Despite maintaining this blog with Julia, I’m far from tech savvy when it comes to marketing myself in this digital age. As writers, we have a constantly expanding social universe to explore: Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs, phone texting, business-related internet groups such as LinkedIn. If I put in the time, I could probably have a decent presence on all of these sites; trouble is, I wouldn’t have any time left to actually write.
I’m hoping that in the future we will be able to prepare one site (such as our blog) that we can upload to all of these other sites with the push of a button and all of our info will automatically be put into the right slots. Maybe that will happen sooner than I think. When I compare the growing trend in E-books and digital publishing, I’m reminded of the transformation in the music business that has been taking place since the early 1990s. People held back on embracing the MP3 format for a long time, even though the technology was available. I can remember offering to get both our girls MP3 players for Christmas one year, to which they rolled their eyes and snorted. They wanted new Walkman’s, like all the other kids had.
Today I purchased my first MP3 album from Amazon, something I have been resisting for years. I’m from the old school of 45 singles and LP records. I eventually embraced CDs because they are durable, portable, and a space saver compared to those large 12-inch LPs. And, a bit like records, many come with color booklets reminiscent of the old album inserts. (I might need a magnifying glass to read them, but still.) And, best of all, I can hold the CD and case in my hand.
An MP3 “album” is nothing more than a downloaded file. There is nothing to “hold on to.” It arrived on my computer in a matter of minutes. I can see its little icon on my desktop. If I want to listen to the songs, I open Media player and click on the title. Fine, as long as I’m sitting at my computer, but what if I want to listen in my car? Or outside while I’m gardening? Well, then I pop in the just created CD that I burned from that download. Or, I copy the whole song list to my I-Touch and listen on that. A digital download gives you multiple formats, including the all-important “I can hold it in my hand” CD. There’s no fancy label, no color insert—but I can make those myself with software and a printer if I really want them. Best of all, the MP3 versions often come with extra songs not found on the retail CD. And they cost less.
Another plus for music sold this way is that buyers can purchase a single song, a few songs, or the entire album. Most songs can be “previewed” for a 15-20 second listen so you can pick only the songs you want. A dollar a song on Amazon. It’s hard to imagine that working for E-books—the dollar a song bit, I mean. Free chapters, or at least excerpts, are offered on Kindle and most other E-book sites, but we can’t very well sell our books chapter-by-chapter, now can we?
Then again, who knows what the future holds. I continue to be amazed on a daily basis insofar as what my Smartphone can do: internet, GPS, email, texting, photos, games. I play Words with Friends, a Scrabble type game with my daughter Katie, who lives in San Diego. I take a Father’s Day photo of her dad sleeping on the couch with our dogs and send it to her under the header “Dad napping with his boys.” My other daughter, Carrie, sends me a picture of an Elvis painting I did years ago which remains on display at Graceland (“Taking the tour with Mike. Look what we found, Mom!”). Everything is incredibly instant, that’s the thing that seems hardest for me to adjust to. But I’m getting there, a day—or should I say an hour—at a time.