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Monday, November 18, 2013

THE INTERNET IS NOT OUR ENEMY




Bit-marks, hashtags, SEOs, tagging . . . Argh! I'd rather volunteer to be a substitute on Dirty Jobs than wrap my head around the incomprehensible language of the blasted, ever-evolving, dreaded nemesis known as the Internet. There are days when I just want to run from the room howling like Edvard Munck's man in The Scream, and disappear over the horizon into that swirling mess behind him. What's worse, I'm beginning to look like that poor, emaciated man as I hunker over my computer and hang ten--fingers, that is--while surfing over the plethora of articles concerning the terms used so casually without any explanation on the social media sites. The question begs to be asked, while I log on to this site and that in an effort to sell my hard work to the reading public: Is it true that the Internet is not our enemy, but our friend?

As authors, we must not only learn what all those terms thrown at us mean, but how to use them effectively in marketing our novels. I know that I've read no less than one hundred blogs, e-zines, e-newsletters, self-help eBooks, and chat threads on many websites. Did any of them actually help me? Some. Mostly, I'd glean one small tidbit of information while they waved a carrot under my lengthening nose, because the catch-penny secret peddlers all want me to buy their bloody book. I decided to call a halt to all the scribo-mania, and try to make friends with that digital world beaming across space into my computer.

Are we friends, yet? At this point in my learning process, we have reached an easy détente. I've sworn not to fiddle with anything until I'm relatively sure I know what I'm doing, and have asked that my computer won't freeze on me while I'm trying to upload or download to my sites. The operant word here is relatively, because I'm never completely positive. It's those pesky little doubts who keep whispering in my ear that I'm still a ignoramus about the geeky computer world. I proceed forward because I must or my book won't be noticed, let alone sell.

I'll pass onto you the information that I believe may help. Hashtags are essential. Most blogging sites have a button with a decal that looks like a price tag. The durned thing is usually labeled: Labels or Tags. After writing your blog, or posting your short-story, or posting a chap of your book, hashtag it with something like this: #archaeologicaladventurebook. Use variations of that like: #archaeologystory, #archaeologyadventure, etc. This helps people find you on the Internet when they type archaeologicaladventurebook into the search bar. Ah, yes, the search process. Here are a few examples of acronyms that confused me at first, but became abundantly clear when I wrangled with my publisher about the search criteria on Amazon for my novel. SEO just means: Search Engine Optimization. Or SEM: Search Engine Marketing. Or SERP: Search Engine Results Page. When a potential reader/book buyer wants a book and doesn't want to search through endless varieties of books, they narrow the field by using the search bar with a target; archaeologicaladventurebook. You get the picture. This helps the search engine become your friend, and not your nemesis.

I know that one day I will master all this stuff, and the truly bad writers will finally give up polluting the market and throw their keyboard out, but until that day, I call on Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy. Hey, Michael, Tom, can you hear me up there? It's Chéri, Chéri Vausé. Send forth marketing angels. I'm in desperate need.