The ancient Egyptians didn't know what the wheel was until they were invaded by another group. They saw the enemy chariots rolling toward them, rolled their eyes and said, “We need to get some of those wheels.” Pretty soon they were tearing up the desert on chariots of their own. The rest, as they say, is history.
When I started using the Internet for book promotion, before I knew what a blog was, everything was a blank slate. I knew the information highway was out there, but I found myself on country roads and making U-Turns. Some authors seem to have the key to the mysterious process. I needed wheels.
In my prior life, I was secretary to an undercover narcotics team. I sleuthed using sites the public doesn't have access to and following leads to locate drug dealers and their hangouts. I got so good at it that I was contacted by a federal agency to find a felon in our area. All they had was a common last name and info that he drove a motorcycle. I told them to go to his grandmother's house in the town just across the county line and he'd be hiding there. No, I won't tell you how I did it. I'm saving that for a future mystery novel.
What I took away from 17 years of law enforcement was an incredible curiosity and ability to track down leads (and many ideas for novels). I translated what I knew to what I needed to know for promoting myself and my career.
My first thought was to use my search engine and find out where authors were posting. It was a “follow the leader” strategy. Next, I discovered that some authors were generous enough to list their favorite sites on the sidelines of their web page. Easy pickings. I checked out all the leads and started my own collection of links that would be useful to my future. Others were doing all the hard work for me and I was hitchhiking along for the ride.
I subscribed to blogs, mostly from experts in the field like Jane Friedman. I followed Twitterific over at Mystery Writing Is Murder. If you don't tweet (and I don't) Elizabeth Craig lists tweet links she finds worthwhile. I also joined discussion groups such as Murder Must Advertise, Short Mystery Fiction Society and DorothyL.
There is an amazing amount of sharing in the writing community. I don't know of any authors who hoard leads and info. So, it surprises me when authors, both new and seasoned, seem confused as to how to connect up. They spin their wheels in search of answers and overlook the road signs in front of them.
While I don't condone being an enabler, it occurred to me that it was time for me to give back. So, I created “The Posse” and simply told new and aspiring authors “I can fast-track your career path if you just take the time to check out the sites I send you to.”
Okay, I wasn't that nice. I'm bossy. I am the Sheriff of the Posse. I check to see if they are doing what I ask, complimenting the ones who get involved in discussions (which helps them build name recognition), scolding those who don't. It's not a site people sign up for, all anyone has to do is contact me and say “I want to be in the Posse.” A friend even came up with badges.
There are those out there, in the spirit of independence or stubbornness, who probably want to do all the work themselves. Maybe, like the Egyptians, they're going to build their pyramid the hard way by sliding stones up an incline. But, there's nothing wrong with hopping on board and riding along with others until you are ready to take the wheel and guide your own career.