Drowning in the digital lake

Drowning in the digital lake

I confess to feeling a little overwhelmed this week. Digital exhaustion syndrome. Symptoms – sense of humour failure and general weariness.

I couldn’t help myself, I had to take a look at Goodreads, Facebook and free website creation, in an attempt to expand the marketing base for my novel. But my earlier statement that I am ‘technologied’ out proved to be very true.

Most of my weekend was spent in front of a computer. I worked out that free websites are not free, that Facebook is very demanding with its questions, and that Goodreads is a whole other community to connect and interact with. My interactions are already at frenzy levels. I had one of those moods on – you know the sort – where I didn’t actually want any more ‘friends’.  Certainly not friends I have to beg to like me, or perform to get attention from.

Five author bio’s required, profile pictures galore. There is a dearth of photographs of me in our house – I am the photograph taker. An even greater dearth of pictures of me that I like, and would be willing to share with the world. Not such an issue if I don’t solicit ‘friends’ to share them with, I suppose. I have cropped and snipped ferociously to extract my face from group shots, taken in 1997 or thereabouts, in which I looked quite nice. Then realising that when I am famous I will have to appear on TV, and that viewers will be saying “she looks a lot older than her profile picture” abandoned the pictures anyway. For now I am sticking with my wellies and books.

The ‘free’ websites were the most annoying. Don’t let me spend hours setting everything up on the promise of a stunning web address for just £1, if you are luring me in to a trap of £10 per month. As a matter of principle, if you attempt to trick me I will never buy anything from you. Just say it like it is – up front.

Technology wise, I am way out of my depth. I do not have the skills to set up a website. I have failed to link my blog to Goodreads and Facebook. I am scared of creating something that looks so amateur and naff it has a negative effect on my marketing efforts. Add ‘drop in self-confidence’ and ‘increase in cynicism’ to the symptoms of Digital exhaustion syndrome above.

I am ranting, I realise that. The hours I have spent interacting this week could have been spent on my book. Does digital marketing actually work? Can anyone tell me? This definitely isn’t why I started writing.

I know what I should, and must do. Organise, plan, set time aside for marketing interaction. Turn off audible notifications of tweets, re-tweets, messages and favourites received. Prioritise the book-farm-life on my schedule. It doesn’t help that I receive notifications on my computer, tablet and phone. Three beeps and birds/Fs/little envelopes for every communication. It is hard not to engage with each one of them as soon as they arrive.

I won’t direct you to my Facebook or Goodreads account, because as yet they do not contain a profile picture, ‘about me’, or in fact anything worth looking at. I won’t direct you to my website, either, because I don’t have one.

I’m off to schedule, prioritise and write. When I’ve finished this blog which, as yet, is not linked to anything.

Hopefully my sense of humour will have got its mojo back before the next blog post. In the meantime, ‘stick with the wellies and books’ is my new motto. I should give my phone to The Sister, who will be only too happy to hurl it in to a ditch for me. The computer to The Mother, who is an expert at ignoring messages. And the tablet to Youngest Daughter who will never allow me a look in once she’s got her hands on it. Maybe after I’ve looked at the 855 tweets currently showing on my twitter feed, I will do just that.

What? I’ve got to sell it?

What? I’ve got to sell it?

The Eldest Daughter works in PR. The Brother asked what the ‘target sales’ for my book were.

The what?

“If someone buys it, I will fall off my chair with joy.” I told him cheerfully. The Brother was happy with my reply, but the ED was more persistent. “Send me your marketing materials. Would you consider a give-away competition? What about press coverage?”

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. My foray into authorship is so nervously tentative that I have hidden my novel behind a pen name (that is partly because of the raunchy scenes, which I quietly hoped my children and mother would never get to see). Too late for that. I will tell them I Googled ‘novel sex’ and copied somebody else’s words. Although that particular search might reveal more than I care to witness. I made that mistake when I wanted to buy rabbit toys for my daughter in law this Christmas (actual toys for an actual rabbit. Please).

It didn’t take much research to realise that, with the sheer number of books being published each day, a debut novel by an unknown author was destined to total anonymity. Part of me rather likes that idea. I wrote this book for myself, and I will have a copy on my bookshelf until the day I die. After my passing, the grandchildren (when they arrive – take note ED) will exclaim in wonder that Granny wrote a book. (Hopefully they won’t read the sexy bits. Although, I will be past caring by then).

My target sales crept up. One hundred books sold would put me in the top 10% of published authors (I read this – somewhere); that 90% of books sell less than one hundred copies. If this is true, it is tragic. Of course, some of those books will have been specialist or niche. Never intended to achieve mass sales. But just think of the number of wonderful stories which might be out there, that we don’t even know about!

I put the word out to extended friends and family. I reckon I’ve got twenty plus guaranteed sales, and I’ll probably buy a dozen myself.

Three hundred sales (I did the maths) would pay back the money spent publishing the book (although not the money spent buying a dozen back). Time spent writing has been a pleasure, so I don’t want payment for that. The husband might argue that the time could have been better spent elsewhere.

So, yay – I have a target. I simply need three hundred people to buy my book. If it’s a good enough read, and amuses them, maybe sales will grow from there? Or from the sequel (now underway) when I eventually publish that.

Easier said than done, though, finding three hundred people who want to buy your book. Back to Google, CreateSpace, @thecreativepenn, @JFbookman… I could go on. Hundreds of blogs, thousands of bloggers, millions of tweeters on twitter who are #writing #self-publishing #givingadvice about how to market your book. And CreateSpace tells me I should be one of them.

Gulp, here I go then. I am not ‘tech-stupid’, but I’m not “tech-savvy” either. And I am frequently ‘tech-frustrated’. I am too impatient (there we go, again) to spend time working things out and setting them up correctly. If my *avatar (*little personal picture – I have learnt that) doesn’t chose itself and load automatically, I am inclined to throw my hands heavenwards in despair and leave the Twitter/Wordpress generated, headache-inducing image in place. Consequently my blog is somewhat basic (I can see you, nodding). But it does exist. As for Twitter, well! That is a whole other blog.

And press coverage? Oh no, I’m not nearly brave enough for that. Yet.