I spoke at a local writers meeting a few nights ago about “Online Marketing and Promotion.” It was really more about giving yourself an online presence, and I discussed things like blogging and social networking.
To say the least, I was met by quite a few blank stares. You see, I’m 41 and most of the ladies in this group are easily a decade or two older than me. Some even more than that. Great ladies, supportive ladies, beautiful ladies. But their generation is not one that was raised surrounded by computer technology. One woman commented that she and her generation feel “thrust” into the digital age. This isn’t something they were quite ready for.
I certainly don’t feel that I was raised with technology, but I was young enough when the first PC’s came out to have gotten into it before the internet really took off. I had mastered a certain level of tech-knowledge before the advent of blogging and Facebook. I was able to ease into it a bit.
Today’s generation–the teens and twenty-somethings out there–practically emerged from the womb with laptops and cell phones. And now newborns emerge with smart phones and tablets. Tech ability seems literally hard-wired into them. My eleven year old son has an ipod touch, and he needed NO help from either me or my husband to get started using it. My eight year old daughter picked up my husband’s tablet and just went to town. It blows my mind. (They also understood how to operate the DVR without instruction–something I still haven’t mastered.)
So, one of the bits of advice I gave these ladies is to ask for help from their grandkids. Find a teenager who is willing to sit down with them for a couple of hours and show them around Blogger, WordPress, and Facebook. Teens are a huge resource when it comes to all things tech and internet. Teens can be amazing teachers, too. I know I bugged my share of them when I started my own blog a few years ago, and they were more than helpful.
The discovery was accidental. My novel is written for teens, so I started looking for blogs by other authors who write for teens and noticed how many teens were following them. I started clicking on the teens’ profiles and discovered that many of them had their own blogs. And then I saw the incredible array of blog designs and brilliant posts by teens. I have no doubt that we’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg as far as technology goes when I see how tech-minded kids are.
Unfortunately, that leaves certain people feeling like they’ve been left out of the race. Writers who aren’t so tech-savvy end up wondering what they can do to further their writing careers. How are they supposed to create an online presence when they’re baffled half the time by simply getting online?
It’s not just an age thing–don’t give me a hard time about that, I know plenty of older people who are incredibly techie. But the fact is, a good portion of writers wait until they retire to really get serious, and for certain generations that means diving into unfamiliar territory when they thought it would be all about the writing. Even I, in the beginning, still had that image of the eccentric recluse writing away in a lonely cabin somewhere. It was culture shock for me to discover that I’d have to blog and market online.
I know, this post doesn’t seem to be making a clear point. Honestly, I’m not sure what that point would be. I just felt compelled to share. Maybe to let you know that we’re all in different places and we need to help each other out. Writing is a competitive business, but we need to be willing to help our fellow writers, not just with critique but the whole process.