Thursday, 11 November 2010

The wrong kind of page

Because I can't work out how to copy my Facebook page

When my first book was published back in 1991, all I had to do was sit at my electric typewriter and write.  It never occurred to me that there was anything more to it.  I eventually graduated to an Amstrad - a fine machine that was far less trouble than all these clever clog computers that have succeeded it - but still, it was just a question of banging out the words.

Then came the internet, and suddenly everyone was talking about websites.  The message came out loud and clear: all authors have to have a website.  So eventually I had one too, thanks to my good friend Isabel, who designed it for me and spent hours when she should have been writing up her thesis setting it all up.  My big innovation for my website was a writing diary. I was rather pleased with this idea until I discovered that everybody else was doing exactly the same thing but calling it a blog. 

New message: authors need a website AND a blog.  Fine.  I gritted my teeth, changed the name to a blog, and failed conspicuously to keep it up until recently, when the lovely Barbara Hannay demonstrated how easy it would be to update it myself on Blogger.  And she was right.  Much to my surprise, it IS easy.

Now, just when I'm thinking I might have the whole knotty blog issue under control, there's a new message from Harlequin.  Websites and blogs are fine, but what authors REALLY need is a Facebook profile. Social networking is the way to go. With much huffing and puffing, I did in fact set up a Facebook page recently, and of course was instantly seduced into wasting hours trawling around in search of friends or reading about everybody else's lives which all seem so much more interesting than my own. 

Now it turns out that rather like British trains grinding to a halt because of the wrong kind of leaves on the line, I have set up the wrong kind of page.  Aaarrgghh.  Last night I attended my first ever "webinar" which was intended as an introduction to Facebook.  This involved sitting at my computer, the phone clamped to my ear, listening to three of Harlequin's digital media team talk through the slides that were appearing on the screen.  I have to say they sounded absolutely charming, with a very chatty, approachable style, but the amount of information was overwhelming.  They talked about finding your own URL and setting up a fan page, about links and widgets and badges and transferring friends and creating lists until I started to hyperventilate.  It didn't help that my phone's battery is clearly running low and keeps beeping in my ear. 

Now I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing.  All I know is that what I've done so far just isn't enough and that at some point I'm going to have to sit down and read through the slides which Jenny Bullough very helpfully sent to me afterwards to see if I can make sense of it.  There aren't many things I that I wouldn't rather do as displacement activity when I'm on a deadline, but self-promotion is one of them.  Life was so much easier when all we had to do was write (she says pitifully).  Sometimes I miss that typewriter. 


  1. I have done the Harlequin FB seminar -- in Orlando.
    You don't have the wrong kind of page. It depends on how you want people to find you and what you a re going to put on your page. If it is just going to Jessica Hart, then you have no big deal. If you had wanted to include other details, then you might have a problem. Shirley Jump is an absolute whizz at FB and privacy.
    It is also really easy to start a Fan Page on FB.
    And you can export your blog automatically to FB, Amazon, Good reads and twitter... You find the RSS feed by clicking on the Subscribe to:

  2. The one message I did get from the seminar was that I should have set up a public rather than a private page, Michelle. So now I'm fretting about what happens to the page I have now if I set up another ... it's not that it's difficult, it's just so much to think about! And I must, must, MUST finish this book before I get myself into a tangle about anything else!

  3. I think it's really tough trying to balance it all and find the time to write. There's always going to be a new social network - Myspace morphed into Facebook - and so the time gobblers continue to divide and multiply :)