Get Even More Serious

You know how you nag your kids? Watch out –  they grow up and start nagging you right back. Sometimes it’s even worse than that. I found myself being scolded that just because I don’t enjoy doing something, that doesn’t mean I don’t have to do it. Not everything in life is fun. In a previous post I wrote about learning to take myself seriously as a writer. But at least that’s something I enjoy doing. Then the minute I self-published the first two books of the Olivia series, my daughter started badgering me about taking myself more seriously as a publisher. Actually, stage one in the campaign to bulldoze me into learning to self-promote was mounted by Kathy, my friend since … forever. She’s the one who back in high school used to sigh and shake her head when I chose to stay home with my nose in a book, rather than accompany her to smoke-filled rooms booming with loud music. “You’re not on Facebook?!! Kathy said. “You’re publishing your own books and you’re not on Facebook. Are you nuts? There were like six hundred kids in our high school class. You should be friends with all of them.” She was fighting an uphill battle. I hadn’t changed. I used to be a real-life shut-in; now I was a digital one. But Kathy’s an irresistible force and just as I used to tag along with her in high school, I followed her onto Facebook. Lucky for me, it was fun, at least at first. A lot of my old school friends happened to be posting old pictures of us and the landmarks of our childhood. And she was right, old friends – including classmates whom I’m sure barely remember me – were incredibly supportive. They bought and reviewed books, were wonderful beta readers for Book 3, and helped me fact check. One even offered free editing. Another invited me to her home for a luncheon with her book club. So thanks, Kathy. And thanks old friends. Then I set up a blog. Not that there was a thing on earth I felt an urge to blog about. I just figured that if someone ever accidentally googled me, it probably wouldn’t be the best advertising to have the results page come up blank. So there, I thought, that’s it. Take out an ad on BookBub and I’m done. But the social media monster keeps rising out of the lake, dragging up another new platform that you just have to be on. Enough is enough. I wasn’t having any more of it. That was when my daughter stepped in as my new slave-master. “Ima, come on, you have to at least get a real website. That mess you made is a disaster. A catastrophe. Then you have to blog at least once a week. And you have to run ads on Facebook.” My head ached just thinking about it. But she’s another irresistible force, so I looked at a lot of author sites, chose design elements from a few of them, and worked with the developer my daughter hired for me. So here it is – this brand new website for me to blog on (which ain’t gonna happen once a week). But I’m glad she made me do that. Now she’s running ad campaigns for me on Facebook, going on about re-targeting, look-alike audiences, automated email – all things I can live happily without knowing they exist. We’ll see how that works out. It’s a struggle for me to embrace this choice. I’ve never enjoyed trying to sell anything – not Girl Scout cookies and not my own used cars. My typical sales pitch: “You don’t want to buy this, do you?” But, I remind myself, I did choose to offer books for sale. So, Yael, rah-rah, go all in, take it seriously, give it your best. You ain’t no J. D. Salinger and can’t afford to hide out. But on this one I’ve left myself an out. The social media stuff consumes too much time and I do believe that the best way to market books is to write more of them and make them better. So I’ll go back to trying to do that. Especially since I made a terrifically bad decision and tried to index my new website with Google and do some basic SEO for it. After all, for years I made my living as a technical writer and was quick to embrace new technologies. True, since retiring I have no patience for any of it. All I want my phone to do is ring when someone calls. But how hard can it be to index a site on Google? Peanuts. I spent a few hours reading up, logged into my site, entered a verification code I’d gotten off Google, entered some meta descriptions, updated an email address, entered some keywords. No biggee. Then I hit Update and waited to feel proud of myself. The fruits of my labors? The Home page disappeared. For no reason. It was just gone. Empty. Nothing I did could have made that happen. Honest. Talk about a panic attack. Not because I no longer had a Home page – but because my daughter was going to know. OMG. She’s going to kill me. Ever take the car keys away from your kids? My daughter changed the password on me. Locked me out of my own website. “You’re an editor. You can write blog posts and that’s all you can do. You’re never going anywhere near the back end again. Is that clear?” Hah. So there. The last place on earth I ever want to go again is the back end of a web site.

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