy your books/services, and contact you. This is your main hub, a summary of all things you, the author. Websites demonstrate professionalism, and every professional business has one. Serious Indie Authors should have one too.

Blog

Your blog (which should be easily accessible from your website) is where you provide content. Blogs perform better traffic-wise than static websites because they are updated regularly with new material. I think having a blog and static website is a great balance.

Email

Your email list (which should be easily accessible from your website) is a way of nurturing relationships with new readers who aren’t following your blog but bought your book and providing updates to loyal readers who want to engage with you more deeply. 

Collecting emails to a list is important for Indie Authors because POD services like Amazon’s KDP do not tell you who the people are who bought your book. You see the sale, but not the name or anything else about the customer. This means if I buy your book from Amazon, you won’t know unless I tell you. This makes it challenging to keep track of me as a new reader and build a stronger relationship with me.

This is also why you should be pushing book sales from your author website too because you have a better connection to the people buying your books. Oh, wait, you don’t have a website. See how that works?

Some readers will do you the favor of posting about your book on Facebook and Instagram. But, wait, there is no FB and IG in this scenario.

Other Social Sites

Believe it or not, other social media sites exist. Places like Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube for video, and maybe even LinkedIn can be good alternatives to communicate with your audience if the others are gone.

The point is, there are other ways of being visible online outside of Facebook and Instagram.

I hope this outage helps us to rethink our social media strategy and develop ways of moving those loyal Insta-friends over to our own platforms.

Update: All those random emails ya’ll sent out the blue yesterday to people who probably forgot they signed up to your list is like rushing out to the grocery store to buy food during a shortage rather than just stocking up before the shortage happens.

Moral: Just having an email list is not enough if you don’t use it. It can hurt you more than help you.


Meet and Greet Book Signing 11/13

On 11/13, I am hosting my first book signing since Covid. My last signing was in 2019, so I am nervous and excited to be around people again.

Please be advised we are still fighting this virus, so there is very limited space and vaccinated or not, you must wear your mask. I am also not putting in a large order of books, so first come, first served. COME EARLY.

You Don’t Have to Do What Everyone Else is Doing

I like following authors on Social Media who post about things other than their books. I wanna know that you are human and alive, that you laugh and experience pain and joy and all those other emotions.

I don’t care for how neat your Instagram page is or how color coordinated you can make it. I don’t care about every post being your book cover or matching your book cover. Yayy for your book, but after a while, that gets boring without a balance.

What’s your favorite food? What was the last movie that made you cry? How did you get into writing? What books are you in love with? How ya mama doing?

If you like to joke, joke. If you a nerd, be a nerd. Do what works for you, not what the self-proclaimed guru says is important. (Personally, I can’t stand the fun police 😒.)

This post came randomly as I am supposed to be taking a break, but ya’ll know I can’t sit still. The point of it all is you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.

Now, let me go back to watching Soul Food. I’ll have an update post for you soon. It’s been a while since we’ve had a coffee date anyway.


BTW, the last day to enter this year’s poetry contest is tomorrow! Click Here for details on entering.

Unless you live in Chicago, it can be nice one day and then cold and rainy. In this case, stay warm smh lol.

My Favorite Instagram Hacks


Instagram is my favorite place to interact with readers outside of this blog, Twitter follows this, and then Facebook is last. If you are an author on Instagram or have ever thought of using it as a platform, here are some of my favorite hacks for increasing engagement.

Less is More: Pick a Few Kinds of Posts and Stick with It

I heard David Shands of the SleepisforSuckers brand and the Social Proof Podcast mention something like this and realized I was already doing it. This awareness encouraged me to stay consistent with this strategy, which has been working wonderfully. If you’ve been paying attention, I only post four kinds of content. 

  • Black History
  • Books I Read / Recommend
  • Author / Entrepreneur Stuff
  • Family / Travel Stuff

I have incorporated reels, but that’s more along the lines of the medium to which I present the content.

Whether it is in the form of a reel, IGTV video, or image, the core of my content is the same.

It seems like I do a lot, but when you break it down, I really don’t. Everything I post falls into one of these four categories. A poetry contest post falls into the author business category. A t-shirt promo is an entrepreneur post, too, because I am promoting someone’s brand. A post of my twin sister or hubby or doggie is a family post, and so on.

While I still struggle sometimes with what to post, knowing I only have to focus on one of these four (depending on the last time I posted about it) makes it much easier to stay consistent. 

I learned you don’t have to have a lot going on to be productive.

This is a lesson in “less is more.”

I don’t even post a lot. Some recommend posting at least 3x a day on Instagram to stay on top of the algorithm. Welp, I am behind on that. But I will say that has not affected my engagement, and I think it’s because the kinds of posts I publish are consistent. Remember, consistency is not about speed or quantity. To be consistent means something that does not vary.

Use Saves and Shares to Learn What’s Working / Not Working

Instagram, like every other app, is constantly changing. In 2021, the platform’s algorithms favor saves and shares over comments and likes. Below is an image someone posted that sums this up perfectly.

Likes still play a role. It is just not the most important in terms of pushing the algorithm.

You can’t see how many saves someone’s post has or know who has saved your post or shared it, but the act alone helps understand the kind of content your audience engages with the most, which lets you know what types of content to post.

UPDATE: Below is a screenshot of how the save, share, like, and comment buttons look on IG. Saving is not reposting. It’s just clicking that ribbon looking icon on the far right and the post is saved instantly. On the left you have the like button, comment and share.

To view the insights for a post (assuming your page is a business page), click on the insights tab under your post.

It will pull up your insights…

…including the number of accounts you reached, the percentage of people who weren’t following you before, the number of people who followed you, and your impressions.

This will help you see what kinds of posts people engage with the most, which is your audience’s way of saying what types of posts are getting their attention. 

I measure the success of a post based on the number of saves, then shares, comments, and then likes. Notice likes are last, and that is because the algorithm wants to cut down on bots. Some people also buy followers for some strange reason. A bot can like a post, but true engagement is measured by more thoughtful action. Comments of five or more words are better than emojis, and shares and saves are better than likes. The Women with Blue Eyes post did far better than I thought it would, which lead to preorder sales from new people.

Create Folders for Saves

When I come across a post, I like I save it for later—especially a Black History post I may want to repost in the future. 

When you save a post, it will show you something like this. 

Click Save to Collection

The list of your folders will come up. If you do not have folders, click on the plus sign and create one.

To view your saves in folders, go to Saves, and there they are. This makes it easier to go back to those dope posts to share, like, or comment on them.

My folders are:

  • Black History
  • Entrepreneur
  • Inspiring
  • Authors

Separate Business Messages from Personal Messages in the DMs

I don’t know if you know, but many good business deals happen in the DMs. I’ve sold lots of books from the DM alone. Here’s how I keep up with it: I separate my business messages from personal/family messages.

Direct Messages from family and friends go under the general tab, and business messages go under the primary tab.

I also have my messages set up to limit who messages me, so I am not bombarded by spam and freaks. Here’s how to do it:

Go to Settings > Messages > Message Requests On

This means that their message comes in as a message request you can either approve or decline for anyone not following you.

You can see a preview of the message, so you can decline it if it looks weird and then block that person.

We have all heard about the other things I do before, such as always using the best picture possible, including a caption that describes the image and using relevant hashtags. For the photos, make sure they are not pixelated and that the text on the image is not hard to read. Instagram focuses on photos, so your pictures must be eye-catching.

And those are some of my hacks! Feel free to use them and tell me how it’s going. Do you have any social media strategies you use to interact with your readers and strengthen your author brand? I’d love to hear about it!

Follow me @yecheilyah on Instagram!


Update: This book is now available! Already read it? Be sure to leave an honest review on Amazon. Click here to buy or review.

Dear Indie Authors, Please Identify Your Target Audience in 2021


Entrepreneurship has been the talk of 2020. With the COVID-19 virus sweeping the world, many new businesses have been born. It is a delight to see people take something as detrimental as a deadly global pandemic and use it as the catalyst for stepping outside their comfort zones. Every day someone is beaming about their new business endeavor, and I am here for it.

Self-Publishing a book is a business, too, so if you published a book this year, congratulations! This is a fantastic accomplishment that deserves recognition and celebration.

But Self-Publishing a book is not a business for every author.

There are two kinds of authors. We must identify them before going into it:

  • Authors who publish books for themselves
  • Authors who publish books for an audience

If you publish a book for yourself, you are not necessarily interested in creating a writing business from the book or making money. You might have published this book as a primary teaching tool to awaken the lost sheep, or you may have published this book as a lifetime goal you always wanted to achieve. You might want to print a few copies for family and friends, but you aren’t interested in creating a business out of it.

You are doing this for yourself, and there is nothing wrong with that, but also, in this case, you don’t have to continue to read this post.

You probably should though. Ya know, in case you change your mind.

If you are Self-Publishing a book that’s important to you AND appeals to a particular audience, you want to keep reading this post.

The Problem.

You write a book for yourself and then try to sell it to everyone.

“Most self-published books are vanity projects, which means, the author paid for the privilege of having them published, and spent money getting professionals to help them edit, design and produce it, but they earn less than they cost.” -Derek Murphy

The mistake is you wrote this book and did not think about who you want to read it so you try to appeal to everyone.

 

“It’s easy to fall into the habit of writing what you love or writing to impress your peers or your editor. That might make for good writing… but it won’t necessarily attract readers. To do that, you have to write for, well, readers.” – Writer’s Digest

The Problem.

Who are these readers? Hint: They are not everyone you know.

Dear Indie Authors, Please Identify Your Target Audience in 2021.

Identifying your target audience means identifying your customer demographics and then figuring out which tools will best attract them.

Rather than targeting everyone, you are focusing on the ideal customer for your business. “That means, stop beggingasking for help and support. Stop desperate, useless marketing tactics like spamming Facebook or blasting Twitter.” (Murphy)

You are not only identifying the ideal reader, you are thinking about real, actual people who would like to read your book.

“A lot of writing advice encourages you to define this ideal reader… but forgets to mention they need to be actual readers. If your ideal reader isn’t real, no one will read what you write. Instead of deciding what to write and defining a reader for it, start by defining your reader and writing for them.” – Dana Sitar

When you know your target audience it makes it easier to find your tribe. Your focus is on the people who are there instead of those who aren’t because you know you can’t please everyone.

But that’s what selling to everyone is like: trying to please everyone.

Instead of saying your book is for women, think about who these women are in more specific terms.

“My book targets women history buffs, aged 25-45, who love black history but are tired of the same white male-dominated narratives.”

Ask yourself: “Who am I writing this book for? What real people do I know would read a book like this? Maybe there is a black woman I know who is always talking about Ta-Nehisi Coates and happens to be reading Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad. She might enjoy my Stella Trilogy.

Not so Good Example:

“My book targets women 20-70, suffering, that want to feel better.”

This one is too broad. Every woman you know is suffering from something and want to feel better, and it will be hard to market a book to this wide of an age group. You got millennials and senior citizens in the same club.

Why Does It Matter?

Once you know your target audience and what they want, you can give it to them by being of authentic service to your tribe, which means offering exceptional value consistently. Consistency builds trust, and people buy from brands they trust.

Understanding our target audience doesn’t mean our family and friends won’t support us. It means we are not targeting them in our marketing. To target is to direct an action or message to someone or something. Pookie and Ray-Ray may know you, but are you trying to direct your message to them?

How many family members have bought your book?

I’ll wait.

But this doesn’t only apply to Self-Publishers but entrepreneurs in general, especially in the age of social media. Most people have not even done the basic work of securing a website. You appear out of nowhere with something to sell. You then tell people to cash app you the money and expect them to trust you enough to do it. You can have all the faith in the world, but it still doesn’t exempt you from following a basic business practice.

It’s easy to become frustrated and exhausted about the lack of support for a company without much to show for your efforts when you are trying to appeal to the broadest possible audience. If you start a business and then spam all your Facebook and Instagram friends hoping they will support you, your message may seem inauthentic and doesn’t really resonate with anyone in particular. – Tucker Max, How to Write For and Target the Right Audience for Your Book

Another benefit to knowing your target audience is knowing you don’t have to be everywhere to be seen. If your audience does not hang out on Facebook, you do not have to be on Facebook. If they are not on Instagram, you do not have to be on Instagram. It is easier to be consistent when your attention is focused instead of divided. Go where your people are and build.

Indie Authors, and new entrepreneurs in general, would be a lot happier if we focused on serving our targeted audience instead of everyone we knew. Everyone does not care about you or your business, and it’s a waste of time, energy, and resources trying to appeal to everyone. No one is obligated to support you. People do not care about your product, book, or service. They only care about what it can do for them. Please understand this.

“If you aren’t writing for an audience and carefully considering the commercial viability of your project, if you aren’t expecting and planning to make more money than you spend, and learning exactly what it takes to achieve that, then you’re publishing for yourself, and it’s a big risk and gamble.”

Are You Building a Book Business or a Hustle?

Self-Publishing a book is expensive without a return on investment. As Murphy explains, it just becomes a gamble. I like to call it a hustle. When I think of that word hustle, I think of someone doing anything and everything to make it instead of aligning oneself with a strategic plan and purpose. If you are continually spending money to produce something that doesn’t give anything in return, it can quickly get frustrating.

Excellent cover design, editing, ISBN, and all that is basic; we should all know the importance of this in 2021. The self-publishing service providers, coaches, vanity presses, and assisted self-publishers rarely talk about how authors can make money from that book they just paid five thousand dollars to produce. Launching a #1 Amazon Best Seller is great, but that doesn’t mean the author is earning money. Being on the Amazon Best Sellers list is cool but what’s even more neat is having a faithful readership because a loyal audience will bring consistent book sales.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t pay to publish a high-quality product. It is to say that without an audience to buy it, it will feel like a waste of money.

Identifying a target audience is the key to any business’s success, and I mean success outside of personal gratification. In 2021, I hope we can all do better (myself included) in focusing on those who best fit the people we want to serve.

Looking for more Indie Author Basics? Click Here.


Don’t forget that if you have read My Soul is a Witness I am trying to reach 20 Book Reviews before this year closes and we are almost there! If you have the book (and have read it), do consider leaving an honest review on Amazon.

Why It Matters:

It’s a real challenge for Indie Authors to market books without Amazon reviews because reviews act as social proof and establish credibility and competence in the publishing marketplace. Are you an author? In need of reviews? Be sure you RSVP for my 2021 list. Click Here.

How to Review on Amazon:

Click this link. Scroll down to ‘Write a Customer Review,’ rate and leave your thoughts on the book.

Also, I am Soul is 99cents on Kindle for a limited time.

FREE Ways to Support Your Favorite Indie Authors

Buying books written by Independent Authors is a terrific way to show support, and word of mouth is still a powerful way to make sure other people know of an author’s work without spending money. There are tons of ways to do this online.

Review the book on Amazon – Amazon is still a powerhouse and trusted source of content for readers. It’s easy to send a review via email, DM, or to post about the book on Social Media. While I am confident, the writer will appreciate any form of support, reviewing a book on Amazon will undoubtedly give the author more exposure. Amazon is the third-largest search engine with Google first and YouTube second. But then, “if we exclude YouTube as part of Google, Amazon is technically the second largest search engine in the world.” (E-Commerce SEO). Suffice it to say Amazon reviews are a great way to support your favorite author, boost their exposure, and act as a great social proof form. In short, an honest, legitimate Amazon review will help an Indie Author go far. In the words of Michael LeBoeuf, “a satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.”

Just because someone bought a book doesn’t mean they read it. Leaving reviews is a great way to show the author that you read the book, whether you enjoyed it or not.

Click here to review My Soul is a Witness on Amazon

Rate/Review Book on Goodreads – While many people are no longer fans of Goodreads (and I’ve fallen off a bit there myself), do remember that it’s a platform full of people who love to read and talk about books! Granted, some people reviewing here are rude, but that’s certainly not everyone. Goodreads is still an excellent platform to use as an online word of mouth to discuss books read. It also allows for the sharing of reviews for books not posted to Amazon for whatever reason. If you don’t have the book, you can utilize the Want to Read button to add it to your bookshelf. Adding a book will show up on your page, exposing the book to your followers/friends. If an author is hosting a giveaway entering the contest will also mark their book Want to Read and add it to your shelf.

Note to authors: I have heard stories about people taking advantage of authors hosting giveaways on Goodreads when it involves paperback books. Please research this on your own as I have no first-hand experience with it, but I’ve heard complaints.

Click here to add My Soul is a Witness on Goodreads

Follow the Author on Social Media – Through social media, you get to learn more about the author outside of books. Many authors post pictures of their family, friends, and pets. Authors share their daily routines, hold contests, and take readers behind the scenes. Readers can interact directly with their favorite authors by sharing a post, saving a post, commenting on a post, and liking a post. All of this helps contribute to helping spread the author’s message without spending a dime.

Follow me on Instagram Here

Follow me on Twitter Here

Like/Follow me on Facebook Here

Subscribe to the Author’s Blog – Following the author’s blog (if they have one) is an extension of following them on social media. Writers have the space to share so much more about themselves and their life’s work and inspirations through blogging. It is a great way to network and become privy to new material as writers tend to publish sneak peeks and short stories to their blogs before they publish them. Writers also post their publishing process in detail on their blogs. You may be inspired to write your own book and learn a thing or two.

Click that lovely subscribe button to follow this blog

Join the Author’s Mailing List or Author Group – Joining the author’s mailing list or author group opens up an opportunity to get to know the author on a much more personal level. You are interacting with them behind the scenes, sort of speak. An author may go live so you can see their face, hear their voice, and interact with them in real-time. Authors explain the deeper meanings behind their stories, answer questions, host private, exclusive contests, and much more. Joining the author behind the scenes in this way shows you trust them with your email address and are ready to commit on a deeper level.

Click here to Join my Author Mailing List

Post Image of Book on Instagram / Facebook – Posting images of the author’s book – or pictures of you and the author at an event – to IG and Facebook (tag the author) is an excellent public display of support. It helps leverage the author’s exposure through cross-promotion. One of your followers interested in that book will potentially follow the author, purchase a copy of the book, review the book, and become a new fan. They may post the book image to their page, and the process repeats itself as one of their followers may find themselves interested in the book. It is a beautiful and selfless display of support and strengthening of the author’s network and the Indie Author community in general.

There are so many ways to support the Indie Author community. I have mentioned these previously, but one crucial component sets this list apart as making a real difference for your favorite authors:

Participation.

Following someone on social media, subscribing to their blog, or joining their email list or author group means nothing without an active commitment to engage.


My Soul is a Witness is Out. Be sure to grab your copy today and remember to leave a review when you have finished reading! 🙂

Nourish Your Offline Relationships

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Would you know if your friend is feeling down if he/she didn’t post about it? Would you know when his/her birthday was if Facebook didn’t tell you? Would you have the information necessary to congratulate those you love on their achievements, like weddings, and graduations if they didn’t post about it?

How well do we know the people we call friends?

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday and birthdays always have me thinking about relationships and social media. A few years back I had deactivated my Facebook a few days before my birthday. I didn’t feel like being bothered with accolades from people who hadn’t spoken to me since my last birthday. An interesting thing happens when I do this: The people who know me most will call or text me. Then, at the conclusion of the day I’ll post something on social and out of the woods will come those who thought they knew me and yet didn’t know something as basic as the date of my birth.

I had one person I considered a sister call me three days after my thirtieth birthday. There’s no harm in this. I’m not that sensitive. People don’t have to stop their lives for me. Reach out when you can. What I found odd is not that she called three days later. What was odd is that she thought she had called on my actual birthday. I found this odd because I thought we were closer than that. I had known the woman over ten years. We had lived with one another at some point, interacted with one another’s children, dined together, laughed, and had deep conversations. This wasn’t just any sister, this was someone I thought knew me well. Well enough to know my birthday is not May 29th. It doesn’t surprise me that today, we are no longer in touch.

But don’t get distracted. This is not about birthdays.

This is about the work we put or do not put into relationships now that Social Media automates our lives. Now that there is “an app for that” some of us have become lazy in our interactions with one another.

I had the pleasure of visiting Griffin High School last weekend. I spoke to four classes of tenth and eleventh graders about writing, publishing, and my journey as an author. I love young people. I love their innocence and straightforwardness. I love their non-sugarcoating questions. Many of them asked me if I “made a lot of money,” and “how do I deal with criticism?” It swelled my heart to have the pleasure of being there with them. One student asked me if I thought the ebooks would overtake paperbacks. I told him that while digital has enhanced writing in many ways, I think the paperback is here to stay.

Digital books are convenient when I am eagerly expecting reading a book and I don’t want to wait for the paperback to come in the mail. It’s fast and quickly satisfying. Buying a paperback book costs more and takes patience but when it comes there is something immensely gratifying about holding the book in my hands and turning the pages. A feeling I do not get when I read digitally. When I can look in someone’s eyes and talk with them as I did last week, answer their questions, hear their concerns, sign their books organically, hug them and take pictures with them, nothing online can compare to that experience. That human experience.

Let’s say digital books represent social media and paperbacks represent real life. While it may be easier to wait for a notification to tell you that your loved ones are “feeling sad” it is much more productive to hear their voice on the other end of the phone or to give them an inspiring word through text. It is even more fruitful to see them face-to-face, to hear their voices, and look into their eyes. Some things you will never know about a person from their social media pages. If they are like me, quiet, reserved and private, you will only get the basics. Facebook may tell you when it’s my birthday or notify you when I am traveling or checking into a restaurant but for those personal, heartfelt thoughts? There’s no app for that.

Nourish your offline relationships. To nourish someone is to feed them deeply with something good for them. It means to give them something that will encourage them to live well. When you do this, you do not make assumptions about anything you see in the virtual reality. You are not easily offended because someone “didn’t tell you” they were traveling or gathering or graduating. You already know these things because you have built a real-life relationship with the people you love and that bond is stronger than any post, tag, or “Friendversary” that pops up in your Facebook memories.