It's not an easy thing to put your name out there and splash your photo on the internet. Photo-ops for someone who didn't buy her first flip Razr phone until 2008 (me) didn't feel comfortable.
After Minor League Mom: A Mother's Journey through the Red Sox Farm Teams appeared in 2009, I spent a year speaking and doing interviews - almost all of which I arranged myself. My publisher often set up the acoustics or introduced me, but didn't make the cold calls or underwrite the cost of food and drink at the book signings. I did. In addition, I had to be comfortable speaking before an audience - or on radio or TV. If I hadn't been, very few would have heard about my book. But I was a high school English teacher, and what I'd taught my students - public speaking - was easier than seeing my photo on posters or in social media.
When Elderly Parents with All Their Marbles: A Survival Guide for the Kids appeared in 2014, at least I'd had some experience. I spent another year speaking through doors that opened because of my first book. Signings and interviews followed, many of which were arranged by a publicist I paid. She got me a second live television interview in Providence, R.I., but told me I was not "TV-worthy" for the big-time - The Today Show. I was not animated enough! I promised to do everything but stand on the table and even brought a cardboard sign I used in the interview. Although the topic was news-worthy (the "Oreo Generation," squeezed between taking care of kids and taking care of aging parents), I never made The Today Show!
All of which leads me to the question: Where do we draw the line between self-promotion and oversharing?
|My Writers,Diners,Winers group at the book release party for Elderly Parents with All Their Marbles.|
|Book signing Boynton Beach, Fl., Public Library|
|Book signing Portsmouth, N.H., Public Library|
We throw our lives into the black hole of the World Wide Web day in and day out, rummaging obsessively through the lives of others. Don't misunderstand - an author has to have a web page, a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and selfies. They are necessary evils for any author today. But do we really care what restaurant our friend is in, what her dog is doing, or what song she's listening to? My answer is, "No." Likewise, people do not care how wonderfully my granddaughter sings. The only exception may be the interest readers show in the books I recommend.
A lot of social media is the old "look-at-me" thing. Isn't my body, my croissant, my family, gorgeous (and better than yours)? Yet I have to believe there's more to "sharing" than that. There's a joy in reconnecting and learning from each other. The number of times I've gotten a "thank-you" for a post has encouraged this belief. A picture still speaks a thousand words for those who haven't been in touch.
Nevertheless, the act of capturing every move is often obsessive and offensive. We've all been in a restaurant when someone stands nearby while the waiter snaps away for a Facebook post. Or someone poses provocatively near us for a selfie, complete with a selfie-stick. There are those like my husband who mumble about the vapidity of self-promotion on social media. Yet he can't deny enjoying our friends' and relatives' posts when I (selectively) parade them before his eyeballs (he doesn't own a cell phone). It seems the world is divided between those who can't keep their phones tucked away and those who are repelled. I lie somewhere in the middle, finding it a necessary evil to sell my books. But believe me, I've had some publicity shots I'd rather forget! Here are a few:
|Looks like I needed some work on my roots!|
|Bug eyes and chicken neck|
|Was I asking for divine intervention?|
I recently read an article by Elisabeth Von Thurn Und Taxis (really!) on www.Vogue.com/living titled, "The Modern Woman's Guide to the Art of Self-Promotion." Elisabeth listed tips for snapping and posting:
1. Know your place. Be aware of where you are and whether your picture-snapping will offend.
2. Be judicious. Ask yourself if you're uploading something funny, beautiful, or informative. Your grandson's first steps and your new shoes may not interest the rest of the world.
3. Double-check. Even with the best intentions, sarcasm may be misinterpreted, as may a provocative pose.
4. Put your cell phone away and stay in the present moment. The event you are enjoying may only happen once! Don't edit or filter amid other guests to stop conversation or party-ing.
5. Don't put yourself in jeopardy. Kim K. found out the cost of too much publicity. Stay safe without posting personal information or risking your well-being. If you find yourself standing in traffic so the light can hit your face perfectly and the wind can fluff your brand new chiffon gown, you have a problem!
Here you can see why I don't take selfies!