Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Caught in the net

My sons are into Bebo and YouTube, my friends say I must get onto Facebook, and I've just purchased a 'takeaway website in a box' from Mr Site, and there's a blog this week in the Guardian by Sam Jordison about the importance of social media to network, promote, sell ..

Am I the only one feeling just a teensy bit of pressure about all this? On the one hand, blogs, sites and networks are a brilliant resource and one that wasn't really available to me when The Chase was first published. I did what I could, in conventional terms (readings, signings, local radio, an article in 'Living France' and so on) to try to publicise the book, while being disappointed that so many of the excitedly-worded promises of my publishers ('We're going to promote it on Eurostar and the cross channel ferries!' 'We're going to run a postcard teaser campaign using images from the tapestries in the Musee de Cluny!') came to naught. I realised that in this business, unless you're a lead or superlead title, the publicity buck stops with you, the author, because the publicity bucks are not forthcoming from the publisher to fund the kick-ass attention-grabbing you'd like. Anyway, how good is that sort of thing anyway? If you see a poster for a book on a bus shelter or as you ride the escalator in the London Underground, do you dash to the nearest W.H. Smith's on the strength of it?

So, along come all these Web 2.0 opportunities for us to do it for ourselves: to create our markets, to build groups of 'friends', to have dialogue with our putative readership. Fantastic. Then it hits you: creating your site takes time, listing your favourite reads for a social networking site takes time, writing your blog takes time (though don't get me wrong - I love it). Time. Attention. Imagination. Creativity. Wait a minute, waitableedinminutethere - aren't those what I should be devoting to my Art? Shouldn't I be writing, like, books? Have I used so much energy and time and attention and imagination and creativity to create my market that I have none left to create the product I wish to market? The words 'hoist' and 'petard' spring to mind.

So, I'm not as yet on Facebook, though I may give in to the nagging. I do worry about it: it's like being back in the playground, somehow - 'Be my friend! Be my bestest friend!' And I've read the instructions on Mr Site for the easy-as-pie (ho ho ho) creation of my website, but Gawd knows when I'll get round to it. So many decisions! How many pages? How should it look? How do I link photos to it? How can I make it stand out?

If you're interested in social media debate take a look at the blog publishing talk, by reed media, a media consultancy, at
Although they use the painfully hip tagline 'mashing up books and social media', there's a lot of interesting stuff there.

So now I've spend half an hour worriting myself about spending half an hour on web communication. Heigh ho. I do love my little blog, though. It's so much better than being hermetically sealed into isolated artistic angst and it's so much more responsive than, ahem, publishers tend to be. And quicker. Bless you all for reading it.

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