I’m just back from Crimefest in Bristol. A busy and interesting weekend with some fascinating panels and discussions which I’ll write more about next time. On Friday evening the shortlists were announced for six of the CWA Daggers and I was delighted to be included in the Short Story shortlist for my story Laptop from Best Eaten Cold. A big thanks to Matilda Richards at The History Press for commissioning the anthology, to Martin Edwards who edited the book and Barry Forshaw for the foreword. Congratulations too, to fellow Murder Squaddie, Margaret Murphy, who is shortlisted with her story The Message from the same anthology. We’ll find out who has won on 5th July! Meanwhile you can find out all about the shortlist here http://www.thecwa.co.uk/daggers/2012/short.html.
So after last week’s post, what did change my mind?
Partly the sheer weight of opinion in favour of social networking as a way of connecting with readers and promoting my work. And I got to thinking that compared to all the other efforts I’d made to promote my books (some of which were toe-curling in the embarrassment stakes) wasn’t this actually a relatively easy way to go about it?
Another significant factor was talking to my friend and fellow Murder Squad member Ann Cleeves who has been on Twitter for some time. She made it sound easy, and even enjoyable, and stressed that you could tweet once a day if that was all you wanted to do. Then Murder Squaddie Margaret Murphy recommended a book – Tweet Right: The Sensible Guide to Twitter by Nicola Morgan. I downloaded this and found it clear, witty and very informative. She’s particularly good on etiquette and do’s and don’ts which is reassuring for a newbie. (I wish more tweeps had read the book, or something similar, it might get rid of some of the more irritating tweets!) With a new website planned, if I ever was going to get social now seemed to be time to make the leap.
How’s it been? Well, regarding Twitter – I’m addicted as predicted but I love it so far, I like being able to dip in and out of socialising and I LOVE that it’s so short – I’m one of those writers who naturally writes less rather than more so it’s tailor made for me. The blog’s another matter – whether updating this every week is going to feel too much like a chore, I can’t tell yet. I hope not. As for Facebook – well, got to draw the line somewhere. At least for now. But I’m a fickle creature. Watch this space.
Nanosecond.Really. She was there, burbling at some worm on the pavement, doing that little dance. Then the future hit. Black Audi, forty-five miles an hour. She knew not to go on the road. The coffin was tiny. I don’t let the others out now. Street’s just not safe anymore.
*Originally published by www.the-phone-book.com (now archived)
I liked the idea of posting this article, originally published in Red Herrings, the CWA Members’ Bulletin, given my complete volte-face…
Are You A Blogger?
MySpace, Facebook, Bebo: social networking sites and a free way to make contacts and connections and promote your work. A few months ago my dad emailed to ask if I’d be his friend on Facebook and my heart sank. I am your friend, Dad, in the real world, can’t we just leave it at that? My latest copy of The Writer’s Handbook exhorts me to get out there, blog it and flog it but still I balk.
I’m not a technophobe: I love my computer and I’m the only one in the house who can work the DVD recorder, so it’s not that. And I agree that self-promotion (the more shameless the better) is a necessity in these times when few of us get marketing campaigns or publicity budgets from our cash-strapped publishers. In fact twelve years ago, when Margaret Murphy suggested forming Murder Squad to do exactly that, I jumped at the chance. We did (and do) most of the organising online and via e-mail and the venture has proved an excellent way of raising our profiles and generating income from events we do. It might even have sold a few more books. At the last tally four of the seven squaddies had blogs (though one calls his a diary).
And I do like trying out new forms of writing. One of the projects I’ve enjoyed most was with www.the-phone-book.com and involved writing ultra short fiction that was published online and sent to WAP phones (no I don’t either).
So why do I resist? My reservations are random and don’t add up to any coherent position but for what they’re worth:
1) Isn’t it a bind? I can only just manage to keep my (shared) website and latest biog updated. Anecdotally, I met a famous blogger recently, Fiction Bitch, who turned out to be a friend (in the actual sense of the word – not the poking sort*) and who said writing two blogs every day was driving her demented, she ends up doing them late at night and sometimes a little the worse for wear but she couldn’t stop, having achieved some measure of success and notoriety. I guess the name helped.
2) What would I write about? I certainly don’t want to dissect the process of writing, I’m too busy actually doing it and I want it to retain that vaguely mystical, organic feel. And I don’t want to bleat about the vagaries of the publishing industry or complain about my ratings on Amazon or whatever. My personal life is just that, personal, so what’s left?
3) Reciprocity. It wouldn’t stop with what I wrote. People would add comments or respond and I’d have to answer them and visit their pages and it would mushroom. I might have to make friends with people I wouldn’t want to be friends with.
4) Where would I find the time? See above. Already life is busy, full; there aren’t enough hours in the day for all the things I’d like to do. So should I make space for something that I don’t really want to do? And sacrifice my writing time?
5) My posts would come back to haunt me. Like reading old diaries. Yikes, what I had for dinner (and tea), amusing tales of the dog and the budgie and who fell out with who in the playground. But IN PUBLIC.
Meanwhile the bandwagon rolls on; I can see it in the distance disappearing over the virtual hill in a cloud of virtual dust. I guess you’re all on it. Off to pastures new. Maybe one day I’ll join you, become a born again blogger or twitter-addict and exhort all the people I meet in workshops to get connected. Till then…Am I losing out? What do you reckon?
* It’s a Facebook thing.
So – what changed my mind? I’ll look at that next week…