To be a writer these days, so industry publicists tell us, one must be savvy on social media. But do not spend too much time, they tell us, on that same media. What publicists don’t understand is that social media has become a zero-sum game. It demands your time. Just for instance, I was trying to get set up on Instagram. Why? Because, apparently, there is a large presence of those who like looking at pictures of books on Instagram. The real problem for anyone who writes is to let people know when you’ve got a book out. (By the way, I have a book out.) Print catalogues and newspaper ads don’t have the same punch they used to, and social media is the reason. So I tried to get set up on Instagram.
It took a few hours before I realized that Instagram is meant only for mobile devices. My phone is several years old now and although it does (mostly) what I need it to do, it has trouble with upgraded apps. Instagram, for instance. You might say “it’s time for a new phone, then,” but I don’t like feeling coerced into upgrading when an iPhone 4S is already smarter than I am and it functions just fine as a phone. And a camera. And a GPS. And a tape recorder. What it doesn’t do so well is social media. Ah, yes, and that’s what got me into this mess in the first place. My thumbs aren’t dextrous enough to text, let alone post. I feel old fashioned because I use a computer.
After a few hours, during which Dropbox kept telling me my storage was almost full and for a recurring charge I could upgrade it, I finally managed to get a photo (not my best) posted on Instagram. I can’t access my “library” where a number of decent photos dwell. It complains vociferously if I try to access said photos. I’m not even sure it will do any good to bring awareness to my recent publication. Our publicists like Twitter better anyway. You can’t tweet during the day, however, when people from your company follow you. Herein lies another of the dilemmas of a working writer. You’ve got to manage to keep your day job. Writing books, unless you’ve got an agent, doesn’t bring in enough money to pay your electric bill, let alone your mortgage. And besides, work is where I learn such valuable things from publicists, like using social media so that I have a readership for my reduced time to write.