Published in the Rains County Leader on October 24, 2017:
In 1968 Andy Warhol made a statement that has evolved into the idea that, at some point in our lives, we will all experience fifteen minutes of fame. I think I experienced a couple of my minutes last week.
As you may know, I wrote a book about some of my caregiving experiences, and it was published in July of 2014. In the past three years, I’ve learned that the hardest part of publishing a book is helping people find it. I’ve also learned that most of the marketing in the modern publishing industry is done on the Internet by the author. This requires a large social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.
My favorite social network is Facebook because there’s no limit on the size of your posts, and there are groups you can belong to that are made up of people with similar interests. Next to my church group, my favorites are Crime Book Club and Books Go Social. The latter one is the reason I had my first encounter with fame.
The book groups have rules to avoid becoming mainly a marketing vehicle, but every once in a while they have special events like Buy a Book Day. The general idea is that if you purchase someone else’s book, you can post a buy link for your own book. I had participated once before with no success, but I decided to try again. This time I sold several books and a friend posted my book in her RV Reading group.
It doesn’t take a lot to move the book ratings on Amazon. There are more than twenty million books listed, and many of them have never sold a copy except maybe to the author and their parents. At any rate, the books I sold shot my rating sky high. The overall rating wasn’t very impressive, but in the categories of eldercare, aging parents, and Alzheimer’s Disease I was in the top 100.
Fame is fleeting, though, and after my moment of fame, the ratings began to drift down again. However, I’m not one to waste a marketing opportunity, so I posted my good news on Facebook where I received 56 “likes” and 3 “shares.” As far as I know, I didn’t get any more sales, but publicity of any kind is always welcome.
My other moment of fame came from my first venture into using Instagram. Up to now, I have avoided it because it seemed to involve mostly pictures and I really don’t have time for more networking. But I do some on-line work for my son from time to time, and he needed me to access the account of one of his clients for a project – so now I’m on Instagram, too.
It proved useful in more than just my son’s business, though. I mentor a young lady at the junior high once a week, and as she rapidly approaches her teens, the difference in our ages sometimes becomes very apparent. This is our fourth year together, and we love each other, but after she has filled me in on the latest girl drama and has recited her list of domestic complaints, she gets bored. Last Thursday I noticed that glazed look creeping into her eyes, and we still had fifteen minutes to go. I saw my cell phone lying on the table, and I said, “You need to teach me to use Instagram.”
Her eyes lit up, and she grabbed my phone like a drowning girl grabbing a life preserver. By the time the bell rang, I had a rudimentary idea of how to add a picture and edit it with various effects, and I knew how to follow friends and “like” their posts. I’ve probably forgotten a lot of what she taught me, but I’ll save that for the next visit, just in case she starts to nod off again.
When I got home, I decided to play with my new toy. I don’t like pictures of myself, so I don’t usually take selfies, but I decided to try out some of the special effects just for the fun of it. I ended up with a self portrait with cat ears and a cat nose. I discovered that if I opened my eyes really wide, the app added eye liner, and I found a soft-lens effect that I liked. The results were kind of cute, so I posted it on Facebook. So far the picture has received almost as much attention as the news about my book.
There is a verse in Proverbs that talks about how hard work eventually pays off.
Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. Proverbs 22:29
If I do someday stand before a king or a talk show host or even a group of more than 15 or 20 people, I hope I will be there to talk about my writing and that I won’t be wearing a Kitty nose and ears.