JOANNA ELM, Author, Journalist, Attorney

I. Need. To. Do. What ??? (Behind the Scenes #4)


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.

If you liked this post, please either click on the Like button, or share it on your Twitter or Facebook accounts. Would really appreciate it.

Photo Credit, top photo: 










  1. Loved this squib, especially when you discovered the joy of an IPhone!


  3. Liesel is speaking at the Chabad of Palm Beach on the 18th of January ,7:00 PM

  4. Pingback: 6 Reasons Why Twitter Is The Best For Authors - & Their Fans - JOANNA ELM, Author, Journalist, Attorney

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