Yup, yup, yup.
Things are a bit different now. Some western writers are hanging on to the "old ways" by their fingernails. A blog, what's that? Why do I need a website? Tweeting is just plain silly, like teats on a bull.
While that might be true (and some people waste hours on Facebook), you can say the same about answering the telephone, watching television, playing video games, reading others' books, exercising their horse, even sleeping. "Call me old-fashioned, just don't call me late to dinner."
It's all about networking. Surely you've heard that term. And while life happens, so does change. And friends -- the times, they are a-changing.
The most successful business man is the man who holds onto the old just as long as it is good and grabs the new just as soon as it is better. Robert Vanderpoel
First off -- will you use your real name? Think about what "public" really means. If you prefer privacy, come up with a pseudonym. And consider the idea of "branding" -- just like the old days of cattle ranching. Say Double-Bar L aloud -- it rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? -- versus a surname difficult to pronounce or spell. Think about the bookshelf, too. Top, middle or bottom? Where do you want your readers to find you? Remember, many readers purchase on-line now so that's not as important as it once was.
WEBSITE can be cheap, and sometimes easy. But they often LOOK cheap and easy too, so consider that if you're working your way up the ladder of success. A website can be your first investment. It's relatively cheap to buy your "domain name" for a year -- and cheaper for three years. Avoid the URL of "authorname" followed by blogspot.com or wordpress.com because people will remember "authorname.com" a lot easier. You also need an ISP like GoDaddy or Hostgator or some other host for your website, paying a set amount per month. You could also hire your grandkid, a friend or someone who knows what they're doing to "set up" your website. Shop wisely, because you ought to know how to maintain and update your website once in a while.
FACEBOOK will do a lot more for an author. Caution: if your timeline is filled with gross photos, jokes or rants between family members, change the setting to private. Keep that stuff far away from your author name/brand. I've often seen authors rant on and on about the school parking lot idiots, or their a**backward relatives, or spout F-bombs and worse, and thought, "Whoa. That's not professional." Remember -- keep your author name *sacred* and stay on "topic."
AUTHOR PAGE and profile. Post updates of your books, reviews, print or ebook giveaways, writing tips, etc. Think visual, too! Share other writers' inspiring photos, quotes or interesting ideas about books, reading, writing or whatever might relate to your book. For example, when my western mystery Double Crossing debuted, I shared all kinds of information about trains -- with photos from the CPRR.org website, details about the Pullman Palace cars, maps of the cross-country transcontinental railroad route, menus of the station houses along the way, etc. Quick visuals often "tell a story" faster than a long stretch of words. Even this blog post has visuals to give the eye a rest and add color and interest.
PINTEREST -- what is it? Think "virtual corkboard" or "scrapbook" only on the web. See the "sharp point" on the bottom of the P? Yup. PINS.
It's easy to become a member, too. It's similar to Facebook in networking potential. And it's also a way to spend hours exploring ideas for characters, costumes, places, food, celebrities, films, books, whatever your little heart desires. The minute Pinterest appeared, I signed up. Hey, I'm an artist and love visuals!
How can you use Pinterest to your advantage? I typed Pinterest.com into my browser, and then typed "western books" into the search bar -- VOILA! Click here to see. From book covers to film posters to baby shower ideas, it's all there as a visual feast. It's also pretty
YES. You'll thank me for it. Check out my book board by clicking here if you want to see. Then check out the rest of my boards while you're there.
The same goes for women -- I'm here in Western Fictioneers to network with a lot more male writers and readers than my books would normally reach. It's not easy learning to juggle all this "social media" with a writing career. How can you do it?
Time management, of course. And knowing your limits, because you can't cover the Ponderosa in a day on horseback. The same goes for networking. Unless you're as famous as the late Louis L'Amour, who has a website and videos about his career, and a staff to keep his name/brand alive.
Hey, great idea. Maybe one day...
Mystery author Meg Mims lives in Southeastern Michigan with her husband and a 'Make My Day' Malti-poo dog. Meg loves writing novels, short novellas and short stories, both contemporary and historical. Her Spur and Laramie Award winning Double series is now among the Prairie Rose Publications book list. Meg is also one-half of the D.E. Ireland team writing the Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins Mystery series for St. Martin's Minotaur. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.