I got wind of one of the most appalling comments written by an author I know. To paraphrase, she informed us all that “You can't teach an old dog new tricks,” and “All that Internet stuff is too new for me.” She went on to say her computer is for writing her manuscripts and research, that “Anything more is beyond me.”


Before anyone here plays the devil's advocate and tries to see her point, let me just add that when this author was invited to sell at our local bookfest, she sent someone in her place. She doesn't like to meet the public. All she feels she is required to do is write the book. A self-published book at that.


What this author is too green, too ignorant to understand is that self-pubbed and small-press authors never stood much of a chance in the book world prior to Internet marketing. Sure, you could pay thousands of dollars to have someone market your book—I know a self-pub author who did exactly that and got low sales anyway.


Then along comes the entire world to our PC's. It doesn't matter who you are or where you're located, you can create a fan base, a profile, a following. I sit in my PJ's most of the day and answer interview questions, blog on websites, pass on info to other writers and interconnect on the Internet.


You want to be my friend on Face Book, Crime Space, Shelfari? I want to sell you my books. You want to say wonderful things in reviews? I will subscribe and promote your blogsite. Quid pro quo. You scratch my back, I'll promote yours. This is collaboration, collective bargaining, networking at its best.


The new buzz word is “platform.” The author I mentioned hasn't got a platform, she's got a basement. She's already convinced herself that she hasn't the ability to market via the Internet. What she's really copping to is the fact that she's too lazy and can't be bothered to learn promotion. What this tells me is that she doesn't want a career. She is holding on to the illusion that “real authors” isolate themselves in a garret and wait for the world to discover their genius. Hemingway and Hammett are dead. So is that type of thinking, if it ever was valid to begin with.


Don't pass up ANY opportunity handed to you. Only old dogs bite the hand that feeds.


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Comment by Sunny Frazier on December 26, 2010 at 5:52am

Mary, I'm in the middle of picking up manuscripts right now. Why not send me about 30 pages of any mystery you have? I always look for people willing to work the media.

I'm playing the with the premise of using astrology as a profiling took in an upcoming mystery. I'm probably on thin ice, but it could bring up some interesting questions.  

Comment by Mary McFarland on December 15, 2010 at 5:17am

Sunny, thanks.  I've had a tremendous amount of success using social networking media.  My Master's in English includes a core curriculum in the use of Web 2.0 tools for teaching English in Higher Education.  An example of how I've found success using social media includes being found last year by an online press in California, who published my short story, "Best If Used By." (http://www.connotationpress.com/creative-nonfiction/605-mary-mcfarland).  As you state, though, a person has to identify a strategy that dovetails with her platform, and then work the Web 2.0 world to activate the plan or strategy.  Another inspiring example includes an author who was found by an agent from the Donald Maas agency, and who now has a lucrative contract.  This author was tweeting, no less.  This is happening and, frankly, I'm kind of put off by authors who advise others to "forget the Internet stuff."     

 

So that you and I might get to know each other, I'm working with my Web designer this week to get www.marymcfarlandauthor.com up and running ASAP.  The site presents brief premises for the first three novels in The Profiler Series, so I invite you to look (keeping in mind that it's under construction and I've noted some punctuation issues that I'm communicating to my designer).  I mainly wanted you to view the three novels' premises. 

 

I've finished writing "Vengeance Is Mine: The Profiler's Passion," and I'm racing to complete the revisions by the end of December, 2010.  I'm proud to tell you that the novel, a romantic suspense, placed third in my catetgory in the Golden Pen (http://thegoldennetwork.com/index.php/2010-golden-pen-finalists/), a prestigious and competitive national writing contest.  I've targeted savvy readers who know serial homicide investigations and who want details about profiling from an FBI profiler's (my protagonist's) perspective.  In fact, the first novel in the series steps readers seamlessly through a high-level profiling process.  However, I've also kept my more traditional readers in mind and provided enough romantic heat so that they, too, will find Vengeance a satisfying read.  What sets my Profiler Series novels apart from all others is that I've created and exploited a niche within the suspense genre.  Although my protagonist is a female profiler, as is Alan Jacobson's in "The 7th Victim," my serial killers are . . . female, not those traditional male serial killers that are becoming old hat to many readers of suspense.  It's edgy, this idea that women kill as ruthlessly as men, and there is an ever increasing number of female serial killers; also, the publicity is increasing constantly and presenting us with all kinds of lucrative opportunities to write and publish about these new predators. 

 

I'm presently unagented, Sunny, and welcome the chance to pitch to you.  Please let me know what you require from me.  I'm ready. 

 

Comment by Sunny Frazier on December 15, 2010 at 4:09am

Excellent reply, Mary. I hope you devote a blog on the subject. I try hard to get this idea across but sometimes restated it hits home.

Here's what happened at the Hawaii mystery conference: two Big Name authors (who I will not name) pooh-poohed the idea of social networking. They told the audience, "Forget all the Internet stuff and just write." Easy for THEM to say! They also admitted that they had people answering their email because they didn't have time to deal with their fans. Oh yeah, I stopped being a fan at that point!   

Comment by Mary McFarland on December 14, 2010 at 3:36am

Sunny, I agree wholeheartedly with your remark that the word today is "platform."  And I'm amazed at the number of professionals (not just writers) who don't recognize this fact.  Also, the other word, equally as important as "platform," is collaboration, or as you say, "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."  But those are the two concepts that dominate Web 2.0, or the social media, the enviroment where careers are to be made, IF they're to be made.  So I get it, and I'm emphasizing your point because I hope others will take you seriously.

 

Creating a "platform," or a commercially viable presence in the Web 2.0 marketplace takes guts, skill, time, and yes, financial investment, but I'll add that it also takes what building a career has always required, even before the advent of the Internet: that is the desire and the skills to interact positively with people.  It's the "C" word (collaboration) that will guide others to us and, if any genius exists within our work, to its appreciation and reward.  

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