You’ve seen those headlines before; they’re the lifeblood of the Internet. Click on this link! Come to our website! Read this amazing, yet mainly insubstantial, article and our site will win the Internet! Clicks and links and counters and imprints, that’s the language of today’s marketing. Half of what writers write about these days has to do with maintaining one’s digital presence, their platform and the posts are full of hyperlinks. Maintain a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Foursquare, Google+, or expect to die a slow professional death because no one will ever read your book. Or buy your handmade tea cozy. Or support your brilliant idea for saving the world. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. Where’d you go?
I didn’t really take a break; what am I, crazy? There was about a week and a half when I went radio silent due to a family issue, but I came back and posted something on my Facebook author page. Because 346 followers hadn’t heard from me in over 8 days. Eight days! That’s an eternity on the Internet. I know the importance of keeping my finger on the pulse of social media . . . and on my keyboard. I have several issues with this social media reality for writers and the main one is what is has always been: I’m not that great at being “social.” In real life or the virtual world. But if I want to be a Successful Author, this is what we all must do.
And I suppose I can do it–in some fashion. What bothers me is that so much of what I see and read on the Internet is the 21st century version of yellow journalism. Especially all of those “clickbait” headlines. Much of the promotion that shows up on the Internet is the result of savvy marketing teams and unrelenting publicists. They are the reason for all those “Ten Best Books for _____!!” (Fill in the blank: 2015, Summer, Romances, Memoirs, Cooks, Parents and on and on.) So, in addition to being Internet confident, an author has to have a team or at the very least a publicist who will place your book in front of the places people are looking. If you’re doing it yourself, like I am, you run the risk of being the subject of a blog I read recently in which the writer pleaded with authors to, “Please Shut Up!” She maintains that none of this stuff really works; people don’t go on Instagram to buy books. And yet, it is expected and required.
A writer I know is nearing the completion of her stunningly written memoir and threatens to not finish it because she will not be good at this digital platform stuff. She jokes (I hope). But considering all the work required to promote a book, after the Herculean effort that has been exerted in writing a book, it can be daunting. It’s like Sisyphus getting that boulder up the mountain only to discover the apex is actually the base of yet another mountain. It would be a shame for my friend’s book not to see the light of day because of the requirements of self-promotion, but hopefully the existence or absence of a digital platform will not determine the worth of good, old-fashioned brilliant writing.
Self-promotion is not my long suit. I have a Blog, a website, a personal Facebook page, a Facebook Author page, an Amazon author page, a Goodreads author page, a Twitter account, a Pinterest account, and a SheWrites blog. I don’t maintain all of them on a daily basis, but I do check in when I remember or when I’m killing time to avoid paying bills. Unfortunately, I have stumbled upon yet another website called Canva where you can design your own promotional materials. In a conversation with another author–who is equally entranced with Canva–she complained that now she has even less time for writing. And that is the cruelest outcome of all: That which is required of us keeps us from doing what we really, truly want to spend our time on.
So, when I log on to my Facebook page to survey my virtual domain and the status box encourages me to “Write something,” some days that’s exactly what I do.