It’s Squib Saturday, but I’m going Behind the Scenes today to recall some of the major “highlights” of being a writer in 2016. As you’ll see, none of them have anything to do with the actual writing of my new thriller.
I’m not totally sure, but I think Ernest Hemingway would consider himself fortunate for dying before it became a requirement for every author to have a website, and to blog, and to post regularly on social media sites like Facebook.
Returning to fiction writing (after twenty years away) has been quite an eyeopener. You must have a website, they said. An agent won’t even glance at your manuscript if you don’t have a website. Oh, and way before anyone accepts your book for publication, you’ll need to build an audience by blogging on the website, and posting on social media.
First, a smartphone
It all sounded a little daunting especially since at the time I was so technologically backward, I was still using a flip phone. Last March, my friend and Palm Beach tennis partner, Pam McIver, made fun of me and prodded me into getting an iphone. “It’ll be life-changing,” she assured me. She had absolutely no idea just how.
I took my first photos with my new phone after cajoling hubby to take a walk with me. I discovered I could immediately send them out as emails or messages. So, I sent one to our son, Dan, with a text: “Got new iphone. Taking your father for a walk.” He texted right back:
“On the leash? Off the leash? What’s the law in Florida?”
Next, a website
I was ready for the next step. I enlisted the help of a very smart, tech-savvy friend who procured a domain name (mine); and had the site up and running in no time. All I had to do was choose a theme, choose an image (left) for my Welcome page, write a Welcome page, create a posts page, write the headers… Help!
No problem. Google and WordPress between them have the answers to any question a newbie might have: How do I move my widgets? What are widgets? How do I get photos from my iphone onto my website? What’s SEO? What shall I blog about?
I read hundreds of online articles by authors who already had websites where they blogged about blog ideas for authors like myself who were only just setting up blogs and websites. I also discovered that, while most well-established, best-selling authors have websites, few of them actually blogged or posted anything on them — other than information about their latest best-seller.
No matter. I love writing. I love reporting. Around the time of my website launch, I attended the Palm Beach Book Festival where I asked guest author, Burt Reynolds a question I immediately regretted asking. It made a good snippet for my website. I was off and running.
Tackling Social Media
I was hesitant about jumping into social media, however. Specifically, I was wary of opening an account on Facebook. I had read too many articles about it. None of them had anything much good to say about the site at the time. But Goodreads, the Amazon-owned website for book lovers, readers and authors seemed like a sensible place to start. The website had already established an author page for me years before because of my two published thrillers. All I had to do was claim it as mine to start joining groups, posting book reviews, engaging with readers, making “friends” and picking up “followers.”
A few months back, I asked a Goodreads “friend” how he had gotten 50 followers, and he said he had no idea. Whatever. I think I’m getting the hang of it now. Last I looked, I had 35 “friends” and 12 followers — most of them indie authors who are looking to build audiences of their own for their own writings!
Yikes! I’m on Twitter
And, then suddenly I got thrown into the deep end. My son, visiting for Thanksgiving, told me opening a Twitter account was easy. “Here, I’ll show you Mom,” he said, and suddenly there I was with a “handle”: @authorjoannaelm and my photo — actually a photo of a drawing of myself from 20 years back when I still smoked, but looked cool doing it. (Didn’t I??)
Anyway, I like Twitter. With a limit of 140 characters per tweet, nobody gets too wordy. I also like the manual retweeting feature that allows you to retweet an article or tweet adding a comment of your own like this one I added to a newspaper headline that said Trump was writing his own inaugural speech:
“Hopefully, it’ll only be 140 characters long!”
It wasn’t as good as my retweet of a cat gif. That still has me laughing every time I look at it.
It’s a wonder I have any time at all to write my novel!
Happy New Year.
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Photo Credit, top photo: Bigstockphoto.com