Age is No Limit

The internet is a scary place for some people, far more frightening than say the Cold War, Vietnam, Korea, or even McCarthyism. Okay, I can see a lot of you scratching your heads and wondering exactly what I’m talking about. And I have to admit that Korea and McCarthyism were before my time by a few years, but for those I’m talking to this week, those were real problems that dominated the news when they were younger. The expression “Better Red Than Dead” was used as a challenge to prove how true blue American you were. 

People will reminisce about those times as when they could run around but had to be home before the streetlights came on. We didn’t have internet, but we always knew where everyone was by the amount of bikes spilled on the sidewalk or walkway of a house. Korea had yet to be memorialized by first the movie and then the popular series M.A.S.H. Vietnam came during a time of great social change, when we began to question things we once accepted without question.

Today, all it takes to become an author is the willingness to write a book and publish it. That’s how some people think, and they never think beyond that point. Some will seek out an agent or publisher to help them through the rocky road to publication but they will do nothing to prepare themselves for the day the book is available to the public. Instead, they reminisce about how things were in the “good old days” of publishing, where the major publishers would wine and dine their authors with ridiculously expensive lunches, send them on world tours to discuss their books on the afternoon talk shows, and hand them enormous advances to live on until their next book was complete.

My response to those reminiscences is that world vanished in the eighties, thirty years or more ago. Austerity began to make itself known long before using a computer instead of a typewriter became the norm for an author. The internet as a place that vibrates all day and night with activity was not yet a reality. Things have changed in the publishing world so much that people who grew up with the dream of landing a publishing contract are left confused and stubbornly clinging to a past that will never again exist.

First, just because you have gray hair does not make it difficult for you to navigate this new, vibrant, always in action world. Refusing to accept the fact that you will have to get down and dirty on Twitter to get people to help you promote your book only hurts your sales. Saying that Facebook is confusing isn’t an excuse to ignore a great marketing tool. Ignoring a blog because it looks too hard only leaves you far behind others going after the same customers you want.

More to the point—I have gray in my hair, and I have been using desktop computers since those fabled eighties, when most people claimed they were a fad that would  never catch on. I was very lucky to be part of the early stages of the  internet, in the form of what’s now called a wide area network, while in the military and assigned to the F16 program. No, we didn’t have Facebook with its games, groups, and 24/7 activity. We did have connections with others who had similar interests and questions.

That was the beginning. And once it began, there was no stopping the evolution of the internet into what it’s become and what it will be in the future.

Today, I might still struggle with new social media, but I embrace it instead of avoiding it. Each day is a series of new discoveries. As it can be for you, if you’re willing to look past the gray in your hair, past the memories of a simpler time, and jump head first into this wild and crazy world that will help you find a whole new group of readers and fans for your books.


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