“Your boys will help you, I’m sure” says Dan, my publisher, viewing the mystified look on my face when he outlines the various things I need to do, online, to help my cause as a soon-to-be published author. These are: write regular blogs, set up a website, set up a Facebook account and Tweet regularly. “This should only take about 15 minutes of your time, 3 or 4 times a week” he reliably informs me.
“Facebook!” my teenage boys snigger, before returning to their Instagram, Snapchat and What’s App feeds, the conversation clearly at an end.
So, armed with a list of media savvy friends’ names, I begin my journey, alone, into the unknown.
This isn’t difficult, technically, once I realise I can use a nice, simple Word document format, like lawyers (which I am, by profession, well before I became an author) do. But what to write? “Just write interesting stuff” says mediasavvy1; “write stuff which will make readers identify with you” says mediasavvy2; “write stuff which shows your journey from lawyer to writer” says mediasavvy3; “write about other people you admire, but not too much, so it doesn’t detract from your own achievements” says mediasavvy4. Aagh! Not so easy then.
“Don’t’ write anything too long” says mediasavvy1 “or too short” says mediasavvy2. “And include pictures to draw people in” says mediasavvy3 “but not too many” says mediasavvy4 “and check the copyright on any images you use.”
“Just blog when you feel like it” says mediasavvy1 knowledgeably “otherwise it will seem unnatural. Readers will detect that.” When I feel like it? I think but don’t articulate. How do I know when I will feel like doing something I’ve never done before? And what will Dan (publisher) say if I don’t “feel like it” 3 or 4 times a week?
I try. I begin to write about one of my favourite stories; the Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe. But then I realise I haven’t read it for a while and I might have missed some of the nuances and I certainly don’t want to get anything wrong if I am posting online (that would never do). It takes me 5 hours to find my ancient copy, hidden beneath a vegetarian recipe book and some old tax returns. And another 2 hours to read the story through again and think about my approach in my proposed blog. Now it’s too late at night to write anything. If I am to post regularly I’m going to have to get up earlier each morning to find my material.
Which to choose? There are so many. I view endless formats until they all blur before my eyes. I, eventually, choose one I like, although I might have been influenced by the attractive looking younger people in the various shots (who clearly won’t be featuring on my website). “That’s no good” says mediasavvy1, “you need one that works vertically so people can read it on their phones.” I re-select, a vertical(ish) version. “Your photo’s not the right size” says mediasavvy2 “you’ll need another one.”
“It’s taking an age to open” says mediasavvy3, after I have forked out a substantial sum on the website and various domain names, including (optimistically) the “.com” version, “but IT support has gone home till Monday.”
“Remember to have your links open in a different window” says mediasavvy3. I hold off asking what “links” are for as long as I am able without giving myself away and why this is important. “So, the traffic doesn’t leave your website” he explains with a huff. (Traffic?) “Condense your links” says mediasavvy4 “then you don’t fill up space unnecessarily.” Oh dear!
“Add a contact address” says mediasavvy1 “so your public can contact you and you can really interact.” “DON’T, whatever you do, add a contact address or people will contact you all the time and it’ll all be on your website” says mediasavvy2.
“Is your website up yet?” asks Dan. “Any minute” I reply with my fingers crossed behind my back.
To be continued…next time my sorties into Facebook and Twitter