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The Internet will Land me in Jail

authorwebsitesIrish writer,  story teller,  broadcaster, teacher, lecturer and workshop facilitator Catherine Brophy laments her dependence on technology in a tongue in cheek blog post, expressing the frustration we all feel at times.

Getting to grips with The Internet will land me in jail because if one more person advises me that the best way to learn how to use it is to “play around” I WILL bite a lump out of their leg.

If one more person tells me “it’s easy, just a couple of clicks” I will smash their face in.

And if one more person advises me to “write the best book I can,” “be myself”, and warns against posting nastys on Facebook or Twitter, I may just go postal and get out my chainsaw.

I am an adult. I know all this. What I do not know is the nitty-gritty of how the Internet stuff works.   What do I click?   Where do I find it?  I mean whereabouts on that page full of information, tiny writing, moving ads, sidebars, links and photos of kittens.

Yes, yes, I know that nobody can tell me everything about the Internet and that I will have to find out lots of stuff for myself.   But there are things that people could tell me, things that could help get me started.   Give me some confidence.   Lead me out of the pit of despair I fall into when, after hours on line, I’ve found nothing I wanted.   When I’ve surfed and surfed and surfed all for nothing and I just want to chuck it all in and read a nice book.

But I can’t chuck it in.   I want to publish my books on line so I have to find out. But at this rate I’ll never write again because I’ll be lost forever in cyberspace trying to figure stuff out.

Here’s what I need to know.

FACEBOOK
What can I do on it?
How do I do it?
How can I best use it to promote my work?

TWITTER
I’m on it.   I have followers.  I’m told I should have conversations  and reply to people.   But nobody says anything interesting.   I reply to those who send messages and then that’s it.  I keep hearing that Twitter is agog about this issue or that – not on my page.   What am I doing wrong?

GOODREADS
I joined and I was instantly swamped with e-mails. Why are all these people befriending me on Goodreads?   Do I reply to them all?
I checked out groups.   All anyone said was “Loved this book” or “Must read it soon”   Whaaaaaat? There must be more to it. How do you get to the good stuff?

WEBSITE
They say there are buttons you should put on your site to help readers  to like, to follow, sign up, give feedback, complile lists of e-mails etc.
How do I do that?
Are they widgets?
What widgets are they?

RSS READER
What’s that?

GROUPS
What groups? Where?

GUEST BLOGS
How does that work?

PROMOTIONAL TOURS
What?  Where? How?

THREE LETTER  ABBREVIATIONS
Please explain.

I spent THREE MONTHS trying to connect my WordPress website to my .ie domain.
I am not an idiot.
I am not a technophobe.
I Googled, I phoned, I e-mailed, I went into on-line information chats, I even sent letters by snail-mail.   In return I got information that I could not understand, partial information and downright wrong information. Finally I wrote a stinker to the management at Blacknight. I got an instant reply plus the correct information in language I understood.   It took THREE MINUTES to make the connection!

That was last June, I’ve spent all the time since trying things out, Googling information, trying to get to grips  and learning very little indeed.

Tech-savvy people make enormous assumptions about what is common knowledge.  This drives the not-so-tech-savvy people like me to despair.
Am I the only one with this problem?

HELP.

cathCatherine Brophy is an Irish writer,  story teller,  broadcaster, teacher, lecturer and workshop facilitator.   I was     born and reared in Dublin and I have travelled the world.   In my distant past I was an audiologist dealing with children and now I use that skill by going to Zambia as a  volunteer with E.N.T.Zambia.

Karen Lotter

Writer, photographer, workaholic info-junkie, Wordpress fan, blogger, aging geek, toyi-toying optimist, social media trainer, web writer. www.ethekwiniweb.co.za

This Post Has 14 Comments
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  3. Catherine.

    I share your frustration. My own particular moment in hell came when my website developer presented with a design plan in which every word was English, and familiar to me. Unfortunately, many of those words had a quite different meaning in develop-land than in the every day world. Because my developer was a really nice man, it all worked out, but there were moments when we came close to clubbing each other to death!

  4. Catherine, I have been spending much time researching the best way to publicise/market my Amazon Kindle e-book. I have spent considerable time emailing book bloggers and relevant magazines/publications requesting reviews with no results. My initial plug for the book amongst my Facebook friends yielded the greatest number of sales. I have read several articles on the usefulness of social media to self-published authors and it seems to me that the general view is unless you already have an established reputation in the blogging/social media area, you will find it hard to create one just to sell your writing. I quote from the Writers & Artists Yearbook 2012: “… your readers will sell your books for you. … ultimately it’s still word of mouth that will sell your books.”

  5. I know exactly what you mean, Catherine! And David too. I am just jumping on the indie author train and getting a start on social media before I even have anything published (the blog I put a link to is completely empty.)

    Catherine, I wasn’t sure if your questions were hypothetical or not…if you want me to provide the answers I have, let me know. It’s only a few. David, your offer sounds awesome! I honestly think this could be a whole new career for the techie crowd. Or maybe as we authors do end up figuring it out – a bit of a side business too. That’s the nice thing, once we get it down, I think it will only get easier. That’s what I tell myself anyway!

    I’ve read Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran and his website seems to have some good information. http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/

    Sadly, all this does take away a lot of the time we should be spending on writing. It’s sort of fun for me to research it all, but I’d rather be researching stuff for new stories…

  6. Hello,

    You can get share buttons, follow buttons and more for free from: http://www.addthis.com/

    The code is generated according to the style of buttons you want, the type of website you are displaying them on and you get the instructions for inserting the code on your site.

    I’m not sure what you mean by compiling e-mail addresses, if it’s to be able to send e-mails with your latest info to your fans then I think you need an auto responder.

    Hopefully other people will provide you with information on the other items.

    Anne

  7. Everyone has an opinion and the so called “experts” are jumping on the current bandwagon in hopes of finding something that hits it big. I’ve had people explain the technological side of things and I’m pretty much able to figure things out, but many times I’ve been scratching my head going — what? I hire cover artists and editors. The rest I generally do myself.
    I’ve been doing the very basic technological “stuff” for eBooks since May 2012. I’ve been a writer forever. I have a back list, so I decided to work on putting those romances out there. I had a book published traditionally through Harlequin/Silhouette back in 2001 and gave up on that route many years ago. For me, it was a lesson in frustration.
    I now have 9 romances out in eBook format. I did a lot of research, reading, blah, blah, and about 9 months later I can tell you most of the marketing has been a futile effort. I tried things like KDP select with Amazon, (doesn’t do well if you only have 1 book, which was what I had at the time, though may be of benefit now that I have 9 books out). KDP will bump your book up for a bit, then it usually goes back down, but if you have other books, there may be a benefit to those. I haven’t tested this yet. I prefer not to do exclusivity at this point.
    I revamped my website (I’m a big believer in keeping this up to date) and I have a blog on WordPress that gets a bit more hits as time goes on, though not a tremendous amount, and a blog on Blogger that gets very few. I prefer Blogger for ease of use. Go figure. It took me a while to figure out a lot of what it offers, and I had to slog through it to figure it out. I know most of what it offers but there are still murky areas I don’t use. I have links to my website where to buy all my books. And links to my YouTube videos which I had fun making in the beginning for the first 4 books, but as far as I’m concerned, pretty much a time waster.
    I have my books available as widgets through my Blogger blog, linked to my Amazon associate account for each of my current 9 romances. Never sold one through there, never got a commission. The widgets are pretty easy to set up through Blogger under their HTML widget, but you need a code from Amazon after you set up an associate account. Again, I trolled these sites and spent a lot of time getting all this info, and it is the very basic info that I use. It can get overwhelming if you’re trying to implement everything you see.
    I learned how to format eBooks for Smashwords (did a search and finally came across Heather Adkins (Cyberwitchpress.com) tutorial. Works like a charm. I’ve never been spit out by Smashwords meatgrinder, my books all go through nicely. Amazon Kindle I discovered the free program Calibre and spent some time learning how to use the basics so I could put up a decent mobi file for Kindle. I am currently thinking of print books through CreateSpace and found a nice tutorial on Youtube by author India Drummond.
    I joined Twitter because supposedly that was the thing to do to really get noticed. I bought a $30 or something course that was supposed to transform the life of my books via Twitter. Ahem. Okay. After going through that “course” I don’t have enough time in my life to devote to Twitter, nor do I want to.

    I joined Facebook and got a fan page. Tried the Facebook ads on and off. They’re cheaper if you have the promotion land on your Facebook page as opposed to a website. Do fans turn into book buyers? How do you measure that? I saw a minimal bump in sales, but not enough to want to spent that cash again. I spend minimal time blogging now, minimal Facebook time, each is just an update here and there. Twitter, hardly ever. Will send off an announcement maybe 1x a month if I’ve published a new book.
    My website I keep updated. Goodreads, BookBlogs, Shelfari, self pubbing Forums….and on. I found them a bit unwieldy to navigate your way around. I spend hardly any time with the above. There is only so much time in a day.
    I tried Kindle Nation promo which was rather pricey. I did the romance of the week. It did bump my one romance up but again, spending that much money and not being sure how it all pans out…I haven’t made my money back, but long term effect is still to be weighed???
    I’ve done press releases through PR Web and noticed some hits through that. Would not pay for a press release again. I decided to do a month long promotion for Christmas with Google Adwords, which I’ve used the longest. I tripled the measly amount I usually spend. Book sales related to increased promo — I checked my stats, lots of hits, sales ….again, how do you figure out what’s working or what’s related to your sales? I went back to a measly $1 a day on Adwords, and I’m still getting about half the hits I was getting paying a lot more.
    I now have about 5 bloggers/websites I keep an eye on for the latest in the epubbing business. I do more writing and concentrating on my books. Blogs I frequent: Joel Friedlander, Joe Konrath, Joanna Penn, Catherine, Decaffeinated and a few others.
    My sales have grown very slowly since May 2012. I have 3 reviews on one book, one review on another book. No reviews on the rest. I got reviews on those because I had someone arrange a blog hop tour for not too much money. Another time consuming effort.
    So I’ve scaled back on paying for people to come to me either through blood, sweat and tears or cash. I am in the romance genre which has a million or so other authors. My bestselling book is a short romance eBook priced at $1.99. It’s 80 pages.
    When uploading my books, I’ve made sure my keywords are accurate as are the categories for my books. I’ve played with pricing and decided $2.99 seems to work the best for my full length romances. Most of my romances are 60 to 90k words. This past month I sold 130 eBooks through Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Kindle all together, the best month thus far. Kindle sales are about 80% more than all the others combined. Sales began in May where I had 8 sales and have bumped just a little each month.
    I hire an editor to go through all my books as they are completed. Another take on my own genre is covers make a big difference. Right now the Women of Character series books are not what is considered “traditional” covers, so I’m experimenting with new ones.

    So I’ve decided to simplify and get off the social networking craziness and bring it back down to minimal posting and more writing and keeping an eye on blogs that talk about what’s happening in the industry.
    Has this been helpful for anyone? Just my experience. I think of self-publishing right now as the wild, wild west. 🙂

    1. Has this ever been helpful. I typify the writer of the article. I’m lost. I wrote “A Deadly Suggestion” and I have had a few great reviews on Facebook, no less, because that’s where they saw it. But Twitter?? Why bother. All these people I don’t know want to follow me and pump their book. Do they ever read my posts? Not likely.

      Blogs? I have a blog on my website, http://www.readrwwilliams.com. Do I have followers? Not really. I just keep writing on the topic of authorship. But I love to write, so that doesn’t bother me. But understanding all these sites, click this and this will happen? Well, what the heck does it mean when it creates a CRP file? I don’t know.

      I’m with you. KISS. But as for people saying you can get this here and it will do this, hey, what is “this” and why should I care? My daughter is a technological genius and does all of this stuff for a living. I do ask her occasionally how to do something, but when she said, “Mom, can you make me an administrator on your facebook page,” when I asked her how to delink it from my personal page, I knew I was in over my head. She doesn’t have time for managing my stuff and all of her own sites, plus sell homes and do taxes, though she tries. And I don’t have the budget to hire someone. So I’m going to write, publish on Smashwords, make sure my books are crisp with great covers, good pitches, and good stories, and I’m just going to enjoy the fact that I’m writing a book.

  8. Just re-read my post. Too much hurry makes poor punctuation. But needed to add. Please no replies from people who want to know “How big is your budget (for us to spend until you give up for lack of results and we move on the next donor)?

    I’m looking for partners–those who have skin in the game and take risks even if it’s only their time. True partners–no hitchhikers. Thanks.

    d

  9. Dear Catherine,

    You are not alone and my commiseration is endless. When I published “The Duplicata” last year I even hired a person who claimed to offer Marketing Services and Social Media Management. Turns out this means that she can find websites on which to list/promote the book, type in the entries and repeat this many times. She always wanted to give away IPADS @ $500 a pop but could never say why or what that would accomplish.

    In fairness, she was helpful (and reasonably priced) in executing stenographic work and website modifications/updates but finally admitted that she actually had no formal marketing training, education or experience. Kind of like being adept at writing and answering want ads.

    So here I am knowing that I am not capitalizing on the POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA (I never got a single reply to my blog posts and my google analytics numbers stink.

    My book, without social media, received 32 reviews, 27 4-5 stars and a couple of stinkers. In other words a pretty good score. Sales suck.

    So here i am. I loved doing the work and the excitement of the publishing process (which is no where near as “transparent” as claimed) and seeing my book on the Amazon shelves.

    But now i would simply love to find someone who would like a great deal. Here it is. All the hard stuff has been done. A ‘good’, not great, but fun read is done. The Duplicata” is just waiting for an INTERNET GENIUS to get half the profits from future sales.

    THAT’S RIGHT! I am prepared to generously share in revenue from sales during the period of management by the GENIUS from the day we get together. A simple offer–YOU market the book, WE SHARE THE PROFITS.

    Now Catherine, I know that this is not something for you and I’m just here to sympathize with your frustration. And I do, as you can see. But, really? Why not? Writers who have creative ideas and can execute them and INTERNET GENIUSES who can sell books. A partnership just like all others, horses for courses.

    Catherine, If I find someone I’ll let you know. Right after I have gotten back everything I’ve invested in this venture. And all the best to you in the meantime. Oh, I apologize. I haven’t answered any of your questions. Because I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWERS and I have the same uneasy feeling you have. The whole thing is the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and people are just babbling nonsense.

    I’m doing what I know how to do. I’m writing the next book. That I can do and the rest will have to wait. And thanks for sharing your puzzlement. ME TOO!

    david

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