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The Second Half: Facing facts about Facebook

February 16, 2011

By Kathleen D. Tresemer
Columnist

I finally jumped on the bandwagon and got myself a Facebook page.

Some time ago, I discussed my distaste for all things “social network.” I even got flak for it—a few readers actually ragged me about my lack of interest. Now, I don’t mind people with a strong opinion; in fact, I welcome friendly discourse. So, I say to those of you who got all cheesed at my lack of interest in Facebook: “I am OK with you liking Facebook…why can’t you give me the same respect?”

Things have changed, however, as I mentioned before: I now have my very own Facebook page. I succumbed to the various writing professionals who insist that real writers have Facebook pages: “What’s wrong with you, Kathleen?” they query. “Writing is a business, and good business professionals market their work!”

Writers everywhere are embracing online social networks as a way to advertise and market their books, columns and free-lance work. I just see it as overkill, until I have a book to sell. I am currently passing around a couple of manuscripts to agents and editors—one for a contemporary novel and one for a young adult novel—but none of these is in print just yet. And for those of you who are not in the writing business, even if I sold a manuscript today, it could be a couple of years before it hits the bookstores. In light of this lengthy process, I figure I have plenty of time to build a fan base…besides, I have all of you, my Second-Half readers!

“Not so, Kathleen,” Second-Half writing pal Terri told me. “It is never too early to get to know the people who will want to read your work.”

She’s got a point. Terri Reid is a paranormal mystery and romance writer who has successfully published in e-book formats such as Kindle. Without an actual paper-and-ink book in hand, her best method of marketing is through the Internet. She spends her time befriending readers in ethereal chat rooms, at e-book sites like Amazon.com, and in the social network—Facebook, for example. Her success has been astounding, and her following quite loyal.

Terri is about 10 minutes younger than I (in Second-Half years), but she is light years ahead of me at this techie stuff. “It is so easy,” she told me. “We can help you set one up in about five minutes.” The we she referred to includes Debbie Deutsch, an experienced children’s writer completing a book aimed at middle grade kids. Terri, Deb and I are part of a writing group called Hi-Rev Writers—we meet weekly to write, critique each other’s work, offer support and share resources. Both Deb and Terri are technologically inclined, and teach me new things all the time.

“You work on a computer all day,” one Second-Half pal gushed. “You must be so good at technical stuff!” Well, if by good you mean I can screw up a software download just by clicking “Run,” you would be right. The truth is: I have only recently learned to take the battery out of my laptop if it freezes up and won’t turn off, and I have never once programmed a VCR…wait, do they still make VCRs?

I am no techie. I’ll tell you what an Amish fellow once shared with me about his skill with horses: “Just because I ride one doesn’t mean I am particularly good at handling or training ’em…I’m not that fond of horses.” Get my drift?

I think of a young fellow I know who drove his car until the engine block resembled San Francisco after the earthquake—when questioned about his maintenance habits, he stunned us all: “I put in gas all the time, but didn’t know I was supposed to change the oil…”

On top of all this, my poor computer has been suffering from some near-deadly malware infection. (I don’t know exactly what malware is, but I’ve learned it is really bad!) The Geek Squad had her in their hospital and they were polite, but firm: no amount of whining would get me my computer any faster.

“I make my living as a writer,” I tried looking pathetic. “How can a writer survive without her computer for a whole week?” Nothing worked.

Then, someone had the gall to tell me I probably got the malware from Facebook, “Oh, lots of people get viruses and things that way.” This was almost the last straw! I’m trying to be more professional, and the world of the Internet is conspiring against me.

So now, I am getting all kinds of e-mails asking me to be someone’s “friend,” or telling me that one of my “friends” has posted a message to me, or some such thing. And my writer pals tell me to be nice and friendly and chat about my writing, so that those “friends” will be excited and highly motivated to buy my books when they come out. GAD!

“The next step,” Deb told me, “is to create a website for yourself. You can even set up a blog on the website and people will go there to read about you and your writing life.”

Terri says, “Then, you put a link to your website and your blog on your Facebook page…see how this all works together?”

This old dog is willing to learn a few new tricks, but I have to wonder: when will I ever have time to write?!?

In her second half of life, Kathleen D. Tresemer is both a journalist and an award-winning fiction writer. She lives with her husband on a small ranch in rural Shirland, Ill. Kathleen can be contacted by e-mail at kdt-insights@hotmail.com.

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