Time was, you delivered a manuscript to your editor, corrected the galleys, and your work was done. At a later date you might possibly be required to do a 3am telephone interview with Radio Whernside or go and sit behind a pile of your books in a deserted bookshop and smile bravely. But essentially you were free to go back inside your cubicle and write another book.
Today it’s a different story. Today the actual writing seems like the least of it. Because today we have global 24/7 silicon chip-enabled blethering and if you want to sell a book you’d better join the party. Or so I’m told.
I’ve welcomed technology into my working life, if not with open arms, certainly with a firm handshake. I’d never wish to go back to the days of sprinting across Christ’s Pieces with a large envelope in my hand, desperate to get my copy into the 5pm letter collection. I imagine there are still writers who deliver their work by carrier pigeon but they are presumably just playing the eccentric card. There are certainly writers who don’t have websites. Some jib at the cost. Some don’t see the point. I suppose it’s not so very long ago that I was one of them. But things have moved on apace since then.
First I was told I’d better get my sorry ass onto Twitter. I wriggled a bit over that but in the end I conceded. So far I’ve found myself with unusually little to say but apparently that passes. Before you know it you have a 10 Tweets a Day habit. Then they said, ‘But Tweeting isn’t enough on its own. You must also master the canny use of hashtags.’ And I will. Some time.
Last week I brainstormed a little with my daughter-in-law who is a Queen Bee of buzz creation. If I could afford her I’d put her on the payroll. She said, ‘And of course your publisher will be creating a Facebook Page for your new book.’
Now I may know zip about social media but I do know that the words ‘of course’ don’t belong in any sentence about publishing.
I said, ”I’ll ask them.’ Which I did. And so far answer came there none.
‘Next,’ she said, ‘you should post the book jacket on Pinterest. And you should set up a virtual book tour for May or June. Get yourself some guest blogger slots. And you could offer Author Q&A by Skype.’
And while I’m jotting down all these excellent suggestions you know what I’m thinking? That I’m a shy, retiring novelist not a performing seal. I’m also tired. On which subject I leave the absolute final word to Lilly von Schtupp.