I’ve just spent a day being trained in using the web to market myself and I came home full of enthusiasm and ideas. I was going to create a link from my blog to the paperback edition of my book on Amazon, do all sorts of wonderful things to improve the site, maybe even dip my toe in the waters of Twitter… My son chose the exact moment I sat down in front of the computer to announce that he had to do his home work, and he had to do it right then, and he had to print something, and the ink cartridge needed changing, a task so complex that of course no other member of the family but me can perform it. By the time I got a chance to attempt to put some of what I’d learnt into practice it was gone 10 and, given my memory span, it was already far too late.
The Internet is a double-edged sword for people like me – too old to have grown-up with computers, but too young to be able to ignore their potential benefits. One of my friends has just got married for the second time, having met her husband via an on-line dating service, for instance. Not that I’m in the market for a new husband, but I would like to be able to promote myself by ‘increasing my on-line presence’. Instead I sit here, like Tantalus, aware of all the wonderful stuff just beyond my reach.
I’m trying more old-fashioned methods of publicising my book, too. Evie Wyld – whose novel After the Fire, a Still Small Voice is now out in paperback, so buy it, if you haven’t already – kindly provided me with a link to a web site that promotes independent bookshops. Evie works in one of these – Review, in Peckham – and took copies of her book around to as many as she could when it was first published. Being much older and lazier, I’m using the phone. At first I was pleasantly surprised to see how many independents were still around; then it dawned on me how much work was involved in contacting them all. I have to say that everyone I’ve spoken to has been extremely friendly, even though nine times out of ten the person who can make purchasing decisions isn’t there – and you can tell how many are small business, as the person minding the shop is often a friend of the owner. Still, several said they’d order a copy or two, some already had it in stock (how hard I tried not to sound taken aback), one was in a frightful tizzy because Brian May was due to arrive in an hour to do a signing (how unfair is that – he’s already a rock legend and an astrophysicist, why does he need to write books as well?) and one even offered me a chance to do a reading.
Of course, apart from the amount of time it takes, the phone bill will be huge, and when the husband sees it I might need that on-line dating service after all. Perhaps I could kill two birds by looking for a man with advanced IT skills…