My first time on the Internet was in the dinosaur days, back in 1997 when I was helping my husband with a fledgling small business, a bookstore, and running a mailing list of books I chose and sold to homeschoolers on the side. I’d heard of people selling books on the Internet but couldn’t imagine how it worked. Instead, I attended book sales all over Iowa with my husband, diligently searching for those yummy kinds of books I knew homeschoolers liked; the Landmark series books, Childhood of Famous Americans, historical fiction for children, books by Lois Lenski, Maud Hart Lovelace, Lenora Mattingly Weber, Janet Lambert, and many, many more. Many of these same books were favorites of mine from childhood but money was beyond tight and I couldn’t keep them for myself: I needed the money so I sold them, even the treasures I would never see again. I remember one customer writing that she would love to see our home library~ it must be magnificent. We did, and do, have a lot of books but there are some missing treasures I once had my hot little hands on and now wish I owned.
When I did finally get on the Internet, I eventually discovered the website I’d heard others talking about: eBay. I searched for some of the books one of my customers had begged me to save for her, that she’d willingly pay me $20 a piece for: Maud Hart Lovelace, Lenora Mattingly Weber…
Not only did I find some of these titles going for those outrageous prices I found out that customer was the seller of those books.
The customer who’d told me she homeschooled her kids and ran a home business. Now that I knew exactly what that home business was I felt sick. She was making hundreds of dollars off the books I’d sold her.
Boy did I feel stupid.
And thus began my foray into the world of the Internet. It took me several months to get used to using the computer. Each time I thought I had it down all pat, I had to learn something else or get a new piece of equipment. Each time I got a new piece of equipment I had to figure out how to get it to work. When I got my first printer I couldn’t get it to print and the computer screen kept saying it couldn’t recognize the printer. I called tech support and told them what the screen said.
“I even held the printer up in front of the screen and it still didn’t recognize it.”
There was total silence on the other end of the phone. I was kidding, but the technician was terrified that I was serious and it was then I realized that not everyone gets comfortable with their computers. My husband is one of those technophobes but he is gradually getting better.
It wasn’t long before I was selling some select books on eBay myself, but not at the prices sellers were getting initially. Now you can find a Lenora Mattingly Weber for $5 on eBay. What a difference 10 years makes.
As a writer I ended up using my word program the most and then the web for research. The amount of information available amazed me then and still does. In college I did most of my research using a big green book called The Reader’s Guide to Periodicals. I’d search by subject and find magazines and journals listed, then search the archives of the University library for the magazine.
Also as a writer I learned how to query via e-mail, how to cut and paste, attach documents and a host of other activities that writers really need to know how to do now. I resisted Facebook for the longest time, until I read how to use it as a promotional and networking tool. Now I check it twice a day. I wasn’t going to blog~ it seemed too much like a journal, and journals were private. I started one a few times, but always abandoned them, just like I used to abandon my diaries as a pre-teen. But after reading a few blogs of interest I started to see the possibilities of using a blog as a way of reaching others, and now I’ve written over 200 posts since last summer.
Then there was Twitter.
I kept hearing about twitter and who followed whom. Celebrities were using it to reach their fans and authors kept in touch the same way.
I didn’t want to use it. It seemed so…well, lame.
But I was busy building a platform and I kept hearing about how authors use their websites, blogs, Facebook and yes, twitter, to reach out as part of their platform.
Before I signed with my agent I looked at her credentials and her twitter name was listed.
I took a second look at twitter. I still didn’t understand it~ What is the point? What can anyone say in such few words?
A lot, it turns out.
When my agent talked to me on the phone I asked her how important twitter is and she said it isn’t, unless the audience for my book is involved in twitter.
It turns out they are, and they have a lot of to say about coupons and marketing and saving money.
I tried signing up under my complete name MaryPotterKenyon but that was too many characters. I tried part of my name but it just looked stupid. I even tried many coupon or money-saving variants but they were all taken. I finally decided to sign up with the first part of the e-mail I use for writing.
Come follow me on twitter under the name mommytrack